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Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

WCC Library – September 2023

Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

Back to School with the Church Fathers

In the introduction to the modern classic, The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer writes, “Were
Christians today reading such works as those of Augustine or Anselm a book like this would
have no reason for being. But such illuminated masters are known to modern Christians only by
name.” Even the names of many ancient church writers are unfamiliar to most of us, but the
truths they wrote about are still important for us to know. I have chosen to launch our church
library with a collection of books by early church writers so that we might be more familiar with
the foundations of our faith as they have been understood for many hundreds of years.

Picking up a book written 1,600 years ago or more is not an easy task. You must become a
student again, and let Augustine, or Athanasius, or Origen, be your teacher. You will need to
read these books slowly and carefully, realizing that they are nearly as old as the Bible itself,
and so will be quite unlike the modern Christian works you may be used to reading. Come to
them with an open mind, compare them to the truths of Scripture, and seek to understand how
our brothers and sisters in ancient times lived out their faith in Christ. You will find ideas that
are foreign and perhaps incorrect, but remember to approach them with teachability and grace,
and you will find your faith growing stronger in “conversation” with these teachers of the past.

On God and Christ by Gregory of Nazianzus
As you read this collection of five sermons given nearly 1,700 years ago, you will discover
profound teaching on the doctrines of God, Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. Gregory
of Nazianzus was a passionate preacher who frequently explained the doctrine of the Trinity.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/qHlb7HEqi_c (partial)

On the Holy Trinity by Gregory of Nyssa
In this very short treatise, Gregory offers a cure for the illness of unbelief by addressing several
objections and concerns about the doctrine of the Trinity. He focuses particularly on the Holy
Spirit and why we can be certain of His place in the Godhead and His divine power in our lives.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/JgSJ3OxMc2U

On the Incarnation by Athanasius
Why was it necessary for Jesus to come as a Man? Could God have provided for our salvation in
some other way? What does our Lord’s perfect humanity mean for our Christian lives?
Athanasius explores these important questions and more in this very readable book.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/VLr4CJOAKBE

On the Apostolic Preaching by Irenaeus
In response to a culture of idolatry and paganism not so different from our own, Irenaeus
recounts the history of God’s work through Christ to give us a new life in the Holy Spirit. Then
and now, he encourages us to stay true to God’s Word and the Gospel.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/KYSq3h_pMA8

Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love by Augustine
This “handbook” of the faith was written to explain the essentials of Christianity to a Roman
layman. It explains with careful reasoning teachings on a variety of topics such as sin, salvation,
forgiveness, and resurrection, and is a helpful introduction to influential Augustinian thought.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/tRnbj4fbcQQ

Sayings of the Desert Fathers by Benedicta Ward (translator)
This collection of proverbs and parables from fourth-century monks sheds light on a prominent
branch of early Christian thought. Though some of it may seem rather foreign to our times, it
gives us an example of dedication to the earnest pursuit of God that can inspire our lives today.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/VqPfr7gLUcQ

On Prayer by Origen
Prayer is a very complex subject, and Origen, a much respected (and much debated) church
father, addresses it with encouragement to keep a spiritual perspective rooted in examples
from Scripture. This work finishes with a detailed commentary on the Lord’s Prayer.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/NX-YEHwFkYw

On Marriage and Family Life by John Chrysostom
Thoughtful advice for married people and parents has always been needed, and Chrysostom, a
prolific writer and speaker in the early church, gives practical wisdom on topics like choosing a
spouse, raising children, and growing in the Lord as a family.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/VXSznF5EZGY (partial)

The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus by Athanasius
This work might be considered the first spiritual biography, written to give an example of a
person faithfully living for God. Also included in this book is an exposition of the Psalms as a
guide for spiritual prayer.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/CepAIIiALhs (partial)

Confessions by Augustine
The church fathers and “saints” were far from perfect people, and their struggles and victories
have much to teach us. In this autobiographical testimony, Augustine shares his temptations
and failures before his salvation, and the influences that led him to transforming faith in Christ.
Audiobook: https://youtu.be/qHlb7HEqi_c