Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: Rediscovering the Church Fathers

book cover

Rediscovering the Church Fathers
by Michael A.G. Haykin

ISBN-13: 9781433510434
Trade Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Crossway Books
Released: March 31, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, modified from Goodreads:
An introduction to seven church fathers, outlining their roles in church history and their teaching on a number of topics.

The church today looks quite different than it did two thousand years ago, but it's still important to know how the teachings of various early church fathers shaped Christian doctrine. Evangelical readers will find this to be a helpful introductory volume.

Michael Haykin surveys the lives and teachings of seven men who lived from AD 100 to 500--Ignatius of Antioch, the writer of "Letter to Diognetus," Origen, Cyprian, Ambrose, Basil of Caesarea, and St. Patrick--and explains how their impact continues to shape the church today.

My Review:
Rediscovering the Church Fathers is an introduction to early church history which focused on seven men whose lives and teachings helped shape church doctrine. The writing is somewhat formal in tone, but it's a quick read and easy to follow. The author gave some historical background for each man, quoted from some of their writings, and commented on those writings. I'd recommend this book to those who'd like a quick overview of how some current Christian doctrines were formed.

The first chapter explained why we should care about what the early church fathers taught. Chapter 2 was about Ignatius of Antioch and mainly focused on his letter about martyrdom, it's historical context, and what it showed about his view of martyrdom and of Christ. Chapter 3 was about the contents of the Letter to Diognetus (a defense of the Christian faith against the pagan misrepresentations of it) plus what can be gleaned from it about how the writer viewed Christ.

Chapter 4 was about Origen's life and writings, what he taught about Christ (against heresy and in his Bible commentaries), and about his method of Bible interpretation. Chapter 5 was about the teachings of Cyprian and later of Ambrose about the Lord's Supper (and the rise of the Catholic doctrine about it). Chapter 6 was about Basil of Caesarea's life and writings with a focus on the monastic movement (why Christians became monks/nuns, etc.).

Chapter 7 was a brief history of how Christianity came to Britain and about the writings of St. Patrick on his life and in promotion of missionary work aimed at "barbarian" peoples. Chapter 8 was about how the author got interested in early church history. The appendix contained suggested books for further research on church history and information on the writings of Jaroslav Pelikan about church history.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

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