By Luke Stamps–
In his book Rediscovering the Church Fathers, Credo contributor Michael Haykin lamented, “The truth of the matter is that far too many modern-day evangelicals are either ignorant of or quite uncomfortable with the church fathers” (13). And this to our shame. The Fathers afford such rich biblical, theological, hermeneutical, pastoral, and devotional treasures, that we ignore or neglect them to our own spiritual deficit. But thankfully there is a new online resource that can help shore up this historical-theological shortfall.
A website called Read the Fathers provides an online plan to read through the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Church Fathers in seven years beginning on the first Sunday in Advent (this Sunday, December 2, 2012). Here’s the description from the site:
By reading seven pages a day for seven years, you can study a vast library of theology, history, liturgy, apologetics, biblical commentary, and devotion written in the first seven centuries of the Christian church. We provide a schedule of readings, the texts in English translation, and—most important—a community to discuss what you’re learning. Laypeople, clergy, seminarians, students, and Christians of all denominations will benefit from joining our community to read the church fathers.
You can subscribe to the plan in several different formats (RSS feed, Twitter, Facebook, Google Calendar) or you can just visit the site daily. The good news is that you don’t to spend hundreds of dollars on bound copies (although they do look good on the shelf and you can get a great price here). The website links to free English translations provided by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Seven years may seem like a big commitment, but seven pages a day makes it more manageable. And even if you read selectively and chose not to tackle the whole thing, you will still find great benefit in the discipline and accountability of the daily readings (for a calendar of the readings click here).
I think this is an excellent opportunity for evangelical pastors, lay people, and academic theologians to connect (or reconnect) themselves with the earliest centuries of the Lord’s Church.
Check out the website for more information and motivation. Who’s in?
Luke Stamps is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University (OPS). He is also a Ph.D. candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in systematic theology. Luke is writing his dissertation in the field of Christology. Luke is married to Josie, and they have three children, Jack, Claire, and Henry.