For 14 years I have preached an annual sermon series on the Church Fathers, those personalities who over the early centuries of church history fashioned our faith and codified that which we have come to embrace as orthodox Christianity. As there have been numerous noteworthy Church Fathers (and Mothers) it seemed sensible to tackle them a letter at a time. There was so much interest that now Patheos Press has developed these reflections into three volumes, the first of which is now available for a meager sum.
My rationale for taking an annual peek at these people comes from my own conviction that our faith derives in no small part from the faithful personalities who’ve lived it and wrestled with it through crucial moments in church history. While we Protestants may not venerate these important people as saints, we cannot separate their contributions from our own doctrines and practice. We may hold to sola Scriptura (the Bible alone as source of authority), but interpreting and obeying the Bible necessarily stands on the interpretive and obedient shoulders of past believers and thinkers. Tradition is the memory of the church. And as Augustine argued, we are who we are only through our memories.
Patristic scholars will rightly note that I have exceedingly stretched the notion of “church father” beyond its proper boundaries. Technically, to be a Church Father, you had to live in the first five centuries AD. But seeing this is a blog for Protestants (which means that our grasp of church history generally reaches back only as far as C.S. Lewis and Karl Barth), I tend to dispense with such technicalities. Enjoy.