Wheaton and the Fathers

From Ancient Faith Radio:
Wheaton College, the epicenter of Evangelical Protestantism, has just opened a Center for Early Christian Studies that will immerse students in the fields of Patristics, the Ecumenical Councils, and early Christian literature. This audio documentary, exclusive to AFR, explores the reasons for the sudden Evangelical interest in the Church Fathers, as well as the potential ramifications of this interest.

Listen here:


  1. cynthia curran :

    Well, I listern to it and found it interesting. I think Evangelicals are becoming more interested in early christianity and want to know more about it. After all, the early protestant reformers like Luther or Calvin knew the writings of the church fathers. And people like John Wesley spoke syraic and read the fathers. Modern Protestants are more ignorant of this but I doubt that everyone that learns more of the early church will become Orthodox but at least they will become aware of christianity in the late anicent period and early medevial period.

  2. Wesley J. Smith :

    Christianity Today has also had some articles on the Fathers. We may see a wave of new conversions!

  3. George Michalopulos :

    all to the good…

  4. I wonder why only early Fathers, why only now, why now …? Ready to admit that they’ve missed a lot? It does not seem like it. The Bible says that the blind shouldn’t lead the blind.

    Hope that all of this won’t yield original interpretations of the Fathers.

  5. cynthia curran :

    Maybe, they want earlier Fathers since they are closer to the roots, and they like everyone else has their interpreation on the facts. But earlier fathers will contradict their theology but even the fathers and the church took time to developed some theological thinking on different subjects. How many of us hold the view among some of those in the 4th century about postponing bapistism as late as Constantne or Theodosius the first did almost before they died. Granted, they where both military men and had led troops to killed thousands of people, so they reason because of this, bapitism would have to be perform when they could not commit serious sins. I’m not a theological, so maybe my interpation of delayed bapistism among some people of the 4th century is incorrect.

    • There is a healthy desire among many Evangelicals to “find” the community and lifestyle described in the Scriptures in order to foster the transformation promised in the same. This, in fact, was very much my own story. Just as you note, I read the earliest Fathers because I wanted to know how THEY interpreted and lived the faith. And – just as you said – I encountered something that looked very, very different than what I was doing. The Didache and St. Ignatius of Antioch both challenged my assumptions. One can not read St. Ignatius’ letters without feeling the fire in this man’s heart. I was awed by his commitment to Christ. (I realize that this may sound a bit arrogant and perhaps it was. Please remember, however, that Evangelicals do not accord the Fathers or Saints any automatic respect, per se, until the given writer has “demonstrated” his “commitment” to Christ.) The purity and power of his faith were overwhelmingly evident. At the same time, I was also be struck by what appears to the average Protestant as a very, very Catholic set of beliefs. St. Ignatius is unequivocal about bishops and the Eucharist. While it was a wonderful blessing to read his letters, it also slammed the door on any notion that what I was doing as a Protestant was really all that “biblical.” In time, I found that Orthodoxy continued and continues to speak the same language and live in a manner very consistent with what I found St. Ignatius. So, yes, I believe this could open the door to a world which few of them know – and it may well change their lives. I certainly hope so. Those who – as Eliot notes – might try to squeeze the fathers into their existing worldview, or who simply use them for their own purposes, will miss the real blessing. Yet the word will be heard and the seed will be planted. As George said: all to the good.

  6. To save valuable time honest seekers should start perhaps here:

    The Truth of our Faith Volume II: On the Christian Mysteries by Elder Cleopa of Romania

    ” The inner life of the Church, where man becomes “god by grace” through the reception of the Divine Energies or Grace of God, is centered on the Holy Mysteries. In this volume, Elder Cleopa explains the origins, meaning and purpose of the Holy Mysteries of baptism, chrismation, confession, ordination, marriage, and holy anointing. He also deconstructs the errors of those who misunderstand or reject this life in Christ. Squarely based on Holy Scripture and its interpretations by the Holy Fathers of every age, Elder Cleopa brings to light neglected knowledge and rejected counsel stored up for so many centuries in the Orthodox church-insights that could have helped avoid the disintegration of the Western church, and which may still aid in its restoration even today.”

  7. cynthia curran :

    Well, the evangelicals came about ss overreaction. They saw that many high churches had people that were born into a christian family or country and were not really christians. This is true of course but as mention above the early church had a lot of catholic practices and both Roman Catholics or Orthodox have not always made their faith appealing to evangelicals because of scandal and in the case of some orthodox anti-western feelings.

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