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A Debate From Greg Krehbiel's EZBoard
"But after him and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies, who indeed
refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as the saints
(hagioi) have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men,
err, because they do not rightly know them nor their power." (Webster, Holy
Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of ur !aith [vol 2, page !" ## citing
$thanasius, %estal &etter 2.'
"...as the conte(t reveals, in his use of the word saints, $thanasius is not
referring to )hurch fathers but to the writers of *cripture. +e calls them saints
and %athers, and refers to their writings as the apostolic tradition. We are to be
followers of the saints, that is, of the apostles, by following what they have
written..." (Webster, ibid'
This was a short debate on the meaning of the phrase "opinions as the saints have
handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err" in St. Athanasius Festal
Letter 2.6 what is the meaning of "opinions as the saints have handed down"! "n his
new defense of Sola Scriptura titled Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our
Faith #volume 2$, %ebster suggests it means the "apostles handing down the
Scriptures" since saints & apostles and prophets in Festal Letter 2.' and elsewhere in the
writings of St. Athanasius.
" have shown this ma(es no sense and the clear understanding is that here saints &
orthodo) saints or Fathers handing down the orthodo) or correct interpretation of the
Scriptures. *ence, +oe ,allegos is correct in his use of this in Not By Scripture Alone
edited b- .obert Sungenis #/ueenship, 011'$. According to Athanasius, the heretics
indeed "refer to the Scriptures" but the- received, not the Scriptures or the apostles, but
the opinions of the orthodo) saints as the "traditions of men."
*ere is how the discussion went... " will be answering %ebster2s claims on St.
Athanasius in more depth later...
3n %ebster45ing 6olumes on Sola Scriptura
,reg2s 7iscussion 8oard 9 ,od Tal( at :;8oard
3n %ebster45ing 6olumes on Sola Scriptura philva<
7oes an-one own and4or digested these 00== pages -et! " (now we all have lives, and
these boo(s >ust came out, so it ma- ta(e some time for someone to address all their
points. " have finished volume 0 #on biblical evidence for Sola Scriptura mainl- 2
Tim ?@060' again, and 2 Aeter 0@0120$, going through volume 2 #on the Fathers and
%ebster2s commentar-, and 2nd half on 3T canon, his antiBatholic stuff on
Car-4Assumption again, his *onorius stuff once again, etc$, and s(imming volume ?
#>ust ?== pages of patristic Duotes ta(en verbatim from the ?E volume :erdmans set "
believe$. " >ust got the volumes li(e 2 wee(s ago and would li(e some feedbac(.
" have written a preliminar- review from m- amateur "Batholic :Apologist" standpoint
and hope it is not too triumphalistic. Found here
A short Duestion@ "s %ebster out to lunch when he claims St. Athanasius was referring
to the Scriptures in the following Duote@
/uote@ "8ut after him #the devil$ and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies,
who indeed refer to the Scriptures, BUT DO NOT hold such opinions as the SAINTS
HA! HAND!D DO"N# and recei$in% the& as the traditions of &en# err# because
the- 73 G3T rightl- 5G3% T*:C nor their power" #Festal Letter 2.6$
%ebster sa-s Saints & Apostles, so Athanasius is stating the heretics do not hold such
opinions as the apostles have handed down in the Scriptures. " thin( this is nuts >ust
loo(ing at the brief conte)t above. 8ut %ebster tries to show where Athanasius uses
"saints" for apostles in other sections of his writings. " had not thought of that before....
*ow about this Duote on the authorit- of the Bouncil of Gicaea!
/uote@ "%e are A.36"G, that T*"S view has been T.AGSC"TT:7 from FAT*:.
to FAT*:., but -e, 3 modern +ews and disciples of Baiaphas, how man- FAT*:.S
BAG H: ASS",G to -our phrases! Got one of the understandings and wiseI for all
abhor -ou, but the devil aloneI none but he is -our father in this apostas-, who both in
the beginning sowed -ou with the seed of this "..:L","3G, and now persuades -ou to
slander the :BJC:G"BAL B3JGB"L, for committing to writing, not H3J.
doctrines, but that which from the 8:,"GG"G, those who were e-ewitnesses and
ministers of the %ord have handed down to us. For the faith which the B3JGB"L has
confessed in writing, that is the faith of the Batholic BhurchI to assert this, the
8L:SS:7 FAT*:.S so e)pressed themselves while condemning the Arian heres-..."
7e 7ecretis 2'
7oes not Athanasius here eDuate the "Faith of Gicaea" with "the Faith of the Batholic
Bhurch" meaning infallible teaching to be believed b- all! The Anathema attached to
the canons of Gicaea implies the Bhurch believed in her infallibilit- to define doctrine,
does it not! 3r so sa-s Ahilip *ughes in his e)cellent *istor- of the ,eneral Bouncils....
" own the ? volume +urgens, the F volume /uastan Aatrolog-, but need to ta(e out
#again$ the multiple volumes from :erdmans to deal with all their patristic evidence in
detail. As " see it, a vast ma>orit- of their Duotations from the Fathers are irrelevant
since Batholics can agree with them on the authorit-, the power, the beaut-, and
inspiration4inerranc- of Scripture #tal(ing "conservative" or "orthodo)" Batholics,
Arotestants, 3rthodo) here$. The "debate" comes down to the Duotations on "tradition"
and what the- meant b- the term #which %ebster tries to address somewhat in volume
%hat do -ou all thin(! Let2s debate....! " am coming in late here and read parts of the
recent Sungenis4Cathison debate...:)cellent board and discussionK
0042F4=0 E@06@?' pm
%here 5eith does well ,reg5
Ahil, The thing that is often lac(ing in Arotestant discussions of Scripture and tradition
is an- evaluation of #or even cogni<ance ofK$ the use of revelation and authorit- in the
church before and during the writing of the GT and before the development of the
canon. "t seems to me that even the most cursor- review of how the earl- church dealt
with the teachings of the apostles before there was a GT should cure people of most of
the silliness in the sola scriptura debates.
This is where " thin( 5eith2s wor( is so helpful because it shows Arotestants that a
recognition of the divine authorit- of tradition is #0$ necessar- #2$ inescapable and #?$
not necessaril- a repudiation of Arotestant principles.
7o %ebster et al. show an- signs of understanding those issues!
