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Who Were the Church Fathers?

The Church Fathers are loosely categorized as influential and early theologians and Christian teachers outside the New Testament. A Church Father is not necessarily a saint, but many created scholarly works are often still used by the Christian church today.

Difference Between a Church Father and Ecclesiastical Writer

There are plenty of authors who have written about the Bible and who have provided worthy study material. These authors are considered ecclesiastical writers. To be considered a church father, the individual had to have three specific qualities:

1. Age or a certain antiquity

2. Live a holy, Christian life

3. Teach and adhere to well-researched, conservative norms of Christianity

Clement of Rome

The Clement of Rome was traditionally thought to be the fourth Pope and Bishop of Rome and the first Christian epistle outside the New Testament. But his works are dated to be written around the time of Revelation in 96 A.D., and according to history the Church of Rome didn't have a single ruling bishop like a pope until 140 A.D. Modern speculation suggests the Clement was a leader in one of Rome's churches instead. He also wrote his works in the singular pronoun instead of the plural pronoun common with popes. The Clement of Rome wrote the Epistle of I Clement which is twice as long as the Book of Hebrews and include references to both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Polycarp of Smyrna

According to historical records, this bishop claimed to be a "disciple of John." It's unclear which John he followed. It could have been the author of the Gospel of John according to traditional advocates. Or it could have been John the Presbyter, who it is suggested is one of the alternative authors of the Johannine books. According to traditional beliefs, he was martyred at the age of 86 over a fight about the date and method of celebrating Passover. He is recognized as a saint in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox churches. Story has it that when he was tied to a stake to be burned, the fire couldn't touch him. When he was eventually stabbed, the amount of blood that flowed from his body doused the flames.

Tertullian

Born in 160 A.D. and died in 225 A.D., this man was the son of a Roman Centurion and a prolific writer. He didn't convert to Christianity until 197 A.D. and is said to have adopted views considered heresies by the Christian church. He is sometimes called The Father of the Latin Church and is said to have introduced the term "trinitas" as a way that eventually described the Divine Trinity as the formula of Three Persons, One Substance.


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