Scripture and Tradition: The Rule of Faith in Patristic Thought

The following is a compilation of patristic quotes from Joe Gallegos (I added some material on St. Cyril of Jerusalem) showing the Church Fathers appealed both to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition together as the Rule of Faith for Christian doctrine and practice and believed the teaching Church (for example, meeting in Ecumenical Council) and the apostolic succession of bishops is the sure guarantee that Scripture is interpreted in a true and orthodox Catholic sense. Hence, "formal sufficiency" (the notion that Scripture stands alone -- Sola Scriptura -- and should be interpreted privately) is denied by all the Church Fathers (those holy bishops, saints, and early writers of the first eight centuries of Christianity) without exception; however, "material sufficiency" (that Scripture contains all the basic "material" of divine revelation) is affirmed by most in the historic Church.

For a much fuller presentation from the Church Fathers, see my response to the Webster/King volumes Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith here

There are a few recent critics of Catholicism that make such bold statements as:

"Roman Catholic teaching claims that sola scriptura is unhistorical; that is, it contradicts the universal teaching of the early church. The more I have searched for the truth regarding these Roman Catholic beliefs, the more I have been compelled to conclude the facts will not support this claim. Sola scriptura was the universal teaching of the church Fathers and for the church as a whole through the later Middle Ages."

(William Webster in Roman Catholicism edited by John Armstrong [Moody Press, 1994] with chapters by leading Evangelical Protestants, page 272 -- Webster, a former Catholic, makes the same claim in his more recent work The Church of Rome at the Bar of History)

The following shall be a sufficient refutation of the above claim. For a more thorough analysis and exhaustive study, see the book Not By Scripture Alone: A Catholic Critique of the Protestant Doctrine of Sola Scriptura edited by Robert Sungenis (Queenship Publishing, 1997) with the chapter and appendix by Joe Gallegos on the Fathers (pages 389-554, about 160 pages) that contains all of the following quotes (and much more) with references to the 38-volume edition of the Fathers edited by the Protestant patristic scholar Philip Schaff, along with other references.

Thank you, Joe, for your fine work. Additional excellent sources on this subject are:

Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly (1978), especially chapter 2 on "Tradition and Scripture" for a brief analysis by a top Anglican scholar of Church history and patristics

Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theological Essay by Yves Congar (1967, reprinted recently by Basilica Press) for a massive study by a top Catholic scholar

Holy Writ or Holy Church: The Crisis of the Protestant Reformation by George Tavard (1959)

Quotes emphasizing Sacred Scripture

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." II Timothy 3:14-17 (RSV)


"It is manifest that those things are not to be inquired into, which Scripture has passed over into silence. For the Holy Spirit has dispensed and administered to us all things which conduce to our profit" Anagog Contemp in Hexem lib 8 init


"...for the tokens of truth are more exact as drawn from Scripture, than from other sources..." De Decretis 31

"The holy and inspired Scriptures are sufficient of themselves for the preaching of the Truth" Contra Gentiles 1,1

"These [canonical] books are the fountains of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the oracles contained in them: in these alone the school of piety preaches the Gospel; let no man add to or take away from them." Festal Letters 39

"For they were spoken and written by God" De Incarnatione 56

"...the Scriptures...will learn from them more completely and clearly the exact detail of what we said" ibid 56

"Scripture is of all things most sufficient for us" Ad Epis Aeg 4

"Divine Scripture is sufficient above all things" De Synodis 6


"The Scriptures are enough for instruction" Vita S. Antoni 16


"What more shall I teach you than what we read in the Apostle? For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare to be wiser than we ought" De Bono Viduitatis 2

"Let us therefore give the authority of the Holy Scriptures" De Peccatorum 33

"Let us search for the Church in the Sacred Scriptures" Epis 105

"[H]e will find there in much greater abundance things that are to be found nowhere else, but can be learnt only in the wonderful sublimity and wonderful simplicity of the Scriptures" De Doctr Christ 2,42,63

"It believes also the Holy Scriptures, old and new, which we call canonical, and which are the source of the faith by which the just lives..." De Civ Dei 19,18


"The hearers taught in the Scriptures ought to test what is said by teachers and accept that which agrees with the Scriptures but reject what is foreign" Moralia 72,1

"Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth" Epis Ad Eustathius


"How can we prove and certify as true something which Sacred Scripture does not attest?" Glaphyra on Genesis PG 69,53c


"In regard to the divine and holy mysteries of the faith, not the least part may be handed on without the Holy Scriptures. Do not be led astray by winning words and clever arguments. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready belief, unless you receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of the things which I announce. The salvation in which we believe is not proved from clever reasoning, but from the Holy Scriptures."Catechetical Lectures 4,17