0042L4=0 02@06@?' pm
5eith Cathison vs. 7avid 5ing philva<
" do not have 5eith Cathison2s boo( -et but " need to get it. 5ing argues the "biblical
defense" of SS in volume 0 and he does agree that the oral teaching of the apostles #the
"tradition" the earl- church was following before an- GT Scripture was written down$
was as binding and authoritative as Scripture. For e)ample, 5ing writes
/uote@ "Bontrar- to persistent charges b- .oman apologists, Arotestant :vangelicals do
affirm the binding authorit- of apostolic tradition as delivered b- the apostles. %hat
the- preached and taught in the first centur- Bhurch was authoritativel- binding on the
consciences of all Bhristians." #vol 0, page LL$
/uote@ "To be sure, all special revelation given b- ,od is authoritative and binding.
There can be no doubt that the oral teaching of the apostles and their approved
representatives was both #0 Thess 2@0?$." #vol 0, page 0FL$
So 5ing admits this much but he argues #as other Arotestant apologists have done$ that
toda- we have no "access" to those oral teachings, and besides, the- are identical in
substance to the GT. Something -ou argued a long time ago on +ames %hite2s old Sola
Scriptura list of which " was a brief part #bac( in 0116K$. %here 5ing is vulnerable is
where he ALS3 argues
#0$ his "biblical defense" actuall- rests on two verses@ 2 Tim ?@0L0' and 2 Aeter 0@01
20I and some other te)ts briefl- discussed in ?== pages
#2$ this "oral tradition" was never intended to be passed on or handed down in the
church #i.e. contrar- to 2 Tim 0@0?0FI 2@2I etc, onl- the written suffices for all
Bhristian doctrine and practice$
#?$ The Fathers did not believe in apostolic succession of office, but onl- "succession of
doctrine" #" have heard %hite use this in the past so this must be a standard
#F$ Gone of the Fathers believed the Bhurch as a whole to be infallible #this is
contradicted b- %ebster himself in his earlier contribution in the boo( .oman
Batholicism edited b- +ohn Armstrong, " guess %ebster changed his mind$
#L$ *e also claims B:.TA"GLH ever-one could read and the Fathers told ever-one to
purchase 8iblesK Core later....
0042L4=0 2@=?@?' pm
"t2s a circular argument nmcgillivra-
Heah, that interpretation from Festal Letter 2 is nuts. :ven if Athanasius was referring
to the Apostles, what is %ebster tr-ing to have him sa-! "The- indeed refer to
Scripture, but do not hold the opinions of the Apostles as evidenced in the
Scriptures"!!! That2s the beginning of a circular argument if "2ve ever seen one. The-
refer to Scriptures but do not (now them. *ow does one (now the opinions contained
therein! " guess -ou would refer to them.
"t2s a cra<- argument to ma(e. "n other words, the argument is essentiall- if -ou agree
with me, this is obviousl- Scriptural teaching as handed down b- the Apostles. "f -ou
don2t agree with me, it2s because -ou hold the traditions of men. The argument the- use
for Gicea is also a circular argument. The- sa- that Gicea was right because it was the
teaching of the Fathers. *ow do we (now it was the teaching of the Fathers! 8ecause its
in Scripture. The argument seems to assume that one cannot go wrong when reading
004264=0 00@?1@22 am
%ebster vs. Athanasius philva<
/uote@ Heah, that interpretation from Festal Letter 2 is nuts. :ven if Athanasius was
referring to the Apostles, what is %ebster tr-ing to have him sa-! "The- indeed refer to
Scripture, but do not hold the opinions of the Apostles as evidenced in the
Scriptures"!!! That2s the beginning of a circular argument if "2ve ever seen one.
Than(s for the response, glad someone agrees %ebster is nutt-K *e (ind of interprets
the Fathers his own wa-, since ver- few Fundamentalists4:vangelicals have even
attempted to delve into them in the necessar- depth reDuired to respond to the ,allegos
chapter in Got 8- Scripture Alone... So %ebster has nothing to go on as far as "pro
baptistic :vangelical" commentar- on the Fathers, so he (ind of ma(es some of this
stuff up on the fl-. To his credit, at times he does Duote some credible
sources4commentar-. An-one else want to contribute to m- critiDue of the new
%ebster45ing volumes let me (nowK " have seen 7avid 5ing post here, perhaps he can
drop b- again and we can discuss his new boo(.
004264=0 6@L?@=' pm
.e@ %ebster vs. Athanasius .omansFL
%ell ma-be " can understand how "someone" would agree with -ou who has not read
%ebster on this sub>ect, however since -ou have read %ebster -our calling his
interpretation "nutt-" is somewhat odd. First of all, %ebster gives the conte)t of the
Duote that -ou did not provide. " thin( the conte)t proves %ebster is correct and for sure
it proves he is nowhere close to "nutt-" in his interpretation.
Secondl-, he gives another e)ample where Athanasius refers to Scriptures as the
"teaching of the saints". Finall-, he Duotes a scholar B...8 Shapland who agrees that
Athanasius usuall- is referring to the Scriptures and biblical writers when he uses the
terms "teaching of the saints" and "saints".
" thin( this last paragraph Min -our noteN shows the bias in -our assessment of %ebster
even though -ou attempt to camouflage it in -our last sentence. The beaut- of the 5ing
and %ebster wor( is ver- seldom # if ever, " can2t recall a topic$ in which the- do not
have some support from a respected scholar or church father. 3bviousl- if -ou read the
wor( -ou should (now that is the case. Therefore, -our claim that %ebster is ma(ing
this up as he goes is ludicrous, even though -ou attempt to temper it b- sa- "at times he
Duotes credible sources4commentar-". Bould it be that this was one of the times he
Duoted a credible source ! 3r instead are -ou sa-ing this is one of the times %ebster is
ma(ing it up as he goes with one of his "nutt-" interpretations!
0042'4=0 2@2=@06 am
%ebster vs. Athanasius philva<
Than(s for the repl-. Got onl- have " read %ebster on this, but " have his first boo(
where he sa-s "+esus dies often" in the Cass #that is a direct Duote$, the boo( .oman
Batholicism edited b- Armstrong where %ebster contributed a chapter, his Catthew 06
Bontrovers-, also his Bhurch of .ome at the 8ar of *istor-, also his rare debate with
,err- Catatics from 0112 from St. +oe Bommunications. So Hes, " (now %ebster
" >ust read the online version of Festal Letter 2 to see what %ebster has cut out of the
Duotation. 3n the Duote in Duestion from vol 2, page 6=60, %ebster does not give the
full conte)t. *e does Duote C3.: of the conte)t in a footnote O0?0 #vol 2, page 0=1$.
