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The Fathers of the Church:
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, 2009.
Pp. x + 179. Paperback.

The apostle John declares, "Whosoever 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.

Appropriately, the "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 Habsburg lands.

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.