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Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  311 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Augustine. Tertullian. Origen. For too many Christians such names are abstract, one-dimensional legends, innocuous voices from antiquity no longer relevant to modern needs and concerns. However, a closer look at these church fathers reveals writers whose reflections on the apostolic teachings edify all generations of believers. Bryan Liftin helps readers understand the fat ...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Brazos Press
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Brent McCulley
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Litfin does an excellent job in this introductory work at presenting some - but obviously not a comprehensive list - of the well known Church Fathers to a world that largely has written off ecclesiastical history as unimportant or irrelevant. Litfin's Protestant swing is refreshing, and encouraging, as he does not merely dismiss Tradition as some do, but exhorts the reader to understand that although we are Protestant, we owe the foundation of our faith to these catholic doctors.

This book really
...more
Bob Price
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
In a period of history that remains too distant an unknown, it is often hard to find an access point to the study of it.

Getting to Know the Church Fathers does just this. It allows people who are unfamiliar with the church fathers to get a grip on who is who and what their contributions are.

Bryan Litfin gives a basic introduction to ten Church Fathers by providing an overview of their lives, their contribution and giving a small excerpt from their writings.

Writing from an Evangelical point of v
...more
Mary
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a great introduction to the early church fathers. The historical context that he offers is very helpful in understanding their times. This is the part that really has stayed with me. It is easy to criticize people from a distance of a millennium and many centuries when you are relying on their scholarship and what has been learned since then to criticize them. Bryan Litfin does a great job of appreciating them for their work, while not ignoring the flaws. He talks about them with gr ...more
Logan Vlandis
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very accessible overviews of 12 church fathers. The author teaches at Moody, and his fundamentalist take on things shone through a few times. Still, this was a great taste of the lives of early Christian figureheads. I’m disgruntled that I had never heard their names or testimonies in my own church experience.
Matt & AmyLaura Duraski
Not only would I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to learn more about their early church heritage I’d recommend even to those who don’t. I think it’s our responsibility to know our own history. Dr. Litfin does a more than fine job accurately exposing you to a number of early church fathers and figures while not neglecting to mention some of their failings as well. I think he strikes a balance hard to get that is neither overly critical of overly permissive of men and women who were doing ...more
Jeremiah Gumm
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Litfin provides an excellent primer for the study of ancient church history. He examines the life and work of 10 figures from the Ante-Nicene through Post-Nicene eras, provides suggestions for further study, and a sample of their writings--all while writing in a popular, engaging style. While I did have some quibbles with some of his theological conclusions, I still think this book is a great resource to have.
Joe Johnson
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
For many of those cracking open the pages of Bryan Litfin’s book, Getting to Know the Church Fathers, this is their first real glimpse of the ancient Christian church. Rather than returning to old, familiar friends, they are embarking on an exploratory journey that will hopefully enrich and deepen their appreciation for the church fathers (p.1).

As the book’s subtitle indicates, it’s oriented towards evangelical readers who might not know much about the Patristic era. Litfin, who is himself an ev
...more
Marie-Christine
This book provides a helpful overview of a selection of Church fathers. I enjoyed the historical context which places these fathers and their teachings in perspective. This explains my three star rating.

I did not like everything about the book, though. I would have preferred more information about the church fathers' teachings. The historical context was very interesting, but also took up the majority of the book. Now and then I felt that the teachings of certain Church fathers as presented in t
...more
Phillip Howell
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative. Enjoyable. Challenging.

First of all this was an informative survey of 12 church fathers. I really feel like a have a better grasp of the first few centuries of the Christian church. The information is not simply biographical of these 12 people. The background information and side notes about what is going on are extremely helpful.

