I’ve been enjoying (and greatly appreciating) the early Church Fathers lately, after having drifted away from them for far too long. I’ve been living with the Puritans for well over a decade, and while I deeply appreciate and admire them, I decided it was time for a change of scenery. Reading the Fathers is a breath of fresh air for times such as these. Theirs was a time when (at least much of the time) it was the Church dealing with the world… and not each other (though not a golden age on that count). Of course, sadly, division and in-fighting would certainly come… and with a vengeance.
I came across this quote from Thomas Oden on the influence of the early Church…
It is well known that classic Protestant and evangelical teachers made frequent and informed references to the ancient Christian pastoral writers. Calvin was exceptionally well grounded in Augustine, but was also thoroughly familiar with the texts of Cyprian, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Leo, and Gregory the Great, and ecumenical council definitions such as those of Nicea, Constantinople I, and Chalcedon. Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Chemnitz were especially gifted scholars of classical pastoral care. This tradition was carried forth and deepened by Reformed pastoral theologians (Gerhard, Quenstedt, Bucanus, Ursinus, Wollebis, and Cocceius), and survived healthily well into the eighteenth-century evangelical revival among leading teachers like J.A. Bengel, Philip Doddridge, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, and Johann Neander, all of whom read classic Christian writers handily in their original languages. Not until the late nineteenth century did the study of the ancient pastoral writers atrophy among Protestant pastors.
Truth and Joy,