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Particulars of Christianity:
301 Roman Catholicism


Roman Catholicism (Part 10)

Roman Catholicism (Part 1)
Roman Catholicism (Part 2)
Roman Catholicism (Part 3)
Roman Catholicism (Part 4)
Roman Catholicism (Part 5)
Roman Catholicism (Part 6)
Roman Catholicism (Part 7)
Roman Catholicism (Part 8)
Roman Catholicism (Part 9)
Roman Catholicism (Part 10)
Roman Catholicism (Part 11)
Roman Catholicism (Part 12)
Addendum: In Their Own Words



(Continued from previous section.)

Ambrose was born in 339 A.D. and died in 397 A.D. In between, he was the bishop of Milan and the mentor of Augustine of Hippo.

"Ambrose, Saint - born AD 339, Augusta Treverorum, Belgica, Gaul died 397, Milan; feast day December 7 Latin Ambrosius bishop of Milan, biblical critic, and initiator of ideas that provided a model for medieval conceptions of church-state relations. His literary works have been acclaimed as masterpieces of Latin eloquence, and his musical accomplishments are remembered in his hymns. Ambrose is also remembered as the teacher who converted and baptized St. Augustine of Hippo, the great Christian theologian, and as a model bishop who viewed the church as rising above the ruins of the Roman Empire." -Britannica.com

Ambrose' influence on Church thinking is profound. Though dwarfed by that of his pupil, it must be remembered that it was Ambrose who influenced Augustine. Therefore, Ambrose influence upon the Church is in no small measure through Augustine's work.

"St. Ambrose - Bishop of Milan from 374 to 397; born probably 340, at Trier, Arles, or Lyons; died 4 April, 397. He was one of the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and fitly chosen, together with St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Athanasius, to uphold the venerable Chair of the Prince of the Apostles in the tribune of St. Peter's at Rome." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"St. Ambrose - The special character and value of the writings of St. Ambrose are at once tangible in the title of Doctor of the Church, which from time immemorial he has shared in the West with St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory. He is an official witness to the teaching of the Catholic Church in his own time and in the preceding centuries. As such his writings have been constantly invoked by popes, councils and theologians; even in his own day it was felt that few could voice so clearly the true sense of the Scriptures and the teaching of the Church (St. Augustine, De doctrinâ christ.,IV,46,48,50). Ambrose is pre-eminently the ecclesiastical teacher, setting forth in a sound and edifying way, and with conscientious regularity, the deposit of faith as made known to him. He is not the philosophic scholar meditating in silence and retirement on the truths of the Christian Faith, but the strenuous administrator, bishop, and statesman, whose writings are only the mature expression of his official life and labours. Most of his writings are really homilies, spoken commentaries on the Old and New Testaments, taken down by his hearers, and afterwards reduced to their present form, though very few of these discourses have reached us exactly as they fell from the lips of the great bishop." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

One of Ambrose' chief contributions to Augustine was his own affinity for Neoplatonic thought, in part seen in his partiality for Origen's writings, which Ambrose used to supplement his lack of theological training.

"St. Ambrose - In order to supply the lack of an early theological training, he devoted himself assiduously to the study of Scripture and the Fathers, with a marked preference for Origen and St. Basil, traces of whose influence are repeatedly met with in his works. With a genius truly Roman, he, like Cicero, Virgil, and other classical authors, contented himself with thoroughly digesting and casting into a Latin mould the best fruits of Greek thought." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

And like Origen, we see that Ambrose had a preference for an allegorical and mystical interpretation of the scripture.

"St. Ambrose - He delights in the allegorico-mystical interpretation of Scripture, i.e. while admitting the natural or literal sense he seeks everywhere a deeper mystic meaning that he converts into practical instruction for Christian life. In this, says St. Jerome (Ep.xli) 'he was disciple of Origen, but after the modifications in that master's manner due to St. Hippolytus of Rome and St. Basil the Great.'" - the Catholic Encyclopedia

The presence of Neoplatonic thought and allegorical scripture interpretation embraced by Origen and Ambrose finds its greatest expression in Augustine. As important as both of these men were to later Christian theology the contributions of both are dwarfed by those of their successor. Indeed, Augustine enjoys an unparalleled appreciation from Roman Catholics and Protestants alike for shaping post-4th century Christian theology. Yet, though he is acknowledged by Protestant scholars, his chief contributions are undeniably Roman Catholic, a fact, which the RCC is proud to affirm.

