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Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies has posted Everett Ferguson’s brief but helpful apologia for studying early church history. It is worth your hearing.

He gives some reasons why a believer should study early Christian history.

  1. Early church history provides confirmation and elucidation of the New Testament.
  2. Early church history shows us the path of change from the New Testament.
  3. Early church history provides us the example of noble lives.
  4. Early church history helps us distinguish the eternal from the cultural.
  5. Early church history helps us learn how others solved (or failed to solve) similar problems to ours.
  6. Early church history has value for the interpretation of Scripture.
  7. Early church history provides valuable theological reflection on the Biblical pattern.

Of note, Ferguson says,

The first four centuries were the formative period for the history of Christianity, and nearly all branches of Christianity look back to this period as having special significance. Perhaps more than any period between the New Testament and today, this is the period of history you should know.

He concludes:

Will the church that produced hundreds of martyrs like Polycarp, Justin, and Blandina, that produced persons of spiritual insight like Anthony, Ephrem, and John Cassian; that produced mothers and home-makers like Nona, Macrina the Elder and Paula; that produced bishops and ecclesiastical statesmen like Cyprian, Basil the Great, and Leo the Great; that produced theologians like Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Cyril of Alexandria; that produced towering intellects like Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine; will that church claim us as its heirs?

Thank you, Justin Taylor, for alerting me to this valuable lecture.