The Church Fathers-A New Resource, an Old Source

Sep 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

It is with pleasure that I announce to you a new website – www.churchfathers.org. Designed to be a user-friendly resource of quotes from the Church Fathers organized in topical fashion, this website can be used to phrase questions about what we believe, and what we don’t believe, by looking at our faith through ancient eyes.

As one well-known revert to the Catholic Church, Francis Beckwith, put it:

“My own return to the Catholic Church would have not been possible if not for the overwhelming evidence that the Church Fathers embraced without reservation—and in fact, often assumed as uncontroversial—those doctrines that presently divide Catholics from Protestants. This website—churchfathers.org—is a wonderful resource for Catholics, Protestants, as well as Orthodox believers.  Whether you are Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, your spiritual paternity is older than either the 16th, 13th, or 11th century. We have, as they say, a common ancestry. This website will help you to better understand the ancient roots of your faith and what our predecessors—those that formed our theology at Nicaea, Chalcedon, and Orange—believed about a variety of practices and doctrines over which we are divided today.” — Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University. Author of Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009)

We here at Called to Communion hope that you take the time to consider the writings of Fathers of the Church, and we consider this website to be one tool that is a very helpful introduction to the Fathers. The website has poignant points on key issues that divide Christians, with references set in chronological order. There is much of what they write that may seem foreign, especially if you are (like we once were) coming from the Protestant viewpoint. But it is worth standing on the shoulders of giants. And it is worth being deep in history.

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6 comments
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  1. Jonathan,

    Great. A needed resource indeed.

  2. To say the least, this is an exciting development, and I pray that God will use it to His glory! From what I have seen, many Protestants, both clergy and laity, have little awareness of the Church Fathers and what they believed and taught. As the last two decades have shown though, increasingly, as more Protestants read the Fathers (especially the early ones), many presuppositions and assumptions are being challenged and rethought, and simply put, more Protestants are becoming Catholic.

    It is my prayer that, with this new website, and with the great number of other orthodox Catholic resources (including CTC!), the stream of Protestant-to-Catholic converts may become a flood, and more fallen-away Catholics may return (I fit the first two categories!), and non-Catholics of all stripes (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, pagans, atheists, etc.) may discover the glory of Christ and the Church that He founded, against which the gates of Hell will never prevail (though things certainly are rough at times, still, Christ will not break His promise)!

  3. The page looks great and well formatted – and it appears to be Catholic considering the Papacy quotes and other such topics being mentioned.

    Out of FAIRNESS, Catholic Apologist and Patristic buff Joseph Gallegos has had his own webpage of many of the same quotes/topics/fathers as this new site, so he deserves to be mentioned since he’s had this online helping out folks for over a decade:
    http://www.cin.org/users/jgallegos/contents.htm

  4. Christopher, protestants do read the Church Fathers, they just read them the same way they read the Bible, namely as proof text. An example is Augustine. Anyone who’s done even a cursory reading of Augustine realizes that he wasn’t a Calvinist by any means. He definitely believed in free will, he just stressed God’s grace very strongly since it was only by grace that he escaped his former ways. He also believed in some extremely Catholic things such as the authority of the Church, that there is never an excuse for schism, in apostolic succession, the Eucharist, the Marian doctrines, etc. The Catholic things are filtered out “to get to the good stuff”. Church history is similarly edited out. The early Church is holding fast to Christ’s teaching when it teaches what Protestants believe and what would support Protestantism (e.g. the creation of the Bible) and reject the early Church when it says non-Protestant things. As an example, in one of his reasonable faith podcasts, William Lane Craig commented that he regularly reads the Church Fathers and he finds that there is a tremendous drop in scholarship since the time of the Gospels. I have a hard time understanding how he has the opinion, but I don’t doubt he’s sincere so it must be his Protestant filtering of history that blinds him to the beauty of many of these early writings.

  5. Augustine stressed free will in his earlier years, but he most definitely fell for some form of determinism in his later years.

  6. I have a general question for those who resolved to (and succeeded in) diving deep into the Fathers, viz.: What approach did you take to tackling all that content? Did you start with Didache and Clement of Rome and continue to proceed chronologically without deviation? Did you jump to around between some of the more eminent Fathers and fill in the gaps as you would? Did you arrange your reading on the basis of tracking certain disputed topics (e.g., justification, Mary, etc.), or simply read everything you could from a given period to track the temporal progression of the Church as a whole?

    I’m a completist by nature so I always prefer to start at the beginning and not skip anything, which is how I have begun with the Fathers, and I want to get a grasp on the the primary sources more than secondary summaries, but I as I move along I am beginning to sense that the sheer volume of ecclesial writings makes this a pretty inefficient way of learning. I am open to tips and curious to hear what worked from personal experience.

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