Friday, 22 May 2009

Cyril of Jerusalem on Scripture

"Concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures."

Cyril of Jerusalem, c. 318-386, Catechetical Lectures IV:17.

Comment: This quote shows that in the 4th C. Cyril taught what the Lutherans later taught, that is, that holy scripture is the 'norma normans', the "norm that norms", or more simply, the absolute norm of the rule of faith. Contra Rome, then, no doctrine can be proclaimed in the church as de fide - of the faith and necessary to be believed for salvation - without scriptural proof. I would therefore contend that the Marian dogmas, purgatory, and papal infallibility all fall at the bar of scripture (they may indeed reveal some "artifice of speech", but do they even have a modicum of "mere plausibility", dear readers? No,they are but fine examples of "ingenious reasoning").

Of course, my imaginary Roman interlocutor might protest that this is only one quote; for which reason I shall, in due course, post more on this subject from the Fathers. Now, lest I be accused of circular argumentation - using human authorities to prove the authority of scripture over any human authority - may I point out that, in the time-honoured Lutheran manner, I am quoting the Fathers not as authorities in themselves, but only as witnesses to what was taught in the early church as sound doctrine.


L P said...

Pr. M.

So glad you are posting again. I might repost some of what you have here at Extra Nos, linked back to you.

Now that subtle use of the Fathers is instructive for me. That is, they are witnesses and not authorities in themselves. Thanks for that.


Acroamaticus said...


Thanks for your kind words and I'm glad to hear that what I've written here has been of some help. You'll find this view of the Fathers set out in incidental remarks in Luther, the Book of Concord, and in greater length in Martin Chemnitz's "Examination of the Council of Trent" (and elsewhere in the later 17th C. dogmatics).