Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thoughts From The Fathers

I've been going through The Recognitions of Clement lately. Basically, it's supposed to be Clement of Rome's account on how he came to be a Christian, along with some stuff about Peter's clashes with Simon Magus in the earliest days of the Church. The doctrinal orthodoxy of this work has been criticized in some circles, but I haven't found it anything like what I had heard.

Anyways, a particular passage stood out to me today. Stop me if this sounds familiar:

But when men, leading a life void of distress, began to think that the continuance of good things was granted them not by the divine bounty, but by the chance of things, and to accept as a debt of nature, not as a gift of God’s goodness, their enjoyment without any exertion of the delights of the divine complaisance,—men, being led by these things into contrary and impious thoughts, came at last, at the instigation of idleness, to think that the life of gods was theirs by nature, without any labours or merits on their part. Hence they go from bad to worse, to believe that neither is the world governed by the providence of God, nor is there any place for virtues, since they knew that they themselves possessed the fulness of ease and delights, without the assignment of any works previously, and without any labours were treated as the friends of God.

The more things change . . .

2 comments:

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Thank you for bringing this work to my attention. I was unaware of it and will put it on my "to read" list of Church Fathers works. Is there anything troubling that a Catholic should watch out for while reading this?

Throwback said...

The Christology strikes me as messed up in a few places, but given the early date on this, you can give the author the benefit of the doubt on such things.

I had heard that the Recognitions was a work of Ebionitic ideas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionite

This was usually described as it having a heavy emphasis on keeping the Old Covenant, antagonism towards St. Paul, and a focus on James as the chief apostle.

I haven't really noticed anything explicit in any of these directions, but I guess if someone was looking for it, they could make an argument (eg- Clement is writing all this as an account for James in Jerusalem, ergo, James is the chief apostle).

Or maybe my brain isn't subtle enough to grasp these things when they are presented.