That is correct, " forgot about that.
The Duestion is what does "opinions as the saints have handed down" refer to! 7oes it
refer to the opinions of the apostles #i.e. the Scriptures alone$ or the
opinions4statements4teachings of the orthodo) Fathers! "f the former %ebster would be
correct, if the latter then Batholics #such as ,allegos who also Duotes this$ are correct
that Athanasius is referring to some authoritative "tradition" that the heretics were
ignoring and treating as "the tradition of men."
*ere is what %ebster Duotes verbatim@
/uote@ "8ut after him and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies, who indeed
refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions as the saints #hagioi$ have handed
down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because the- do not rightl-
(now them nor their power." #%ebster, vol 2, page 6= citing Athanasius, Festal Letter
Loo(ing at the full conte)t below, "after him and with him" refers to Satan. And those
"inventors of unlawful heresies" refers to the modern heretics of Athanasius2 da- #such
as Arius$. Ban we agree on that much! Athanasius then sa-s the- #the heretics$ "indeed
refer to the Scriptures" i.e. the- Duote and ma(e reference to Scripture, as all the
Arians did. Athanasius then sa-s 8JT the- "do G3T hold such opinions as the saints
have handed down, and receiving them as the T.A7"T"3GS 3F C:G, :....."
7id Arius re>ect the Scriptures as the "traditions of men" ! 3f course not, since all the
earl- heretics referred to and Duoted the Scriptures. So ,allegos is indeed correct and
%ebster is wrong that "opinions as the saints have handed down" refers to Scripture
alone. As " said alread-, it doesn2t even ma(e sense in the immediate conte)t.
Sorr- to go through this with a fine tooth comb, but " thin( fol(s need to watch how
%ebster Duotes the Fathers that supposedl- support "Sola Scriptura" in these volumes.
There is a lot more from Athanasius that %ebster ignores. *ere is the full conte)t of
Festal Letter 2.6 where the Duote appears@
/uote@ 6. For not onl- in outward form did those wic(ed men dissemble, putting on as
the Lord sa-s sheep2s clothing, and appearing li(e unto whited sepulchresI but the- too(
those divine words in their mouth, while the- inwardl- cherished evil intentions. And
the first to put on this appearance was the serpent, the inventor of wic(edness from the
beginningthe devil, who, in disguise, conversed with :ve, and forthwith deceived her.
But after hi& and 'ith hi& are all in$entors of unla'ful heresies# 'ho indeed refer to
the Scriptures# (ut do not hold such opinions as the saints ha$e handed do'n# and
recei$in% the& as the traditions of &en# err# (ecause they do not ri%htly )no' the&
nor their po'er* Therefore Aaul >ustl- praises the Borinthians, because their opinions
were in accordance with his traditions. And the Lord most righteousl- reproved the
+ews, sa-ing, 2%herefore do -e also transgress the commandments of ,od on account of
-our traditions.2 For the- changed the commandments the- received from ,od after
their own understanding, preferring to observe the traditions of men. And about these, a
little after, the blessed Aaul again gave directions to the ,alatians who were in danger
thereof, writing to them, 2"f an- man preach to -ou aught else than that -e have received,
let him be accursed.2 #St. Athanasius, Festal Letter 2.6$
Loo(ing at this full Duotation in conte)t, " thin( there is no Duestion Athanasius is
referring to the orthodo) Fathers or saints who have handed down the true orthodo)
interpretations of the Scriptures. The Arians #who followed after Satan$ indeed referred
to the Scriptures all the time, but the- did not hold the orthodo) interpretation of the
saints #Fathers$ that were handed down in the Bhurch. " believe that to be the correct
understanding of his words here. Athanasius goes on to sa- in the ver- ne)t sentence,
that therefore Aaul >ustl- A.A"S:S the Borinthians because the- held to *"S
"traditions." "n contrast, the heretics treated with contempt the traditions of the Fathers.
*owever, it is ALS3 true Athanasius refers to saints meaning the apostles4prophets in
his Festal Letters and elsewhere. 3n that much %ebster is correct, but Athanasius
simpl- is not referring to "Scripture alone" here in Festal Letter 2.6.
/uote@ " thin( the conte)t proves %ebster is correct and for sure it proves he is nowhere
close to "nutt-" in his interpretation. Secondl-, he gives another e)ample where
Athanasius refers to Scriptures as the "teaching of the saints". Finall-, he Duotes a
scholar B...8 Shapland who agrees that Athanasius usuall- is referring to the
Scriptures and biblical writers when he uses the terms "teaching of the saints" and
Shapland does not help him here. Shapland does not remotel- sa- Athanasius is
referring to Scripture alone in the Festal Letter 2 in Duestion. *e gives e)amples of
"teachings of the saints" & teachings of the apostles #Scripture$, that is all. The (e- to
understanding the Duote in Duestion is that the heretics were the ones who "indeed
.:F:..:7 to the Scriptures" but %*AT the- held as the "traditions of men" were the
"opinions as the saints have handed down..." #i.e. the orthodo) Fathers and saints$, not
the Scriptures since the- indeed .:F:..:7 to the Scriptures.
/uote@ " thin( this last paragraph shows the bias in -our assessment of %ebster even
though -ou attempt to camouflage it in -our last sentence. The beaut- of the 5ing and
%ebster wor( is ver- seldom #if ever, " can2t recall a topic$ in which the- do not have
some support from a respected scholar or church father. 3bviousl- if -ou read the wor(
-ou should (now that is the case. Therefore, -our claim that %ebster is ma(ing this up
as he goes is ludicrous, even though -ou attempt to temper it b- sa- "at times he Duotes
credible sources4commentar-". Bould it be that this was one of the times he Duoted a
credible source ! 3r instead are -ou sa-ing this is one of the times %ebster is ma(ing it
up as he goes with one of "nutt-" interpretations!
