Quote: Neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian

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“Let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian.” – St. Athanasius 360 AD


St. Athanasius, early Bishop and Doctor of the Church, lays it out on who is and should be called a Christian. What do you think?

6 comments Add comment

Inge November 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

He is right, using that definition of what a Christian is. The only thing is that I have the distinct impression that the Church nowadays has another definition, because things changed dramatically since 360 AD. (1054, 1521 etc.)

Tony November 2, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I would not proceed down the path of saying Protestants or Evangelicals are not Christians. Though they have broken off with the Catholic Church, they still hold to numerous aspects of our faith, teaching and tradition. As writer Mark Shea says in his new book series ‘Mary, Mother of the Son’, “Catholics rely on sacred Tradition and know they do, while Evangelicals rely on sacred Tradition and typically don’t know they do.” In fact, Shea deals with this very topic in a recent column at http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=121&ed=1.

William B. November 2, 2009 at 4:55 pm

An awesome quote, but not one you really want to lead with in a discussion with a protestant, yes? Best to be used in reserve for the most ardent anti-catholics.

Steve S. November 2, 2009 at 8:57 pm

The Church makes a distinction between formal heretics and material heretics. St. Athanasius is speaking of formal heretics — those who know better and still refuse to assent to the teachings of the Lord as handed down by the Apostles through the Church. For those who knowingly deny the faith outright, they define themselves as no longer being Christian by their very nature. St. Athanasius is not speaking of persons similar to our Protestant brothers and sisters who are ignorant of the imperfections that exist in their teachings — those whom we today call “material heretics”. They cannot necessarily be held responsible for their ignorance of the fullness of Christ’s teachings (if anything the culpability there is on us Catholics!). And given their genuine love for the Lord and their perseverence to follow His teachings as best as they can (through God’s grace), we must recongize the genuine Christian fellowship that exists between us.

Tony November 2, 2009 at 9:21 pm

Tony and Steve S. You guys are right on the Money. thank you for your Insightful thoughts you added to the comments section

Matthew Warner November 2, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Yep, excellent comments by everyone! Thank you for sharing!

I also think the quote is less a formal method for labeling people as it is a good example of the only realistic and practical way Christians have ever been able to maintain unity and identify orthodoxy: those in union with the Apostles, Fathers, Bishops, historical Church…and those that are not.

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