Q: Dear Dan, I saw your conversion story on EWTN’s Journey Home Program and I am very interested in learning more about the Fathers of the Church. I am a protestant and do have a personal relationship with Christ but I am trying to better understand more about the early Church. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
A: It was a joy to do the show and even more so to engage in the behind-the-scenes conversations with so many who are seeking to either deepen their relationship with Christ or to really uncover what this Catholic thing is all about. A few have posed some form of this question so I thought I would provide a few resource ideas for those exploring these important source documents. It is worth noting that one of the key turning points in my journey was when I decided to ask the Catholic Church what it meant by what it said rather than allowing those outside of the Church to dictate the entirety of my understanding.
One of the ways I did this was through reading the early Christian Fathers. After all, it seemed absurd to ignore the perspective of those who were either direct disciples of the Apostles themselves, or the disciples of the disciples of the Apostles. Not only did they live and walk with them, many were tortured and murdered because they would recant their faith. As you might imagine it was a bit odd to me that my Evangelical friends insisted on a consistent and contextual interpretation of scripture (i.e. the analogy of faith) but they readily dismissed the context from which the bible itself emerged – the Catholic Church. The scriptures did not drop from the sky. They emerged and were preserved and assembled by the Bishops of the Catholic Church. How is it that we can trust scripture and then completely dismiss those whom God used to bring it to us?
So, the best way, in my opinion, to learn about the early Church Fathers today is through two very trustworthy sources/books:
- The Four Witnesses – The Early Church in Her Own Words
- The Fathers Know Best – Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church
Blessings to you on your journey and exploration. I pray that whatever you learn and uncover will only serve to deepen your love for God and your relationship with Him.