How Lutherans Regard the Errors of the Church Fathers
Martin Chemnitz, in his magisterial work, Loci Theologici, or “Chief Theological Topics,” has a comment about how we are to regard and deal with the errors of the early church fathers. We do not ignore them or overlook them, but neither do we dwell so much on them that we fail to recognize the benefit and blessing of reading them and gaining what wisdom is to be found in their writings and so Chemnitz says:
It is not our purpose to be like Ham, who uncovered his father’s shame. Thus we shall not deal with the lapses of those by whose labors we have been aided and whose gray hairs we ought to honor, but we will refer to them only as warnings so that we may be cautioned by their examples to be more careful and diligent in preserving the purity of this doctrine, so that we never give occasion to anyone to follow in these footsteps.
Martin Chemnitz and Jacob A. O. Preus, Loci Theologici, electronic ed., 470 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).