Why read the Early Church Fathers?

Maybe for some of you reading this, the question might better be phrased as: who are the Church Fathers?

No doubt you will be familiar with some of their names: Augustine, Jerome, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr et al. You may have even read portions or quotes by some of these men. But that still doesn't really explain to you who they are and why you should care, much less actually read any of their works.

My new book deals with a selection of some of the most influential Early Church Fathers, sometimes also referred to as the Apostolic Fathers (if they lived between AD 70-150), or collectively as the Ante Nicene Fathers for all of those in the period of time preceding the Council of Nicea (AD 325). It is these men who wrote doctrine and defences against heresy and helped to continue and shape the Church in its most formative years.

Some of the earlier Christian leaders of the 2nd Century were discipled and taught by the Apostles themselves. Those include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Still others in mid-2nd century were then taught by those who knew the men who were taught by some of the Apostles. One of the more well-known Bishops who was second generation to the Apostles was Irenaeus (best known for his extensive apologetic works, Against Heresies).

From chapter 21 onward in my book, I look at a few writers from beyond this period (around 356) up until AD 449 where we can observe some distinctive changes in thought and practice.

These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?”.

So Why Read What They Wrote?

The Bible didn't just drop out of the sky, all leather bound and ready to read for us to pick up today. There was a lengthy process of selecting and preserving the apostles teachings which spanned nearly four centuries, and it was due to the Fathers and their faithfulness to the Scriptures that this was possible. Not only that, but due to their close links to the Apostles — some who were even taught directly by an apostle — we now have valuable resources and insights into aspects, teaching and issues within the very early Church which we can learn from and measure our doctrine and interpretation against.

This isn't to say that everything the Church Fathers said, did or wrote is perfect; or that we should elevate their texts to the level of Scripture, but we can glean much from those who knew and were discipled by the Apostles (or those who knew them second hand). We can read what certain portions of Scripture meant to them, or see how they interpreted things in the years following the Apostles, and can compare that to how we might read those same Scriptures today.

This is a highly valuable resource for us to still have available; to be able to check our beliefs and doctrines against accepted, historical orthodoxy, which was quite literally shaped through blood, sweat and tears.

It's a wonderful thing to be able to look back millennia and know that what we believe and follow as Christians has been faithfully passed on and preserved for all this time. Many doctrines we now take for granted were actually developed and defended during this time; carefully worded and formed to ensure that the truth of God doesn't get lost, diluted or warped for selfish gain.

We owe much to these men of God and can still learn a great deal from them, as they still speak to us today as part of that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us (Heb 12:1).



This has been an excerpt from the introduction to my book.

You can read more from the Early Church Fathers in my new book, 40 Days with the Fathers: A daily reading plan, which is available now on Amazon and Kindle.

See fortydays.co.uk for more details and to begin your journey through the first four centuries of the Church!

Book advert banner


Contribute on Patreon

Enjoying this? Consider contributing regular gifts for this content on Patreon.
* Patreon is a way to join your favorite creator's community and pay them for making the stuff you love. You can simply pay a few pounds per month or per post that a creator makes, and in return receive some perks!

Subscribe to Updates

Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 114 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates and join over 112 subscribers today!

