Sunday, 25 January 2015
The Quotable Eastern Church Fathers, edited by Dave Armstrong
Dave Armstrong (ed), The Quotable Eastern Church Fathers: Distinctively Catholic Elements in their Theology, 2013 self-published
This book is one of a number of 'quote books' edited by the totally excellent Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong. These kind of books are a venerable tradition in Catholic apologetics and this one is a useful one to have.
Armstrong includes quotations from eight eastern church fathers, Athanasius, Basil the Great, John Chrysotum, Gregory Nazianzen, Ephraim the Syrian, Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Jerusalem, Cyril of Alexandria and John of Damascus. The absence of any quotations by the other Cappadocian, Gregory of Nyssa is a little surprising and one might have wished that a few eastern Ante-Nicene fathers had been included.
The set of quotations establish very persuasively, that these men were not Protestants. We find them affirming Catholic teaching about the Eucharist, justification, prayers for the dead and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When one sees one very Catholic sounding sentiment after another from St. John Chrysotum, one really does wonder why John Calvin held that particular church father in such awe.
The quotations regarding St. Peter and the papacy do establish that these church fathers held to the primacy of the Petrine office and the importance of the Pope, but I doubt Eastern Orthodox readers will be convinced that they support the Catholic understanding of the Papacy.