"...that you also, by ranging over the Sacred Scriptures, may lay hold of salvation for yourself, and, sated with the Scriptures, you may say: 'How sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth!' [citing Psalm 118(119):103]" ibid 9,13

"Now do not fix your attention on any skill of language on my part, for perhaps you may be deceived; unless you get the testimony of the prophets on each point, do not believe what is said. Unless you learn from the Holy Scriptures regarding the Virgin, the place, the time, the manner [concerning the Incarnation], 'do not receive the witness of man' [citing John 5:34]." ibid 12,5

"'He was buried, and He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures' [1 Cor 15:4]. An Apostle has sent us back to the testimony of the Scriptures; from the same source we will do well to discover the hope of our salvation." ibid 14,2

"Let us assert of the Holy Spirit, therefore, only what is written; let us not busy ourselves about what is not written. The Holy Spirit has authored the Scriptures; He has spoken of Himself all that He wished, or all that we could grasp; let us confine ourselves to what He has said, for it is reckless to do otherwise." ibid 16,2


"Therefore I beg you all that you give up what appeals to this one or that one and that you address all these questions concerning these things to the Scriptures." Homily 13 on 2 Corinthians

"If anything is said without Scripture, the thinking of the hearers limps. But where the testimony proceeds from the divinely given Scripture, it confirms both the speech of the preacher and the soul of the hearer."Commenting on Psalm 95

"But when Scripture wants to teach us something like that, it interprets itself and does not permit the hearer to err. I therefore beg and entreat that we close our ears to all these things and follow the canon of the Holy Scripture exactly." Homily 13 on Genesis

"As a trusty door, Scripture shuts out heretics, securing us from error..." Joann 58

"Everything in the divine Scriptures is clear and straightforward; they inform us about all that is necessary" Epis 2 ad Thess 3,4


"[B]eing most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and by His Spirit" Against Heresies 2,28,2

"The Apostles at that time first preached the Gospel but later by the will of God, they delivered it to us in the Scriptures, that it might be the foundation and pillar of our faith" ibid 3,1,1

"Since, therefore, the tradition from the Apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those Apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him" ibid 3,5,1


"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ" In Isaiah Prologue


"It is necessary to take the Holy Scriptures as witnesses; for our comments and statements without these witnesses are not trustworthy" In Jerem 1,7

"For he knows that Scripture, as a whole, is God's one perfect and complete instrument, giving forth, to those who wish to learn its one saving music..." In Matt tom 2


"If it is nowhere written, then let it fear the woe which impends on all who add to or take away from the written word" Ad Hermogenes 22

"It is right that His conduct be investigated according to the rule of Scripture" Ad Marcion 3,17


"It would be acting according to demonic inspiration to follow the thinking of the human mind and to think there could be anything divine apart from the authority of the Scriptures" Pascal Letter of 401

Quotes emphasizing Sacred Tradition and the Authority of the Catholic Church to uphold and proclaim the Truth

"Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you." I Corinthians 11:2 (NKJV)

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." II Thessalonians 2:15 (NKJV)

"the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth" I Timothy 3:15 (NIV)

"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." II Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)

"There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called to one hope when you were called -- one Lord, ONE FAITH, one baptism...." Ephesians 4:4-5 (NIV)


"But if they will not believe the doctrines of the priests, let them believe Christ's oracles, let them believe the admonitions of angels who say, 'For with God nothing is impossible.' Let them believe the Apostles CREED WHICH THE ROMAN CHURCH has always kept undefiled" To Sircius


"The confession arrived at Nicaea was, we say, more SUFFICIENT and ENOUGH BY ITSELF, for the subversion of all irreligious heresy, and for the security and furtherance of the doctrine of the Church" Ad Afros 1

"But the WORD OF THE LORD which came THROUGH the Ecumenical Synod at Nicaea, abides forever" Ad Afros 2

"...forcing on the divine oracles a misinterpretation according to their [the heretics] OWN PRIVATE sense" Orat 1,37

"...that He was not before that time, but is wholly man by nature and nothing more. But this is NO sentiment of the CHURCH, but of the Samosatene and of the present Jews..." Orat 1,38

"This then I consider the sense of this passage, and that, a VERY ECCLESIASTICAL sense." Orat 1,44

"Who heard in his FIRST CATECHISING, that God has a Son and has made all things by His proper Word, BUT understood it in THAT SENSE in which we now mean it? Who on the rise of this odious heresy of the Arians, was not startled at what he heard, as strange" Orat 2,34

"However here too they (Arians) introduce their private fictions, and contend that the Son and the Father are not in such wise 'one,' or 'like,' as the CHURCH preaches, but as they themselves would have it" Orat 3,10

