Recently I wrote a blog about the very helpful five-volume series Ancient Christian Doctrine, based upon what the church fathers said about the Nicene Creed. In particular I recommended the book, We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church (2010), edited by Angelo Di Berardino.
This whole post brought up the subject of the study of the early church. One of the more exciting developments, at least among evangelicals, is their growing love for the early church and the writings of the fathers. And on of the most personally exciting developments, so far as I am concerned, is the new Wheaton Center for Early Church Studies at Wheaton College. This Center, directed by my friend Dr. George Kalantzis (photo at left), represents something that would not, indeed could not, have existed even five years ago. It is proof that something good is going on in evangelical circles and the next generation will not be bereft of opportunity to engage with the thought and life of the early church.
Evangelicalism is clearly seeing an increase in the faith and practices of the early church. This cannot be seriously doubted any more. Fundamentalists are nervous and some evangelicals think this is a bad direction. Inspired by this study a growing number of evangelicals, especially younger evangelicals, are reconfiguring their practice of the faith because of their renewed interest in classical Christianity. ACT 3 is one of scores of ministries God has raised up to promote this recovery and reformation.
For this reason I invite you to attend, with me, the Evangelicals and Early Church Conference at Wheaton College on March 18 & 19, 2010. This event will explore why some evangelicals in the past ignored the early church and attempt to reclaim the rootedness of evangelicalism, suggesting new pathways along which evangelicals may engage the early church in vital partnership.
The keynote speaker for this conference is Dr. Everett Ferguson, one of the foremost writers and scholars on the early church in evangelical circles. He will speak the first evening on the subject: “Why Study Early Christian History and Literature?” Other speakers include names like Scot McKnight, Gerald Bray and Christopher Hall. This is a “who’s who” of evangelicals with interest and expertise in this field. I would love to see you there in a few weeks.