Haykin, Michael A. G. Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011. 172 Pages. Paper. $16.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)
Conti, Marco, Translator. Edited by Joel C. Elowsky. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on the Gospel of John (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. 172 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P)
Hill, Robert C., Carmen S. Hardin, Translators. Edited by Michael Glerup. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Severian of Gabala and Bede the Venerable: Commentaries on Genesis 1-3 (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010. 162 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. http://www.ivpress.com/ (P)
I am blessed to have a Heavenly Father in Christ Jesus, my earthly father, Lutheran fathers in the faith, and our common early Church Fathers.
These resources will introduce you to the early Church Fathers as a whole and three in particular based on what they wrote on Genesis and John.
Haykin's introduction to the Church Fathers is a great way for Gospel-centered Christians to rediscover their heritage in Christ.
Church history is our history.
These are our people.
They are the "saints who from their labors rest" for whom we thank the Lord.
We have forgiveness, life, salvation, and Christ in common with them.
We share their Bible, their vocations, their sorrows and joys, and life in this world.
And they have been neglected by Evangelicals for far too long. Call it part of the "scandal of the Evangelical mind."
The author shows a bias with regard to Holy Communion (102). I'll personally stick to what Jesus says "this" is in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians 11. Also, I will try to put the best construction of what Basil (117) says about orthodoxy and orthopraxis, while rejecting monasticism. Yes, it did preserve Biblical manuscripts, ancient chant, beer, cheese, and scholarship, but once it served those purposes for Christianity and Western Civilization as a whole, we are better off without its confusion of vocations and confusion of salvation and works.
The second Appendix, reprinting Jaroslav Pelikan's The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600) is all the more interesting considering his conversion from Lutheranism to Eastern Orthodoxy. This essay serves Haykin's purposes well.
Who were the Church Fathers and How did they shape the Church? Rediscover the answer to these questions for yourself as you read Michael Haykin's affordable introductory volume, Rediscovering the Church Fathers.
You may also wish to rediscover the Church Fathers by reading extensive writings by individual authors. Consider the following:
If anything, Theodore is guilty of dualism (e.g. p 29ff on John 2:22 and p. 140 on John 16:28). His Christology was orthodox, but not always and everywhere clearly stated. That means later readers were tempted to read into Theodore the false theology of Nestorianism. No, Scripture does NOT teach two persons of Christ, but two natures in one person as Chemnitz so extensively clarifies.
Theodore of Mopsuestia shines as an exegete when he interprets Scripture in the context of Scripture as in this exposition of John 1:29 (20):
This volume is more than worth you time.
And so is this wonderful commentary on Genesis by Severian of Gabala and Bede the Venerable paired together.
Severian's material is presented first, as he preached them in seven homilies. Bede's commentary follows.
Lutherans tend to be more comfortable with the literalness of the Antioch school of Bible interpretation. Unfortunately, the translation appears at home with the JEDP school of Genesis interpretation (5). Don't let that prevent you from reading and appreciating Severian. In Homily Two, Severian comments (31) on the second day of creation, speaking of law and Gospel in the Word:
Bede is not helpful when he comments on "Six Ages of the World" (135). It is a creative allegory and may be safely omitted.
Later, commenting on Genesis 3:15 (155), Bede shines as he extols the ongoing work of Christ in His Church, His Bride:
Bede and Severian are worth reading and make good reading together, both foremost scholars in their own day and capable and eloquent expositors of their own theological schools of tradition.
Context and culture are very helpful to better understanding Scripture in its original time and place, as we listen in the place of the original hearers. Anything that can be done so that we understand things as they would helps us understand not only what the text meant first, and also what it still means in our day and age.
Pastors, preachers, and scholars are the best servants they can be to the Church when they speak where and when Scripture speaks and are silent when God's Word is silent.We have a lot to learn from our fathers in the faith, especially who Christ is and what He has done for us to win and deliver forgiveness, life and salvation to us.
At times, we need to learn from the fathers' counter-example, when they insert opinion, bias, or speculation. Hopefully, that will help us self-edit, so that we may present Christ and Him crucified and Risen all the more clearly this Holy Week, Easter, every Sunday, and at every opportunity.
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.