"If we now consider the OBJECT of that FAITH which we Christians HOLD, and using it as a RULE, apply ourselves, as the Apostle teaches to the reading of inspired Scripture. For Christ's enemies, being ignorant of this OBJECT, have wandered from the way of truth, and have stumbled on a stone of stumbling, thinking otherwise than they should think" Orat 3,28

"Let us, retaining the GENERAL SCOPE of the faith, acknowledge that what they interpret ill, has a RIGHT interpretation" Orat 3,35

"Had Christ enemies thus dwelt on these thoughts, and recognized the ECCLESIASTICAL SCOPE as an ANCHOR for the faith, they would NOT have made SHIPWRECK of the faith..." Orat 3,58

"We are content with the fact that this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor did the Fathers hold this." Epis 59

"But our faith is right, and starts from the teaching of the Apostles and TRADITION of the FATHERS, being confirmed both by the New Testament and the Old." Epis 60

"But 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 HAVE HANDED DOWN, and receiving them as the traditions of men, err, because they DO NOT rightly KNOW THEM nor their power" Festal Letter 2

"Scarcely, however, did they begin to speak, when they were condemned, and one differed from another; then perceiving the straits in which their heresy lay, they remained dumb, and by their silence confessed the disgrace which came upon their heterodoxy. On this the Bishops, having negatived the terms they had invented, published against them the SOUND and ECCLESIASTICAL faith....And what is strange indeed, Eusebius of Caesarea in Palestine, who had denied the day before, but afterward subscribed, sent to his Church a letter, saying that this was the CHURCH'S faith and the TRADITION of the FATHERS" De Decretis 3

"Are they not then committing a crime in their very thought to gainsay so GREAT and ECUMENICAL a Council?" De Decretis 4

"For, what OUR FATHERS have delivered, THIS IS TRULY DOCTRINE; and this is truly the TOKEN of doctors, to CONFESS THE SAME THING with each other, and to vary NEITHER from themselves nor from their FATHERS...Thus the Greeks, as not witnessing to the SAME doctrines, but quarreling one with another, have no truth of teaching; but the holy and veritable HERALDS OF TRUTH AGREE TOGETHER, and do not differ...preaching the same Word harmoniously" De Decretis 4

"...and it is seemingly and most irreligious when Scripture contains such images, to form ideas concerning our Lord from others which are neither in Scripture, nor have any religious bearing. THEREFORE let them tell us FROM WHAT TEACHER OR BY WHAT TRADITION they derived these notions concerning the Savior?...But they seem to me to have a wrong understanding of this passage also; for it has a RELIGIOUS and VERY ORTHODOX sense, which had they understood, they would not have blasphemed the Lord of glory" De Decretis 13

"...and in dizziness about TRUTH, are full set upon accusing the COUNCIL, let them tell us what are the Scriptures from what they have learned, or WHO is the SAINT by whom they have BEEN TAUGHT..." De Decretis 18

"MUST needs hold and intend the decisions of the Council, suitably regarding them to signify the relation of the RADIANCE to the LIGHT, and FROM THENCE gaining the illustration TO THE TRUTH" De Decretis 20

"We are PROVING that THIS view has been TRANSMITTED from FATHER to FATHER, but ye, O modern Jews and disciples of Caiaphas, how many FATHERS CAN YE ASSIGN to your phrases? Not one of the understandings and wise; for all abhor you, but the devil alone; none but he is your father in this apostasy, who both in the beginning sowed you with the seed of this IRRELIGION, and now persuades you to slander the ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, for committing to writing, not YOUR doctrines, but that which from the BEGINNING those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word have handed down to us. For the faith which the COUNCIL has confessed in writing, that is the faith of the Catholic Church; to assert this, the BLESSED FATHERS so expressed themselves while condemning the Arian heresy..." De Decretis 27

"...For they dissent from each other, and, whereas they have revolted from THEIR FATHERS, are not of ONE AND THE SAME MIND, but float about with various and discordant changes" De Synodis 13

"For it is right and meet thus to feel, and to maintain a good conscience toward the FATHERS, if we be not spurious children, but have received the TRADITIONS from them, and the LESSONS of religion at their hands" De Synodis 47

"Such then, as we confess and believe, being the SENSE of the FATHERS..." De Synodis 48

"...but do you, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the TRADITIONS of the FATHERS, pray that now at length all strife and rivalry may cease and the futile questions of the heretics may be condemned..." De Synodis 54

"Of course, the holy Scriptures, divinely inspired are self-sufficient for the proclamation of the truth. But there are also numerous works composed for this purpose by blessed TEACHERS. The ONE WHO READS THEM will UNDERSTAND the INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures AND will be ABLE to GAIN knowledge he desires" C. Gentes 1