3h, " am certainl- "biased" as we all are. 8ut " still sa- %ebster is "nutt-" that "do not
hold such opinions as the saints have handed down" refers to the Scriptures alone. Hour
turn. Let2s e)haust Festal Letter 2 before moving on....
0042'4=0 ?@2?@0L am
.e@ 3n %ebster45ing 6olumes on Sola Scriptura +ason06F6
First of all, " must sa- that -our immediate pe>orative remar(s against %ebster stri(e me
as merel- nervous desperation. "nstead of interacting with his material, -ou simpl- tr-
to dismiss it out of the hand with an insult and an appeal to what is apparentl- obvious
from the "brief conte)t", -et never sa-ing what it is. %ebster is right on the mar( in his
anal-sis. Articles 6 and ' of the Second Festal Letter provide part of the weight-
material that "saints" & "apostles" and that the ob>ect which the- are handing down is
the Scriptures. As the ne)t paragraph of the Second Festal Letter continues@
'. For there is no fellowship whatever between the words of the saints and the fancies of
human inventionI for the saints are the ministers of the truth, preaching the (ingdom of
heaven...Therefore blessed Lu(e reproves the inventions of men, and hands down the
narrations of the saints, sa-ing in the beginning of the ,ospel...For as each of the saints
has received, that the- impart without alteration, for the confirmation of the doctrine of
the m-steries. 3f these the #divine$ word would have us disciples, and these should of
right be our teachers, and to them onl- is it necessar- to give heed, for of them onl- is
Pthe word faithful and worth- of all acceptation I2 these not being disciples because the-
heard from others, but being e-ewitnesses and ministers of the %ord, that which the-
had heard from *im have the- handed down.
So Athanasius sa-s@ 0$ There is no fellowship between the words of the saints and
human invention. 2$ Therefore, Lu(e reproves human invention. *ow! 8- handing
down the narration of the saints. "s this narration some oral tradition! Go, he hands
down their narration in his ,ospel. ?$ These narrations which are handed down #in
Scripture$ are for the confirmation of doctrine, should be our teachers, and to them onl-
it is necessar- to give heed.
Ahilva<@ 7oes not Athanasius here eDuate the "Faith of Gicaea" with "the Faith of the
Batholic Bhurch" meaning infallible teaching to be believed b- all! The Anathema
attached to the canons of Gicaea implies the Bhurch believed in her infallibilit- to
define doctrine, does it not!
+ason@ Go it doesn2t. 3nl- someone with prior commitments would sa- that a council
setting forth doctrinal truths that are universall- held in the church means, necessaril-,
that the- believed the- were infallible. "2ve seen this argument made before ... that an-
genuine church authorit- or confident promulgation of doctrinal truth CJST mean that
the- thought the- were infallible. "t simpl- is not necessar-. "t is certainl- possible to
perceive it in that wa- once someone alread- has that prior commitment, but then what
must be proven is alread- assumed.
The meticulous documentation done b- %ebster is honest and scholarl-. " thin( he
deserves a bit more than these allegations of being "out to lunch", "nuts" and "cra<-" as
witnessed in the first couple of posts begun to address this impressive wor(. "f -ou were
hoping to drag Aastor 5ing into the discussion using emotive posts, " hope that he
esteems his time as worth- enough to refrain from responding to such unthoughtful
Sincerel- in Bhrist, +ason.
0042'4=0 F@01@?1 pm
Core on Athanasius Festal Letter 2.6 philva<
/uote@ The meticulous documentation done b- %ebster is honest and scholarl-. " thin(
he deserves a bit more than these allegations of being "out to lunch", "nuts" and "cra<-"
as witnessed in the first couple of posts begun to address this impressive wor(. "f -ou
were hoping to drag Aastor 5ing into the discussion using emotive posts, " hope that he
esteems his time as worth- enough to refrain from responding to such unthoughtful
.ead m- detailed post in repl- to .omansFL on %ebster2s mista(e regarding Festal
Letter 2.6 it is ver- clear. Hou are not loo(ing at Festal Letter 2.6. Hou Duoted 2.' and
"saints & apostles" which " conceded Athanasius does at times call the apostles and
prophets "saints." 8ut that does not help -ou. The Duestion " as(ed on 2.6 #not 2.' but
2.6$@ 7id the Arians re>ect the Scriptures as the "traditions of men" ! "t is clear the- did
G3T since Athanasius sa-s the- "indeed refer to the Scriptures." That is, the- Duoted,
referred to, attempted to interpret, held as authoritative, etc T*: SB."ATJ.:S.
The heretics according to Athanasius 7"7 G3T .:+:BT the Scripture as the
traditions of men. %hat the heretics re>ected was the "opinions as the saints have
handed down..." The saints must mean "orthodo) Fathers" here, not the apostles #i.e. not
Scripture alone$. " don2t (now how much clearer " can ma(e it. 3n this one point@ that
the heretics "do not hold such opinions as the saints have handed down, and
.:B:"6"G, T*:C AS T*: T.A7"T"3GS 3F C:G, :.." in no wa- means the
Scriptures. %h-! 8ecause Athanasius sa-s the- #the heretics$ "indeed refer to the
Scriptures" and the Arians did not re>ect the Scriptures "as the traditions of men" etc. "t
is ver- clear.
C- initial post was tentative, but after chec(ing the conte)t " have become more
definite. %ebster is wrong on this point. Admit it. All right, fine his footnotes are
loooooooong and the boo(s have a "scholarl-" appearance about them. ,reg ma- be
correct that batting around the te)ts of the Fathers ma- be as fruitless as batting around
te)ts of Scripture with cran(- fundamentalists. Go -ou are not a cran(- fundamentalist.
3(a-, " conceded Athanasius does refer to "saints" as "apostles" but he also calls the
Fathers "saints." See m- post in repl- to .omansFL and the additional Duotes " provided
from Athanasius #ignored b- %ebster45ing$ where he refers to the tradition of the
Fathers and saints #something other than the apostles4Scriptures$.
For the Duotes from Schaff, +G7 5ell-, +aroslav Aeli(an, and Hves Bongar that
%ebster45ing neglect to give -ou, go here www.bring-ou.to4apologetics4numF1.htm
Let2s continue the Festal Letter 2.6 debate since there is no wa- %ebster is right, unless
he believes #contrar- to Athanasius$ that the heretics "7"7 G3T refer to the Scriptures"
or the heretics #such as the Arians$ held the Scriptures to be "the T.A7"T"3GS 3F
C:G." Since the- did not, %ebster is wrong. Hour turn. 7eal with 2.6 directl-, not 2.'
