For questions about the Church Fathers, a term applied to eminent theologians and church leaders of the immediate post-apostolic age.

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291 views

When in the development of trinitarian doctrine was the word “persons” first applied to God?

In the Bible, the word "persons" is not used in reference to God, nor are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit called "persons." When, in early Christian writings and creeds, was the word "persons" ...
18
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2answers
239 views

When was “pistis christou” first understood as a statement about Christ’s faith?

There is an ongoing debate among translators and commentators of Paul’s letters about how to understand the phrase Πίστις Χριστοῦ (pistis christou)1 -- “[the] faith[fulness] of Christ" vs. “faith in ...
18
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3answers
469 views

Did the early Church Fathers have a complete agreement on how to interpret 1 Peter 3:18-20?

Did the early Church Fathers have a complete agreement on how to interpret 1 Peter 3:18-20 or did they also have some differences in the way they interpreted these words by Peter? I specifically mean ...
17
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1answer
764 views

Did the Church Fathers advocate celibacy?

What is an overview of the Church Fathers' views on celibacy? Did they see celibacy as a higher or more spiritual calling than marriage? Did they see marriage as incompatible with a spiritual life? ...
17
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1answer
2k views

Are there any writings from the church fathers teaching Original Sin before Augustine?

It has been said by some that Augustine was the first to teach Original Sin, "It was Augustine (354-430 A.D.) who first promoted the idea that; "the fallen nature of Adam was transmitted ...
15
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3answers
1k views

Why did Clement and Eusebius believe that Paul was married?

In an answer to a related question (What is the evidence that suggests that the Apostle Paul was married?), I encountered the following quote from Eusebius: Clement, indeed, whose words we have ...
15
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4answers
327 views

Who first distinguished between the inerrancy of the Bible and the inerrancy of the original autographs?

It's common these days among those who believe in the inerrancy* of the Bible to limit the statement to the original manuscripts. For example, the Chicago Statement reads: We affirm that ...
13
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2answers
912 views

When was it first said in Christianity by a Church Father that heretics must be put to death?

When was it first said in Christianity by a Church Father that heretics must be put to death? Who was the first one of the Church Fathers who came up with this idea and presented it?
13
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1answer
240 views

Did anyone understand the Holy Spirit to be a person prior to the Council of Constantinople in AD 381?

Do we know of any case of the concept of the Holy Spirit being a person existing among Christians before the Constantinople council of 381 A.D.? The reason I am asking this question is because one ...
13
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1answer
337 views

When was the word “trinity” first applied to God in Christianity?

The word "trinity" does not occur in the Bible. When, in early Christian writings and creeds, was the word "trinity" first used in reference to God? After that first (known) occurrence, what are ...
12
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1answer
845 views

What is the basis for the claim that the entire New Testament can be reconstructed apart from original and copied manuscripts?

Bit of a mouthy title, but I remember reading a few years ago that the entire New Testament (perhaps with the exception of very few verses) and most of the Old Testament could be reconstructed from ...
12
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1answer
814 views

Origin of “The Marks of the True Church”

In Reformed Theology, "the marks of a true church" are often delineated, to the effect of: Church discipline Teaching/preaching Administration of the sacraments (These are the marks often denoted ...
12
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1answer
104 views

Did Augustine often complain that his contemporaries burdened the church with their traditions?

In Martin Luther's Table Talk we find: Augustine was the ablest and purest of all the doctors, but he could not of himself bring back things to their original condition, and he often complains ...
11
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2answers
499 views

Did the church fathers or OT talk about the visible and invisible church?

In the Reformation, the doctrine of the distinction between the visible and invisible church was important in the Reformers' claim not to have started a rogue church. I am wondering... Given that it ...
11
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1answer
109 views

Is Luke's label for Christianity - “the Way” - used in later Christian writings?

Christianity is referred to several times in the book of Acts as "the Way" (hē hodos), initially at 9:2: [Saul] asked [the high priest] for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he ...
11
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1answer
314 views

Besides Paul, were there any other enemies of the early church who converted to Christianity?

