The Church Fathers and the Unity of the Catholic Church by Joe Gallegos
"Such examples, therefore, brethren, it is right that we should follow; since it is written, 'Cleave to the holy, for those that cleave to them shall [themselves] be made holy.' And again, in another place, [the Scripture] saith, 'With a harmless man thou shalt prove thyself harmless, and with an elect man thou shalt be elect, and with a perverse man thou shalt show thyself perverse.' Let us cleave, therefore, to the innocent and righteous, since these are the elect of God. Why are there strifes, and tumults, and divisions, and schisms, and wars among you? Have we not [all] one God and one Christ? Is there not one Spirit of grace poured out upon us? And have we not one calling in Christ? Why do we divide and tear to pieces the members of Christ, and raise up strife against our own body, and have reached such a height of madness as to forget that 'we are members one of another?' Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, how He said, "Woe to that man [by whom( offences come]! It were better for him that he had never been born, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my elect. Yea, it were better for him that a millstone should be hung about [his neck], and he should be sunk in the depths of the sea, than that he should cast a stumbling-block before one of my little ones. Your schism has subverted [the faith of] many, has discouraged many, has given rise to doubt in many, and has caused grief to us all. And still your sedition continueth. Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved. But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea, highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession, that such a thing should be heard of as that the most stedfast and ancient Church of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in sedition against its presbyters. And this rumour has reached not only us, but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation, the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves."
Clement Of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 47-7(A.D. 98), in AND,I:20
"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the passion [of Christ.]"
Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians,3(A.D. 110),in ANF,3:80
"And Isaiah speaks as if he were personating the apostles, when they say to Christ that they believe not in their own report, but in the power of Him who sent them. And so he says: 'Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We have preached before Him as if [He were] a child, as if a root in a dry ground.' (And what follows in order of the prophecy already quoted.) But when the passage speaks as from the lips of many, 'We have preached before Him,' and adds, 'as if a child,' it signifies that the wicked shall become subject to Him, and shall obey His command, and that all shall become as one child. Such a thing as you may witness in the body: although the members are enumerated as many, all are called one, and are a body. For, indeed, a commonwealth and a church, though many individuals in number, are in fact as one, called and addressed by one appellation."
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 42(A.D. 155), in ANF,I:215-6
" 'Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear, and forget thy people and the house of thy father; and the King shall desire thy beauty: because he is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him.' Therefore these words testify explicitly that He is witnessed to by Him who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ. Moreover, that the word of God speaks to those who believe in Him as being one soul, and one synagogue, and one church, as to a daughter; that it thus addresses the church which has sprung from His name and partakes of His name(for we are all called Christians), is distinctly proclaimed in like manner in the following words, which teach us also to forget[our] old ancestral customs, when they speak thus:'Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear; forget thy people and the house of thy father, and the King shall desire thy beauty: because He is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him.' " "
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 63(A.D. 155), in ANF,I:229
"Hegesippus in the five books of Memoirs which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. His words are as follows: "And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine. And when I had come to Rome I remained a there until Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord."
Hegesippus, fragment in Ecclesiastical History, 4:22(c A.D. 180),in NPNF2,I:198-199
"As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it."
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1:10(A.D. 180),in ANF,I:331
"[T]he apostles ... next went forth into the world and preached the same doctrine of the same faith to the nations. They then in like manner rounded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive church, (rounded) by the apostles, from which they all (spring). In this way all are primitive, and all are apostolic, whilst they are all proved to be one, in (unbroken) unity, by their peaceful communion, and title of brotherhood, and bond of hospitality,--privileges which no other rule directs than the one tradition of the selfsame mystery."
