[Consonant with both Anglicanism’s and monasticism’s love of patristic theology-spirituality, I occasionally post selections from Durham University’s two-year lectionary for the Divine Office that draws mostly from patristic writings. The lectionary was initially edited by Stephen Mark Holmes (University of Edinburgh School of Divinity) and subsequently re-edited and formatted by Michele Freyhauf (Durham University). Click here for the link to the lectionary.]
Patristic Lectionary—1 June 2020, Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church; Monday in Whitsun (9th Week in Ordinary Time)
[The image is a representation of Tertullian.]
The Vocation and Apostolate of Paul
For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they only heard it said, He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. And they glorified God because of me.
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up by revelation; and I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false brethren secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage – to them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) – those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do.
On the Prescription of Heretics 20.7-22.9 (Corpus Christianorum Latina, 1:202-4)
When classifying things, we must of necessity consider their origins. Now, if we examine the many great Churches that there are, we see that they all stem from the original Church, which was founded by the Apostles, and that they therefore constitute but one Church. Moreover, the reality of their writing is affected by three characteristics: by the peaceful relations which exist between the Churches, by the mutual hospitality which Christians offer one another, and by the fraternal charity they all display. These are duties which no other society enjoins, but which are characteristic of the one faith all Christians have.
This being the case, we put forward the following argument. If our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the mission of preaching to the Apostles, then no one should be received as a preacher, unless Christ has ordained him. After all, no one knows the Father but the Son and those to whom the Son has revealed him. However, the Son does not seem to have revealed the Father to anyone except his Apostles, whom he sent out with the command that they should preach what he had made known to them. The Apostles, then, preached exactly what Christ had revealed to them and so the only way in which we can determine the content of that revelation – and this is the crux of the matter – is by consulting the Churches which the Apostles themselves established by their preaching, whether it was by word of mouth, as we say, or by letter as happened later on.
So then, it is perfectly obvious that any doctrine which accords with the teaching of the apostolic Churches, which are the original wellsprings of the faith, must be held to be true, since it must contain the teaching which the Churches received from the Apostles, and which the Apostles received from Christ and which Christ received from God. But, on the other hand, any doctrine which is at variance with the truth as taught by the Churches and therefore by the Apostles and by Christ and by God must be condemned out of hand as being false. All we have to do is to show whether our doctrine derives from the apostolic tradition; then anything different must ipso facto proceed from falsehood. Well, we have already outlined the text: because none of our teachings is at variance with the teaching of the Churches founded by the Apostles. We are in communion with them, and that is proof that we teach the truth.
This test is so simple that, if we applied it straightaway, there would be nothing further to discuss. So let us suppose that we cannot prove our position and so give our opponents the chance of invalidating our argument, if they can. They are crazy enough to say that the Apostles did not know everything, they did not hand on all they knew to everyone. Either way they put the blame on Christ, for choosing to send out Apostles who were ignorant or else over-sophisticated.