In today’s post, Melanchthon begins to marshal patristic support for his understanding of the relative weight of various authorities in theology. Melanchthon’s high view of both Scripture and patristic antiquity are clear in what follows from his use of Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Basil.
Tertullian 1 says in Against Praxeas that the following rule should be maintained against all heresies: whatever is first is right, but whatever is later is counterfeit. 2 And, indeed, he calls that “first” which has certainly been handed down by the apostles–for thus does he interpret his own meaning.
Irenaeus, in his work written against Florinus, 3, adduces the authority of his forebears, and of Polycarp by name, who had been a disciple of John the Apostle. For he says that he 4 would curse the dogmas of Florinus if he heard them, and that he would avoid the place where those things were said as if it were polluted.
Basil adduces his own nurse, whose piety he says was praised as being in the first rank in those days; and he adds that she received her teaching from Gregory of Neocaesarea, 5 who was famous at that time for his learning and miracles, and who refuted Paul of Samosata and left behind a brief confession of faith, 6 which contains an illustrious testimony about the Trinity. It is extant in Book 7 of the Ecclesiastical History. 7