From: Barry Peratt
I write this in response to Mr. Williams’ article on Sacred Scripture.
One hesitates to perpetuate an increasingly detailed discussion of the intricacies of the Catholic faith through short newspaper columns, so this will be my last submission on this topic. I encourage those who are interested to research the Catholic faith with an open mind. Like the famous convert to Catholicism in the 1800s, John Henry Newman, you might discover that “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”
Along those lines, let us briefly examine just one claim that Mr. Williams makes concerning Scripture and the early Church, namely, that the early Church Fathers appealed only to Scripture to refute heresy. In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2ˆ7:1 [A.D. 110], Ignatius of Antioch states that the heretics “abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Or again, “as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).
Now, this presents an interesting dilemma. If Ignatius of Antioch and Justin Martyr were referencing Scripture, then all Protestants should believe that the Eucharist is the “flesh of Christ,” since this is taught so clearly in Scripture. If they were not referencing Scripture, then we have a clear example of early Church Fathers refuting heresy by referencing a teaching that was passed on through a means other than Scripture. One cannot have it both ways.
The only other possible explanation is to believe that they were referencing Scripture but misunderstood its meaning. Amazingly, many Protestants adhere to this view. But it requires us to believe that those who worshiped with the Apostles, or with their pupils, and were most familiar with their liturgy and practice were nevertheless clueless about the meaning of the Scriptures penned by those same Apostles, whereas the Protestant reformers, more than 1,000 years removed, were in a much better position to discern its true meaning.