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

The Best Tools And Resources For Self-Publishing Authors

| 26th July 2021 | Guest Post

The Best Tools And Resources For Self-Publishing Authors

There’s no denying that the world of literature and poetry has changed drastically in recent decades.  In the past, aspiring authors had no choice but to manually write or type out their manuscripts, mail them out to publishing houses and agents, and then pray that somebody would be interested in publishing their works.  However, today, authors don’t need publishers or agents, and many modern writers can make a living through self-publishing.  Below, we’re diving into our list of the absolute best and most popular tools and resources for self-publishing authors.    Writing And Editing Software As an author, your pen is probably your best friend.  The problem, however, is that it will take you forever to write out your next novel by hand. And even if you did manage to write it all out, you’d still need to have it published somewhere else anyway.  Therefore, most self-publishing authors do most of their writing in a word processing tool, which allows them to write, edit, modify, and create using pre-designed book templates and many other tools that make writing and self-publishing a book much more straightforward than doing it manually.    Scrivener Ask any modern self-publishing author out there, and they’ll surely tell you that they’ve at least heard of the word processing tool known as Scrivener.  Scrivener is one of the most popular and most advanced word processing tools designed explicitly for authors.  Aside from pre-designed templates for books and prose, Scrivener also offers a whole host of other tools and features that make writing, exporting, and self-publishing your next book as easy as can be!    Grammarly If you’re serious about becoming a self-publishing author, you’re going to need an editor.  Even authors with the keenest eyes for details will still miss some of their errors when proofreading a work.  That’s why we recommend using an editing tool, like Grammarly, to help you along the way.  Grammarly is available to use for free. However, the paid, premium versions of the software are considerably better for catching mistakes and ensuring that your writing is clear, concise, and delivered just right!    Publishing Tools Once you’ve written and edited your book, it’s time to get serious about publishing.  Today, there are many self-publishing platforms available to use, but the most popular of the bunch are:  Kindle Direct Publishing iBooks Google Books Kobo Writing Life Note that these tools are specifically for creating digital e-books and not physical hard copies, except for KDP, which does both now.  If you’re looking to print your next book, IngramSpark and KDP (formally CreateSpace) are two of the most popular print-on-demand (POD) services available.   Marketing Tools  Finally, after writing and self-publishing your next masterpiece, you’ll need to get busy marketing and promoting your release.  Fortunately, there are dozens of ways you can go about showcasing your work to the world.  For starters, we’d recommend creating specific social media accounts for yourself as an author, as well as creating a simple website, where you can showcase your writing portfolio, share snippets and excerpts of your books, and even sell your works directly to consumers via an online shop.  BusinessCards is another tool for creating printable business cards, which you can share with family, friends, local businesses, and anyone else you run into on your venture into the world of being a self-publishing author!    The Best Resources And Tools For Authors Of course, these are only a few of the best and most popular tools used by self-publishing authors.  Therefore, this list should only be a starting point for you if you’re looking to get started in the world of self-publishing.  So, don’t hesitate to do your research, learn about the tools and resources being used by your favourite self-publishing authors, and then get to...

Top 5 Free Ways to Promote Your New Book Online

| 15th July 2021 | Guest Post

Top 5 Free Ways to Promote Your New Book Online

You have written a book – congratulations! You are ready to start promoting your brand-new book, but you do not have hundreds of pounds in your budget to spend. We have got your back. Here are our top five free ways to promote your new book online. 1. A Pen Name You may wish to use your real name as the author of your book. This is great if someone of the same name has not already become a well-known author. Check Amazon for book listings of authors of the same name and ensure that yours is available to use. If you do select a pen name, make it appeal to your target audience. Be easy to spell and find online. Ensure your pen name can be pronounced by your readers and choose one that rolls off the tongue and is enjoyable to say. The phycology behind this is that the more approachable your brand, the more people will want to talk about your book with their friends and colleagues. Similarly, another person by your name may be famous for something else. An influencer or another business. Check the handles on social media accounts for your name. It is important that it is available as this will be a driving force behind your future promotions. 2. A Logo Business branding does not stop at companies and Ecommerce shops. Branding yourself as an author is a clever way to become easily recognisable to your fans. Creating a logo is an excellent way to get started. It defines who you are, what you do and what genre customers should expect. Design a logo for free here. 3. An Email Welcome contact with your readers by creating a business email. Have a link to your email on your website and social media accounts. Add your email to business cards and, most importantly, put it in your book. Ask customers to contact you with their thoughts on your book.  Many authors cut this part of the process as they are not aware. But how many times have you wished you could ask a writer questions about their story or simply let them know how engaged you were with their words? Making yourself available is an excellent method of free promotion. Always ensure you reply to their messages and ask them to share them on their own social media accounts with your related hashtag. 4. Business Social Media Sign up for business social media. It is a great step towards sales. You can open a shop with Facebook and Instagram and sell your books from there. Prospective customers can then view what you have available whilst they are scrolling their socials. This cuts out the need for them to visit a specific website and makes your book accessible for a wider market. 5. Social Media Groups Get involved and active on all social media groups that relate to your demographic and genre. Writing groups are also a great start as many writers buy books from new authors. Gain a presence in the groups by replying to comments and interacting on people’s posts. Allow people to get to know you. Your thoughts and opinions and keep a professional, bubbly attitude. People respond to positivity. When it comes time to promote your own book, you will have a large group of people who feel affiliated with you and your venture: people who are more than willing to support you. Promoting your book for free is easier than most people think. Putting the time and effort into holistic promotion is something that many authors forget. It can be more beneficial to focus on free methods rather than sending out a bunch of targeted ads, especially if you do not already have a following on social media or a recognised brand....


