I’ve noticed that many Christians are quick to quote the Founding Fathers of the United States. Many look to these wise men for guidance today on how to best establish government…the idea is that if we get too far off base from what these men intended, we’re losing touch with our heritage, our roots, even what our nation was created to be. Knowledge of these men is essential for correctly interpreting and applying our Constitution as a rule of life. There are no shortage of Christians who passionately affirm the vital importance of understanding the Founding Fathers in order to fully appreciate the history of America, accurately assess its present situation, and effectively discern positive paths into the future.
Astoundingly, however, few that I come in contact with have anything but the most rudimentary knowledge of the Church Fathers…those theological giants that built upon the foundation of the Apostle’s work in the establishment of the organized community of faith. How is it that we can ascribe so much importance to the thoughts of a few men (some Christian, some not) regarding the establishment of a secular government, but can all but dismiss the teachings of those that preserved, defended, and developed Apostolic doctrine for the Undivided Church?
It is possible for governments to stray from their original design and actually get better…but not the Church. Governments are designed by men (used by God, yes, but designed by men) whereas the Church is the Bride of Christ. The Church is a not an organization created by men, but rather a people chosen by God. Her order and doctrines are founded on the very teachings of Jesus, given to his Apostles, and preserved in Holy Scripture.
What better way to discern the original design of the Church (and the right interpretations and applications of her constitutional document, the Bible) than examine the teachings of earliest leaders in the Church and those close to them?