Church Fathers - Quotes from 18 Men of God

CF John Chrysostom

The Church Fathers were influential theologians, bishops and scholars whose writings explained key Christian doctrines in the early Church.

The Church Fathers were afforded personal holiness, doctrinal orthodoxy, and religious titles for their proximity to the Apostles. There explanations were sought on how to understand and apply the Christian Scripture, and their ability to teach the Catholic faith.

They are generally divided into four categories based on when or where they lived: the Apostolic Fathers, the Greek (Eastern) Fathers, the Latin (Western) Fathers, and others such as the Desert Fathers.

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Ignatius 35-108 Clement 35-96 Polycarp 69-156 Justin Martyr 100-165 Irenaeus 130-202 Clement 150-215 Tertullian 155-240 Hippolytus 170-235 Origen 185-254 Cyprian 200-258 Eusebius 260-340 Athanasius 293-373 Cappadocians 330-395 Ambrose 338-397 Jerome 342-420 John Chrysostom 347-407 Augustine 354-430 Gregory 540-604

Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers were contemporaries of the apostles and probably taught by them. They personally witnessed the birth of the Church. Most were martyred – crucified, beheaded, fed to the lions at the Roman colosseum, boiled in oil or burned alive. According to tradition, the Apostolic Fathers were empowered by the Holy Spirit and who personally handed on the oral teachings of Jesus Christ, before the New Testament canon was collected in the late 4th century and then translated into Latin by Jerome, a later Church Father.

Ignatius | 35-108 AD APOSTOLIC
Ignatius
Ignatius of Antioch wrote letters to various churches. These have been preserved and indicate the doctrine held by the earliest Christians
  • Ignatius was the 3rd bishop of Antioch and student of the Apostle John
  • Ignatius is the second person after Clement, to mention Paul's letters
  • Ignatius was an unusually credulous man, who often exaggerated stories. He had an unusual personality, and would pray for his own death, preferably by horrific means
  • Ignatius held that only bishops could conduct Baptisms
  • Ignatius believed Jesus was something 'more' than a human
  • By the 5th century, Ignatius' original letters had been radically tampered with, enlarged with false, fictitous writings by later Christians
  • His letters were fraudulently used to support Christian doctrine and resolve ongoing theological disputes after his death
  • Even Ignatius' death, a martyrdom in Rome, is believed to be a forgery
Since, also, there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of truth; and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians Chapter IV
If any one says there is one God, and also confesses Christ Jesus, but thinks the Lord to be a mere man, and not the only-begotten God, and Wisdom, and the Word of God, and deems Him to consist merely of a soul and body, such an one is a serpent, that preaches deceit and error for the destruction of men. And such a man is poor in understanding, even as by name he is an Ebionite The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians Chapter VI - Do not accept Judaism
Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation be there also. Just as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would look upon the Lord Himself, standing, as he does, before the Lord Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 105 A.D
Since, also, there is but one unbegotten Being, God, even the Father; and one only-begotten Son, God, the Word and man; and one Comforter, the Spirit of truth; and also one preaching, and one faith, and one baptism; and one Church which the holy apostles established from one end of the earth to the other by the blood of Christ, and by their own sweat and toil The Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians Chapter IV
During the Sabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathæa had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord's day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord's Day [Sunday] contains the resurrection The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians Longer Versions. Chapter IX
I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood, which is love incorruptible Epistle to the Romans, 105 A.D
Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice - even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons Letter to the Philadelphians 4 [A.D. 110]
Heretics abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ Epistle to the Smyrneans, 105 A.D
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Clement | 35-96 AD APOSTOLIC
Clement of Rome, an early bishop of Rome wrote the 1 Clement letter which was widely read in the Churches
  • Tradition identifies Clement as the 4th pope
  • His letter, 1 Clement and is considered the earliest Christian text outside the New Testament. Clement urges the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order
  • Clement's letters were initially accepted, but later rejected from the canon of Christian scripture
  • Clement refers to Old Testament teachings. This points to an era when Jewish Scriptures were highly regarded by the Church. Later generations, relegated the Old Testament to lesser status
  • Clement was convinced in the reality of the phoenix. An ancient mythical symbol of Christ's resurrection
  • In the 4th century, Clement was banished from Rome during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and set to work in a stone quarry
  • Clement was allegedly killed by being tied to an anchor and thrown from a boat into the Black Sea
  • Much of Clement's surviving writings are known to be forged, and little is known of his life or beliefs
It is well that they should be cut off from the lusts of the world, since 'every lust wars against the spirit' and 'neither fornicators, nor sodomites will inherit the kingdom of God.' First Epistle to the Corinthians, c. 96 A.D
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Polycarp | 69-156 AD APOSTOLIC
Polycarp
Polycarp is recognized as a saint in both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches
  • Polycarp was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (now İzmir in Turkey)
  • Tradition has Polycarp as a disciple of the Apostle John, author of John's Gospel (disputed)
  • Polycarp caused controversy over the date on which Christians celebrate Easter
  • In 155 AD, Polycarp was captured and dragged to the stadium to be burned alive for not paying homage to the emperor
  • Polycarp's martyrdom depicts how a fire built around him would not burn him. He was stabbed to death and his blood quenched the flames around him
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world The Martyrdom Of St. Polycarp, 135 A.D
For which reason He (God the Father) sent the Word, that He might be manifested to the world; and He, being despised by the people [of the Jews], was, when preached by the Apostles, believed on by the Gentiles The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus Chapter XI - These things are worthy to be known and believed
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Greek (Eastern) Fathers