Tertullian, Prescription of Heretics, 20(A.D. 200), in ANF,III:252
"For, in truth, the covenant of salvation, reaching down to us from the foundation of the world, through different generations and times, is one, though conceived as different in respect of gift. For it follows that there is one unchangeable gift of salvation given by one God, through one Lord, benefiting in many ways. For which cause the middle wall which separated the Greek from the Jew is taken away, in order that there might be a peculiar people. And so both meet in the one unity of faith; and the selection out of both is one. And the chosen of the chosen are those who by reason of perfect knowledge are called [as the best] from the Church itself, and honoured with the most august glory--the judges and rulers--four-and-twenty (the grace being doubled)equally from Jews and Greeks. "
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata,VI:13(A.D. 202),in ANF, II:505-6
"From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church, that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to God's purpose are just, are enrolled. For from the very reason that God is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honourable is lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects. Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, collecting as it does into the unity of the one faith--which results from the peculiar Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of the one God, through one Lord--those already ordained, whom God predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would be righteous. But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or equal to itself. But of this afterwards."
Clement of Alexandria, Stromata,VII:17(A.D. 202),in ANF, II:555
"[W]e say that the holy Scriptures declare the body of Christ, animated by the Son of God, to be the whole Church of God, and the members of this body--considered as a whole--to consist of those who are believers; since, as a soul vivifies and moves the body, which of itself has not the natural power of motion like a living being, so the Word, arousing and moving the whole body, the Church, to befitting action, awakens, moreover, each individual member belonging to the Church, so that they do nothing apart from the Word."
Origen,Against Celsus,VI:48 (A.D. 250),in ANF,IV:595
"And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole. The Church also is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. As there are many rays of the sun, but one light; and many branches of a tree, but one strength based in its tenacious root; and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in the source. Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree,--when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated. Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated."
Cyprian,Unity of the Church,5(A.D. 251),in ANF,V:422-23
"If you were carried on against your will, as you say, you will show that such has been the case by your voluntary retirement. For it would have been but dutiful to have suffered any kind of ill, so as to avoid rending the Church of God. And a martyrdom borne for the sake of preventing a division of the Church, would not have been more inglorious than one endured for refusing to worship idols; nay, in my opinion at least, the former would have been a nobler thing than the latter. For in the one case a person gives such a testimony simply for his own individual soul, whereas in the other case he is a witness for the whole Church. And now, if you can persuade or constrain the brethren to come to be of one mind again, your uprightness will be superior to your error; and the latter will not be charged against you, while the former will be commended in you. But if you cannot prevail so far with your recusant brethren, see to it that you save your own soul. My wish is, that in the Lord you may fare well as you study peace."
Dionysius of Alexandria,Epistle to Novatus,2(ante A.D. 265),in ANF,VI:97
"We believe in one only Catholic Church, the apostolical, which cannot be destroyed even though all the world were to take counsel to fight against it, and which gains the victory over all the impious attacks of the heterodox; for we are emboldened by the words of its Master, 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world' ."
Alexandria of Alexander,Epistle on the Arian heresy,(A.D. 328),in NPNF2,40
"We would now say somewhat concerning the Holy Ghost; not to declare His substance with exactness, for this were impossible; but to speak of the diverse mistakes of some concerning him, lest from ignorance we should fall into them; and to block up the paths of error, that we may journey on the King's one highway. And if we now for caution's sake repeat any statement of the heretics, let it recoil on their heads, and may we be guiltless, both we who speak, and ye who hear."
Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures,16:5(A.D. 350),in NPNF2,VII:
"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; whereas they who have not this character are to be called not true doctors but evil. Thus the Greeks, as not witnessing to the same doctrines, but quarrelling one with another, have no truth of teaching; but the holy and veritable heralds of the truth agree together, and do not differ. For though they lived in different times, yet they one and all tend the same way, being prophets of the one God, and preaching the same Word harmoniously "
Defence of the Nicene Council,4(A.D. 351),in NPNF2,IV:153
"But I trust that the Church, by the light of her doctrine, will so enlighten the world's vain wisdom, that, even though it accept not the mystery of the faith, it will recognize that in our conflict with heretics we, and not they, are the true representatives of that mystery. For great is the force of truth; not only is it its own sufficient witness, but the more it is assailed the more evident it becomes; the daily shocks which it receives only increase its inherent stability. It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted she is triumphant, when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right, when she is deserted by her supporters she holds the field. It is her wish that all men should remain at her side and in her bosom; if it lay with her, none would become unworthy to abide under the shelter of that august mother, none would be cast out or suffered to depart from her calm retreat. But when heretics desert her or she expels them, the loss she endures, in that she cannot save them, is compensated by an increased assurance that she alone can offer bliss. This is a truth which the passionate zeal of rival heresies brings into the clearest prominence. The Church, ordained by the Lord and established by His Apostles, is one for all; but the frantic folly of discordant sects has severed them from her. And it is obvious that these dissentions concerning the faith result from a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture. And thus, amid the clash of mutually destructive errors, the Church stands revealed not only by her own teaching, but by that of her rivals. They are ranged, all of them, against her; and the very fact that she stands single and alone is her sufficient answer to their godless delusions. The hosts of heresy assemble themselves against her; each of them can defeat all the others, but not one can win a victory for itself. The only victory is the triumph which the Church celebrates over them all. Each heresy wields against its adversary some weapon already shattered, in another instance, by the Church's condemnation. There is no point of union between them, and the outcome of their internecine struggles is the confirmation of the faith."
Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 7:4(A.D. 359),in NPNF2,IX:119-20
"What then I have learned myself, and have heard men of judgment say, I have written in few words; 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, and all logomachy; and the guilty and murderous heresy of the Arians may disappear, and the truth may shine again in the hearts of all, so that all every where may 'say the same thing', and think the same thing, and that, no Arian contumelies remaining, it may be said and confessed in every Church, 'One Lord, one faith, one baptism', in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to the Father be the glory and the strength, unto ages of ages. Amen."
Athanasius,On the Councils of Arminum and Seleucia,54(A.D. 360),in NPNF2,IV:479
"It is for me to state,which, or where, is that one church;which is the church, since besides that one, there is none other."
Optatus of Mileve, Against the Donatist,7(A.D. 367),in FOC,158
"But all believers in Christ are one people; all Christ's people, although He is hailed from many regions, are one Church; and so our country is glad and rejoices at the dispensation of the Lord, and instead of thinking that she is one man the poorer, considers that through one man she has become possessed of whole Churches."
Basil,To Amphilochius,(A.D. 374),in NPNF2,VIII:1
"Hence the separated heresies have, as branches, been torn off; called indeed after Christ's name, yet not his, but are, some of them, at a very great distance from him; whilst others, on account of some very slight matter, are disinherited and have made themselves and thier children aliens unto him; they are not within the boundaries, but have established themselves without, and having nothing of Christ but name. There but remains for us to show forth the truth, and the oneness of that dove which is praised by the bridegroom."
Epiphanius,Panarion,80(A.D. 374),in FOC,170
"You that have gone through this whole work of time, or part of it,pray for me that God may vouchsafe unto me a portion in that holy and one Catholic and apostolic church, the true, the life-giving, and the saving."
Epiphanius,Panarion,(A.D. 377),in FOC,170-1
"Whoso has learnt that Christ is the head of the Church, let him, before all things, bear this in mind, that the head is ever of the same nature and substance as the body beneath it; and that there is a certain coherence of each of the limbs with the whole ... Whence if any part be cut of the body, it is utterly disconnected with the head."
Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection, 3(A.D. 381),in FOC, 165
"We believe ... in one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."
Council of Constantinople,Nicene-Constantinopolitan(A.D. 381),in FOC,171
"And not even now, be well assured, should we have written this, if we had not seen that the Church was being tom asunder and divided, among their other tricks, by their present synagogue of vanity.But if anyone when we say and protest this, either from some advantage they will thus gain, or through fear of men, or monstrous littleness of mind, or through some neglect of pastors and governors, or through love of novelty and proneness to innovations, rejects us as unworthy of credit, and attaches himself to such men, and divides the noble body of the Church, he shall bear his judgment, whoever he may be,(a) and shall give account to God in the day of judgment."
