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Questions tagged [church-fathers]

Theologians and church leaders of the post-apostolic period up to the 7th century.

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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" (...
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Do any church fathers directly connect “speaking in tongues” with anything other than existing human languages?

One of the arguments made by those who believe that the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased (cessationists) is that the "tongues" spoken of in both Acts and 1 Corinthians 12–14 are "real" human ...
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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 ...
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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? ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Why did so many early church fathers say that sex was a consequence of the Fall?

According to an Orthodox that replies to someone else in an exchange regarding marital sex, he states "remember the words of Psalm 50" (Psalm 51 in Masoretic-based Bibles): I was conceived in ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Have any ante-Nicene writings been discovered in the past 20 years?

Have any 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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Did any early church fathers, other than Augustine, condemn or write about 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 ...
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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 that ...
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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 ...
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Which church father first taught the perpetual virginity of Mary?

Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck, in his Reformed Dogmatics, III, §366, briefly deals with Mary's perpetual virginity, and touches on the doctrine's history: We do not yet find this idea of Mary'...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Why was the epistle of Clement to Corinth not considered canonical?

I'm wondering on this one. I'm reading Eusebius and he states that at least one letter from the Bishop Clement (c. 35 AD - 99 AD) to Corinth was considered worthy to be read and was circulated among ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Where can I find a complete set of Ante-Nicene Writings?

I am a self-learner and am really interested in the writings of the Christian fathers during the Ante-Nicene period. I found an great e-book for a few dollars titled "The Complete Ante-Nicene Church ...
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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.
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Did any of the Apostolic Fathers know Paul?

Is there any extra-biblical written evidence that any of the Apostolic Fathers (i.e., the early Christian theologians of the 1st and 2nd centuries) knew the Apostle Paul? If so, what is the written ...
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Did Christ know who He was as a youth? [closed]

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 ...
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Was there a “cessation of church fathers” in Catholicism?

I read somewhere in passing that the Orthodox church never set a limit for who can be a church father, and it is therefore possible for someone today to be a church father, or even someone in the ...
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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 ...
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What is the source of the quote attributed to Origen, that “the soul has neither beginning nor end”?

Related answer: Is there any substance to the claim that Origen supported reincarnation? The following quote is widely attributed to Origen in books and on the internet (e.g., here and here): The ...
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Did adherents of apocatastasis in the early church believe that the devil and his demons would be restored?

While reading a fascinating answer on universalism and apocatastasis, I found 1 Corinthians 15:28 quoted as evidence for the idea that all people will ultimately be restored/saved: When all things ...
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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 ...
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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?
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What is the earliest mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated?

There is no explicit mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated in the Bible. What are the earliest historical documents that make reference to how often the Eucharist was celebrated?
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What did the fathers of the early church think of Tertullian?

Today, Tertullian (c. AD 155–240) has something of a mixed reputation in many Christian circles. He's recognized as a significant thinker and a major contributor to the doctrine of the Trinity. But ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What is the Adventist response to Justin Martyr?

Justin Martyr described Christians worshiping on Sunday twice in his first apology. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place But ...
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Did any church fathers after Chrysostom believe that Mary committed sin?

The belief that Mary never committed sin has been around a long time, much longer than the final formulation of the doctrine of her immaculate conception (which happened around the 13th century). ...
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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 ...
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Why is Pontius Pilate blamed for killing Jesus in the Apostles' Creed?

In Apostles' Creed, the name of Pontius Pilate is forever associated with the infamy of being Jesus Christ's persecutor. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I ...
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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 ...
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Was universalism the majority belief of the early church?

I recently came upon an article that made this statement: According to historical records, Universal Reconciliation was the majority belief of the church during the first five centuries of the ...
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Do any early Church Fathers record the event of the ceasing of spiritual gifts?

A central belief held by an overwhelming majority of Cessationists is that the "supernatural spiritual gifts" (e.g., tongues, prophecy, healing, miracles, etc.) ceased with the end of the apostolic ...
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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 כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ׃...
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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?