The Greek (Eastern) Fathers, or Ante-Nicene Fathers were those who came after the Apostolic Fathers and before the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus are amongst Ante-Nicene Fathers.

Justin Martyr | 100-165 AD GREEK
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr was one of the earliest and most successful Christian writer and apologist to specifically address a Gentile audience
  • Born to a pagan family and educated in the philosophical traditions of Ancient Greece, Justin had studied Stoic and Pythagorean philosophy, but later turned to Christianity
  • Justin is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century
  • Justin was a man generally acknowledged to have been of no great intelligence, philosophical or literary skill
  • Justin utilizes ethical and philosophical arguments to convince the emperor to abandon the persecution of the fledgling Christian sect
  • His writings focused on refuting charges made against Christians by other religions. The Apology, his most notorious text, passionately defends the morality of Christian life
  • Justin is accused of believing in two Gods, as he referred to the Word (logos) as a "second God"
  • Justin committed heresy, he believed Jesus was worshipped in "second rank", and the Holy Spirit in "third rank"
  • Overall, Justin's writings are of little doctrinal value
For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God.

And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign, having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, for the salvation of those who believe on Him, He endured both to be set at nought and to suffer, that by dying and rising again He might conquer death.

And that which was said out of the bush to Moses, "I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the God of your fathers", this signified that they, even though dead, are yet in existence, and are men belonging to Christ Himself The First Apology Chapter LXIII - How God appeared to Moses
For next to God, we worship and love the Word who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God, since also He became man for our sakes, that becoming a partaker of our sufferings, He might also bring us healing Second Apology Chapter XIII - How the Word has been in all men
For the prophetical gifts remain with us [Christians], even to the present time. And hence you [Jews] ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your [Jewish] nation have been transferred to us Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 82 [A.D. 155]
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.