As I was listening to a debate between Drs. William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier on the historicity of Jesus' resurrection, something Dr. Carrier said caught my attention. He claimed that "[Paul] is ...
11
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1answer
229 views

Is there a patristic precedent for understanding “foreknew” as “foreloved”?

In the Bible, to know often means an intimate knowledge and regard for someone. This doesn't just mean sexually (though that is where the phrase "known in the Biblical sense" came from, as in Genesis ...
10
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5answers
3k views

Did Christ know who He was as a youth?

Did Jesus Christ know as a baby that He was the Son of God? When He worked carpentry with Joseph, His earthly father, did He know then Who or What He was? Did He sense in anyway prior to being a ...
10
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1answer
1k views

Why is Origen considered a Church Father, but not a saint?

I've heard and read in "Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West" (book by Anthony Grafton, page 222) that Origen was considered a Church Father but not a Saint by either the ...
10
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2answers
347 views

What is an overview of early church opposition to authorities?

What is an overview of early church father expressions of opposition against authorities? I'm looking for things like: Protests against state-/government-sponsored injustice Arguments against the ...
9
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3answers
676 views

What support is there in the Patristic writings for Marian Devotion?

Specifically, I want to know if there is evidence in the early Church of Christians venerating Mary. Evidence from the time following Mary's earthly life is preferred, though not required.
9
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2answers
274 views

Why did the Catholic Church decide to have a Bible?

As far as I know, the Catholic Church considers God's revealed truth in Sacred Scripture to be part of, but by no means the sum total of Divine Revelation. Sacred Scripture is the written part of our ...
9
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1answer
460 views

Did any other early church fathers besides Origen teach the pre-existence of souls?

Origen taught about the pre-existence of our souls, which, among many other of his teachings, was later condemned as heresy. Did any other early church fathers teach this doctrine?
9
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2answers
471 views

Did Calvinism borrow its scheme of predestination from Valentinian Gnosticism?

How does the Calvinist notion of predestination differ from that of the Valentinian Gnostics' predestination? There are several sources outlining the Valentinian Gnostic system (anti-heretic "church ...
9
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3answers
147 views

What did the early church fathers (pre-5th c.) teach with regards to the doctrine of baptism as a necessity for salvation?

The title says it all, really. What did the ECF believe and teach with regards to baptism being or not being necessary for salvation? Related: What did the early church fathers (pre-5th c.) teach ...
9
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1answer
676 views

What did the Early Church Fathers think about pets (animals) going to Heaven upon death?

Many people believe that a pet goes to Heaven upon its death. I was curious, what did the Early Church Fathers (e.g., Augustine, John of Damascus, Tertullian, etc.) say about this?
9
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0answers
139 views

Have any ante-Nicene writings been discovered in the past 20 years?

Have an writings or fragments of ante-Nicene Church Fathers previously unknown (that is the actual words were not known, not necessarily that the name of the work was also previously unknown) to ...
8
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2answers
3k views

Did Origen castrate himself under a literal interpretation of Matthew 19:12?

I was just reading some history on extreme forms of asceticism and monasticism. In passing the subject of Origen it said he had castrated himself. Is this generally considered true by church ...
8
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2answers
130 views

Did any of the Apostolic Fathers know Paul?

Is there any extra-biblical written evidence that any of the Apostolic Fathers knew the Apostle Paul? If so, what is the written evidence that they were taught by Paul or even heard him Preach? Are ...
8
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1answer
396 views

What is the origin of the story that the Apostle John taught only “love one another”?

I've heard in a sermon that there is a story about Apostle John's last days, when he was working in Ephesus. The story tells that usually, at the Lord's Supper, John was invited to give a little ...
8
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1answer
175 views

Did Augustine believe in Purgatory?

Purgatory was one of the doctrines the Reformers reacted most strongly against, though many Reformers claimed Augustine of Hippo as being in agreement with their theology. Did Augustine teach a ...
8
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2answers
446 views

What view of eschatology did the early church believe?

I have recently been studying eschatology and have been looking at the main views of eschatology. So far, I have found four (I apologize in advance if I have misrepresented your view. I would ...
8
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1answer
155 views

Are there any surviving (English translated) works by Athanasius about the Apollinarian heresy?

