However, for non fiction books I love following this process:
- Identify the Thesis – the main argument
- Determine the points used to defend and prove the thesis
- Follow the argument and the points and summarize each of the conclusions in your own words at the end of the chapter
- At the end of the book, determine if the thesis was defended and persuasive. If it was persuasive, why? If it wasn’t, why?
This simple system is a great way to engage the church fathers. Sadly, I think many Christians today either are not aware of the church fathers, or believe they are for the pastors and theologians to read. I would argue, they are for all of us to read! As we read books, lets’ try to have balance there as well. For every 2 new/current books we read lets engage with an ancient book written. What we will find is that much of what we are dealing with today are reimagined and adapted situations that the church fathers dealt with. I know, you are probably thinking where do I get started with the church fathers! This was biggest question I got after my IG post which is why I wrote this post and I am going to provide a couple suggested starting points.
Suggested Books to Get started With
- Augustine – Confessions
- Augustine – City of God
- Athanasius – On the Incarnation
- Basil of Ceasarea – On the Holy Spirit
When reading the church fathers please don’t get discouraged if it is hard to understand at first. Many of the books I linked above I tried to link for easier translation and understanding however, it still takes work to really get to what they are saying at times. However, the effort will be so worth it! So, when reading; read for depth not for speed or width. In other words, it is absolutely ok to read a paragraph and work through the sentences to really get to what the author is saying! This is what I did the first time I went through Augustines City of God. I went small section by small section. It was so worth it. Praying you would find yourself captured not so much by the church fathers, but by their love and affections for the Lord Jesus that prompted them to write with such depth and careful consideration of the doctrines of God.