Talk:Church Fathers

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Definition of a Church Father[edit]

I have added a new section in the article to include the definition of what a Church Father is. This definition is included in the Catholic Encyclopedia. According to this definition, Origen is excluded because he held heterodox views (bolded for emphasis):

In its present form the list of approved Fathers comprises Cyprian, Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Theophilus, Hilary, Cyril of Alexandria (wanting in one manuscript), Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Prosper, Leo ("every iota" of the tome to Flavian is to be accepted under anathema), and "also the treatises of all orthodox Fathers, who deviated in nothing from the fellowship of the holy Roman Church, and were not separated from her faith and preaching, but were participators through the grace of God until the end of their life in her communion; also the decretal letters, which most blessed popes have given at various times when consulted by various Fathers, are to be received with veneration". Orosius, Sedulius, and Juvencus are praised. Rufinus and Origen are rejected. Eusebius's "History" and "Chronicle" are not to be condemned altogether, though in another part of the list they appear as "apocrypha" with Tertullian, Lactantius, Africanus, Commodian, Clement of Alexandria, Arnobius, Cassian, Victorinus of Pettau, Faustus, and the works of heretics, and forged Scriptural documents.

With this in mind, perhaps the list of Fathers ought to be pared down to exclude him or make note that he is considered an eccesiastical writer which is how the Catholic Encyclopedia article defines his contribution. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria appear to be seen as important in their contributions but not as "fathers" but rather as "apocrypha". It appears to be a debatable point with them as to whether or not they ought to be included in the Church Fathers article. Nonetheless, Origen is clearly singled out (along with Rufinus) as not being a father. Stylteralmaldo (talk) 22:32, 3 March 2010 (UTC)


Just curious, is it certain that Origen was heterodox?

I believe so. I have a book "The Teachings of the Church Fathers" and it writes St. (whomever) before most of the writers, but Origen, Tertullian and Aphraates are listed solely by their names. Carl.bunderson 17:50, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Must we use the term "montanist" when refering to tertullian. I thought he backed away from this later in life? I would have to verify this but I think that is correct. Could we check this out? JWPhil 12:30, 28 June 2006 (UTC)

I have the book The Early Church by the scholar W.H.C Frend and yes Tertullian did form his own sect, leaving Montanism. User:AnadX, 11:38, 24 January 2007.

Perhaps the Tertullian site could be contacted for their opinion - the link at the bottom (they were friendly when I got in touch) Jackiespeel 15:48, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

This article seems very short for such an important subject. Andries 21:29, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Origen was Egyptian according to his name. It is unlikely that any non-Egyptian would have had a name that means 'born of Horus'. (Pamour (talk) 12:01, 10 July 2013 (UTC))

Apologetic Fathers[edit]

I think this entry is badly organized. There needs to be a consistent method for organizing the material. Either list all the Greek fathers chronologically, followed by the Latin fathers, or list the various fathers under categories. The section marked 'Apologetic Fathers' needs to either be deleted, or moved in the body of the article, preferably before Ireneaus, since he is preceded by Jusint Martyr and Tatian. And what is an 'apologist' anyhow? Surely Origen, Irenaeus, and Augustine are no less 'apologetic', generically speaking, in some of their writings than Justin Martyr. If you use the term "Apologetic Fathers" as part of a classification scheme, as is sometimes done, then why is Terutullian in here: I normally see him classified as an 'anti gnostic father', along with Irenaeus, while the term 'apologist' in that sense, is reserved for Justin Martyr, Tatian etc. Anyhow i think the article could be better organized. At any rate, i deleted the beginning of this section (which begane 'Later, In...', which made no sense, since this section follows an entry on Gregory the Great, a few hundred years later) and i think, at the very least, it should be moved up before Irenaeus, and Tertullian should be removed, since he is already listed in the section under 'Latin Fathers' —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:06, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Citations Sought about Influence of Stoics[edit]

Someone had challenged the brief section in the article on the Stoics that mentioned their influence on the Church Fathers. Although the section referred to this article, that doesn't seem good enough. I am not familiar with enough with the literature to find such a cite (esp., with page reference). Any specific citation could probably do double duty both here and in that Stoics article. DCDuring 23:35, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Church Fathers of other religions[edit]

Patristic redirect here. Since that word could be used to describe fathers of other religions as well, for example early Muslim figures, this article should not define a Church Father as belonging to Christianity only. --Sir48 14:44, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps you could start at patristics article stub. DCDuring 16:44, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Patristic is Latin and is connected to the Early Church. Patrology means study of the Early Church Fathers. I have books going back several hundred years to attest to this. Christians have 'church,' other religions have different words and concepts behind those words. For example, church in the traditional sense means the body of believers connected to Christ. It makes little sense to speak of a Jewish Church or a Muslim Church, as by definition they are not connected to Christ (i.e. not Christians). I am certain that other religions have their own words for 'Church Fathers," in Hebrew for the Jews, Arabic for the Muslims, etc. I remember the Hebrew words being translated as something along Great Teachers of the Law. So while Patristic could be used to describe fathers of other religions, I should think it would be more helpful, respectful and scholarly to use the terms each religion uses internally. ( 06:24, 14 September 2007 (UTC))

I can find one reference in Wikipedia to the use of the word "patristic" outside of Christianity. If it were widely used there might be some need for discussion. The ONLY if found outside of Christianity is in the lead for the article on Salafism. It is not in the body of the article. I am not equiped to check the citation myself. DCDuring 06:40, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

A Wikipedia search for '"Patristic period" Islam' yields 6 articles: the same Salafism article and 5 general articles on theology, which use "patristic" in a way that solely refers to the Fathers of the Christian churches. DCDuring 06:48, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

As I suspected. I also did some google searches and my results are similar. BTW The posted that was not logged in was mine. (Dcllibrarian 16:22, 14 September 2007 (UTC))