0042'4=0 0=@=1@=? pm
The %ebster, Athanasius, Ahil6a< 7ebate philva<
Than(s for the long repl-. This must have ta(en -ou a couple of hoursK 3(a-, this is
getting longer than " anticipatedK Hour (e- point #as " see it$ in -our latest repl- on the
great Festal Letter 2.6 debate is here@
/uote@ " disagree. AthanasiusQ point is even though the- Duote Scripture the- are
misusing it and not submitting to the correct interpretation of Scripture, but instead
claiming that it is a tradition of men.
Absolutel-K This " agree with. The- #the heretics in Festal Letter 2.6$ were "not
submitting to the correct interpretation of Scripture" but claiming it #the correct
interpretation of Scripture$ is a tradition of men. Absolutel-. Gow %*3 *:L7 the
correct interpretation of the Scripture! According to Athanasius #here and elsewhere$
those who held the correct interpretation of the Scripture #besides himself of course$ are
"the saints" who handed them down. Ban2t -ou see this cannot mean the apostles here in
2.6 but the Fathers, or the orthodo) saints. The orthodo) saints #or Fathers$ are the ones
who held the correct interpretation of the Scriptures. This is what the heretics treated as
"the traditions of men" G3T the Scriptures themselves #or the apostles$. The heretics
7"7 G3T .:+:BT the Scriptures T*:CS:L6:S and 7"7 G3T .:+:BT T*:
AA3STL:S, but the- re>ected the B3..:BT 3. 3.T*373R "GT:.A.:TAT"3G
of the Scriptures.
" thin( we are getting somewhere....o(a-, to sum up where " can agree with -ou
#0$ Athanasius indeed Duotes Scripture all over the place in this Festal Letter 2 #that is
#2$ Athanasius indeed refers to the apostles #and prophets$ as "saints" here and
elsewhere #%ebster is correct on this point, " conceded that much alread-$ "2m not sure
we agree on #?$ but see m- "Core on St. Athanasius" for some e)amples....
#?$ *owever, Athanasius also calls the orthodo) Fathers "saints" throughout his letters
Gow the onl- Duestion that needs answering....
#F$ 7id the heretics treat the Scriptures themselves #not the correct interpretation of the
Scriptures 8JT the te)t of Scripture itself$ as "the traditions of men" !
"f -ou answer G3 to #F$ then %ebster is indeed %.3G, that "opinions as the saints
have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err" & "the apostles
handing down the Scriptures." " hope -ou all are following.... Hour turnK 8ut not so long
0042'4=0 00@F'@0' pm
Core on %ebster2s Cista(e philva<
/uote@ .eread paragraph 2,?, F, and L again and it is clear that Athanasius is tal(ing
about the heretics understanding of Scripture is distorted and in that wa- the- are not
holding to the opinions of the saints, which are the biblical writers.
" wanted to Duote this portion since this also is (e-. Hou said "the opinions of the saints"
& "the biblical writers" in Festal Letter 2.6 passage. 3(a-, then... C- Duestion would be@
7id the heretics .:+:BT the biblical writers! That is, did the heretics .:+:BT the
apostles! "2m not tal(ing about "ultimatel-" re>ect but in principle 7id the heretics
.:+:BT the Scriptures as "the traditions of men"! "f the answer is G3, then once again,
%ebster is wrong on Festal Letter 2.6 That is about as simple and clear as " can ma(e it.
0042E4=0 02@F2@LE am
8eating a 7ead Athanasius or *orse philva<
Another clear wa- to demonstrate what " have been sa-ing... 7oes St. Athanasius mean
b- the following@
/uote@ "8ut after him MSatanN and with him MSatanN are all inventors of unlawful
heresies Mthe hereticsN, who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold such opinions
as the saints have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err,
because the- do not rightl- (now them nor their power." #from Festal Letter 2.6$
SJ8ST"TJT: "hold such opinions as the saints have handed down" with "hold to the
Scriptures as the apostles have handed down" as %ebster and -ou gu-s are suggesting
and we have....
/uote@ "8ut after him MSatanN and with him MSatanN are all inventors of unlawful
heresies Mthe hereticsN, who indeed refer to the Scriptures, but do not hold to the
Scriptures as the apostles have handed down, and receiving them as the traditions of
men, err, because the- do not rightl- (now them nor their power." #revised %ebster
version of Festal Letter 2.6$
The (e- phrase is "receiving them as the T.A7"T"3GS 3F C:G...." "f the above is the
correct understanding as -ou gu-s insist, m- onl- Duestion is@ 7id the heretics #for
e)ample, the Arians$ receive the Scriptures as "T*: T.A7"T"3GS 3F C:G!" 7id
the- re>ect the Scriptures as FALS:! Hes or Go! *istoricall-, the clear answer is G3.
:ven St. Athanasius ac(nowledges the Arians believed the Scriptures were true, that
the- were "inspired of ,od." %here the- differed was over the correct interpretation of
Scripture. T*AT the orthodo) or correct interpretation of the Scriptures is what
was handed down in the Bhurch b- the "saints" #orthodo) Fathers$. T*AT the
orthodo) or correct interpretation of the Scriptures is what was re>ected b- the
heretics as the "traditions of men" G3T the Scriptures themselves or the apostlesK
*ence, %ebster is incorrect and ,allegos nailed another oneK Finall-, a no ad hominem
argument from meK
Athanasius on Saints, Fathers, Teachers, Tradition philva<
.omans FL wrote,
/uote@ "f this is not the case, please show me another instance where Athanasius uses
the word "saints" to refer to the fathers!
Than(s again for the repl-. There are several places in his overall writings where
Athanasius uses both Fathers and "saints" to refer to the orthodo) Fathers4saints who
interpreted Scripture correctl- i.e. in the orthodo) fashion, etc.
%e are going to have to agree to disagree on Festal Letter 2.6 but " do en>o- the board
since there are lots of intelligent fol(s here. "n the passage 2.6 in Duestion, if -ou and
%ebster are correct then Athanasius is sa-ing the heretics .:+:BT:7 the Scriptures
themselves as "the traditions of men" which the- did not do. Also, " never used the term
"oral tradition" regarding Festal Letter 2 and " agree there is no reference to an
e)clusive "oral tradition" independent of Scripture in Athanasius2 writings...
