“Why should we care about what the ‘fathers’ of the Church believed? After all, weren’t they merely fallible men? We have the inspired writings of the apostles. What more do we need?”
Why should we care about what the fathers of the Church believed? Because they are the closest sources we have to the apostles themselves, their writings can help us understand what the apostles meant by what they wrote.
St Ignatius of Antioch, for example, was a disciple of John the apostle. St Irenaeus bishop of Lyon in the second century was a disciple of Polycarp who was himself a disciple of John. The fathers aren’t inspired or infallible, but they learned their doctrine directly from the apostles and those taught by the apostles and so provide a unique window into the apostolic mind. If we find the fathers to be unanimous on a particular issue, for instance as they are on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we can have strong confidence that this is the correct understanding of that issue.
A few Good Articles
A few Good Talks
by Michael Barber
by Steve Weidenkopf
OK, not exactly the Fathers, but important historical subject converts should learn about. Have you heard the story about the Crusades? You know, the one about how medieval Europe’s greedy kings and intolerant popes launched bloody wars of conquest on the peaceful and enlightened Muslims? There’s only one problem with this story: It’s totally false. In this presentation, historian Steve Weidenkopf replaces the prevailing anti-Catholic narrative with a factual account of Christendom’s struggle to liberate and defend the Holy Land. In the process he cuts through all sorts of common lies, myths, and exaggerations.
by Steve Weidenkopf
Nobody talks about the Inquisition—unless the Catholic Church is being bashed. After all, images of religious oppression, gruesome torture, and burning heretics fit so perfectly with the modern world’s preconceived idea (unwittingly swallowed by many Catholics, too) that Church history is one long trail of violence, intolerance, and ignorance. Those images are all wrong, says historian Steve Weidenkopf. And not only wrong—they’re dangerous lies that perpetuate anti-Catholic historical errors. Listen and learn.
A few Good Books
by Fr. John Willis, S.J.
The Fathers of the Church have been a vital source of wisdom and inspiration for countless saints, popes, peasants, and converts throughout the history of the Church. In this powerful one-volume library, Father Willis presents more than 250 selected doctrinal topics in an exhaustive selection of writings from the major sources of the Fathers. He lets the Fathers speak for themselves on a wide variety of spiritual themes.
by Jimmy Akin
The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church is a unique resource. It’s specially designed to make it easy for you to find the information you want and need, with more than 900 quotations from the writings of the early Church Fathers, as well as from rare and important documents dating back to the dawn of Christian history and all arranged topically. This is a really great resources.
by Mike Aquilina
We hear the voices of the early Church Fathers even today. Their teachings, their guidance, their insights, and their sacrifice shaped the Catholic Church. They defined the canon of Scripture, developed our creeds and forms of worship. They defined Christianity’s distinctive moral sense. But who were they? What can we learn from their ancient teachings? What can the Fathers teach us in the 21st century? This is a rich resource for anyone interested in learning about the Church Fathers and their legacy.