Living like the Fathers

It is one of the rules of politeness at such “ecumenical” gatherings that the heterodox are not informed that the first prerequisite for studying the Fathers is to have the same faith as the Fathers of Orthodoxy.
Fr. Seraphim (Rose)


3 thoughts on “Living like the Fathers

  1. I don’t think I’d want to argue with someone as esteemed as Fr. Seraphim, but is that really the first prerequisite? I began to study the Fathers of Orthodoxy as an Evangelical Protestant, and the fruit of my study (which is far from over) is that I’ve embraced their Orthodox faith.

    Had I waited for this prerequisite, I wouldn’t have studied the Fathers because I knew nothing of Orthodoxy. But I did know about the Fathers, so I started to study them.

    Similar things could be said by others, including the great Lutheran-turned-Orthodox scholar Jaroslav Pelikan.

    Of course, the Fathers are much easier to penetrate once you have their Orthodox faith, and I understand the gist of what Seraphim is saying. It’s just that I would add that the Fathers are sharing their Orthodox faith, so the reader with an open mind should be able to discover that in the reading.


  2. Part of what Fr. Seraphim was criticizing was the idea of being able to participate in the spiritual life of the Fathers while not being a part of the Orthodox Church. What comes to mind is the Jesus Prayer. This quote is from his “How to Read the Holy Fathers” in which his other main criticism was the academic study of the Fathers which is plentiful today.

    I don’t disagree that a cursory study of the Fathers is a good introduction to the Orthodox Church but that should be where it either ends in and of itself or else follows with admission into the Church.

  3. I was mainly saying that a study of the fathers was an occasion Christ and the Spirit used to bring me to Orthodoxy.

    Seraphim’s quote could be applied directly to the New Testament itself.

    But for my part, I think all this study of the fathers, including the academic kind, might turn out to be instrumental in the spread of Orthodoxy in places where it is not well known, just as it was instrumental in my life. But this, obviously, requires the participation of Orthodox Christians who can articulate the meaning of the fathers to a growing number of people who are hungry to know what the fathers themselves had to say about Jesus Christ and his Church.


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