For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration First Apology Chapter LXVII - Weekly worship of the Christians. [A.D. 155]
As, then, circumcision began with Abraham, and the Sabbath and sacrifices and offerings and feasts with Moses, and it has been proved they were enjoined on account of the hardness of your people's heart, so it was necessary, in accordance with the Father's will, that they should have an end in Him who was born of a virgin, of the family of Abraham and tribe of Judah, and of David; in Christ the Son of God, who was proclaimed as about to come to all the world, to be the everlasting law and the everlasting covenant, even as the forementioned prophecies show The Second Apology of Justin for the Christians Addressed to the Roman Senate. Chapter XLIII
Not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and Blood of that incarnated Jesus First Apology, 150 A.D
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Irenaeus | 130-202 AD GREEK
Irenaeus
Irenaeus was bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, now Lyon, France. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, and a reputable early Christian apologist
  • Irenaeus is recognized as a saint by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church
  • Irenaeus writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology
  • He was an exceptionally credulous man, who believed stories which are now held as Apocrypha
  • Irenaeus proposed the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John be accepted as canonical
  • Irenaeus' heresy was his belief, the Word (logos) was God the Father incarnate in Jesus, and Jesus died as a ransom paid to Satan
  • Irenaeus' original Greek writings were not preserved, and later, Latin translations show signs the text was edited to hide his heretical views
We shall turn to that great, ancient and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul, and we shall show that the tradition it has received of the apostles and the faith that it preaches to men has come down to our time through the regular succession of its bishops Against Heresies 3:3:3 [A.D. 189]
When, therefore, the mixed cup (wine and water) and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of Him? Against Heresies, 189 A.D
God made the male and female for the propagation of the human race Against All Heresies c. 180 A.D
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Clement | 150-215 AD GREEK
Clement of Alexandria, an early bishop of Rome was the first member of the church of Alexandria, and distinguished teacher
  • Tradition identifies Clement as the fourth pope
  • Clement wrote 1 Clement (c. 96) which was widely read in the churches and is considered the earliest Christian epistle outside the New Testament
  • Clement dated the creation of the world to 5592 BC
  • Clement was well versed in Stoic philosophy and pagan literature. He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christianity
  • His writings show him to be married
  • In his Stromata, Clement condemns Christians who actively seek martyrdom
  • Clement held Gnostic views, denying Jesus experienced the physical passions of an ordinary man or human desires
  • Clement was respected in the Roman Catholic Church, but his name was removed from the Roman Martyrology in 1586 by Pope Sixtus V due to his documented views
  • Clement's death, date, cause and location are a mystery
Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father's will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father's right hand, and with the form of God is God The Instructor. Book I Chapter I. The Office of the Instructor Chapter II - Our Instructor's Treatment of Our Sins
To this child additional testimony is borne by John, "the greatest prophet among those born of women:" Behold the Lamb of God!" For since Scripture calls the infant children lambs, it has also called Him - God the Word who became man for our sakes, and who wished in all points to be made like to us "the Lamb of God" The Instructor. Book I Chapter V - All Who Walk According to Truth are Children of God
'Eat my flesh,' [Jesus] says, 'and drink my blood.' The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191]
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Hippolytus | 170-235 AD GREEK
Hippolytus was a prolific Greek writer, and elected Bishop of Rome
  • Hippolytus represented the Logos as Sophia, God's female agent in creation; as a transgendered maker of wine (like Dionysus); and as the sun-god Helios who rides across the sky in a chariot
  • It was claimed Hippolytus believed in two gods, by the existing bishop Callistus
  • Hippolytus was a believer in the Millenarian heresy; a coming fundamental society transformation, after which 'things would become better'
  • The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of 'St Hippolytus Pope of Rome' on January 30. In the West, Hippolytus is regarded as the first anti-pope, and also a Saint
  • Hippolytus is the patron saint of horses, in reference to his invented, fictitious martyrdom, where Hippolytus was dragged to his death by wild horses
  • Most of Hippolytus' works have been 'lost', the usual fate of works considered heretical by the majority, ruling faction
  • Latin versions of Hippolytus' Apostolic Traditions have clearly been tampered with and forged
This Man we know to have been made out of the compound of our humanity. For if He were not of the same nature with ourselves, in vain does He ordain that we should imitate the Teacher.