| 07th July 2020 | Self-Publishing


Many people say they want to write a book “one day”, or that they have a great idea for a story. Some might even have had an exciting life which would make an interesting novel or biography to read. A lot of the time, it’s the thought that they would never get a publishing deal for their book which stops the creative process from even beginning, but in this digital age we find ourselves, publishing a book has never been easier! Self-publishing no longer has that stigma of poorly written and badly edited books anymore, as more and more people turn to it — especially with so many online options to do so these days. Even many famous authors began with self-publishing and hit it big! So let’s get into it: Step One: Write your book! Sure, this might sound strange to put in this guide on publishing, but you only get to publish if you actually finish (or start!) your book. Don’t let “one day” never arrive, make “one day” today. Lock yourself away and get writing! If you’re looking for motivation, join Twitter and get involved in the #WritingCommunity, or join in with NaNoWriMo as a way to push yourself towards your goal. Step Two: Edit your book This one is crucial to getting your book widely read and taken seriously (and professionally). Nobody wants to read something with many typos or grammatical mistakes as it will just come across amateurish. If you are unsure on how to go about this, here are some step-by-step instructions, or you can search for an editor on Reedsy. Step Three: Format your book Formatting your book is about getting it set right for the size of book you want printing, assuming you are making a print version as well as an eBook. Once you have decided what size book you want, head over to Amazon’s Paperback Manuscript Templates page where you can download a ZIP file full of preset MS Word files. All you need to do it copy your text into it and then you can work on adjusting the layout of the text and chapters to suit the new page size and margins. If you’re unsure about doing this, you can also find people to hire who can do all this for you too. If you only want to make an eBook, check out my eBook formatting and publishing guide. Step Four: Design your cover Unless you can do graphic design yourself, hire a professional cover designer! We all know the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but the truth of the matter is that we all do. An eye-catching book cover is what draws someone’s attention to your book on the shelf over all of the others. If you can create graphics yourself, Amazon provides a handy tool for generating a cover template based on your book size and page count, here. Step Five: Buy an ISBN (optional with Amazon KDP) Having your own ISBN will give your book the opportunity for a wider market, as you will own it and can reuse it if you publish the same book on other platforms (such as IngramSpark, Kobo etc). But if you don’t have one, Amazon can provide you with one of their own internal barcode system numbers. The plus side is that this is free, but the downside is that you can’t use this barcode ISBN outside of Amazon’s publishing system. ISBN’s can be quite pricey, but I have shopped around and found a few places where you can buy them at a decent price: Be aware that getting the ISBN could take up to 2–3 business days, so don’t leave it until the last moment! https://bookisbn.org.uk (this one starts at £30) and; http://www.isbnservices.com A couple of other options, but may cost more than the above sites: https://www.isbnagency.com and http://www.isbn.nielsenbook.co.uk An important thing to bear in mind is that if you buy one of these cheaper ISBN numbers, they will have a fixed publisher name on it as the company who provides the ISBN number, whereas the full price ISBN will let you specify the publisher name (or your own name). Also take note that an ISBN and a barcode aren’t the same thing; you need an I...

40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Text Preface

| 04th July 2020 | 40 Days with the Fathers

40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Text Preface

Preface This is the companion to the first book in the series, Forty Days with the Fathers: A Daily Reading Plan. The first book originally took form on my blog as a daily post throughout the period of Lent in 2017 (hence the 40 days), and aims to give you a glimpse into the minds of that great cloud of witnesses that have come before us through short commentary of the early church texts. This book follows the same forty day pattern and chapter breaks so you can read it alongside the first book, or as a stand-alone reading plan with no additional commentary, as it features the source texts in full as translated and edited by Philip Schaff et al. All the original footnotes are included as well as few of my own where certain things required clarification for 21st century readers. The more learned readers here may notice that I have chosen to only include the shorter Ignatian epistles in this collection—this is because I am convinced by the arguments for their genuineness over the longer letters which are thought to be interpolations. The reading plan follows a collection of twenty-three early texts in full from the first four centuries. As an additional bit of information, at the beginning of each text I have given a preface which gives a Who, What, Why and When so you can read a short summary about the historical context, purpose for it being written, and the approximate date of each ancient text as well. At the end of each chapter, there is a notes section so you can jot down any thoughts you had during your reading, and at the very end of the book are some useful appendices containing historical data and maps to help bring more visual context the New Testament and Early Church texts. Each daily reading will vary in length of time to read, and by day 40, you will have read the writings of ten different Church Fathers from the Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene period:   Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great.   I hope that you will enjoy this journey through part of the first 400 years of Church History from some of the more prominent Early Church leaders, Bishops and martyrs; and feel as challenged and enlightened about the Faith as I did after I read these ancient witnesses for the first time.   This has been an excerpt from the introduction to my recent book.You can read more from the Early Church Fathers in my new book, 40 Days with the Fathers: Companion Texts, which is available now on Amazon.   ...