As I've looked around the internet at reactions to Athanasius' magnum opus On the Incarnation, I've seen some accusations of latent Apollinarism. The work was published before the Apollinarian heresy ...
7
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2answers
4k views

Why is Mark not the first gospel?

We all know that Mark was the first gospel ever written. Why then is it that when the New Testament was compiled, Mark was not listed as the first book in the New Testament? What are the reasons that ...
7
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2answers
144 views

When did the immutability of God become entrenched in Christian literature?

The immutability of God means God does not change, and it is considered heresy to disagree. However, this concept seems so close to the Greek's idea of perfection, and to conflict with the well-known ...
7
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1answer
208 views

Does Jesus's soul exist before his incarnation?

I am referring to the following clause ( clause III) in "The Anathematisms of the Emperor Justinian Against Origen" If anyone says or thinks that the soul of the Lord pre-existed and was united ...
7
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2answers
180 views

What is the evidence that Ignatius of Antioch was ordained by the Apostles?

What evidence do we possess today indicating that Ignatius of Antioch was ordained by the Apostles?
7
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3answers
112 views

What makes a Council's conclusions authoritative?

I was just reflecting on an answer to a question I recently asked, and began to wonder... How do we know the conclusions of a given Council were true? Are all findings by Christian Councils ...
7
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1answer
148 views

What are the main points of dissent between Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom?

What were the main differences or points of dissent between Cyril of Alexandria and John Chrysostom? Can anyone give a summary, please?
7
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1answer
499 views

John Wesley's influence by ancient fathers

I have been told that John Wesley read the pre-Schism fathers a lot, and was influenced by them. Is this so, and if so, to what extent and how was his doctrine influenced by them?
6
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3answers
496 views

What are the Church fathers' arguments that Peter is the rock?

The Roman Catholic Church asserts that the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the legitimate successor of the apostle Peter, the "rock" upon whom the Lord Jesus Christ founded his Church, according to its ...
6
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1answer
73 views

Do any of the Church Fathers draw a connection between Eve and the Holy Spirit?

In Wild at Heart, author John Eldredge takes some effort to describe the language used in Genesis 2:18 to refer to Eve. While some translations and commentors translate the hebrew "עֵ֖זֶר ...
6
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1answer
2k views

What was Paul's “revelation” (mentioned in Galatians 2:2)?

Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which ...
6
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1answer
101 views

How do the early church fathers expound upon the “exaltation of Christ” (Philippians 2:9-11) in light of the immutability of Jesus Christ?

Philippians 2:9-11 NIV 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on ...
6
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1answer
226 views

Why were none of the Apostolic fathers' writings included in the last canon accepted in the Ecumenical Councils?

Why is it so that none of the Apostolic fathers' writings was included in the last canon accepted during the time of the Seven Ecumenical Councils? By the "last canon" I mean the one that we have ...
6
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1answer
223 views

When was it first said in Christianity by a Church Father that heretics must be tortured physically?

This question is very similar to the one I had asked before: "When was it first said in Christianity by a Church Father that heretics must be put to death?", however, there is still a difference. In ...
6
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1answer
203 views

What arguments do the Church Fathers make for nocturnal emissions not being a sin?

I've run across claims (although I'm having trouble digging them up again; I might be thinking of the implications in this reddit thread) that Augustine and Cassian were almost the only early ...
6
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1answer
1k views

How did “credibile est, quia ineptum est” become “credo quia absurdum”?

The quote "Credo quia absurdum" (I believe, because it is absurd) is ascribed to Tertullian. But Tertullian never wrote this: what he wrote (De Carne Christi, V, 4) was "Prorsus credibile est, quia ...
6
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1answer
109 views

When Meister Eckhart deliniates the “ground” and “powers” of the soul, what is he differentiating?

I'd like to know where to look for scholarly articles that could help elucidate unclear points in ancient writings. For instance, Desert Fathers speak a lot about "heart", "spirit", "mind", ...
6
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0answers
56 views

Early Church Fathers and Numerology

I came across this quote by St.Augustine: “The good Christian should beware of mathematicians. The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the ...