Gregory of Nazianzen,To Cledonius, (A.D. 382),in NPNF2,VII:442-3
All such efforts are only of use when they are made within the church's pale; we must celebrate the passover in the one house, we must enter the ark with Noah, we must take refuge from the fall of Jericho with the justified harlot, Rahab. Such virgins as there are said to be among the heretics and among the followers of the infamous Manes(11) must be considered, not virgins, but prostitutes. For if--as they allege--the devil is the author of the body, how can they honor that which is fashioned by their foe? No; it is because they know that the name virgin brings glory with it, that they go about as wolves in sheep's clothing. As antichrist pretends to be Christ, such virgins assume an honorable name, that they may the better cloak a discreditable life. Rejoice, my sister; rejoice, my daughter; rejoice, my virgin; for you have resolved to be, in reality, that which others insincerely feign."
Jerome,To Eustochium,Epistle 22,38(A.D. 384),in NPNF2,VI:39
"If you held the Head you would consider that the whole body, by joining together rather than by separating, grows unto the increase of God(2) by the bond of charity and the rescue of a sinner."
Ambrose,On Penance,I:28(A.D. 390),in NPNF2,X:334
"If it be not a carnal motive, my lord, but, as I think, a spiritual call, that has led you to enquire from us the credibility of Catholic truth, it was your first duty (as you hold not to the source and fountain of the parent(principal) church,but have sprung, as far as I can see, at some time, or other, from a mere rivulet) to state what your opinions are, or in what you differ from us, and thus discover what was the cause that especially seperated you from the unity of the body."
Pacian,Epistle 1,(A.D. 392),in FOC, 168
" 'Unto the Church of God.' Not 'of this or of that man,' but of God. 'Which is at Corinth.' Seest thou how at each word he puts down their swelling pride; training their thoughts in every way for heaven? He calls it, too, the Church 'of God;' shewing that it ought to be united. For if it be 'of God,' it is united, and it is one, not in Corinth only, but also in all the world: for the Church's name is not a name of separation, but of unity and concord."
John Chrysostom,Homily 1 on 1st Letter to the Corinthians,1(A.D. 392),in NPNF1,XII:3
"We acknowledge the word of the Lord. Hence also the apostle says, 'Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.' Here therefore we must inquire who it is that has charity: you will find that it is no one else but those who are lovers of unity...since we are inquiring where the Church of Christ is to be found, let us listen to the words of Christ Himself, who redeemed it with His own blood: 'Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and even in the whole earth.' You see then who it is with whom a man refuses to communicate who will not communicate with this Church, which is spread throughout all the world, if at least you hear whose words these are. For what is a greater proof of madness than to hold communion with the sacraments of the Lord, and to refuse to hold communion with the words of the Lord? Such men at any rate are likely to say, In Thy name have we eaten and drunken, and to hear the words, 'I never knew you,' seeing that they eat His body and drink His blood in the sacrament, and do not recognize in the gospel His members which are spread abroad throughout the earth, and therefore are not themselves counted among them in the judgment."
Against the letters of Petiliani,126(A.D. 405),in NPNF1,IV:562
"Therefore do we say that the mystery of Christ must be celebrated in the churches of God, as in holy tabernacles ... 'In one house shall it be eaten, neither shall ye carry forth of the flesh thereof out of the house(Ex 12) The many-minded heretics violate this will of God, fixing up for themselves, as they do, another tabernacle, besides that which is truly the holy tabernacle, and sacrificing the lamb without, and carrying it forth somewhere to a very great distance from that one house, and dividing the indivisble. For Christ is one, and perfect in all."
Cyril of Alexandria,Worship and Adoration in Spirit and Truth,1:10(A.D. 429),in FOC, 183
"For the scheme of the mysteries of the Church and the Catholic faith is such that one who denies one portion of the Sacred Mystery cannot confess the other. For all parts of it are so bound up and united together that one cannot stand without the other and if a man denies one point out of the whole number, it is of no use for him to believe all the others. And so if you deny that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, the result is that in denying the Son of God you deny the Father also."
Cassian,The Incarnation of Christ,VI:17(A.D. 430),in NPNF2,XI:600
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