There is a tendency among Roman and Orthodox apologists to use this passage as a way of showing that anything that the Church has accepted and approved over time must be God's truth and acceptable, because she cannot finally err.
What I'm curious about is how the passage was used in the Fathers? Does anyone know of a father who treated the passage in a similar way? The reason I ask is because I only can think of two places where it is treated, and each of them deal with it quite differently than what one hears today.
St. Irenaeus speaks like this: "We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith." (Ad Haer Book 3, Chapter 1)
Here a great father of the Church describes the writings of the holy apostles as the "ground and pillar of our faith."
St. John Chrysostom, in his homilies on 1 Timothy, said: ""That you may know," he says, "how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Not like that Jewish house. For it is this that maintains the faith and the preaching of the Word. For the truth is the pillar and the ground of the Church."
Here again, the passage is understood in such a way that the terms are even inverted: the truth is the pillar and ground of the Church - that truth being the faith and the preaching of the Word.
So both of these fathers explicitly link the Word to the "ground and pillar of faith" that is the Church.
Luther had occasion to speak of this in Wider Hanswurst, and there he makes this point: "Therefore, the holy church cannot and may not lie or suffer false doctrine, but must teach nothing except what is holy and true, that is, God's Word alone; and where it teaches a lie it is idolatrous and the whore-church of the devil." AE 41:214
In other words, it was because she clung to Him who alone is truth, allowed His Word to judge everything she taught and submitted herself to Him, Truth Incarnate, the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. It is not that her saying so makes things so; it is that she speaks the words of God faithfully.
But to return to the prior question: does anyone know of a place in the fathers where 1 Timothy 3:14 is treated of that skates close to the way it is used today by the Roman and Eastern Apologists?