Foundation for Reformed Theology
Dr. Richard A. "Dick" Ray has done it again. It must have been seven or eight years ago that he asked Dr. G. Harriss Ricks, Jr. and me, "How did the Reformers become Reformers?"
When we didn't answer as quickly or as well as we should have, he answered for us: "The Reformers became Reformers by reading the Church Fathers!"
Last Friday, Dick was the lead speaker at a Presbyterian Scholars Conference convened at Wheaton College by Dr. Jeffrey S. McDonald. He told us again (1) that spiritual renewal yet today is inseparable from the study of the doctrines of the faith, (2) that the cure for heresy is right preaching, and (3) that we still have much to learn from the Church Fathers.
To these ends, here is a list of suggested Readings from the Church Fathers:
Ramsey, Boniface. Beginning to Read the Fathers. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1985. 288 pp.
Gracious and welcoming.
Payne, Robert. The Holy Fire: The Story of the Early Centuries of the Christian Church in the Near East. 1957. Reprint, Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. 336 pp.
Bell, David N. A Cloud of Witnesses: An Introduction to the Development of Christian Doctrine to 500 A.D. New revised edition. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 2007. 235 pp.
2. Behr, John. The Way to Nicaea. Vol. 1 of Formation of Christian Theology. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001. 261 pp.
Behr, John. The Nicene Faith. Vol. 2 of Formation of Christian Theology. Two books. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2004. 480 pp.
Second of two volumes (and this second volume is printed in two books, for a total of three for the entire work) by a shining star of the Russian Orthodox Community. Invaluable for further reading.
3. McGrath, Alister E. The Genesis of Doctrine: A Study in the Foundation of Doctrinal Criticism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997. Reprint, Vancouver, Canada: Regent College Publishing, 1997. 276 pp.
A prolegomena for all serious pastors who want to come to grips with the role that doctrine per se could play in their preaching.
4. Hall, Stuart G[eorge]. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992. Reprint, London: The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2005. 272 pp.
Old, Hughes Oliphant. Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship. Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 1975. Reprint, Black Mountain, North Carolina: Worship Press, 2004. 382 pp.
5. Two devotional plunges to accompany theological concepts:
Spidlik, Thomas. Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary: Ancient Wisdom for Today's World. Translated by Paul Drake. Hyde Park, New York: New City Press, 1992. Reprint, Cistercian Publications, 1994. 448 pp.
Olivier Clément. The Roots of Christian Mysticism: Texts from the Patristic Era with Commentary. Hyde Park, New York: New City Press, 1982, 1995. 380 pp.
6. Texts from the Popular Patristics Series of St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, brief, succinct, and useful:
St. Irenaeus of Lyons. On the Apostolic Preaching. Translated by John Behr. Popular Patristics Series. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. 121 pp.
St. Basil the Great. On the Holy Spirit. Popular Patristics Series. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980. 118 pp.
St. Maximus the Confessor. On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ. Translated by Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken. Popular Patristics Series. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2004. 189 pp.
7. Lossky, Vladimir. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. Cambridge, England: James Clarke and Co., 1957. Reprint, Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1997. 252 pp.
Increasingly uplifting insights, very important.
8. Lane, Anthony N. S. John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 1999. Reprint, Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark Publishers, 2007. 320 pp.
9. Cassian, John. Saint John Cassian on Prayer. Translated by A. M. Casiday. Oxford: SLG Press, 2006. Reprint, Cistercian Publications, 2007. 59 pp.
A brief selection from Cassian's classic Conferences, which is important for understanding the flow of Patristic spirituality into the West.
10. Origen. "On Prayer." in Alexandrian Christianity. Ed. Henry Chadwick. The Library of Christian Classics. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954. 480 pp.
How can one understand the Patristic movement without Origen? Focus on his piety.
May we learn from the Church Fathers what we need to know yet today!