There are several e)amples of Saints & Fathers & Teachers & orthodo) interpreters of
Scripture in Athanasius2 writings, for e)ample....
/uote@ ""f we now consider the 38+:BT of that FA"T* which we Bhristians *3L7,
and using it as a .JL:, appl- ourselves, as the Apostle teaches to the reading of
inspired Scripture. For Bhrist2s enemies, being ignorant of this 38+:BT, have wandered
from the wa- of truth, and have stumbled on a stone of stumbling, thin(ing otherwise
than the- should thin(" 3rat ?,2E
3b>ect & the orthodo) or correct interpretation of Scripture on the Trinit-, etc which
according to Athanasius is what the heretics re>ected or were ignorant of
/uote@ "*ad Bhrist enemies thus dwelt on these thoughts, and recogni<ed the
:BBL:S"AST"BAL SB3A: and an AGB*3. for the faith, the- would G3T have
made S*"A%.:B5 of the faith..." 3rat ?,LE
:cclesiaistical scope & the orthodo) or correct interpretation of Scripture on the Trinit-,
etc again, the heretics re>ected this and made their faith shipwrec(
/uote@ "%e are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Batholic Bhurch,
nor did the Fathers hold this." :pis L1
Fathers & Bhurch Fathers, the "orthodo) Fathers" who correctl- taught the Batholic
/uote@ "8ut our faith is right, and starts from the teaching of the Apostles and
T.A7"T"3G of the FAT*:.S, being confirmed both b- the Gew Testament and the
3ld." :pis 6=
Tradition of the Fathers & the orthodo) or correct interpretation of Scripture according
to the Bhurch Fathers, the "orthodo) Fathers"
/uote@ "8ut after him #the devil$ and with him are all inventors of unlawful heresies,
who indeed refer to the Scriptures, 8JT 73 G3T hold such opinions as the SA"GTS
*A6: *AG7:7 73%G, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because
the- 73 G3T rightl- 5G3% T*:C nor their power" Festal Letter 2.6
The "disputed" passage in Duestion to me it is clear that Saints & orthodo) saints or
Fathers, and their opinions are the orthodo) or correct interpretations of the Scriptures
re>ected b- the heretics, etc G3T the Scriptures themselves since the heretics did not
re>ect the Scriptures themselves, the- re>ect the orthodo) interpretation of the Scriptures
handed down b- the saints or Fathers
/uote@ "...and in di<<iness about T.JT*, are full set upon accusing the B3JGB"L, let
them tell us what are the Scriptures from what the- have learned, or %*3 is the SA"GT
b- whom the- have 8::G TAJ,*T..." 7e 7ecretis 0E
Saint & Fathers, or orthodo) teachers, " hope -ou agree here at least he is not as(ing
"who is the Apostle b- whom the- have been taught" meaning the original twelve
apostles Athanasius as(s what are the Scriptures, 3. %ho is the Saint #i.e. both
Scripture and Tradition$, etc
/uote@ "Scarcel-, however, did the- begin to spea(, when the- were condemned, and
one differed from anotherI then perceiving the straits in which their heres- la-, the-
remained dumb, and b- their silence confessed the disgrace which came upon their
heterodo)-. 3n this the 8ishops, having negatived the terms the- had invented,
published against them the S3JG7 and :BBL:S"AST"BAL faith....And what is
strange indeed, :usebius of Baesarea in Aalestine, who had denied the da- before, but
afterward subscribed, sent to his Bhurch a letter, sa-ing that this was the B*J.B*2S
faith and the T.A7"T"3G of the FAT*:.S" 7e 7ecretis ?
Tradition of the Fathers & the orthodo) interpretation of the Scriptures, or the "Bhurch2s
/uote@ "...and it is seemingl- and most irreligious when Scripture contains such images,
to form ideas concerning our Lord from others which are neither in Scripture, nor have
an- religious bearing. T*:.:F3.: let them tell us F.3C %*AT T:AB*:. 3. 8H
%*AT T.A7"T"3G the- derived these notions concerning the Savior!...8ut the- seem
to me to have a wrong understanding of this passage alsoI for it has a .:L","3JS and
6:.H 3.T*373R sense, which had the- understood, the- would not have
blasphemed the Lord of glor-" 7e 7ecretis 0?
From %hat Teacher or 8- %hat Tradition & the orthodo) teachers, the Bhurch Fathers
who handed down #tradition$ the orthodo) interpretation of the Scriptures, etc
/uote@ "For it is right and meet thus to feel, and to maintain a good conscience toward
the FAT*:.S, if we be not spurious children, but have received the T.A7"T"3GS
from them, and the L:SS3GS of religion at their hands" 7e S-nodis F'
"Such then, as we confess and believe, being the S:GS: of the FAT*:.S..." 7e
"...but do -ou, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the
T.A7"T"3GS of the FAT*:.S, pra- that now at length all strife and rivalr- ma-
cease and the futile Duestions of the heretics ma- be condemned..." 7e S-nodis LF
Three more e)amples of the tradition of the Fathers & the orthodo) or correct
interpretation of the Scriptures handed down in the Batholic Bhurch.
So there is no doubt Athanasius uses saints for "apostles" or prophets or the biblical
authors, but also saint is used for "Fathers" who handed down #tradition$ the correct
interpretation of the Scripture. That is how Festal Letter 2.6 reads as above -ou and
%ebster can onl- be correct on 2.6 "F the heretics re>ected the Scriptures
T*:CS:L6:S as "the traditions of men." That cannot be correct since Athanasius sa-s
the- "indeed refer to the Scriptures." %hat the- re>ect is not the Scriptures 8JT the
orthodo) or correct "GT:.A.:TAT"3G of the Scriptures handed down in the Bhurch
b- the saints, the Fathers, the orthodo) teachers.
