Here is Ligon Duncan’s T4G address:
He asks and answers these questions:
- How should we read we read the Fathers? (respectfully, carefully, under the authority of Scripture)
- How do the Fathers, and the study of them, help us today? (e.g., on the status of the OT)
- Did the Fathers know the gospel? (Yes and No).
- Where do you start in reading the Fathers? (Start with Augustine’s Confessions; then go to The Apostolic Fathers: Greek and English Translations, ed. Holmes; then read Tertullian’s The Prescription Against Heretics and The Apology.
On the gospel, Dr. Duncan asks and answers:
- Did the Fathers know the gospel? (Yes.)
- Was the gospel lost in the days of the Church Fathers? (No.)
- Did the Church Fathers articulate the Gospel—and especially things like imputation—as clearly as is necessary for it to be sufficiently sustained for the well-being of the Church? (No.)
- Are the Fathers authoritative in how we are to read Paul and Jesus there? (No.)
- Are they helpful? (Yes.)
For those wanting to explore this topic in greater depth with Dr. Duncan, see Tony Reinke’s podcast interview with him: Patristics for Busy Pastors.
Here’s an outline:
[00:00] – Intro
[01:30] – Define for us patristics or patrology.
[04:28] – Why should busy pastors read patristic literature in the first place?
[09:29] – What hurdles do pastors face in reading and benefiting from patristic writings?
[14:13] – For the busy pastor, recommend a few specific patristic titles covering history, biography, and primary sources.
[26:52] – What contemporary debates reflect controversies addressed by the patristic authors?
[32:00] – Our culture appears to be growing increasingly secular. If it’s true that secularism is on the rise, what can we learn from the church fathers on engaging a “pagan” culture?
[36:06] – In patristic literature, a reader will be faced with thoughts or practices of the early church fathers that were incorrect. What concerns do you have for a pastor getting his feet wet in the patristic writings?
[41:46] – Would you agree that in patristic writings we see a stress on ethics over and above the gospel?
[45:08] – Dr. Duncan, you are a gifted patristic scholar and have been pastoring at First Presbyterian in Jackson for over twelve years now, preaching on a regular basis. How do your preaching and pastoral ministry reflect the impact of patristic authors?