Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Are the Church Fathers relevant today?


Orthodoxy promotes Scripture but also Tradition. The latter is the explanation and interpretation of the first by the Church Fathers, it is also the expression of the Church, and how we practice our faith. It is every Orthodox’s spiritual heritage. It could be claimed that Tradition, as an historical event, begins with the Apostolic preaching and is found in Scripture; however, it is kept, treasured, interpreted and explained within the Church by the Holy Fathers. Orthodoxy claims one Tradition, i.e. the Tradition of the Church, incorporating the Scriptures and the teaching of the Fathers. St. Irenaeus explains how Tradition is “the preaching of the truth handed down by the Church in the whole world to Her children”. 


But the question here is: are the Church Fathers, who lived centuries ago, relevant today? When reading some of them, for example St. John Chrysostom, we understand that they are probably more relevant with the modern troubles and problems, than many current theologians. Fr. George Florovsky (Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, p. 13) explains that the Fathers were wrestling with existential problems, with those revelations of the eternal issues which were described and recorded in Holy Scripture. They seem to be relevant due to the fact that they were dealing with things and not with the maps, they were concerned not so much with what man can believe as with what God had done for man.  
Many people claim that in order to see where one is going he needs to identify where he is coming from. The past plays a massive role. The Fathers have tackled the same issues that we tackle today. Tacking their advice on spiritual and secular matters are crucial, in order to live a Christian life.

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