7o "saints" and "Fathers" & apostles! philva<
Than(s .omansFL, " wanted to Duote this much,
/uote@ MsubstituteN "hold such opinions as the saints have handed down" with "hold to
the clear meaning of the words the Apostles have handed down in Scripture"
Ah haK 8ut "meaning" implies interpretation. Hou are wrong since Athanasius simpl-
sa-s the heretics did not "hold such opinions as the saints have handed down, and
receiving them as the traditions of men, err..." "f saints & apostles here and Athanasius
means "the Scriptures" then Athanasius is sa-ing the heretics did not "hold such
opinions Mi.e. teachingsN as the apostles have handed down in the Scriptures..." That is
e)actl- how %ebster #wrongl-$ understands this. *is whole argument is that "saints &
apostles" therefore Athanasius is sa-ing the heretics "did not hold to the Scriptures as
handed down b- the apostles...."
/uote@ ".oman apologists >ump to the conclusion that Athanasius2 use of the term saints
here refers to Bhurch fathers who preceded him. The- assume that he is ac(nowledging
their authorit- in handing down right opinions or right teaching. The term handed down
is another wa- of sa-ing tradition, so the- use this statement to support the contention
that the fathers loo(ed to the Bhurch and her tradition as the ultimate authorit- over
Scripture." #%ebster, *ol- Scripture vol 2, page 6=$
%ebster has summari<ed the Batholic position here, although " would not agree with
"ultimate authorit- 36:. Scripture" but that Athanasius indeed refers to the orthodo)
Fathers or saints as authoritative interpreters 3F Scripture. The- are not 36:.
Scripture but must be read AL3G, %"T* Scripture to understand its "clear meaning"
in -our words above. That is demonstrated throughout the writings of Athanasius.
And indeed St. Athanasius is so clear on that point in other places #see m- post
Athanasius on Saints, Fathers, Teachers, Tradition for several e)amples$ there is no
doubt that is his meaning here on "opinions of the saints" that the heretics re>ected as
"the traditions of men." *3%:6:., %ebster continues,
/uote@ "8ut, as the conte)t reveals, in his use of the word saints, Athanasius is not
referring to Bhurch fathers but to the writers of Scripture. *e calls them saints and
Fathers, and refers to their writings as the apostolic tradition. %e are to be followers of
the saints, that is, of the apostles, b- following what the- have written." #%ebster, vol 2,
" forgot to mention that %ebster has gone even farther than -ou have. *e sa-s
Mseemingl- thatN whenever we see the term "saints" and "Fathers" in Athanasius we
should interpret that as meaning "the apostles" and the Scriptures. "s that the case in m-
posts on Saints, Fathers, Teachers, Tradition!
0042E4=0 00@2'@06 pm
.:@ Hou abuse me li(e -ou do Athanasius philva<
/uote@ As it is clear to see, "Qm as(ing Ahil to show where in this letter Athanasius
refers to the fathers as SsaintsT.
Hes, " understand -our challenge but " alread- conceded Athanasius indeed refers to
the apostles and prophets as "saints" here in Festal Letter 2 and elsewhere. *owever, "
have shown Athanasius also refers to saints as the Fathers the orthodo) Fathers who
correctl- interpreted Scripture.
S3 H:S, in this one place in Festal Letter 2.6 Athanasius means G3T "apostles handing
down the Scriptures" but "Fathers" or orthodo) teachers handing down the correct
"GT:.A.:TAT"3G of the Scriptures. And H:S, Athanasius refers to the Fathers later
on in 2.' as "Fathers."
"f saints in 2.6 means "apostles handing down the Scriptures" then -ou are having
Athanasius sa- the heretics .:+:BT the apostles and .:+:BT the Scriptures as "the
traditions of men." And that ma(es no sense since Athanasius sa-s the heretics indeed
"refer to the Scriptures." The- did not re>ect the Scriptures themselves, but the correct or
orthodo) interpretatation of the Scriptures as handed down in the Bhurch #the opinions
of the saints, the Fathers, the orthodo) teachers of the Scriptures$. That is the proper
wa- to understand him.
The word "saints" in Athanasius philva<
This was a Duic( "online stud-" of the word "saint" or "saints" in the writings of St.
Athanasius. *e has a wide use of the term meaning #but not limited to$
#0$ the orthodo) Fathers or orthodo) teachers or bishops of the Batholic Bhurch
#2$ Bhristian believers in general
#?$ the GT apostles or 3T prophets and others #not limited to biblical writers onl-$
#F$ the "saints who are in heaven" #the e)alted saints$
These writings can be found from 6olume "6 on St. Athanasius here
Saints & orthodo) Fathers or bishops, with confessors, mart-rs #3n the Bouncils of
/uote@ "Gow the time of these transactions was when the council was assembled at
Cilan, the presb-ters of the .oman Bhurch being also present. 8ut (nowing at the same
time that Bonstantine of worth- memor- had with all accurac- and deliberation
published the Faith then drawn upI when he had been bapti<ed b- the hands of men, and
had departed to the place which was his due, +'e thin) it, unsee&ly to &a)e a
su(se-uent inno$ation and to despise so &any saints# confessors# &artyrs# 'ho
co&piled and dre' up this decree. who moreover have continued to hold in all matters
according to the ancient law BhurchI whose faith ,od has imparted even to the times of
-our reign through our Caster +esus Bhrist, through whom also it is -ours to reign and
rule over the world in our da-." #on the Bouncils of Arm4Sel 0=$
Saint & orthodo) Fathers #3n Arm4Sel 0?$
/uote@ "And who but must condemn the fic(leness of :udo)ius, Acacius, and their
fellows, who sacrifice the honour due to their own fathers to parti<anship and patronage
of the Ariomaniacs! for 'hat confidence can (e placed in their acts# if the acts of
their fathers (e undone/ or ho' call they the& fathers and the&sel$es successors# if
they set a(out i&peachin% their 0ud%&ent/ and especiall- what can Acacius sa- of his
own master, :usebius, who not onl- gave his subscription in the Gicene Bouncil, but
even in a letter signified to his floc(, that that was true faith, which the Bouncil had
declared! for, if he e)plained himself in that letter in his own wa-, -et he did not
contradict the Bouncil2s terms, but even charged it upon the Arians, that their position
that the Son was not before *is generation, was not even consistent with *is being
before Car-. "hat then 'ill they proceed to teach the people 'ho are under their
teachin%/ that the Fathers erred/ and ho' are they the&sel$es to (e trusted (y those#
'ho& they teach to diso(ey their Teachers/ and 'ith 'hat eyes too 'ill they loo)
upon the sepulchres of the Fathers 'ho& they no' na&e heretics/ And 'hy do they
defa&e the alentinians# Phry%ians# and 1anichees# yet %i$e the na&e of saint to
those 'ho& they the&sel$es suspect of &a)in% parallel state&ents/ or how can the-
an- longer be 8ishops, if the- were ordained b- persons whom the- accuse of heres-!"
