The single source heresy

In this heresy, a believer relies entirely or mainly on one source, such as one theologian or one Saint, as the basis for a doctrine. Instead of relying on the teachings of Sacred Tradition, and Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium, with some assistance perhaps from many various theological works, the individual follows only the opinion of one person. The methodology here is flawed, because the Catholic Faith is based on Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, not on only one Saint or theologian. This methodology is a heresy because it implies a rejection of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium as the threefold God-given source for doctrine. And this methodology quickly leads to other heresies. For any single source outside of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium can err on doctrine. And if one uses even a single reliable source, one is much more likely to misunderstand and misinterpret that source, even if the source is a great Saint-theologian like Saint Thomas Aquinas.

I am seeing this error more and more often, especially with conservative Catholic commentators online. Although the error is not specific to Aquinas as the single source, he is often the object of their error.

Now this error can occur in different degrees. To one extent, the error is merely an imperfection. To a greater extent, it is a sin and a doctrinal error. Taken too far and it becomes a heresy. But even in its lesser forms, much harm can be done.

Examples of blogs where this tendency is prevalent:
The New Theological Movement
Catholic Position

Suppose a commentator relies heavily on St. Thomas, for example, on a matter of ethics. He ignores the teaching of Veritatis Splendor and many other recent magisterial documents. He treats doctrine as if it does not develop over time, and he treats St. Thomas’ writings as if these were above the documents of the Magisterium. For the first is the main source of the doctrines he believes, and the latter is mostly ignored.

Thomas may have erred on one point or another. But the commentator does not consider this possibility. He also might have misunderstood St. Thomas, and this is all the more likely because he is ignoring all of the other Saints and theologians, and the documents of the Magisterium. Often even Scripture is ignored. The result is a great likelihood of misinterpretation. This path is the path to heresy. And it does not matter how great is the Saint who is being cited, no Saint’s works can replace Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium.

Such a commentator will protest that he is merely following St. Thomas on a particular point. But the problem is not that he is listening to the words of a Saint, but that he is ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ in Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium. It is as if Thomas has replaced Jesus.

Sacred Scripture has warned the faithful about this error:
[1 Cor]
{1:11} For it has been indicated to me, about you, my brothers, by those who are with Chloes, that there are contentions among you.
{1:12} Now I say this because each of you is saying: “Certainly, I am of Paul;” “But I am of Apollo;” “Truly, I am of Cephas;” as well as: “I am of Christ.”
{1:13} Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

{3:3} And since there is still envy and contention among you, are you not carnal, and are you not walking according to man?
{3:4} For if one says, “Certainly, I am of Paul,” while another says, “I am of Apollo,” are you not men? But what is Apollo, and what is Paul?
{3:5} We are only the ministers of him in whom you have believed, just as the Lord has granted to each of you.
{3:6} I planted, Apollo watered, but God provided the growth.
{3:7} And so, neither he who plants, nor he who waters, is anything, but only God, who provides the growth.

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