Friday, July 18, 2014

"Rediscovering the Church Fathers" by Michael Haykin: A Review

Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church
One of the areas of historical theology that I find fascinating and yet woefully ignorant of is the early church. I know the names, some of the concepts, and can even point to the development of the papacy, the Trinity, etc., but still feel like I know too little of this important time in church history.  The significance of the early church should be obvious: it is critical to see what the first generations after the apostles believed, how they lived, and what their theology was.

As a result, I recently turned to the Dr. Michael Haykin's book Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church. Haykin is an expert in the early church, its history, and its theology and this book reveals as much. Haykin does not offer a thorough, exhaustive look at early church history and theology, but instead highlights a number of significant persons and doctrines during this time that are crucial for us to understand. Haykin covers men like Origen, Irenaus, and Patrick.

As one who has had Dr. Haykin in class, I was really looking forward to reading this book and I wasn't disappointed.  It is a book that those interested in Early Church studies would enjoy, but without some background in theology or church history some may struggle with it.  It is a bit academic, but he doesn't spend his time discussing and debating difficult subjects that lose the reader. The author covers the doctrines like salvation and communion as well as the rise of Christianity in Britain and Ireland, among many other things. 

In the end, those who love theology and history will enjoy this book. It is limited in that it doesn't seek to fully cover the many issues in Patristic studies, but certainly introduces the reader to many of the persons and issues in the early church.  And what is great is the constant reminder throughout of the transcendence of the gospel. God does not change and neither does the message of salvation.  And for that we have a lot to learn and rejoice in our study of these early believers.
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