"But the sectaries, who have fallen away from the TEACHING of the CHURCH, and made SHIPWRECK concerning the faith" C. Gentes 6

"But that the soul is made immortal is a further point in the CHURCH'S TEACHING which you must know..." C. Gentes 33

"But what is also to the point, let us note that the very TRADITION, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning was preached by the Apostles and PRESERVED by the FATHERS. On THISthe Church was founded; and if anyone departs from THIS, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian." Ad Serapion 1,28


"Wherefore keep yourselves all the more untainted by them, and observe the TRADITIONS of the FATHERS, and chiefly the holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have learned from the SCRIPTURE, AND of which you have often been put in mind BY ME" Vita S. Antoni 89


"For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty...The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church, so does her authority, inaugerated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The SUCCESSION of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the APOSTLE PETER, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave it in charge to feed his sheep, down to the present EPISCOPATE...

"The epistle begins thus: 'Manicheus, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the providence of God the Father. These are the wholesome words from the perennial and living fountain.' Now, if you please, patiently give heed to my inquiry. I do not believe Manicheus to be an apostle of Christ. Do not, I beg you, be enraged and begin to curse. For you know that it is my rule to believe none of your statements without consideration. Therefore I ask, who is this Manicheus? You will reply, 'An Apostle of Christ.' I do not believe it. Now you are at a loss what to say or do; for you promised to give knowledge of truth, and here you are forcing me to believe what I have no knowledge of. Perhaps you will read the gospel to me, and will attempt to find there a testimony to Manicheus. But should you meet with a person not yet believing in the gospel, how would you reply to him were he to say, I do not believe? For MY PART, I should NOT BELIEVE THE GOSPEL EXCEPT MOVED BY THE AUTHORITY of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manicheus, how can I BUT CONSENT?"

C. Epis Mani 5,6

"Wherever this tradition comes from, we must believe that the Church has not believed in vain, even though the express authority of the canonical Scriptures is not brought forward for it" Letter 164 to Evodius of Uzalis

"To be sure, although on this matter, we cannot quote a clear example taken from the canonical Scriptures, at any rate, on this question, we are following the true thought of Scriptures when we observe what has appeared good to the universal Church which the authority of these same Scriptures recommends to you" C. Cresconius 1,33

"It is obvious; the faith allows it; the Catholic Church approves; it is true" Sermon 117,6

"If therefore, I am going to believe things I do not know about, why should I not believe those things which are accepted by the common consent of learned and unlearned alike and are established by most weighty authority of all peoples?" C. Letter Called Fundamentals 14,18

"Will you, then, so love your error, into which you have fallen through adolescent overconfidence and human weakness, that you will separate yourself from these leaders of Catholic unity and truth, from so many different parts of the world who are in agreement among themselves on so important a question, one in which the essence of the Christian religion involved..." C. Julian 1,7,34

"The authority of our Scriptures, strengthened by the consent of so many nations, and confirmed by the succession of the Apostles, Bishops and Councils, is against you" C. Faustus 8,5

"No sensible person will go contrary to reason, no Christian will contradict the Scriptures, no lover of peace will go against the CHURCH" Trinitas 4,6,10


"Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture AS WELL those which have been gathered concerning it as those which we have RECEIVED from the UNWRITTEN TRADITION of the Fathers" On the Holy Spirit 22

"Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have delivered to us in a mystery by the Apostles by the TRADITION of the Apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the SAME FORCE" On the Holy Spirit 27

"The day would fail me, if I went through the mysteries of the Church which are NOT in Scripture. I pass by the others, the very confession of FAITH, in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, from what WRITTEN document have we?" On the Holy Spirit 67

"While the UNWRITTEN TRADITIONS are so many and their bearing on 'the mystery of godliness' is so important, can they refuse us a single word which has come down to us from the Fathers; which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches; a word for which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery" On the Holy Spirit 67

"In answer to the objection that the doxology in the form 'with the Spirit' has NO written authority, we maintain that if there is not other instance of that which is UNWRITTEN, then this must not be received. But if the GREAT NUMBER of our mysteries are admitted into our constitution WITHOUT written authority, then, in company with many others, let us receive this one. FOR I HOLD IT APOSTOLIC TO ABIDE BY THE UNWRITTEN TRADITIONS. 'I praise you,' it is said, 'that ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I have delivered them to you' [1 Cor 11:2]; and 'Hold fast the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our Epistle' [2 Thess 2:15]....One of these traditions is the practice which is now before us, which they who ordained from the beginning, rooted firmly in the churches, delivering it to their SUCCESSORS, and its use through long custom advances pace by pace with time. If as in a court of Law, we were at a loss for documentary evidence, but were able to bring before you a large number of witnesses, would you not give your vote for our aquittal? I think so; for 'at the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the matter be established' [Matt 18:16; Deut 19:15]. And if we could prove clearly to you that a long period of time was in our favour, should we not have seemed to you to urge you with reason that this suit ought not to be brought into court against us? For ancient dogmas inspire a certain sense of awe, venerable as they are with hoary antiquity" On the Holy Spirit 71

"....and I have not allowed my judgement concerning them to rest wholly with myself, but have followed the decisions given about them by our Fathers." Epis 204,6

Basil continues affirming that he would receive the Arians if they started:

"...accepting the Nicene Creed..." Epis 204,6

Basil continues:

" to be received without hesitation and difficulty, citing in support of his opinion the unanimous assent of the Bishops of Macedonia and Asia" Epis 204,6

Again repudiating private opinion and affirming Scripture, Tradition and Church. Regarding the authority of St. Athanasius, the unanimous consent of the Bishops, and the Nicene Creed, Basil writes:

"...considering myself bound to follow the high authority of such a man and of those who made the rule, and with every desire on my part to win the reward promised peacemakers, did enroll in the lists of communicants all who accepted that Creed. The fair thing would be to judge of me, not from one or two who do not walk uprightly in the truth, but from the multitude of Bishops throughout the world, connected with me by the grace of the may learn that we are all of one mind and of one opinion. Whoso shuns communion with me, it cannot escape your accuracy, CUTS HIMSELF OFF from the whole Church." Epis 204,6-7

"Not to accept the VOICE of the Fathers as being of more authority than their OPINION deserves reproof as something filled with pride!" Epis to Canonicas


To Pope Cornelius:

"After all this, they yet in addition, having had a false bishop ordained for them by heretics, dare to set sail, and to carry letters from schismatic and profane persons to the CHAIR OF PETER [which is] the PRINCIPAL CHURCH, whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise. They fail to reflect that those Romans are the same as those whose faith was publicly praised by the Apostle, to whom unbelief CANNOT have access" Epis 59,14


Speaking of his own teachers,

"But they, safeguarding the TRUE TRADITION of the blessed teaching, which comes straight from the Apostles Peter, James, John and Paul and transmitted from father to son have come down to us with the help of God to deposit in us those ancestral and apostolic seeds" Stromata 1,11

After Clement repudiates the private interpretation of the Gnostics he writes:

"For US...having grown old in the Scriptures, PRESERVING the Apostolic and ecclesiastical correctness of doctrine, living a life according to the Gospel, is led by the Lord to discover the proofs from the Law and the prophets which he seeks." Stromata 7,104


"We believe in ONE HOLY CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC ++++CHURCH++++" Nicene Creed


"We confess that (we) hold and declare the faith given from the beginning by the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ to the Holy Apostles, and preached by them in the whole world; which the SACRED FATHERS CONFESSED and EXPLAINED, and HANDED DOWN to the holy churches, and especially (those Fathers) who assembled in the FOUR sacred Synods, whom we follow and accept through all things and in all things...judging as at odds with piety all things, indeed, which are not in accord with what has been defined as RIGHT FAITH by the same FOUR holy Councils [Nicaea I, Constantinople I, Ephesus, Chalcedon], we condemn and anathematize." Denzinger 212


"If anyone rejects all ecclesiastical tradition either written or not written...let him be anathema." Denzinger 308


"But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that ONLY, which is now DELIVERED TO THEE BY THE CHURCH, AND which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures." Catechetical Lectures 5,12

"Learn also diligently, and FROM THE CHURCH, WHAT are the books of the Old Testament, and WHAT are the books of the NEW" ibid 5,33

"These mysteries which the CHURCH now explains to you who are passing from the ranks of the catechumens...." ibid 6,29

"This is the CHURCH'S TRADITIONAL instruction...." [or Schaff: "Of these things the CHURCH admonishes and teaches thee..." ibid 6,34

"And to speak more briefly, let us neither separate nor confuse Father and Son; and never say that the Son is alien to the Father, nor receive those who say that the Father is at one time Father and at another Son; for such expressions are strange and impious and not the TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH." ibid 11,18

To show Cyril has different understandings of the word "proof" (compare with ibid 4,17 above) :

"So, therefore, you have the PROOF from Scripture: [Cyril cites Daniel 9:25]...For the present, then, you have this PROOF of the time, though the weeks of years foretold in Daniel ARE INTERPRETED VARIOUSLY." ibid 12,19

"Our teaching is no invention on our part, but derived from the Sacred Scriptures, particularly from the prophecy of Daniel just read....According to the TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATION of the Fathers, this is the kingdom of the Romans [referring to Daniel 7:23]." ibid 15,13