Protestants and Church Fathers[edit]

In the historic Protestant traditions, the Early Fathers are often looked to as the most important and exemplary interpreters of the Bible. The Reformers often quoted the Fathers in an attempt to demonstrate that they were in fact recovering an earlier and purer Christianity that had become obscured by medieval innovations

of God" Thelordsavenger (talk)

Exactly my point. thx1138 (talk) 08:20, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Still, I feel these instances are not sufficient citations to support that the undue weightage the sentance holds in the article. --Jacob.jose (talk) 17:35, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
The quote is believable, and I certainly don't think two sentences constitutes undue weight to something that doesn't sound like POV pushing. I wouldn't remove the cn tag though. Carl.bunderson (talk) 21:12, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
How about something like "Though much Protestant religious thought is theoretically based on 'Sola Scriptura' (the principle that the Bible itself is the ultimate authority in doctrinal matters), the first Protestant reformers, like the Catholic and Orthodox churches, relied heavily on the theological interpetations of scripture set forth by the early Chruch Fathers."? (talk) 15:00, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
That would not only be better, but quite informative as well (for a reader like me). But do you have a citation for that? --Jacob.jose (talk) 19:51, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
I would be ok with changing it to that. I think it's true, and it's not as though we're replacing cited text with uncited. If you're switching from one cn sentence to another, there's no net harm. Carl.bunderson (talk) 19:07, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I have changed the text and have maintained the cn tag. --Jacob.jose (talk) 19:50, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, for taking care of it. Carl.bunderson (talk) 19:54, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

apostolic fathers[edit]

I did them. Someone else want to do the next section? Leadwind (talk) 02:06, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Did Greek fathers. Someone want to take Latin Fathers? Leadwind (talk) 05:13, 17 February 2008 (UTC)

Transmission of Faith: From Father To Son[edit]

Someone should take issue that the term 'father' is not applied to authors of the Bible per these quotes:

Neither will your name any more be called Abram, but your name will be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:5

I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,’says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:18

For though you have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, I became your father through the Good News. 1 Cor 4:15

Even as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." Know therefore that those who are of faith, the same are children of Abraham. Gal 3:6-7

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise: “that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” You fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph 6:1-4

to Timothy, my true child in faith: 1 Tim 1:2

Don’t rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father; 1 Tim 5:1

I beg you for my child, whom I have become the father of in my chains, Onesimus, Phil 1:10

Remember your leaders, men who spoke to you the word of God, and considering the results of their conduct, imitate their faith. Heb 13:7

He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9

The term "Father" is an integral part of transmission of the apostolic ministry based on so great a cloud of witnesses in the Old and New Testament writings and not just "Church Theologians". It is also the basis of message of good news that salvation is imparted to those to remain in Christ through keeping his teachings. This culminated in the Trinity concept of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit during the 4th Century ratified by both East and West.

User:bwildasi Fri Jul 4 16:37:39 UTC 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:40, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

1 Clement - included in early Alexandrian list of accepted New Testament books?[edit]

I've heard that in an Alexandrian "canon" of the New Testament from the early Church, maybe 2nd or 3rd centuries, 1 Clement was included. Correct me if I'm wrong of course, but if not, perhaps this should be mentioned here? Tix (talk) 20:41, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

I've heard that whether or not it is canonical was debated early on, and the Penguin editions says it is "at the end of Codex Alexandrinus, the fifth-century text of the Scriptures which was...", so I would take that to mean that your question if to be answered affirmatively. I'm not sure it should be included on this page, but it certainly should elsewhere. If you did add it here, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Carl.bunderson (talk) 20:30, 25 August 2008 (UTC)


There is a meaningless sentance in the sub-heading "Clement of Alexandria": First Principle, and Christ, the Logos, was subordinate to him. Please fix! Fig (talk) 23:42, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for noticing this. Turns out an anon deleted the section on Origen back in October, and made a mess of it. I've fixed it, as well as some minor cleaning in the surrounding sections. Carl.bunderson (talk) 21:46, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Another problem -- the "patristic" link on this article points back to itself. (talk) 12:19, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Fixed, thanks for catching that. carl bunderson (talk) (contributions) 01:06, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

In the section about Tertullian, the phrase "vera religio" is used as something very central, without the phrase being explained for us who don't read latin or are scholars of Latin Christianity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:03, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

Patristic consensus[edit]

It would be interesting if we could have a entry on the specialized topic of patristic consensus, which is a method to determining orthodox doctrine in the writings of the Church Fathers. ADM (talk) 15:20, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Link to article under POV merge proposal[edit]

sorry but this link isn't needed and Editor2020's revert was a good call. In ictu oculi (talk) 06:17, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

Addition of section for Gregory Palamas[edit]

It's my understanding based on Meyendorff's A Study of Gregory Palamas that the Orthodox Church promoted him to the status of Church Father sometime after his death. If this information can be documented, perhaps he should be added to this page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:00, 28 April 2014 (UTC) (talk) 05:03, 28 April 2014 (UTC)Kabasilas

Eastern Orthodox consider as church fathers many saints who lived after the "patristic era" and St. Gregory Palamas is only one of many of these. He is outside of the scope of this article which states in its opening sentence "Fathers of the Church are ancient and generally influential Christian theologians", so despite my own personal ties, as it were, to St. Gregory, having been tonsured a reader at a monastery he had been abbot of and in that ceremony having read from an Apostle Book copied while he was abbot there, I can not justify his inclusion in this article.
Also, the Orthodox Church does not "promote" anyone to the status of Church Father; rather the designation arises through tradition and there is no formal list of church fathers as there is for, say, doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. Vincent J. Lipsio (talk) 09:40, 28 April 2014 (UTC)