For if that Man happened to be of a different substance from us, why does He lay injunctions similar to those He has received on myself, who am born weak; and how is this the act of one that is good and just? The Refutation of All Heresies. The 10th book of the Refutation of all Heresies
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Origen | 185-254 AD GREEK
Origen
Origen was a scholar, biblical critic, teacher, writer and theologian. According to tradition, he was an Egyptian who taught in Alexandria
  • For Origen, God was not Yahweh but the First Principle, and Jesus, the Logos, was lesser than Him. Christians should worship the Father alone, and not Jesus. This was a heresy ('Adoptionist')
  • Origen taught a doctrine of universal salvation in which even demons and Satan would eventually be saved and reunited with God. This was a heresy
  • Origen and Jerome, only two Church Fathers conversant in Greek and Hebrew language
  • Origen wrote the soul passes through successive stages, before incarnation as a human and after death, eventually reaching God
  • During his lifetime, Origen was deposed from the priesthood and deprived of his teaching post by the Bishop of Alexandria. Condemned by the Bishop of Rome and by a synod of Egyptian bishops, Origen's teachings were condemned by the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 553 AD
  • Using his knowledge of Hebrew, Origen produced a corrected Septuagint. He wrote commentaries on all the books of the Bible
  • Most of Origen's works have been 'lost'. What remains is known through translatory works
  • Origen voluntarily castrated himself to remove a sinful source of temptation, i.e. sexuality
  • Origen relocated to Caesarea Maritima and died following torture and persecution
Now, if any one were to say that, through those who are partakers of the "Word" of God, or of His "Wisdom," or His "Truth," or His "Life," the Word and Wisdom itself appeared to be contained in a place, we should have to say to him in answer, that there is no doubt that Christ, in respect of being the "Word" or "Wisdom," or all other things, was in Paul, and that he therefore said, "Do you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me?" and again, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me [Paul] Origen De Principiis. Book IV Chapter I.29 - On the Inspiration of Holy Scripture
Having, then, briefly restated these points regarding the nature of the Trinity, it follows that we notice shortly this statement also, that "by the Son" are said to be created "all things that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him [Jesus], and for Him; and He [Jesus] is before all, and all things consist by Him, who is the Head Origen De Principiis. Book IV Chapter I.30 - On the Inspiration of Holy Scripture
From all which we learn that the person of the Holy Spirit was of such authority and dignity, that saving baptism was not complete except by the authority of the most excellent Trinity of them all, i.e., by the naming of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and by joining to the unbegotten God the Father, and to His only-begotten Son, the name also of the Holy Spirit Origen De Principiis. Book I Chapter III
Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way ... now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: 'My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink' [John 6:55] Homilies on Numbers 7:2 [A.D. 248]
Men should not sit and listen to a woman ... even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since it came from the mouth of a woman Fragments on 1 Corinthians
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Eusebius | 260-340 AD GREEK
Eusebius
Eusebius of Nicomedia, an important 4th-century Eastern church bishop supported Arrius and Arianism. that Jesus is not of the same substance as God
  • Eusebius was a historian of Christianity, a Bible scholar and regarded as an extremely learned Christian
  • Eusebius became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD, and eventually became the leader of an Arian group called the Eusebians
  • He is regarded as the Father of Church history, but was never recognized as a saint
  • Eusebius supported the 'heretic' Arius, the Libyan preacher and his belief, Jesus was not coequal with the Father; Jesus shared the glory of God, as saints shared the same glory. Eusebius' writings were supportive of the Arian heresy and this to his eventual excommunication
  • Similar to Justin Martyr, Eusebius believed the Holy Spirit was a 'lower third rank' under the Father and the Son. This too was a heresy
  • Eusebius was excommunicated in the Council of Antiochia (325 AD) for agreeing with Arius (on the 'Arian heresy'). Therefore, Eusebius was banned from voting at the Council of Nicaea where it was unanimously decided Jesus was 'fully-God' ('Nicene Creed')
  • Eusebius was accused of adultery, among other things, on the evidence of a prostitute, and was replaced as leader of the moderate party
A question of no small importance arose at that time [A.D. 190]. For the parishes of all Asia [Minor], as from an older tradition held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Savior's Passover.

But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world ... as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast [of Lent] on no other day than on that of the resurrection of the Savior [Sunday] Church History 5:23:1–24:11
They [the early saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things Church History 1:4:8 [A.D. 312]
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Athansius | 293-373 AD GREEK
Athanasius
Athanasius of Alexandria was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism
  • Athanasius was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. He was a noted Egyptian leader of the 4th century
  • Athanasius later became the patriarch ("pope") of Alexandria
  • In 325 AD, at the Council of Nicaea, Athansius argued against the Arian heresy that Jesus is not truly God with the Father
  • Athanasius influence covers a vast array of theological topics
As we said above, so now we repeat, that the divine generation must not be compared to the nature of men, nor the Son considered to be part of God, nor the generation to imply any passion whatever; God is not as man; for men beget passibly, having a transitive nature, which waits for periods by reason of its weakness.