"To prevent some in ignorance from thinking, because of the different titles of the Holy Spirit, that these are different spirits and not one and the same (and One only), the Catholic Church has provided for your SAFETY in the TRADITIONAL CONFESSION OF THE FAITH [Schaff: "the Catholic Church guarding thee beforehand hath delivered to thee in the profession of the faith"], which commands us to 'believe in one Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who spoke by the prophets...'" ibid 27,3

"The word itself and the title of 'Spirit' are applied to Them in common in the Holy Scriptures, for it is said of the Father; 'God is spirit' [Jn 4:24], as it is written in the Gospel according to John; and of the Son: 'A spirit before our face, Christ the Lord' [cf. Lam 4:20] as Jeremia the Prophet says; and of the Holy Spirit: 'but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit' [Jn 14:26], as it has been said; YET the ORDER OF THE CREED, if devoutly understood, EXCLUDES the ERROR of Sabellius." ibid 27,34

"Faith in the resurrection of the dead is a central precept and teaching of the holy Catholic Church...." ibid 28,1

"Now then let me finish what still remains to be said for the Article, 'In one holy Catholic Church,' on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly. It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it TEACHES UNIVERSALLY AND COMPLETELY [Jurgens translates "infallibly"] ONE AND ALL THE DOCTRINES which ought to come to men's KNOWLEDGE, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts." ibid 18,22-23


"'So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word, or by an epistle of ours' [2 Thes 2:15]. Hence it is MANIFEST, that they did NOT deliver all things by Epistle, but MANY THINGS UNWRITTEN, and IN LIKE MANNER BOTH the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the TRADITION of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition seek no farther." Homilies on Second Thessalonians 4,2

"We may answer, that what is here written, was sufficient for those who would attend, and that the sacred writers ever addressed themsleves to the matter of immediate importance, whatever it might be at that time: it was no object with them to be writers of books: in fact, there are MANY THINGS which have been delivered by UNWRITTEN TRADITION. Now while all that is contained in this Book is worthy of admiration, so is especially the way the Apostles have of coming down to the wants of their hearers: a condescension suggested by the Spirit who has so ordered it, that the subject on which they chiefly dwell is that pertains to Christ as man. For so it is, that while they discourse so much about Christ, they have spoke little concerning His Godhead: it was mostly of the manhood that they discoursed, and of the Passion, and the Resurrection, and the Ascension." Homilies on Acts 1,1

"Not in vain did the APOSTLES order that remembrance should be made of the dead in the sacred mysteries" Homilies on Philippians 3,4


"But for all the divine words, there is no need of allegory to grasp the meaning; what is necessary is study and understanding to know the MEANING of each statement. We must have recourse to TRADITION, for all cannot be received from the divine Scriptures. That is why the holy Apostles handed down certain things in writings but others by TRADITIONS. As Paul said: 'Just as I handed them on to you' [cf. 1 Cor 11:2,23ff; 15:1ff]." Panarion 61,6


"My sheep hear my voice, which I heard from the oracles of God, which I have been taught by the Holy FATHERS, which I have taught alike on all occasions, not conforming myself to the opportune, and which I will never cease to teach; in which I was born, and in which I will depart" Orat 33,15

"I desire to learn what is this fashion of innovation in things concerning the Church...But since our faith has been proclaimed, both in writing and WITHOUT writing, here and in distant parts, in times of danger and of safety, how comes it that some make such attempts, and that others keep silence?" Epis 101


"Let [Eunomius] first show, then, that the Church has believed in vain that the Only-begotten Son truly exists, not made such through adoption by a Father falsely so-called, but existing as such according to nature, by generation from Him Who Is, not estranged from the nature of Him who begot Him....It suffices for the PROOF of our statement that we have a TRADITION coming down from the FATHERS, an inheritance as it were, by SUCCESSION from the Apostles through the SAINTS who came after them." C. Eunomius 3(4)

"...I say, that the Church teaches this in plain language, that the Only-begotten is essentially God, very God of the essence of the very God, how OUGHT one who OPPOSES HER DECISIONS to overthrow the preconceived opinion?" C. Eunomius 4,6

"They, on the other hand, who change their doctrines to this novelty, would need the support of their arguments in abundance, if they were to bring over to their views, not men light as dust, and unstable, but MEN OF WEIGHT and steadiness: but so long as their statement is advanced without being established, and without being proved, who is so foolish and so brutish as to account the teaching of the evangelists and Apostles, AND of those who successively shone like lights in the churches, of less force than this undemonstrated nonsense" ibid 4,6


"It behooves us not to withdraw from the CREED which we have received...nor to back off from the faith which we have received through the prophets...or to back-slide from the Gospels. Once laid down, it continues even to this day through the TRADITION of the FATHERS" Ex Oper Hist Fragment 7,3