#3n the Bouncils of Arm4Sel 0?$
Saint & orthodo) Father or teacher #7e 7ecretis 0E$
/uote@ 0E. Gow :usebius and his fellows were at the former period e)amined at great
length, and convicted themselves, as " said beforeI on this the- subscribedI and after this
change of mind the- (ept in Duiet and retirementI but since the present part-, in the
fresh arrogance of irreligion, and in di<<iness about the truth, are full set upon accusing
the Bouncil, let the& tell us 'hat are the sort of Scriptures fro& 'hich they ha$e
learned# or 'ho is the Saint (y 'ho& they ha$e (een tau%ht# that the- have heaped
together the phrases, 2out of nothing,2 and 2*e was not before *is generation,2 and 2once.
*e was not,2 and 2alterable,2 and 2pree)istence,2 and 2at the willI2 which are their fables in
moc(er- of the Lord. #7e 7ecretis 0E$
Saints & orthodo) Fathers #7e 7ecretis 22,2?$
Athanasius here ver- clearl- eDuates the orthodo) "Fathers" with the orthodo) "Saints"
/uote@ Therefore let no one be startled on hearing that the Son of ,od is from the
:ssence of the FatherI (ut rather let hi& accept the e2planation of the Fathers# who in
more e)plicit but eDuivalent language have for 2from ,od2 written 2of the essence2... #7e
Athanasius continues in 7e 7ecretis 2?... here "the Saints" & "the Fathers"
/uote@ 2?. Again, the illustration of the Light and the .adiance has this meaning. For
the Saints ha$e not said that the %ord was related to ,od as fire (indled from the heat
of the sun, which is commonl- put out again, for this is an e)ternal wor( and a creature
of its author, but the- all preach of *im as .adiance, thereb- to signif- *is being from
the essence, proper and indivisible, and *is oneness with the Father. This also will
secure *is true unchangableness and immutabilit-I for how can these be *is, unless *e
be proper 3ffspring of the Father2s essence! #7e 7ecretis 2?$
Saints & Bhristian believers in general #Festal Letter 0.L$
/uote@ "For thus the *ol- ,host, describing sinners and their food, referred to the devil
when *e said, 2" have given him to be meat to the people of :thiopia.2 For this is the
food of sinners. And as our 3ord and Sa$iour 4esus 5hrist# (ein% hea$enly (read# is
the food of the saints# accordin% to this. 6!2cept ye eat 1y flesh# and drin) 1y
(lood.6 so is the devil the food of the impure, and of those who do nothing which is of
the light, but wor( the deeds of dar(ness. Therefore, in order to withdraw and turn them
from vices, *e commands them to be nourished with the food of virtueI namel-,
humbleness of mind, lowliness to endure humiliations, the ac(nowledgment of ,od.
For not only does such a fast as this o(tain pardon for souls# (ut (ein% )ept holy# it
prepares the saints# and raises the& a(o$e the earth." #Festal Letter 0.L$
Saints & Bhristian believers #Festal Letter '.F$
/uote@ "Therefore, although wic(ed men press forward to (eep the feast, and as at a
feast praise ,od, and intrude into the 5hurch of the saints# -et ,od e)postulates,
sa-ing to the sinner, 2%h- dost thou tal( of C- ordinances!2 And the gentle Spirit
rebu(es them, sa-ing, 2Araise is not comel- in the mouth of a sinners. 2Geither hath sin
an- place in common with the praise of ,odI for the sinner has a mouth spea(ing
perverse things, as the Aroverb saith, 2The mouth of the wic(ed answereth evil things.2
For how is it possible for us to praise ,od with an impure mouth! since things which
are contrar- to each other cannot coe)ist. For what communion has righteousness with
iniDuit-! or, what fellowship is there between light and dar(ness! So e)claims Aaul, a
minister of the ,ospel. Thus it is that sinners, and all those who are aliens from the
Batholic Bhurch, heretics, and schismatics, since they are e2cluded fro& %lorifyin%
+God, 'ith the saints# cannot properl- even continue observers of the feast." #Festal
Saints & 3T prophets and others that Aaul spea(s about #To the 8ishops of :g-pt 20$
/uote@ "Thus +udas was degraded from the Apostolical office, not because he sacrificed
to idols, but because he proved a traitorI and *-menaeus and Ale)ander fell awa- not
b- beta(ing themselves to the service of idols, but because the- 2made shipwrec(
concerning the faith.2 3n the other hand, the Patriarch A(raha& recei$ed the cro'n#
not (ecause he suffered death# (ut (ecause he 'as faithful unto God. and the other
Saints# of 'ho& Paul spea)s# Gideon# Bara)# Sa&son# 4ephtha# Da$id and Sa&uel#
and the rest# were not made perfect b- the shedding of their blood, but b- faith the-
were >ustifiedI and to this da- the- are the ob>ects of our admiration, as being read-
even to suffer death for piet- towards the Lord." #Athanasius To the 8ishops of :g-pt
Saints & the e)alted "saints who are in heaven" #Festal Letter 00.0$
/uote@ "The blessed Aaul, being girt about with ever- virtue, and called faithful of the
Lordfor he was conscious of nothing in himself but what was a virtue and a praise, or
what was in harmon- with love and godlinessclave to these things more and more, and
was carried up even to heavenl- places, and was borne to AaradiseI to the end that, as he
surpassed the conversation of men, he should (e e2alted a(o$e &en* And when he
descended, he preached to ever- manI 2%e (now in part, and we prophes- in partI here "
(now in partI but then shall " (now even as also " am (nown.2 For# in truth# he 'as
)no'n to those saints 'ho are in hea$en# as their fellowciti<en." #Festal Letter 00.0$
004214=0 ?@=F@F0 am
Dave Armstrong's Page on the Fathers, Saints, and hristian Anti!uities
"olume #" on St. Athanasius $rom %P%F edited b& S'ha$$(Wa'e
%e) Advent olle'tion o$ the Fathers
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