Item description for The Teachings of the Church Fathers by M. J. Rouet De Journel & John Willis...
Overview The Fathers of the Church have been a vital source of wisdom and inspiration for countless saints, popes, peasants, and converts throughout the history of the Church. In this powerful one-volume library, Father Willis presents more than 250 selected doctrinal topics in an exhaustive selection of writings from the major sources of the Fathers. He lets the Fathers speak for themselves on a wide variety of spiritual themes.
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Studio: Ignatius Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75" Weight: 1.55 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2002
Publisher Ignatius Press
ISBN 0898708931 ISBN13 9780898708936 UPC 008987089315
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Teachings of the Church Fathers?
Good doctrinal reference Jan 8, 2008
This is a wonderful way to obtain an overview of the teachings of the early church fathers. The book arranges short excerpts from the fathers in a topical way to quickly find quotes concerning those topics. There is very little commentary so the fathers are left to speak for themselves. But, the lack of commentary did make me wish there was at least some biographical context for each of the fathers in order to place the writings in the context of time. Many doctrines developed or were inferred with time so knowing when the views were expressed would be helpful in seeing that development. Then again, context was not the intent and so, admittedly, such a criticism is not entirely fair to the author.
In the end, this will be a valuable ready reference to the fathers. But I think I will still cling more tightly to the doctrinal index in Jurgens' Faith of the Early Fathers: Three-Volume Set as my favored resource. It is less handy to flip back and forth through the 3 volumes but the sense of context and continuity of history is more fulfilling in most cases. As an easy quick reference, Willis' work is still of great value to supplement your early fathers library or as an introduction to a given topic. But it cannot take the place of more rounded works such as Jurgens'.
Strengthen Your Faith Sep 6, 2007
This particular book about the Church Fathers serves to enhance and strengthen one's understanding of the faith. A truly informative and inspirational read.
Back to the Future Jun 7, 2006
With the growing awareness among Protestants of the writings of early Christians, there is also a bewilderment among many as to the claims various Christians make about these writings. Exactly what did they teach anyway? John R. Willis gives a very useful tool for the beginner in arranging quotes from the Church Fathers on various questions relating to doctrine and practice in the early Church.
To his credit, he does not try to "spin" the material. Although as a Catholic, he is interested in support for the Roman position, he merely gives the Roman position and then lists quotes he believes support that view. The quotes are not mere sentences but more extensive passages so that we have some idea of context.
For Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican Christians, there is little there that would come as a shock. The early Christians worshipped liturgically with the Eucharist as the center of their Christian life and a belief in some form of the Real Presence in the Sacrament. The office of bishops in Apostolic succession was universal and there was devotion to Mary and other faithful departed. It all sounds rather waht we think of as "Catholic."
As for the things that would separate Catholics from other traditionally minded Christians (e.g., the papacy, certain Marian beliefs), we may question whether the evidence is universal or whether the quotes even support what Willis contends. In the earlier case, there is a marked reliance on Latin fathers who developed a theology divergent with the East and in the later case there are quotes that do not seem to prove what Willis wishes them to prove. A case in point are the quotes used to support the "Holy Spirit procedes from the Father and the Son." The phrase "and the Son" was added to the Creed by the West but the quotes given seem to support the earlier view still held by the Orthodox Church. Still, the case can be made that there was some level of support for the more unique Roman contentions even if it was primarily in the West.
It must also be pointed out that as an apologetic tool, Willis is not primarily focused on differences between Catholics and Orthodox or even Catholics and Anglicans. The main divide here is between Catholics and Evangelical Protestants. From that perspective, there can be little doubt the Church of the patrisitic period was far closer in faith and practice to Rome than modern Evanglical Protestantism even if the match is not perfect.
As many Evangelicals are looking back to the early centuries of Christianity for a way out of the banality that affects much of their movement, there is a question as to where that path will lead. Willis in The Teachings of the Church Fathers attempts to frame patristic quotations to make a case for that future leading to Rome. Whether he has been entirely successful or not, he has supplied an indispensible reference tool for further study.
Very good resource Jan 4, 2006
This is a great resource for any serious student of the Scriptures. It is easy to use and organized by doctrine. If you want to see what the fathers said about all the Christian doctrines then this book is for you. Some have written that it was biased towards Romanism. I found that it is not, and the author makes that point in the introduction. For example, when it comes to purgatory, he merely quotes the fathers on it. He does not add any of his own Roman views on this but merely quotes what was written. So I checked myself on what he quoted from St. Augustine and it was a direct quote from the City of God. The differences in the fathers comes between the Latin and Greek fathers, not a difference between Roman and Protestant. Protestants may find this book foreign because Protestant doctrine is foreign to Ancient Church doctrine (but that's another story). Highly recommended.
Not about the Church Fathers May 11, 2005
If you're looking for a book on the Church Fathers, this one is probably NOT what you're looking for.
The aim of this book is to present church doctrine. It contains 250 headings that are chosen in accordance with the Cathechism of the Roman Catholic Church. Each one describes a point of dogma according to the Church's official teaching and offers some quotes from the ante-Nicene Fathers to support it. The point the writer is trying to make is that the teaching of today's Catholic Church doesn't differ from what the Fathers taught. If that is what you're interested in, then this book might be something for you.
For me, however, it was a disappointment. Willis doesn't let the Fathers speak for themselves, and the book doesn't really give an impression of what the theology of the Fathers is all about. Willis is trying to impose a medieval or post-medieval way of presenting the Christian faith on the patristic era.