"It is NOT by drawing on the Holy Scriptures NOR BY GUARDING the TRADITION of some holy person that the heretics have formulated these doctrines." Refutation of All Heresies 1,Preface


"I beseech you, therefore, do nothing in a spirit of division, but act according to Christian teaching. Indeed, I heard some men saying, 'If I do not find it in the ancient Scriptures (OT), I will not believe the Gospels.' On my saying to them, 'It is written,' they answered me, 'That remains to be proved.' But to me Jesus Christ is in the place of all that is ancient: His cross, and death and resurrection, and the FAITH which is by Him are undefiled monuments of antiquity." Epis Phil 8,2

"Follow the Bishop, all of you, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the presbyterium as the Apostles. As for the deacons, respect them as the Law of God. Let no one do anything with reference to the Church without the Bishop. Only that Eucharist may be regarded as legitimate which is celebrated with the bishop or his delegate presiding. Where the Bishop is, there let the community be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Epis Smyrn 8,1-2


"The Apostles at that time FIRST PREACHED the Gospel but later by the will of God, they delivered it to us in the Scriptures, that it might be the foundation and pillar of our faith" Against Heresies 3,1,1

"Since, therefore, the TRADITION from the Apostles DOES thus EXIST in the Church, and is PERMANENT AMONG US, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those Apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, and that no lie is in Him" ibid 3,5,1

"Through none others know we the disposition of our salvation, than those through whom the gospel came to us, first heralding it, then by the will of God delivering to us the Scriptures, which were to be the foundation and pillar of our faith....But when, the heretics are accusing the Scriptures, as if they were wrong, and unauthoritative, and were variable, and the truth could not be extracted from them by those who were ignorant of tradition...And when we challenge them in turn what that TRADITION, which is from the Apostles, which is guarded by the SUCCESSION of elders in the churches, they OPPOSE THEMSELVES TO TRADITION, saying that they are wiser, not only than those elders, but even than the Apostles.

"The TRADITION of the Apostles, manifested 'on the contrary' in the whole world, is open in every Church to all who see the truth...And, since it is a long matter in a work like this to enumerate these successions, we will confute them by pointing to the TRADITION of that GREATEST and MOST ANCIENT and UNIVERSALLY KNOWN Church, founded and constituted AT ROME by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, a TRADITION which she has had and a faith which she proclaims to all men from those Apostles" ibid 3,1 and 3,3

For Irenaeus "tradition" included three things:

1) the Christian faith that was handed on -- oral or in writing

"For how should it be if the Apostles themselves had NOT left us their writings? Would it not be necessary to follow the course of the TRADITION which they handed down to those whom they did commit the Churches?" ibid 3,4,1

2) a living authority

"Wherefore it is incumbent to OBEY the presbyters who are in the Church...those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of TRUTH..." ibid 4,26,2

3) transmission and preservation by succession

"In this order, and by this SUCCESSION, the ecclesiastical tradition from the Apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is MOST abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the Apostles until now, and handed down in truth" ibid 3,3,3

"Then I have pointed out the truth, and shown the preaching of the Church, which the prophets proclaimed (as I have already demonstrated), but which Christ brought to perfection, and the Apostles have handed down, from which the Church, receiving [these truths], and throughout all the world alone preserving them in their integrity, has transmitted them to her sons. Then also having disposed of all questions which the heretics propose to us, and having explained the doctrine of the Apostles, and clearly set forth many of those things which were said and done by the Lord in parables -- I shall endeavor, in this fifth book of the entire work which treats of the exposure and refutation of knowledge falsely so called, to exhibit proofs from the rest of the Lord's doctrine and apostolic epistles; [thus] complying with demand, as thou didst request of me (since indeed I have been assigned a place in ministry of the word); and, labouring by every means...and convert them to the Church of God...that they may preserve steadfast the faith which they have received, guarded by the Church in its integrity, in order that they be in no way perverted by those who endeavor to teach them false doctrine..." ibid 5,Preface

"Now all these [heretics] are of much later date than the Bishops to whom the Apostles committed to the churches; which fact I have in the third book taken all pains to demonstrate. It follows, then, as a matter of course, that these aforementioned, since they are blind to the truth, and deviate from the [right] way, will walk in various roads; and therefore the footsteps of their doctrine are scattered here and there without agreement or connection. But the path of those belonging to the Church circumscribes the whole world, as possessing the sure tradition of the Apostles, and gives unto us to see that the faith of all is one and the same....And undoubtedly the preaching of the Church is true and steadfast, in which one and the same way of salvation is shown throughout the whole world...For the Church preaches the truth everywhere...." ibid 5,20,1

