The light of truth

Daily Reading for June 27 • Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202 (transferred)

If the languages in the world are dissimilar, the power of the tradition is one and the same. The churches founded in Germany believe and hand down no differently, nor do those among the Iberians, among the Celts, in the Orient, in Egypt, or in Libya, or those established in the middle of the world. As the sun, God’s creature, is one and the same in the whole world, so the light, the preaching of truth, shines everywhere and illuminates all men who wish to come to the knowledge of truth. And none of the rulers of the churches, however gifted he may be in eloquence, will say anything different—for no one is above the Master (Matt. 10:24)—nor will one weak in speech damage the tradition. Since the faith is one and the same, he who can say much about it does not add to it nor does he who says little diminish it.

Many barbarian peoples who believe in Christ . . . possess salvation, written without paper or ink by the Spirit in their hearts, and they diligently protect the ancient tradition. . . Those who have believed this faith without letters are “barbarians in relation to our language” (1 Cor. 14:11) but most wise, because of the faith, as to thinking, customs, and way of life, and they please God as they live in complete justice, chastity, and wisdom.

From Against Heresies by Irenaeus, quoted in Irenaeus of Lyons by Robert M. Grant (Routledge, 1997).

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