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. Wheaton College Bible and History Department Professors and Staff, November 17, 2008
© Michael Hudson, All Rights Reserved 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.

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  1. Chris Criminger March 4, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Hi John,
    I am planning to attend and am inviting other local pastors to attend with me. It’s at a low cost of fifty dollars (for some of the main speakers, there will be another presider raising tough issues following some of these talks which looks excellent).

  2. Joe Heschmeyer March 4, 2010 at 8:07 am

    That looks exciting! I love it when Christians discover the Early Church Fathers, b/c they’re an incredible resource. Your book, Your Church is Too Small, arrived yesterday. I’ve only had a chance to flip through it a little bit, but it looks thought-provoking.
    I’m not sure if you’ve been following this, but Abp. Chaput of Denver gave an absolutely fantastic talk at Houston Baptist University. It dealt with themes of both ecumenism and (primarily) the proper role of Christians, and Christianity, in the public square.
    The talk can be heard here ( or read here ( Chaput’s a better writer than speaker, so the text is pretty appealing. On the other hand, the Q&A afterwards is a must-see. Anyways, it touched on a lot of the same notes you touch on here, so I thought you might want to check it out. Peace,

  3. John H. Armstrong March 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Thank you Joe. I’ve had the personal joy of hearing and meeting Archbishop Chaput. He is one of the most winsome, charitable and faithful leaders in the American Catholic Church. I visit his Web site and I am still amazed at his breadth of reading, especially in Protestant and (even) Reformation sources. He does not read them to attack them so much as to profit spiritually and to better understand his brothers and sisters outside the Catholic Church. This is how I read the Catholic writers who minister so deeply to my soul.
    I also know a bit of Archbishop Chaput’s ministry via Bill McCartney, who founded Promise Keepers. Bill has been a personal friend for 35 years now since we first met through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Bill could not say enough good about him as a godly man.
    Your words are the kind of exchange we need for the sake of Christ’s kingdom, thus what I call missional-ecumenism. If we do not begin with love, and this must include mutual respect, then we cannot pursue Christ’s heart as his beloved people. Polemics may have a place but not as we became accustomed to them since 1054 A.D. and 1517 A.D.
    Thanks for reading my book. Be sure to check out I know you will not agree with everything in the book but your reading it encourages me greatly. I also think you would love our March 22 event which you can see on the same site. It features three respondents, all my friends. One is a Benedictine Catholic, one an Orthodox priest and the other a Greek evangelical Protestant who leads the Early Church study center at Wheaton. Quite an interesting group. We will get it video taped and up on the book Web site later this month or early in April.

  4. Nick Morgan March 6, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Great post John,
    my only regret is that I can’t attend this event! I’m sure this will be edifying to everyone that attends. God bless!

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