The Church Fathers as Our Spiritual Mentors

Here’s my interview with Dr. Michael Haykin regarding his book The Church Fathers as Spiritual Mentors. Dr. Haykin has a doctorate in patristics and is a member of North American Patristics Society. He is also the author of Rediscovering the Church Fathers: Who They Were and How They Shaped the Church and the series editor of the Early Church Fathers series.

“The patristic era,” says Dr. Haykin, “though not a golden age as some would depict it, is nonetheless one of the most significant eras in church history.”


Church Fathers Interview

Tertullian on Baptism


The act of baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus Christ that has been widely discussed and debated throughout the history of the church. Christians have traditionally come to different conclusions regarding the purpose and meaning of baptism. Like many other doctrines and practices in the Christian church, baptism had to be dealt with by the early church fathers in order to stand against heretical perversion and misrepresentation.

Tertullian of Carthage[1] played a primary role in representing the traditional practice of baptism in the late second and third century church.  In fact, he wrote the first surviving treatise on baptism[2] in his work entitled De Baptismo or On Baptism.[3]  The bulk of Tertullian’s thoughts and beliefs concerning baptism are represented in this treatise. Since his arguments are most fully developed in his treatise on baptism, this paper will focus primarily on that text with occasional reference to his other works that sporadically speak to the subject.


The article is by Tye Rambo, a Ph.D student specializing in the area of Patristic Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. Born and raised in Texas, Rambo holds a B.A. in History from West Texas A&M University and an M.Div from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

To keep reading his article, click here.

[1]Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born at Carthage around A.D. 160 to heathen parents and likely died during the second decade of the third century (around A.D. 220-225). He was the first Latin-writing Christian author whose works we still posses. Tertullian was responsible for much of the theological vocabulary of Western Christianity and we are able to see something of African Christianity in its early years because of him. There is disagreement among scholars concerning the specifics of his life. Traditionally, Tertullian was known to be a presbyter from Carthage who was skilled in Roman law and whose father was a centurion. Timothy Barnes and Geoffrey Dunn both reject this picture of Tertullian in their biographies. For a more extensive overview of Tertullian’s life including his eventual turn to Montanism and further information on the disagreement over Tertullians’s background see Timothy David Barnes, Tertullian: A Historical And Literary Study (Oxford University Press: USA, 1985), 57-84 and 130-142 and Geoffrey Dunn, Tertullian (Routledge Press: New York, 2004), 2-36 and Gerald Lewis Bray, Holiness And The Will Of God: Perspectives On The Theology Of Tertullian (John Knox Press: Atlanta, 1979), 33-65.

[2]Everett Ferguson, Baptism In The Early Church: History, Theology, And Liturgy In The First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eermans Publishing Company, 2009), 336. A work entitled peri loutrou, On the Laver, by Melito of Sardis may have been known to Tertullian, though too little of it remains for us to judge the extent of his indebtedness. See Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae 4.26, trans. Paul L. Maier under the title The Church History (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 199), 143. Cf. Earnest Evans, ed. and trans., intro in Tertullian’s Homily On Baptism (London: SPCK, 1965), xi. This is also the translation I used for this paper.

[3]Tertullian’s treatise or homily on baptism was likely written around the turn of the third century (198-203). It is hardly possible to give an exact date. This would place On Baptism as having been completed sometime after his apologetic works and before (or along with) the beginning of his disciplinary and theological works. This would also be before his Montanist conversion. See Evans, Baptism, xi.

Baptism Church Fathers Tertullian

Origen on Prayer


            Prayer is a spiritual discipline that Christians have practiced since the inception of their faith. The Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples that when they pray they were to pray in this way:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:9-13).

Jesus was not only teaching the disciples how to pray, but just two verses earlier he states, “And when you pray… (Matthew 6:7),” indicating that they were also expected to pray. Additionally, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, taught the Thessalonian church to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). These instructions indicate that prayer was to be a part of early Christian life and that it was to be a regular occurrence. Even so, there were some within the church who claimed to be Christians that had been persuaded to believe that prayer was unnecessary.


The article is by Tye Rambo, a Ph.D student specializing in the area of Patristic Spirituality, at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. Born and raised in Texas, Rambo holds a B.A. in History from West Texas A&M University and an M.Div from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

To continue reading his article, click here.

Church Fathers Origen Patristic Spirituality Prayer

An Analysis of the Ancient Church Fathers on Instrumental Music

As the early church grew out of and confronted the cultures surrounding it, there was a need for discernment and teaching. Many of its members had come from Greek and Roman paganism. Others had come from Judaism and there was variation with what was culturally acceptable.

The early church fathers tried to distinguish between what was acceptable musically and what was not.  There are two early writings dealing completely with music, but neither focus on musical instruments. Niceta of Remesiana has one sermon on hymnody and the act of singing.  Augustine’s volume, De Musica, is a theoretical and philosophical understanding of music.  Apart from these two sources, references to music are couched in writings about other topics, possibly indicating that “music was not something early Christians thought about in isolation. It was involved in their thinking on everything.”[1]

During the first five centuries, the line of acceptability fell between vocal and instrumental music. To contemporary authors this means different things. Werner argues all of the church fathers found vocal music more pleasing to God than instrumental.[2] Price argues that there were no musical instruments in the churches.[3]  Squire indicates that instruments were allowed.[4] It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate, through a survey of sources from the first five centuries, that the early church fathers generally regarded musical instruments as inappropriate.  Further, an analysis of the cultural and religious influences on their positions will show that even the church fathers were affected by the cultures around them.


The paper is by David VanBrugge, an M.Div. student at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. One of his interests is the relationship between Reformed theology and the arts, particularly as it can be used in apologetics.

To continue reading his essay, click here.

[1] Calvin R. Stapert, A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 3.

[2] Eric Werner, The Sacred Bridge: The Interdependence of Liturgy and Music in Synagogue and Church During the First Millennium (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), 336.

[3] John Price, Old Light on New Worship: Musical Instruments and the Worship of God, a Theological, Historical and Psychological Study (Avinger, TX: Simpson Publishing, 2005), 82.

[4] Russel N. Squire, Church Music: Musical and Hymnological Developments in Western Christianity (St. Louis, MO: Bethany Press, 1962), 41-42.

Church Fathers Instrumental Music