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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: The One Tradition of the Faith, Which is Substantially Alike in the Churches Everywhere, a Good Proof that the Transmission Has Been True and Honest in the Main.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXVIII.—The One Tradition of the Faith, Which is Substantially Alike in the Churches Everywhere, a Good Proof that the Transmission Has Been True and Honest in the Main.

Grant, then, that all have erred; that the apostle was mistaken in giving his testimony; that the Holy Ghost had no such respect to any one (church) as to lead it into truth, although sent with this view by Christ, 2146 and for this asked of the Father that He might be the teacher of truth; 2147 grant, also, that He, the Steward of God, the Vicar of Christ, 2148 neglected His office, permitting the churches for a time to understand differently, (and) to believe differently, what He Himself was preaching by the apostles,—is it likely that so many churches, and they so great, should have gone astray into one and the same faith?  No casualty distributed among many men issues in one and the same result. Error of doctrine in the churches must necessarily have produced various issues.  When, however, that which is deposited among many is found to be one and the same, it is not the result of error, but of tradition. Can any one, then, be reckless 2149 enough to say that they were in error who handed on the tradition?



John xiv. 26.


John xv. 26.


[Tertullian knows no other Vicar of Christ than the Holy Spirit.  They who attribute infallibility to any mortal man become Montanists; they attribute the Paraclete’s voice to their oracle.]



Next: The Truth Not Indebted to the Care of the Heretics; It Had Free Course Before They Appeared.  Priority of the Church's Doctrine a Mark of Its Truth.

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