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Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were And How They Shaped the Church

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Religion
Wordcount: 1967 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Haykin, Michael, A. G Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church. Wheaton Crossway, 2001. 165. $16.99

Born in Britain of Irish and Kurdish guardians, Michael A.G. Haykins fills in as professor of church history and biblical spirituality. Haykin has a B.A in Philosophy from the University of Toronto (1974), a Master of Religion from Wycliffe College, the College of Toronto (1982). Haykin and his wife, Alison, have two grown children: Victoria and Nigel. In addition to having written the work in view at present, he is also the author of several books including The Spirit of God: The Exegesis of 1 and 2 Corinthians in the Pneumatomachian Controversy of the Fourth Century.[1]

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Michael A.G. Haykin’s Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the church is a phenomenal brief, basic level content to the Patristic fathers wherein Haykin looks for persuading the reader of the imperative requirement for evangelicals today to draw in with and dive in the contemplation and lives of the fathers, our ancestors in “the confidence once for all conveyed to the holy people.” His proposal is very straightforward, just like his procedure that pursues: the church Fathers are an indispensable requirement for evangelicals today, and the most ideal approach to force and persuade the reader of this the truth is to present seven fathers of his decision through the narrating of historical history, with expectations of augmenting the circle of the Father’s effect on the reader. In excess of a scholastically immersed work of academic research on the Patristic time, Haykin’s Rediscovering the Church Fathers peruses significantly more conversationally, giving seven true to life outlines and assessments of church fathers who, in Haykin’s own words, “are men that I have listened to and walked with now for more than three decades” (29).While this previously mentioned composition approach inclines towards a more decentralized proposal and decentralized method of argumentation, I think most would agree this is actually Haykin’s objective—to demonstrate the particular point, we require the fathers through the art of doing authentic history. When the reader comprehends Haykin’s weight and love for the fathers and sees the solitary idea of what he looks to achieve in that, the book turns out to be liberated to be as it is instead of condemned for what it isn’t and was never proposed to be. A strong early on visit that movements at a deft pace, Rediscovering the Church Fathers fills in as a specialty starter message inside the field of Patristics, going about as a “first-stop” for the reader before he or she jumps quick into the essential and auxiliary writing of the father.

Chapter one starts with Haykin’s purposes of discourse inside his thesis, that is, the reason, precisely, he sees a need inside evangelism for the Fathers. He gives his reader five reasons: first, the study of the fathers “frees us from the present” (17); second, the fathers can “assist us with understanding the New Testament” (19); thirdly, we should be proficient of and familiar with the fathers because of their “basically awful history or terrible press” (20); fourthly, the Fathers can enable us to figure out how to defend the faith through apologetics; and finally, reading the church fathers “illuminates Christians about their forerunners in the confidence,” “building lowliness and unobtrusiveness into the twist and woof of the Christian life,” which, thus, “can practice a profoundly purifying impact” (27) that is, give spiritual nurturing to the Christians. As opposed to this introduced thesis being factious in nature, it acts more as an Apologia by Haykin for the presence of a book, for example, Rediscovering the Church Fathers and is better comprehended as an arrangement of recommendations to recollect as reading helps than a conventional speculation which the writer would normally set out to demonstrate. In view of these focuses set down as an establishment, Haykin presents his personal choices: Ignatius of Antioch, the author of the Letter to Diognetus Origen, Cyprian, Ambrose, Basil of Caesarea, and Patrick (29). He closes by giving an expression of caution to test most of the Fathers’ lives and religious philosophy by the scriptures themselves, while regarding them as “senior discussion partners about Scriptures and its significance” (29).

Chapter two looks in the life of Ignatius of Antioch and the seven surviving letters we have of him today. Specifically, Haykin centers in around Ignatius’ path to affliction and eventually martyrdom in Rome after his arrest, wherein he expected unpleasant brutes to come and slaughter him in the field. Haykin investigates Ignatius’ compositions on affliction, his appearance on his approaching demise, and an incredible impact and passing on the Christian people group of his day and through history.

Chapter three relates to the discredible Letter to Diognetus an apologetical work for the Christian faith composed from an unknown believer of the second century to an agnostic companion, planning to persuade him to grasp Christianity. Diognetus answers three of his agnostic partners’ inquiries, which Haykin abridges and addresses: one, who is the Christian God? Two, for what reason do the Christians cherish each other to such an extent? Three, if Christianity is valid, why has it appeared just now? (that is, an inquiry with respect to its realness dependent on relative artifact). At last, Haykin approaches this report and parses it as a head case of early patristic apologetics.

