Here is Ligon Duncan’s T4G address:

He asks and answers these questions:

  1. How should we read we read the Fathers? (respectfully, carefully, under the authority of Scripture)
  2. How do the Fathers, and the study of them, help us today? (e.g., on the status of the OT)
  3. Did the Fathers know the gospel? (Yes and No).
  4. 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.)

To track down a few of the quotes from the lecture, here is C.S. Lewis’s introduction to Athanasius’s On the Incarnation, and the quote from The Epistle to Diognetus 9:2­–5.

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?