"Augustine - born Nov. 13, 354, Tagaste, Numidia [now Souk Ahras, Algeria] died Aug. 28, 430, Hippo Regius [now Annaba, Algeria] also called Saint Augustine of Hippo, original Latin name Aurelius Augustinus feast day August 28, bishop of Hippo from 396 to 430, one of the Latin Fathers of the Church, one of the Doctors of the Church, and perhaps the most significant Christian thinker after St. Paul. Augustine's adaptation of classical thought to Christian teaching created a theological system of great power and lasting influence. His numerous written works, the most important of which are Confessions and City of God, shaped the practice of biblical exegesis and helped lay the foundation for much of medieval and modern Christian thought." -Britannica.com

"Augustine - His distinctive theological style shaped Latin Christianity in a way surpassed only by scripture itself. His work continues to hold contemporary relevance, in part because of his membership in a religious group that was dominant in the West in his time and remains so today." -Britannica.com

"Augustine, Saint - St. Augustine's influence on Christianity is thought by many to be second only to that of St. Paul, and theologians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, look upon him as one of the founders of Western theology. His Confessions is considered a classic of Christian autobiography. This work (c.400), the prime source for St. Augustine's life, is a beautifully written apology for the Christian convert. Next to it his best-known work is the City of God (after 412)-a mammoth defense of Christianity against its pagan critics, and famous especially for the uniquely Christian view of history elaborated in its pages." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) is "a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, dominating, like a pyramid, antiquity and the succeeding ages. Compared with the great philosophers of past centuries and modern times, he is the equal of them all; among theologians he is undeniably the first, and such has been his influence that none of the Fathers, Scholastics, or Reformers has surpassed it." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - If Augustine occupies a place apart in the history of humanity, it is as a thinker, his influence being felt even outside the realm of theology, and playing a most potent part in the orientation of Western thought. It is now universally conceded that, in the intellectual field, this influence is unrivalled even by that of Thomas Aquinas, and Augustine's teaching marks a distinct epoch in the history of Christian thought. The better to emphasize this important fact we shall try to determine: (1) the rank and degree of influence that must be ascribed to Augustine; (2) the nature, or the elements, of his doctrinal influence; (3) the general qualities of his doctrine; and (4) the character of his genius." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - It is first of all a remarkable fact that the great critics, Protestant as well as Catholic, are almost unanimous in placing St. Augustine in the foremost rank of Doctors and proclaiming him to be the greatest of the Fathers. Such, indeed, was also the opinion of his contemporaries, judging from their expressions of enthusiasm gathered by the Bollandists. The popes attributed such exceptional authority to the Doctor of Hippo that, even of late years, it has given rise to lively theological controversies. Peter the Venerable accurately summarized the general sentiment of the Middle Ages when he ranked Augustine immediately after the Apostles; and in modern times Bossuet, whose genius was most like that of Augustine, assigns him the first place among the Doctors, nor does he simply call him 'the incomparable Augustine,' but 'the Eagle of Doctors,' 'the Doctor of Doctors.' If the Jansenistic abuse of his works and perhaps the exaggerations of certain Catholics, as well as the attack of Richard Simon, seem to have alarmed some minds, the general opinion has not varied. In the nineteenth century Stöckl expressed the thought of all when he said, 'Augustine has justly been called the greatest Doctor of the Catholic world.'" - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - Luther and Calvin were content to treat Augustine with a little less irreverence than they did the other Fathers, but their descendants do him full justice, although recognizing him as the Father of Roman Catholicism." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - In his "History of the Church" Dr. Kurtz calls Augustine 'the greatest, the most powerful of all the Fathers, him from whom proceeds all the doctrinal and ecclesiastical development of the West, and to whom each recurring crisis, each new orientation of thought brings it back.'" - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - The English Miter, W. Cunningham, is no less appreciative of the extent and perpetuity of this extraordinary influence: "The whole life of the medieval Church was framed on lines which he has suggested: its religious orders claimed him as their patron; its mystics found a sympathetic tone in his teaching; its polity was to some extent the actualization of his picture of the Christian Church; it was in its various parts a carrying out of ideas which he cherished and diffused. Nor does his influence end with the decline of medievalism: we shall see presently how closely his language was akin to that of Descartes, who gave the first impulse to and defined the special character of modern philosophy." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - But Adolf Harnack is the one who has oftenest emphasized the unique rôle of the Doctor of Hippo. He has studied Augustine's place in the history of the world as reformer of Christian piety and his influence as Doctor of the Church. In his study of the "Confessions" he comes back to it: 'No man since Paul is comparable to him' -- with the exception of Luther, he adds. - 'Even today we live by Augustine, by his thought and his spirit; it is said that we are the sons of the Renaissance and the Reformation, but both one and the other depend upon him.'" - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - Augustine stands forth, too, as the great inspirer of religious thought in subsequent ages. A whole volume would not be sufficient to contain the full account of his influence on posterity; here we shall merely call attention to its principal manifestations. It is, in the first place, a fact of paramount importance that, with St. Augustine, the centre of dogmatic and theological development changed from East to West. Hence, from this view-point again, he makes an epoch in the history of dogma. The critics maintain that up to his time the most powerful influence was exerted by the Greek Church, the East having been the classic land of theology, the great workshop for the elaboration of dogma. From the time of Augustine, the predominating influence seems to emanate from the West, and the practical, realistic spirit of the Latin race supplants the speculative and idealistic spirit of Greece and the East. Another fact, no less salient, is that it was the Doctor of Hippo who, in the bosom of the Church, inspired the two seemingly antagonistic movements, Scholasticism and Mysticism. From Gregory the Great to the Fathers of Trent, Augustine's theological authority, indisputably the highest, dominates all thinkers and is appealed to alike by the Scholastics Anselm, Peter Lombard, and Thomas Aquinas, and by Bernard, Hugh of St. Victor, and Tauler, exponents of Mysticism, all of whom were nourished upon his writings and penetrated with his spirit." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - Lastly, Augustine's doctrine bears an eminently Catholic stamp and is radically opposed to Protestantism. It is important to establish this fact, principally because of the change in the attitude of Protestant critics towards St. Augustine. Indeed, nothing is more deserving of attention than this development so highly creditable to the impartiality of modern writers. The thesis of the Protestants of olden times is well known. Attempts to monopolize Augustine and to make him an ante-Reformation reformer, were certainly not wanting. Of course Luther had to admit that he did not find in Augustine justification by faith alone, that generating principle of all Protestantism." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - In the last thirty or forty years all has been changed, and the best Protestant critics now vie with one another in proclaiming the essentially Catholic character of Augustinian doctrine. In fact they go to extremes when they claim him to be the founder of Catholicism. It is thus that H. Reuter concludes his very important studies on the Doctor of Hippo: 'I consider Augustine the founder of Roman Catholicism in the West'....This is no new discovery, as Kattenbusch seems to believe, but a truth long since recognized by Neander, Julius Köstlin, Dorner, Schmidt,...etc..." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - No one, however, has put this idea in a stronger light than Harnack. Quite recently, in his 14th lesson on 'The Essence of Christianity,' he characterized the Roman Church by three elements, the third of which is Augustinism, the thought and the piety of St. Augustine. 'In fact Augustine has exerted over the whole inner life of the Church, religious life and religious thought, an absolutely decisive influence.' And again he says, 'In the fifth century, at the hour when the Church inherited the Roman Empire, she had within her a man of extraordinarily deep and powerful genius: from him she took her ideas, and to this present hour she has been unable to break away from them.' In his 'History of Dogma' (English tr., V, 234, 235) the same critic dwells at length upon the features of what he calls the 'popular Catholicism' to which Augustine belongs. These features are (a) the Church as a hierarchical institution with doctrinal authority; (b) eternal life by merits, and disregard of the Protestant thesis of 'salvation by faith' -- that is, salvation by that firm confidence in God which the certainty of pardon produces (c) the forgiveness of sins -- in the Church and the Church; (d) the distinction between commands and counsel -- between grievous sine and venial sins -- the scale of wicked men and good men -- the various degrees of happiness in heaven according to one's deserts; (e) Augustine is accused of "outdoing the superstitious ideas" of this popular Catholicism -- the infinite value of Christ's satisfaction, salvation considered as enjoyment of God in heaven -- the mysterious efficacy of the sacraments (ex opere operato) -- Mary's virginity even in childbirth -- the idea of her purity and her conception, unique in their kind." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

In 387 A.D., Augustine was baptized by Ambrose as a Christian. We might also say he was baptized into Neoplatonism by Ambrose as well.