But with God this cannot be; for He is not composed of parts, but being impassible and simple, He is impassibly and indivisibly Father of the Son Four discourses against the Arians Discourse I.28
Therefore the Image of the unalterable God must be unchangeable; for 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever .' And David in the Psalm says of Him [Jesus], 'Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thine hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment Four discourses against the Arians Discourse I.36
Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian Four Letters to Serapion of Thmuisc, 360 A.D
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Cappadocians | 330-395 AD GREEK
The Cappadocians were three brothers who were actively promoted Christian theology; highly respected in Western and Eastern churches as saints
  • The Cappadocians proved that Christians could debate theology with learned Greek-speaking intellectuals
  • The Cappadocians made major contributions to the definition of the Trinity, culminating at the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD, where the Nicene Creed was finalized
  • Basil the Great (330-379 AD)
  • Gregory of Nyssa (335-395 AD)
  • Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 AD)
If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead Gregory Nazianzus. Letter to Cledonius the Priest 382 A.D
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John Chrysostom | 347-407 AD GREEK
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom was Archbishop of Constantinople, a Church Father known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox Church
  • Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church, exceeded only by Augustine of Hippo in the quantity of his surviving writings
  • Chrysostom was an anti-Semite who interpreted the Bible literally and historically rather than allegorically
  • Chrysostom is known for writing antisemitic sermons which were used by the Nazis in their ideological campaign against Jews
  • Chrysostom provided moral and financial support to Christian monks who were enforcing the Christian emperors' anti-Pagan laws by destroying temples and shrines in Phoenicia and nearby regions
  • In his homilies, Chrysostom wrote against popular amusements such as theatre and horse races, leading to centuries of repression of un-Christian enjoyments
  • Chrysostom was removed from his post of Patriarch of Constantinople by the synod of the Oak in 403 AD, condemned, banished, and died in exile
  • He was later rehabilitated and is today considered a saint
When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven? The Priesthood 3:4:177 [A.D. 387]
For though few are now circumcised, yet, by fasting and observing the sabbath with the Jews, they equally exclude themselves from grace. If Christ avails not to those who are only circumcised, much more is peril to be feared where fasting and sabbatizing are observed, and thus two commandments of the Law are kept in the place of one Homilies on Galatians 2:17 [A.D. 395]
Behold on Christmas a new and wondrous reality. The angels sing and the archangels blend their voices in harmony ... All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth and man in heaven.

He is God become man, yet not departing from His Godhead John Chrysostom
God maintained the order of each sex by dividing the business of life into two parts, and assigned the more necessary and beneficial aspects to the man and the less important, inferior matter to the woman The Kind of Women who ought to be taken as Wives
To destroy the fetus [abortion] 'is something worse than murder.' The one who does this 'does not take away life that has already been born, but prevents it from being born.' Homilies on Romans, 391 A.D
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Latin (Western) Fathers

The fathers who wrote in Latin are called, not surprisingly, the Latin Fathers.

