Forced Choices: The Church Fathers

Who is your favorite early church father? (Yes, I know that there were many important women in the early church as well. Maybe I’ll do that one next.) This was a hard list to put together because there were so many names that I could have included. So, I’m giving you a longer list of options than I normally do. If you think that I’ve left off someone truly significant (i.e. someone you would have voted for before any of these), then let us know in the comments.

Remember, the rules are simple. Pick one and vote. Feel free to explain your reasons in the comments, but you don’t have to.

So, what do you think?

(See the poll in the sidebar.)


About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on November 5, 2011, in Misc. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Besides Irenaeus, did I hear the name Tertullian? The master of theological antithesis! 🙂

  2. Irenaeus. From my reading, the most biblical and least “catholic” of the early fathers.

    • Oh my, there is simply nothing less “catholic” about Irenaeus! While of course not Roman “Catholic”, Irenaeus did admire the church of Rome, and too the Roman empire. And for him the church’s mission is always both universal and unified! I could quote, but note Heresies 3.4.2. 🙂

    • Irenaeus is one of my favorites as well. Picking between Irenaeus and Augustine was a tough call for me. (Maximus is another favorite, though I didn’t include him on this list.)

      • Marc,

        It is almost a historic time-line for me with people like Justin and Irenaeus first, then the profound Origen, etc. But the ‘Fathers of the Church’ or ‘patristics’ is no easy study. It is a kind of literary history of the Church. But certainly in the West Augustine is the great intellectual power! But some would say that the Reformation went beyond even Augustine, to a Paulinism of its own? I think we can see this in liberal Protestantism certainly. Anyway I degress. I am one also that sees the great place of Irenaeus, he certainly is the first consciously literary theologian of the Christian Church, which is catholic always, and too a unity!

  3. I protest that Cyril of Alexandria is not on this list!

  4. I chose Irenaeus, but Athanasius would be a close second.

  5. Gregory of Nazianzus. The second most quoted source in the Byzantine world after the Bible, set the standard for Byzantine Greek (that means for 1,000 years or so), wrote a highly introspective autobiographical poem before Augustine supposedly did it “first” with the Confessions, his reflections on the priesthood influenced John Chrysostom and Gregory the Great (who are often looked to first in this respect), unabashedly proclaimed the divinity of the Holy Spirit when others wouldn’t, emphasized the role of the Spirit in the life of the Church and in theological epistemology (according to T.F. Torrance, Melancthon [I think] nicknamed Calvin “the theologian” for his similarity to Gregory in this respect), and wrote thousands of lines of verse. It’s just sad that he is so often overlooked.

  1. Pingback: Elsewhere (11.12.2011) | Near Emmaus

  2. Pingback: Forced Choices: Who Is Your Favorite Church Mother? « scientia et sapientia

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