"Augustine - But when Augustine accepted baptism at the hands of Ambrose in 387, thereby joining the religion of his mother to the cultural practices of his father, he managed to make it a Christianity of his own. To some extent influenced by Ambrose (but few others influenced by Ambrose went in the same direction), Augustine made his Christianity into a rival to and replacement for the austerity of ancient philosophers. Reading Platonic texts and correctly understanding some of their doctrine, Augustine decided for himself that Christianity was possible only if he went further than any churchman said he was required to go-he chose to remain celibate even though he was a layman and under no requirement to do so. His life with a succession of lovers ended, Augustine accepted sexual abstinence as the price of religion. After a long winter in retirement from the temptations of the city, he presented himself to Ambrose for baptism, then slipped away from Milan to pursue a singularly private life for the next four years." -Britannica.com

The following quotes all attest to Augustine's pervasive Neoplatonic influence. We apologize for the length of these quotes, but given his significance to the formation of Roman Catholic theology (and consequently some of modern Protestant theology as well), we thought it best to overwhelm the reader with evidence of his embrace of pagan mystical thought.

"Augustine - Intellectually, Augustine represents the most influential adaptation of the ancient Platonic tradition with Christian ideas that ever occurred in the Latin Christian world. Augustine received the Platonic past in a far more limited and diluted way than did many of his Greek-speaking contemporaries, but his writings were so widely read and imitated throughout Latin Christendom that his particular synthesis of Christian, Roman, and Platonic traditions defined the terms for much later tradition and debate. Both modern Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity owe much to Augustine, though in some ways each community has at times been embarrassed to own up to that allegiance in the face of irreconcilable elements in his thought. For example, Augustine has been cited as both a champion of human freedom and an articulate defender of divine predestination, and his views on sexuality were humane in intent but have often been received as oppressive in effect." -Britannica.com

"Augustine - Between those two points the narrative of sin and redemption holds most readers' attention. Those who seek to find in it the memoirs of a great sinner are invariably disappointed, indeed often puzzled at the minutiae of failure that preoccupy the author. Of greater significance is the account of redemption. Augustine is especially influenced by the powerful intellectual preaching of the suave and diplomatic Bishop Ambrose, who reconciles for him the attractions of the intellectual and social culture of antiquity, in which Augustine was brought up and of which he was a master, and the spiritual teachings of Christianity. The link between the two was Ambrose's exposition, and Augustine's reception, of a selection of the doctrines of Plato, as mediated in late antiquity by the school of Neoplatonism. Augustine heard Ambrose and read, in Latin translation, some of the exceedingly difficult works of Plotinus and Porphyry; he acquired from them an intellectual vision of the fall and rise of the soul of man, a vision he found confirmed in the reading of the Bible proposed by Ambrose." -Britannica.com