"Those, therefore, who desert the preaching of the Church, call in question the knowledge of the holy presbyters....It behooves us, therefore, to avoid their doctrines, and take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but to flee to the Church, and be brought up in her bosom, and be nourished with the Lord's Scriptures." ibid 5,20,2

Episcopal Succession:

"Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church, those who as I have shown, possess succession from the Apostles; those who, together with the succession of Bishops, have received the CERTAIN GIFT OF TRUTH, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in SUSPICION others who DEPART from the primitive succession of the succession, and assemble themselves....But those who cleave asunder, and separate the unity of the Church, [shall] receive from God the same punishments as Jeroboam did" ibid 4,26,2

"Heretics assent neither to Scripture nor to tradition" ibid 3,2,1


"Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find it in Acts of the Apostles. And even if it did NOT REST on the authority of the Scripture the CONSENSUS of the WHOLE WORLD in this respect would have the force of COMMAND..." C. Dialogue Luciferians 8

"And let them not flatter you themselves if they think they have Scripture authority since the devil himself has quoted Scripture texts...we could all, while preserving in the letter of Scripture, read into it some novel doctrine" ibid 28


"So, then in expectation of His coming we worship toward the East. But this tradition of the Apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten" Orthodox Faith 4,12,16

"Moreover that the Apostles handed down much that was unwritten, Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, tells us in these words: 'Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught of us, whether by word or epistle' [2 Thess 2:15]. And to the Corinthians he writes, 'Now I praise your brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the traditions as I have delivered thefm to you' [1 Cor 11:2]." ibid

"He who does not believe according to the tradition of the Catholic Church is an unbeliever" C. Nestorians


"I have no private opinion, but only agree with the Catholic Church" (cited in From the Housetops Vol 9 No 2 Ser 23, p 28)


"The Church's preaching has been handed down through an orderly succession from the Apostles and remains in the Church until the present. That alone is to be believed as the truth which in no way departs from ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition" First Principles 1,preface,2


"We do not take our scriptural teaching from the parables but we interpret the parables according to our TEACHING" Purity 9,1

"Let them show the origins of their churches, let them unroll the list of their Bishops (showing) through a succession coming down from the very beginning that their first Bishop had his authority and predecessor someone from among the number of Apostles or apostolic men and, further, that he did not stray from the Apostles. In this way the apostolic churches present their earliest records. The church of Smyrna, for example, records that Polycarp was named by John; the Romans, that Clement was ordained by Peter. In just the same way, the other churches show who were made Bishops by the Apostles and who transmitted the apostolic seed to them. Let the heretics invent something like that" De praescr haeret 32


"This teaching has been handed down to us not only by the Apostles and prophets but also by those who have INTERPRETED their writings, Ignatius, Eustathius, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory...and other lights of the world and before them, by the HOLY FATHERS gathered at Nicaea whose confession of faith we have kept intact, as the inheritance from a Father, while those who dare to VIOLATE THEIR TEACHINGS, we call corrupt and enemies of truth" Epis 89


"...This being an anxious matter to Nectarius, Sicinnius advised him to avoid all dialectic contests, and to APPEAL to the STATEMENTS OF THE ANCIENTS, and to put the question to the heresiarchs from the Emperor whether they made any account of the doctors who belonged to the Church before the division or came to issue with them as aliens from Christianity" Hist 5,10 (from Socrates)


Vincent of Lerins remarks (as many Fathers do) that the first thing the heretic says to affirm his position is:

"It is written...."

"When anyone asks one of these heretics who presents arguments: Where are the proofs of your teaching that I should leave behind the world-wide and ancient faith of the Catholic Church? He will jump in before you have finished with the question: 'It is written!' He follows up immediately with thousands of texts and examples...." Commonitoria 1,26

"Here perhaps, someone may ask: Since the canon of the Scripture is complete and more than sufficient in itself, why is it necessary to add to it the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation? As a matter of fact, [we must answer] Holy Scripture, because of its depth, is not universally accepted in one and the same sense. The same text is interpreted differently by different people, so that one may almost gain the impression that it can yield as many different meanings as there are men. Novatian, for example, expounds a passage in one way; Sabellius, in another; Donatus, in another; Arius, and Eunomius, and Macedonius read it differently; so do Photinus, Apollinaris, and Priscillian; in another way, Jovian, Pelagius, and Caelestius; finally still another way, Nestorius....Thus, because of the great distortions caused by various errors, it is, indeed, necessary that the trend of the interpretation of the prophetic and apostolic writings be directed in accordance with the rule of the ecclesiastical and Catholic meaning"Commonitoria 2

Compiled by Joe Gallegos originally for CorUnum Catholic BBS

Edited by Phil Porvaznik with additions to St. Cyril of Jerusalem