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What Do We Do with the Early Church Fathers?

Video from Wretched Radio

Wretched TV and Radio are hosted by Todd Friel. On the show you will see and hear live witnessing encounters and discussions of tough theological issues and various topics in the Christian community.

The Church Fathers?

Are you confused by them there are a lot of them and so much to read and sometimes they are saints and then other times they are heretics. So what are we to do? I love reading them but I have discovered several things. As Tod Friel says in a very plain way yes sometimes they were heretics, sometimes they were wrong. They were at the very beginning and were trying to work things out.

To follow will be several days of posts about 5 church Fathers to serve as an introduction. You of course can read more if you want to dive deeper.

Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction by Brian Liftin (link)

This is an excellent book to introduce anyone to 12 Church Fathers.

Conclusion from Theology Adrift: The Early Church Fathers and Their Views of Eschatology on

"The early church fathers deserve great admiration for their courage to stand boldly for Christ, even at the cost of their lives. They shame us in our worldliness. The writings of the early church fathers also deserve serious study. These men lived in the shadow of the apostolic age. Some of them personally walked and talked with the apostles. Yet while the early fathers are to be seriously studied and respected, they are not to be venerated. As we have seen, like us, they too were fallible, capable of error.

As I hope this paper has made clear, the interpretive errors of the early church fathers were occasioned by the circumstances in which these men of God found themselves. In an era in which Jews and Christians were engaged in overt hostility over which religion would emerge supreme and victorious, it was easy for church leaders to adopt a theology that the church replaced Israel. It was also easy for Justin Martyr to spiritualize the Old Testament in order to see more of New Testament Christianity in it, and thereby refute the Gnostics who denied the Old Testament's place in God's revelation to man. The lesson for us is that we must continually guard against interpreting the Bible according to current events -- a point often lost on some of dispensational millennialism's more popular proponents.83

The bottom line, of course, is that we must continually go back to the Scriptures as our only source for "doing theology." As much as we may respect and admire the early church fathers, or, for that matter, the reformers, the puritans, or a particular modern spiritual leader, we must always remember to be Bereans, checking their conclusions and reasoning against the plumb line of God's Word. No one could put it more clearly or forcefully than Martin Luther as he boldly and defiantly proclaimed before the Diet of Worms: "Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason -- I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other -- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. . . . Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise."

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