"Augustine, Saint- His years at Milan were the critical period of his life. Already distrustful of Manichaeism, he came to renounce it after a deep study of Neoplatonism and skepticism. Augustine, troubled in spirit, was greatly drawn by the eloquent fervor of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. After two years of great doubt and mental disquietude, Augustine suddenly decided to embrace Christianity. He was baptized on Easter in 387. Soon afterward he returned to Tagaste, where he lived a monastic life with a group of friends. In 391, while he was visiting in Hippo, he was chosen against his will to be a Christian priest there. For the rest of his life he remained in Hippo, where he became auxiliary bishop in 395 and bishop soon after. He died in the course of the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. Feast: Aug. 28." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Life of St. Augustine of Hippo - Having visited Bishop Ambrose, the fascination of that saint's kindness induced him to become a regular attendant at his preachings. However, before embracing the Faith, Augustine underwent a three years' struggle during which his mind passed through several distinct phases. At first he turned towards the philosophy of the Academics, with its pessimistic scepticism; then neo-Platonic philosophy inspired him with genuine enthusiasm. At Milan he had scarcely read certain works of Plato and, more especially, of Plotinus, before the hope of finding the truth dawned upon him. Once more he began to dream that he and his friends might lead a life dedicated to the search for it, a life purged of all vulgar aspirations after honours, wealth, or pleasure, and with celibacy for its rule (Confessions, VI). But it was only a dream; his passions still enslaved him." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Life of St. Augustine of Hippo - Augustine gradually became acquainted with Christian doctrine, and in his mind the fusion of Platonic philosophy with revealed dogmas was taking place." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Life of St. Augustine of Hippo - It is now easy to appreciate at its true value the influence of neo-Platonism upon the mind of the great African Doctor. It would be impossible for anyone who has read the works of St. Augustine to deny the existence of this influence. However, it would be a great exaggeration of this influence to pretend that it at any time sacrificed the Gospel to Plato. The same learned critic thus wisely concludes his study: "So long, therefore, as his philosophy agrees with his religious doctrines, St. Augustine is frankly neo-Platonist; as soon as a contradiction arises, he never hesitates to subordinate his philosophy to religion, reason to faith. He was, first of all, a Christian; the philosophical questions that occupied his mind constantly found themselves more and more relegated to the background" (op. cit., 155). But the method was a dangerous one; in thus seeking harmony between the two doctrines he thought too easily to find Christianity in Plato, or Platonism in the Gospel. More than once, in his "Retractations" and elsewhere, he acknowledges that he has not always shunned this danger. Thus he had imagined that in Platonism he discovered the entire doctrine of the Word and the whole prologue of St. John. He likewise disavowed a good number of neo-Platonic theories which had at first misled him - the cosmological thesis of the universal soul, which makes the world one immense animal - the Platonic doubts upon that grave question: Is there a single soul for all or a distinct soul for each? But on the other hand, he had always reproached the Platonists, as Schaff very properly remarks (Saint Augustine, New York, 1886, p. 51), with being ignorant of, or rejecting, the fundamental points of Christianity: "first, the great mystery, the Word made flesh; and then love, resting on the basis of humility." They also ignore grace, he says, giving sublime precepts of morality without any help towards realizing them." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Works of St. Augustine of Hippo - Philosophy These writings, for the most part composed in the villa of Cassisiacum, from his conversion to his baptism (388-387), continue the autobiography of the saint by initiating us into the researches and Platonic hesitations of his mind. There is less freedom in them than in the Confessions. They are literary essays, writings whose simplicity is the acme of art and elegance. Nowhere is the style of Augustine so chastened, nowhere is his language so pure. Their dialogue form shows that they were inspired by Plato and Cicero. The chief ones are: Contra Academicos (the most important of all); De Beatâ Vitâ; De Ordine; the two books of Soliloquies, which must be distinguished from the "Soliloquies" and "Meditations" which are certainly not authentic; De Immortalitate animĉ; De Magistro (a dialogue between Augustine and his son Adeodatus); and six curious books (the sixth especially) on Music." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - (2) Nature and different aspects of his doctrinal influence This influence is so varied and so complex that it is difficult to consider under all its different aspects. First of all, in his writings the great bishop collects and condenses the intellectual treasures of the old world and transmits them to the new. Harnack goes so far as to say: "It would seem that the miserable existence of the Roman empire in the West was prolonged until then, only to permit Augustine's influence to be exercised on universal history." It was in order to fulfil this enormous task that Providence brought him into contact with the three worlds whose thought he was to transmit: with the Roman and Latin world in the midst of which he lived, with the Oriental world partially revealed to him through the study of Manichĉism, and with the Greek world shown to him by the Platonists. In philosophy he was initiated into the whole content and all the subtilties of the various schools, without, however, giving his allegiance to any one of them. In theology it was he who acquainted the Latin Church with the great dogmatic work accomplished in the East during the fourth century and at the beginning of the fifth; he popularized the results of it by giving them the more exact and precise form of the Latin genius." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - Augustine stands forth, too, as the great inspirer of religious thought in subsequent ages. A whole volume would not be sufficient to contain the full account of his influence on posterity; here we shall merely call attention to its principal manifestations. It is, in the first place, a fact of paramount importance that, with St. Augustine, the centre of dogmatic and theological development changed from East to West. Hence, from this view-point again, he makes an epoch in the history of dogma. The critics maintain that up to his time the most powerful influence was exerted by the Greek Church, the East having been the classic land of theology, the great workshop for the elaboration of dogma. From the time of Augustine, the predominating influence seems to emanate from the West, and the practical, realistic spirit of the Latin race supplants the speculative and idealistic spirit of Greece and the East. Another fact, no less salient, is that it was the Doctor of Hippo who, in the bosom of the Church, inspired the two seemingly antagonistic movements, Scholasticism and Mysticism. From Gregory the Great to the Fathers of Trent, Augustine's theological authority, indisputably the highest, dominates all thinkers and is appealed to alike by the Scholastics Anselm, Peter Lombard, and Thomas Aquinas, and by Bernard, Hugh of St. Victor, and Tauler, exponents of Mysticism, all of whom were nourished upon his writings and penetrated with his spirit." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo - Augustine seeks the living truth, and even when he is combating certain Platonic ideas he is of the family of Plato, not of Aristotle. He belongs indisputably to all ages because he is in touch with all souls, but he is preeminently modern because his doctrine is not the cold light of the School; he is living and penetrated with personal sentiment. Religion is not a simple theory, Christianity is not a series of dogmas; It Is also a life, as they say nowadays, or, more accurately, a source of life. However, let us not be deceived. Augustine is not a sentimentalist, a pure mystic, and heart alone does not account for his power. If in him the hard, cold intellectuality of the metaphysician gives place to an impassioned vision of truth, that truth is the basis of it all. He never knew the vaporous mysticism of our day, that allows itself to be lulled by a vague, aimless sentimentalism. His emotion is deep, true, engrossing, precisely because it is born of a strong, secure, accurate dogmatism that wishes to know what it loves and why it loves. Christianity is life, but life in the eternal, unchangeable truth." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

