St. Dionysius on Apostolic Tradition

St. Dionysius the Great died ca. 265

If then it was from the Apostles, as we said above, that this custom took its beginning, we must adjust ourselves thereto, whatsoever may have been their reasons and the grounds on which they acted; to the end that we too may observe the same in accordance with their practice. For as to things which were written afterwards and which are until now still found, they are ignored by us ; and let them be ignored, no matter what they are. How can these comply with the customs of the ancients ? And in a word I have deemed certain disquisitions about these matters superfluous ; and I feel that to pay attention to them is noisy and vain. For as we are told after a first and second admonition to avoid them, so must we admonish and converse about them, and after brief inculcation and talk in common we must desist. On points, however, of prime importance and great weight we must insist. For if anyone utters any impiety about God, as do those who say He is without mercy; or if anyone introduces the worship of strange gods, such an one the law has commanded to stone. But we with the vigorous words of our faith will stone them unless they approach the mystery of Christ; or [if] anyone alter or destroy [it], or [say] that He was either not God or not man, or that He did not die or rise again, or that He is not coming again to judge the quick and the dead ; or if he preach any other gospel than we have preached, let him be accursed, says Paul. But if anyone despises the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, let such an one be at once ranked with the dead. For these reasons, that we may be in accord, church with church and bishop with bishop and elder with elder, let us be careful in our utterances. Moreover in judging of and dealing with particular cases,—as to how it is proper to admit those who come to us from without, and how to supervise those who are within,—we give instructions to the local primates who under divine imposition of hands were appointed to discharge these duties ; for they shall give a summary account to the Lord of whatsoever they do. (Blessed Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria to Pope Stephen of Rome)

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