Tertullian | 155-240 AD LATIN
Tertullian
Tertullian was born in Carthage, the son of a Roman centurion. He was a prolific writer of apologetic, theological, anti-heretical and ascetic works
  • Tertullian is believed to have introduced the Latin terms "trinitas" (Trinity); the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia," and also the terms "vetus testamentum" ("Old Testament") and "novum testamentum" ("New Testament") into the Christian vocabulary
  • He wrote three books in Greek and was the first great writer of Latin Christianity, thus sometimes known as the "Father of the Latin Church"
  • He despised Greek philosophy, and regarded Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek thinkers as forefathers of heretics
  • Tertullian was evidently a lawyer in Rome
  • Tertullian used the early church's symbol for fish - the Greek word for "fish" being ΙΧΘΥΣ which is an acronym for Ιησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ (Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour) to explain the meaning of baptism since fish are born in water. He wrote human beings are like little fish
  • Tertullian's Trinitarian doctrine was the Father, Son and Spirit represent three distinct persons within the Godhead
  • Tertullian accused bishops of Rome of heresy ('Sabellian'); the doctrine that Father, Son, and Spirit represent different states (or modes) of a single god at different times
  • Later, Tertullian adopted views that themselves came to be regarded as heretical
  • Tertullian delighted in the prospect of his enemies suffering in Hell
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Now, from this one passage (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 1:13) of the epistle of the inspired apostle, we have been already able to show that the Father and the Son are two separate Persons, not only by the mention of their separate names as Father and the Son, but also by the fact that He who delivered up the kingdom, and He to whom it is delivered up Against Praxeas Chapter IV - The Unity of the Godhead and the Supremacy and Sole Government of the Divine Being
That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and each is God; but because in earlier times Two were actually spoken of as God, and two as Lord, that when Christ should come He might be both acknowledged as God and designated as Lord, being the Son of Him who is both God and Lord Against Praxeas Chapter XIII
The numerical order and distribution of the Trinity they assume to be a division of the Unity; whereas the Unity which derives the Trinity out of its own self is so far from being destroyed, that it is actually supported by it.

They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods, while they take to themselves pre-eminently the credit of being worshippers of the One God Against Praxeas Chapter III
For if circumcision purges a man, since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did he not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? ... Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath, was by him [God] commended ... Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and unobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge An Answer to the Jews Chapter II - The Law Anterior to Moses. [A.D. 203]
But you, many of you, also under pretence sometimes of worshipping the heavenly bodies, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise. In the same way, if we devote Sun-day to rejoicing, from a far different reason than Sun-worship, we have some resemblance to those of you who devote the day of Saturn to ease and luxury, though they too go far away from Jewish ways, of which indeed they are ignorant Apology Chapter XVI
For though you think that heaven is still shut up, remember that the Lord left the keys of it to Peter here, and through him to the Church, which keys everyone will carry with him if he has been questioned and made a confession [of faith] Antidote Against the Scorpion 10 [A.D. 211]
Cyprian | 200-258 AD LATIN
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important early Christian writer
  • Cyprian eventually died a martyr at Carthage
  • He is particularly important in defining the Christian church as 'Catholic', meaning 'Universal'
  • Cyprian insisted there can be no salvation outside of the [Catholic] Christian church
There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering Letters 43[40]:5 [A.D. 253]
When we say, 'Do you believe in eternal life and the remission of sins through the holy Church?' we mean that remission of sins is not granted except in the Church Letters 69[70]:2 [A.D. 253]
Finally, when, after the resurrection, the apostles are sent by the Lord to the heathens, they are bidden to baptize the Gentiles "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

How, then, do some say, that a Gentile baptized without, outside the Church, yea, and in opposition to the Church, so that it be only in the name of Jesus Christ, everywhere, and in whatever manner, can obtain remission of sin, when Christ Himself commands the heathen to be baptized in the full and united Trinity? Epistle LXXII.5.18
A wife must not depart from her husband. Or, if she should depart, she must remain unmarried Testimonies, 250 A.D
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Jerome | 342-420 AD LATIN
Jerome is a reputable Christian apologist and a source of many historical facts concerning Christian history
  • Jerome is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin
  • Jerome and Origen, only two Church Fathers conversant in Greek and Hebrew language
  • Jerome was a scholar with a reputation for being offensive to his fellow scholars
  • His edition of the Bible, the Vulgate, is still an important text of the Roman Catholic Church
  • Jerome surrounded himself by wealthy women in Rome and was involved in a series of scandals. He left Rome in disgrace, after one of his female acolytes died from the severity of her bodily mortification
  • Jerome settled in Bethlehem, along with selected women followers
We believe that God was born of a virgin, because we read it. We do not believe that Mary was married after she brought forth her Son, because we do not read it.