Like Origen and Ambrose before him, Augustine not only blended Christianity and Neoplatonic paganism, but he also set the bar for mystical and allegorical interpretation of the scriptures, firmly removing the Church from the grammatical-historical method employed by the Apostles and their disciples through the first two centuries of Church history.

"Works of St. Augustine of Hippo - The most remarkable of his Biblical works illustrate either a theory of exegesis (one generally approved) which delights in finding mystical or allegorical interpretations, or the style of preaching which is founded on that view. His strictly exegetical work is far from equalling in scientific value that of St. Jerome. His knowledge of the Biblical languages was insufficient: he read Greek with difficulty; as for Hebrew, all that we can gather from the studies of Schanz and Rottmanner is that he was familiar with Punic, a language allied to Hebrew. Moreover, the two grand qualities of his genius -- ardent feeling and prodigious subtlety -- carried him sway into interpretations that were violent or more ingenious than solid." - the Catholic Encyclopedia

It is Augustine's allegorical approach to the interpretation of scripture that is in no small part responsible for the deviation of Roman Catholic teachings from those expressed in the New Testament and in the orthodox Church writings of the first three centuries. Chief among these is Roman Catholic eschatology, which embodies the Amillennialist position. Whereas the early Church understood that Jesus would return to physically rule the earth from Jerusalem for 1,000 years, the 4th century Romanization of the Church discarded this Apostolic Tradition and instead spiritualizes the meaning of the scripture to arrive at the idea that Jesus rules from heaven through the Roman bishop on earth for some ambiguous or long period of time.

(For more on the subject of the eschatology of the early Church and Amillennialism please visit the Chiliasm/Progressive Dispensation articles in the Doctrinal Studies section of the PFRS website.

In conclusion, our examination of Origen, Ambrose, and Augustine has provided further evidence that Roman Catholic deviations from the Apostolic Traditions of early Christianity is not limited to mere organizational departures and Roman imperial paganism, but also includes Neoplatonic thought and a turning toward allegorical and mystical methods for interpreting the scripture. Additional evidence for this conclusion comes by way of Eusebius of Caesarea.


(Continued in next section.)