Second, it was enjoyable to read. The modern illustrations to begin each chapter were well done. The writing style was clear and easy to follow. I simply
...more
Dónal Walsh
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to major Church Fathers written from a broadly evangelical perspective. Consists of short bios on 10 major figures. It does a number of great things with them: puts them well into their historical context, has great connections to the modern day with relevant discussion and application questions and brings out the historical lessons we Christians can learn from them. It is brilliant at simplifying doctrinal issues of the day, the broad sweep of issues and contentions the e ...more
Hunter List
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I haven't spent a lot of time studying the church fathers but I am very glad that I read this book. In this book, Liftin acknowledges three misconceptions that are associated with the Church Fathers and dispels them by explaining the stories of 10 different church fathers. I think before reading this book (and during the first few chapters) my attitude towards studying the church fathers was rather apathetic. I didn't think that I would pull a lot from this book but I actually found it to be an ...more
Christopher
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian
I feared this was going to be a dry read. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. I'd always been given the vague impression that the church is who we are today "inspite of" our early fathers rather because of their contributions and faithfulness. Yet the author presents us with ten figures who we learn to love, who pioneered orthodoxy, apologetics, different methods of Scripture interpretation, asceticism, and a passion-filled life whose highest Joy would be to be a martyr for our savi ...more
Matt Crawford
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is simply an introduction. In fact sometimes the attention getting secular metaphors that are presented at the beginning of each chapter take away from the real diving in each father. That’s why I have to get this four stars instead of five. It is an excellent summation of what was going on at the time of each father and what their response is. It is extremely brief and explaining the theology behind it. But it does also have a little sample of the writing at the end of each chapter as ...more
Ben Zornes
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
This is a really helpful book as an introduction to some key characters in Church history. For both clergy, but especially layman, this is a great way to gain some familiarity with how the Spirit of God has raised up godly men to help preserve the Church and the Gospel, throughout history. I did find it curious that he included a woman, Perpetua, as a Church father. Though her story of martyrdom is certainly inspiring, it seemed a bit out of place given the overall focus of the book. Regardless, ...more
Bobby Roberts
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an “introduction” in the fullest sense of the word. It will be a beneficial read to anyone who has absolutely no previous knowledge of these church fathers. Liftin writes in a very readable fashion yet it sometimes feels as if he has low expectations of his audience’s ability to engage with history and/or their attention span. Nevertheless this book would be very helpful for grade school ages or as a helpful starter for anyone who is looking to learn about the church fathers for the ...more
Brenda
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: challies-2018
This is probably a good book, but I got tired of reading it and was definitely ready to be done. I guess I am not as interested in church history as I should be! And while the story of Perpetua was extremely interesting and her martyrdom was tragic, it doesn't appear that she added anything to our understanding of doctrine or theology the way the other "fathers" did. I got the feeling that the author thought he ought to include a woman.
Cody Cunningham
This is a solid introduction to some of the prominent figures of the early church. Litfin also does a good job of mixing in important details about the socio-political setting of the day. If you're looking to get your feet wet in early church history, this is a good place to start. In addition, recommended reading lists appear at the end of each chapter for those who want to do more digging.
Melody Schwarting
Jan 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: r-nf-history, r-2019
A good introduction to the church fathers, especially for evangelicals who think the period between Paul and Luther was a blip. Litfin's passion for early church history is contagious and his writing is engaging. Great for a discussion group for those ready to learn.
Jake Litwin
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church-history
If you are brand new to the church fathers, this is an excellent book to start with. Well researched and great interaction with primary sources and history of some of the most important church fathers within history.
Shawn Paterson
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
The chapter on Ignatius of Antioch made my heart burst. Great introductory book for any Christian.
Tim Michiemo
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A good beginners guide to understanding the church fathers. Litfin's writing isn't the best but he explains well the important details about these early church fathers.
Ben Poch
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very insightful. Wish I was aware of this when I was at college. Good read for someone at entry level theological study wanting an in-depth introduction to the early church fathers
Yonasan  Aryeh
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bryan Litfin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism from University of Tennessee, a Master’s degree in Historical Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D in Ancient Church History from University of Virginia.

He has taught at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago since 2002 in the fields of Theology, Western Civilization (from the ancient in medieval periods), and Church History. In addition to authoring this book, Litfin has published several scholarly articles and The Chiveis Tr
...more
Yonasan  Aryeh
Bryan Litfin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism from University of Tennessee, a Master’s degree in Historical Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D in Ancient Church History from University of Virginia.

He has taught at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago since 2002 in the fields of Theology, Western Civilization (from the ancient in medieval periods), and Church History. In addition to authoring this book, Litfin has published several scholarly articles and The Chiveis Tr
...more
Timothy Bertolet
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a helpful introduction to some of the major church fathers. Not only did Liftin introduce you to the church fathers but he introduced you to significant events that went on in their life and times. It is a helpful primer on the early church. This was obviously an introduction and so was too brief at times, particularly in discussing Augustine and Pelagius. Liftin had some excellent discussion of early Trinitarianism and Christology. Overall Liftins writing is helpful particularly for a ...more
Greg Dill
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to the early church fathers. Many misconceptions about them were put to rest. Litfin gives both the good and the bad about them. In most part, the early church fathers were true believers trying to make sense of a new belief system and making things right, theologically and doctrinally speaking. This, especially amidst many heresies that were popping up during this time. If it were not for some of these early theologians, who knows where Christianity would be today. It see ...more
Ben
Feb 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall it was just an "okay" read. I appreciated his comments on Monasticism and Asceticism but unfortunately he left out a lot of important details--I suppose you can only say so much in an introductory book, but it appeared to me that he willingly left out details in order to cater to his Protestant / Evangelical audience.

While he made mention of Irenaeus' parallel between Adam and Jesus, he neglected to mention his parallel between Eve and Mary. Liftin
...more
Ethan
As advertised, an attempt to introduce Evangelical Christians to the stories of many of the church fathers: Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Perpetua, Origen, Athanasius, Ephrem, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Cyril, and Patrick.

The author's goal is to familiarize Evangelicals with what should be a common heritage. He attempts to make the work accessible; in providing historical context and explanations he does well, but some of the justifications and applications are very
...more
Giovanni Generoso
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Getting to know the Church Fathers is more than simply reading about some old Christian guys and gals who started the whole shebang. Getting to know the Church Fathers is about the legacy of the Church. It is about real people, who lived real lives, and worshipped our real God with their whole hearts. Few care to read about those who came before us, carrying the torch which has found its place in our hands. Truthfully, this is a great study. This book is not about arguing over which Father would ...more
CJ Bowen
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Room for improvement in the Kindle version: forced or full justify stretches out shorter lines, hyphens wreak havoc by not rejoining when the line was restructured for Kindling, there was one smudged letter (which I didn't know was possible with e-ink) and around location 1439, two sentences are transposed around a wandering hyphen, producing the arresting statement: "Then the martyrs willingly mounted a turb you, but confirm you." Hmm.

The content itself, however, is a very helpful high school/a
...more
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Bryan earned a degree in print journalism from the University of Tennessee. He then went on to study for a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. In 2002, Bryan took a position on the faculty at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he is a professor in ...more

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