You [Helvidius] say that Mary did not remain a virgin. As for myself, I claim that Joseph himself was a virgin, through Mary, so that a virgin Son might be born of a virginal wedlock Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary 21 [A.D. 383]
But I wonder why he (the heretic Jovianianus) set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? Against Jovinian 393 A.D
You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Other, indeed, will drink sterility and murder a man not yet born [in abortion] Letter 22, 396 A.D
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Augustine | 354-430 AD LATIN
Augustine
Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, was a philosopher, theologian, a Latin Father and influential church leader in North Africa
  • Augustine's works remain among the most influential in Western Christian history
  • Augustine framed the concept of Original Sin and related teachings on Divine Grace, Free Will and Predestination, as well as the theory of just War
  • In his early life, Augustine read widely in Greco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy, including the works of Platonists such as Plotinus.
  • Augustine was born in present-day Algeria to a Christian mother, Monica of Hippo. He was educated in North Africa and resisted his mother's pleas to become Christian
  • In 374 AD, he took a mistress and became a Manichean, a rival religion founded by Iranian prophet Mani
  • He later converted to Christianity, and became a bishop
  • Augustine introduced new doctrines into the Christian Church, influenced by his Manichean phase
  • Augustines views about the evils of sex seem to be due to his lingering guilt about his mistresses; he had unorthodox views on contraception; he was predestinarian (believing people are powerless to change their destiny); he held unorthodox views on the death of Virgin Mary, contrary to Roman dogma
  • Augustine is known as the Father of the Inquisition, and his writings were used to justify a range of Christian teachings including the treatment of heretics and acceptability of Christian slavery
In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And he wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom he took upon himself the form of a slave Holy Virginity, 401 A.D
It was not the visible sun, but its invisible Creator who consecrated this day for us, when the Virgin Mother, fertile of womb and integral in her virginity, brought him forth, made visible for us, by whom, when he was invisible, she too was created. A Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual. Why do you wonder at this, O man? Sermon 186, 411 A.D
Wake up, O human being! For it was for you that God was made man. Rise up and realize it was all for you. Eternal death would have awaited you had He not been born in time. Never would you be freed from your sinful flesh had He not taken to Himself the likeness of sinful flesh. Everlasting would be your misery had He not performed this act of mercy Augustine
Similar evidence has been collected also concerning the Holy Spirit, of which those who have discussed the subject before ourselves have most fully availed themselves, that He too is God, and not a creature. But if not a creature, then not only God (for men likewise are called gods), but also very God; and therefore absolutely equal with the Father and the Son, and in the unity of the Trinity consubstantial and co-eternal On the Trinity Book I. Chapter 6.13
Those holy angels come to the knowledge of God not by audible words, but by the presence to their souls of immutable truth, i.e., of the only-begotten Word of God; and they know this Word Himself, and the Father, and their Holy Spirit, and that this Trinity is indivisible, and that the three persons of it are one substance, and that there are not three Gods but one God Augustine The City of God Book 11 Chapter 29
So, when you ask why a Christian does not keep the Sabbath, if Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it, my reply is, that a Christian does not keep the Sabbath precisely because what was prefigured in the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ. For we have our Sabbath in Him Reply to Faustus the Manichæan. Book XIX-9
What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ Sermons 272 [A.D. 411]
Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter? Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]
Whoever is separated from this Catholic Church, by this single sin of being separated from the unity of Christ, no matter how estimable a life he may imagine he is living, shall not have life, but the wrath of God rests upon him Letters 141:5 [A.D. 412]
For necessary sexual intercourse for begetting (children) is alone worthy of marriage. But that which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust The Good of Marriage, 401 A.D
If a man leaves his wife and she marries another, she commits adultery On the Good of Marriage 401 A.D
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Gregory | 540-604 AD LATIN
Pope Gregory I reigned as bishop of Rome
  • Gregory was the first of the popes from a monastic background
  • Gregory did much to solidify the leadership of the Roman church
17 of 18
Ambrose | 338-397 AD LATIN
Ambrose was the bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century
  • Ambrose promoted the rights of the church in relation to the imperial state
  • Ambrose is counted as one of the four original Doctors of the Church
  • He was also the teacher of Augustine
The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ's blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11-12)] so that he can be saved.

For no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism. Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God On Abraham 2:11:79-84
Lift me up not from Sara but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin Commentary on Psalm 118, 387 A.D
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