The Fathers of the
From Clement of Rome to Augustine of Hippo
Rev. Angus Stewart
The Fathers of the
Church: From Clement of Rome to Augustine of Hippo
by Pope Benedict XVI, edited and annotated by Joseph T.
Lienhard, S. J.
Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans,
Pp. x + 179. Paperback.
The apostle John
transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,
hath not God" (II John 9). This includes the apostate church
of Rome which officially and creedally denies that Christ
alone is the full and sufficient Saviour, mediator and Lord,
with its many abominations: mariolatry, papal authority and
primacy, transubstantiation and worship of the host,
universal atonement (suspended on the alleged free will of
the sinner), purgatory, syncretism with pagan religions,
evolutionism, etc. The aged disciple continues with this
warning against heretical teachers: "If there come any unto
you, and bring not this doctrine [i.e., the true doctrine of
Christ], receive him not into your house, neither bid him
God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of
his evil deeds" (vv. 10-11).
What would John the divine have said of a prominent
Christian publishing house, historically in the Dutch
Reformed tradition, printing and promoting a book by the
Roman pope, probably the greatest of the "antichrists" in
our day (I John 2:18)? In printing
The Fathers of the Church,
whatever prestige and reputation for orthodoxy that Eerdmans
enjoy—and I, for one, have many fine books of theirs on my
shelves—is lent in support of Benedict XVI, who claims to be
"The Holy Father," the "Vicar of Christ," the "Supreme
Pontiff of the Universal church," etc.
What a time to
publish a book by the pope! And what a pope for Eerdmans to
publish! Joseph Alois Ratzinger, as Prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981-2005) and
Dean of the College of Cardinals (2002-2005) and pope
(2005-), is probably as well-versed in the scandal of
paedophile and homosexual Roman priests as anyone. Despite
the claims of some Roman Catholics, he is deeply involved in
Rome's cover-up and ineffectual church discipline. Indeed,
he is the head of the whole rotten institution!
The pope's new book
consists of thirty-six short chapters covering twenty-six
church fathers, six of whom receive two chapters (Origen,
Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom and
Jerome) and one (Augustine) is treated in five chapters.
"Foreword" to Benedict XVI's book is written by a Jesuit, a
member of that Romish order raised up by Satan to hinder the
Reformation by attacking the gospel and persecuting the
church of Jesus Christ—it was especially "successful" in
The pope's first sentence in his first chapter begins by
introducing the Roman claims of Petrine
succession: "St. Clement, bishop of Rome in the last years
of the first century, was the third successor of Peter,
after Linus and Anacletus" (1). In the pope's last five
chapters, those on Augustine (who received more than twice
the length of the treatment of any of the other twenty-five
fathers), Benedict XVI fails to mention anything about the
Bishop of Hippo's greatest contribution to Christian
teaching: his biblical doctrine of God's sovereign grace in
Jesus Christ, rooted in (double) predestination. All we get
is a single reference to "Pelagianism" (140) and not even a
single reference to Semi-Pelagianism. The reason is not hard
to find: Romanism is historically Semi-Pelagian. Nowadays,
much of it is nearer Pelagianism, with a liberal dose of
humanism, liberation theology and syncretism thrown in.
John Calvin rightly
applies Zechariah 13:2-5 to the false prophecy, superstition
and "filthy clergy" of Romanism. His warning and exhortation
to preachers would apply equally well to Christian
publishers: "Whosoever then desires to perform all the
duties of a good and faithful pastor, ought firmly to
resolve, not only to abstain from all impure doctrines, and
simply to assert what is true, but also to detect all
corruptions which are injurious to religion, to recover men
from the deceptions of Satan, and in short, avowedly to
carry on war with all superstitions" (Comm. on Zech. 13:2).
Doubtless, some at
the judgment day will rise up against the fools at Eerdmans,
pleading that they were led astray and/or were confirmed in
their errors by reading a book by the Roman Antichrist
published by a purportedly Christian book company.
One wonders if this
title will make Eerdmans much money. Perhaps the proceeds
should go into buying a potter's field.