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Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction

Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction
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Litfin, Bryan M.


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Many evangelical Christians know very little about the early church fathers. Others have heard just enough to be suspicious of them and their treatment of Scripture. Still others are becoming interested in this neglected but significant community of believers.

In Getting to Know the Church Fathers, patristics scholar Bryan Litfin introduces readers to ten ancient Christians and dispels the misconceptions that have tainted many evangelicals' view of them.

Litfin's personal and accessible approach to the church fathers--including Augustine, Ignatius, Origen, Perpetua, and Tertullian--reveals the riches of the Christian tradition and how much Christians today have been shaped by them in the ways we worship, pray, study Scripture, and live as a community.

Each chapter tells the story of one figure's life and work, and concludes with probing questions for discussion or reflection, guides to further reading, and a fresh, vivid translation from the church father's original writings. The book is ideal for students, professors, church groups, and others seeking to learn more about historic, orthodox Christianity.

Author Information: Bryan M. Litfin (PhD, University of Virginia) is associate professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute.

304 pages, October 2007

Book Details

304 Pages
Publisher: Brazos Press (Baker)
ISBN 13: 9781587431968

"A lively and engaging introduction to the church's earliest and most venerable teachers for evangelical readers. Shattering the stereotypes of the church fathers, Litfin shows that they were animated by the Holy Scriptures and love for Christ. Getting to Know the Church Fathers challenges evangelicals to claim the great tradition of Christian thought as their own and invites them to embrace it as their story and their heritage, not solely that of Catholics and the Orthodox."
- Robert Louis Wilken, University of Virginia

"A new generation of evangelicals is discovering the riches of the wider Christian tradition, including the wisdom of the early church fathers. Bryan Litfin's patristics primer is a perfect guide for those who are on this journey, and for others who would like to take the first steps. Well researched and well written, this is a gem of a book!"
- Timothy George, Beeson Divinity School

"Bryan Litfin has written a lively, extremely accessible introduction to the church fathers that students unfamiliar with the patristic world will find very helpful. Litfin is particularly gifted at helping evangelicals understand why the church fathers should be embraced as worthy members of the church's family."
- Chris Hall, Eastern University

"Litfin represents a new generation of evangelicals who have been trained in patristics and can make the ancient writers accessible to contemporary readers without sacrificing solid scholarship. This book, as the title suggests, offers a creative way to explain select works of the church fathers for Protestants whose religious traditions have long forgotten them."
- D. H. Williams, Baylor University

"Evangelicals' longstanding neglect of the writings of the early church has impoverished both their lives and their theology. Bryan Litfin is a wise and welcoming guide to a firsthand, attentive knowledge of these forebearers who enrich and guide our worship, service, and understanding. His thorough knowledge of these ancient Christian writings and the contemporary scholarship on them provides a winsome, accessible introduction and a sound foundation for further study."
- Stephen R. Spencer, Wheaton College

"Bryan Litfin's Getting to Know the Church Fathers provides the reader with an inviting, manageable, and devotional introduction to early Christianity's indispensable deposit of faith and practice. I hope it will inform and enrich the contemporary evangelical community."
- Jeffrey Bingham, Dallas Theological Seminary

"This book is a treasure--an exposition of the writings of the early church fathers without an agenda to prove that they support either evangelical or Catholic theology, but rather to simply understand what they wrote and believed! This book fills a gap in evangelical theology, reminding us that every century of church history has something to teach us, including those early centuries when seeds were planted that later grew to have a profound impact on the Christian church. I recommend this book to all who care about doctrine and the progress of history from the early apostles onward. Here is a rudder to guide us, not an anchor to weigh us down."
- Erwin W. Lutzer, Moody Church

"Bryan Litfin's book not only introduces ten key figures of the early church but also shows why the study of the church fathers is still beneficial for Christians today. This is an excellent primer to the life, faith, and writings of these pillars of the church. Litfin leads us smoothly from the age of persecution and martyrdom to the period of division and doctrinal controversy, always showing how Christ and his gospel remained the central concern and strength of early believers."
- Glen L. Thompson, Wisconsin Lutheran College

"Getting to Know the Church Fathers offers a clear and engaging introduction to the lives of some of the most significant Christians of the early church. Bryan Litfin has managed to take a subject that is often tedious and remote and transform it instead into one that sparkles with personal interest and contemporary relevance. The questions and bibliographies that end each chapter provide opportunities for further reflection and study, and the brief selections from these early Christian writers offer a glimpse into the hearts and minds of these key figures. Litfin's work offers a superb introduction to the formative Christian leaders of the church, one that is eminently readable and enjoyable."
- Bruce A. Ware,, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary