A question I have asked hasn't been answered yet - where do the early (but post-biblical) writers get their authority?
Well even the writers are subject to The Church. Not all of the things that the early Church fathers are in line with the teachings of The Church.
That is hard for some to reconcile because of the way in which people see what the Church is. It's not like there are some folks in power and everyone just nods and walks along hand in hand with them. If you look at history there are even popes whose teachings were anathematized - 8th century.
It's not this institution of "man" as people are want to paint it.
Give me an answer and I won't agrue with you, I just want to understand the RCC thinking on this.
Even though the RCC, EO and Coptic faiths (all have the same history at her base but wound up out of communion with one another) have different views on this, they are, at their base quite similar if not the same.
I used not to think this but the more I study it seems that often we get tied into semantics over things we on a much deeper level we seem to agree.
Never the less, Patristics isn't just and adherence to whatever the early Fathers said, did and wrote. I mean, that's why all three faiths consider Origin to be a heretic.
If you go outside the bounds of Holy Scripture or Holy Tradition or the faith "according to the whole" then you wind up either with a teaching or at worst the entire individual not being absorbed into the body.
People look at the ancient faiths and think we just put our faith in the fathers sotospeak but if you ever start reading all the fathers (and early Christian writings like didache etc.) then you will find that they need to be in agreement not only with the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition but also in regards to the "whole". It's not compartmentalized. Like, "oh you agree with the scriptures so you're right" or "oh, you adhere to the tradition and so are right".
It's not like there are just a group of men sitting in some smoke filled room coming up with this or that or saying, let's affirm this and not that.
There are parameters that even the bishops and councils must adhere to and are subject to. Those parameters are based not on what any one as "come up with" or "thought up" but instead what has been revealed to us in regards to the revelation of God as God revealed Himself to us.
I can see Josiah doing backward flips over the word "us" but I only mean it in a general sense right now in regards to the ancient faiths and how The Church sees herself. When I say, "the Church" I am only talking from an ecclessiology point of view as all three ancient faiths have a very similar ecclessiology and have a few things here and there that the other two don't have.
However, unlike the Holy Trinity, the three ancient faiths have yet to attain to the unity of the faith amongst themselves. I would like to see the Roman Catholics, the Coptics and the Eastern Orthodox be in communion as it would be a wonderful witness and a mighty return to our shared roots.
But yeah. It's not as black and white as we would hope it to be. There's no boogie man or guy sitting behind the veil saying, "ignore that man behind the curtain".
The Church, as Christ, also has two natures and so can mistep in some regards. But she spits out whatever pebble she found in her shoe and moves on.
I have quoted Justin Martyr duing a talk before serving the Lords Supper and I have refered to the Didache during Bible calss discussion (even though some of it goes against scripture) so I know the early writers have some usefulness to present day Christians but why does the RCC place so much emphasis on them?
Usually the ancient faiths appeal to modern Christians about them because they teach what we teach insofar as we are all in agreement. I mean, St. Justin Martyr and St. Ignatius are in agreement as we are in agreement with them. So yes, we point to them often because one of the marks of the Church is that she is "one".
That means that you should be able to point back in history to the very same Church and see the same Church. St. Justin Martyr and St. Ignatius and St. Clement etc. provide a usefulness in being able to point to a continuity. You can see the same ecclessiology at work, the same way in which they approach and view the Holy Eucharist and the role and function and teachings about the presbytery and episkipos.
Also, we are told to remember our leaders and to consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith and since they played a pivotal role in preserving the teaching of the Apostles against the numerous attacks on The Church, they are good reminder for us.
Ultimately it is Christ in them who we see and so honor Christ's work in them.
Are there any writers today who you think have the same authority as the men from the first couple of centuries?
Sure, but we don't call them writers. We don't even consider St. Ignatius or St. Justin Martyr or any of the fathers of the Church "writers".
We should always be producing fathers but they are rare. As St. Paul says, though you have many guardians you have few fathers but I (St. Paul) became a father to you...
Yes, we still have fathers of the Church today and they are in complete agreement with the fathers of old.
In a similar way, some of you have supported the perpetual virginity of Mary by saying that Luther, Zwingli and Wesley taught it. As Catholic, don't you view them as heritics and men who distorted the truth and therefore people you shouldn't be using to support your argument?
Well, it's not about "teams", if you are right you are right insofar as you are right. They also said Jesus is God and aren't going to say they were wrong. It's not like anything the folks in the different colored jerseys say is wrong just because they are opposed to you in other things.
There's no problem quoting heretics etc. insofar as they true. Even St. Paul quoted from the pagans in the Holy Scriptures:
'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'
This "him we live and move and have our being" wasn't a Christian or even a Jew! No, but St. Paul knew who this "him" truly was and so pointed the truth of that saying to it's truest source - Christ. Christ is Truth.
Let's not yell at each other, just explain the thought process.