Chapter five investigates the “Eucharistic piety” of Cyprian and Ambrose of Milan, two fathers of comparative eras who impacted and contemplations about the Eucharist, the Lord’s table. Haykin looks to exhibit here that these men’s philosophical understandings of the Eucharist formed the discussion that would follow in later hundreds of years, regardless, concerning the transfiguration of the components and the classification of the presiding officer advancing to “priest.”

The reader experiences Basil of Caesarea in six, with broadened life story and finally discourse on Basil’s pneumatology—not shocking considering Haykin’s previous academic work in the region before Rediscovering the Church Fathers. Haykin follows Basil’s idea on the Spirit through his On the Essence of God, and demonstrates that his work around there became, unexpected by him and by means of aberrant mold, the dominant universality of the Christian confidence through the nearness of his sibling Gregory of Nyssen at the development of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan ideology following his demise.

Rediscovering the Church Fathers is a great read for its lucidity, curtness, and straightforwardness in the way it is presented. Assuming Haykin’s sole purpose is to persuade his reader of the significance of the Fathers and endeavor to give him a small glimpse of what they were like. Of the considerable number of commentators evaluated considering this current survey, not one remaining a poor audit of the work. Haykin’s expressive voice is seasoned with refined tone and his beforehand settled mastery in Patristics is just all around demonstrated by such a little book. Nonetheless, the book’s straightforward mission and Haykin’s enormous quickness are the simple parts that bring feedback upon him. The first chapter clarifies that the men decided for concentrate in Rediscovering the Church Fathers were chosen based on personal preferences that Haykin felt were men he had “walked with.” This is no scholarly reading material on patristics; it is a scholastic’s close to home request for more individuals, particularly more non-scholastics, to realize the Fathers better. Along these lines, Haykin’s by and by hand-picked and apparently unconventional determination of these men really adds to the wistful idea of the work and comprehends the first and eighth sections, teaching the reader to see them as “bookends” to a bigger individual tract.

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Secondly, most of the book is chapters about on certain Fathers addressing certain issues in the practice and thinking of the church. For most, who are familiar with theological doctrine or Patristics, these chapters are a great addition to the perspective of Evangelicals. Since most of the book deals with technical terms, for individuals who would be referred to as average Christians, it’ll be hard to read and understand. If Haykin had in mind to highlight and acknowledge the Fathers, he should probably associate his book as scholarly with pastors and scholars as the main readers. However, the issues that are treated in it are basic to have a firm comprehension of. Ignatius of Antioch’s thinking on martyrdom, apologetics from the Letter to Diognetus, hermeneutics with Origen, the Lord’s Supper with Cyprian and Ambrose, holiness and the Spirit from Basil of Caesarea and the missionary piety of Patrick are essential and interesting points to focus on. However, the language and points of interest offered in this book is far from the understanding of most average Christians.

Lastly, many of the church Fathers are forgotten. The determination is a shortcoming in that there are a couple of obvious oversights. Although on occasion referred to in passing, it is difficult to envision a patristic presentation that does exclude dialogs of Tertullian, Athanasius or Augustine of Hippo. This is the place the title of Haykin’s work could be mistaking for his objectives. At first look, a reader may think this is a piece that will elucidate upon the life of all the congregation Fathers while just become acquainted with a few. The reader who wishes to discover who these men were and how they formed the congregation should look elsewhere. Yet, this restricted consideration helps meet his objective to whet the reader’s enthusiasm for further investigation.

Even though not an ideal book using all means, Michael Haykin’s Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church remains as an all-around cleared pathway by a veteran researcher for the beginner to-middle of the road understudy of Patristic idea and history to pursue his strides. While the middle to-master level reader won’t discover the book especially extending, such impediments don’t diminish the nature of Haykin’s work published, and don’t bring down its incentive inside the field. A strong basic visit that movements at a deft pace Rediscovering the Church Fathers fills in as a specialty starter message inside Patristics for the lay reader, understudy, or generally slanted minister. To these, I praise Haykin’s fine book, and in like manner recommend reading to what he and these fathers need to say regarding Scriptures, philosophy, faith, and life.


  • Michael A. G. Haykin – The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sbts.edu/academics/faculty/michael-a-g-haykin/

[1] http://www.sbts.edu/academics/faculty/michael-a-g-haykin/.


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