Monday, November 11, 2013

Reading The Church Fathers Doesn't Matter

Yeah, you heard me. It doesn't matter. There is a veritable army of patristics scholars who aren't Catholic. You've probably read more Augustine than I have. Or whomever you'd prefer. Completely irrelevant. Did you know that St. Augustine was wrong about stuff? True story. Reading the Church Fathers won't necessarily make you Catholic, or anything else. It depends on what you're looking for, and why.

The fathers are not a norm in themselves, unless they agree on something, which (almost) never happens. BTW, don't we need a Church to have Church Fathers? That's what you should be looking for. You've just expanded your bookshelf if you read patristics without asking the question about the nature of the Church. You might even begin to think you're better than Brother Johnny-Bob at The Sticks Bible Church, because you've read "City of God." That's kinda dumb, don't you think?

Anybody can comb through whatever sources you like, looking for what they already believe. The only question that actually matters is, "Where is the Church?" We can reason that it has to be visible fundamentally; otherwise, our visible communities become useless as conveyors of dogmatic truth, because they: A) believe mutually contradictory things that cannot be adjudicated by any reasonable person, and B) have no necessary and obvious connection to one another. Why this isn't obvious, I don't know.

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