"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant"
--John Henry Newman
My most recent pick for the reviewer program at The Catholic Company was The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin, well known Catholic apologist from the National Catholic Register, Catholic Answers and Catholic radio. I was thrilled to see it listed in their newest offerings and expected an excellent reference book citing quotes from the Early Church Fathers. What I received in the mail was much, much more.
Similar to other books in my library, Mr. Akins divides the quotations attributed to the Church Fathers by topic. This section is found in Part Two, the largest portion of the book. Topics in Part Two are: God, Creation, The Sources of Faith, The Church and the Pope, Morality, Sacraments and Worship, Mary, the Saints, the Miraculous and The Last Things. Topics are further broken down into subtopics, some of which cover the so-called hot topics of the day: female ordination, the permanence of marriage, contraception and sterilization and abortion. I would consider this portion the go-to section for those engaging in apologetics or wishing to better understand why Catholics believe what they do.
Lastly, but most interesting to this apologist wannabe, Part One is a refreshing addition to what can be a very repetitive study in other books covering the teachings of the Early Church Fathers. Often missing from other books, Mr. Akin concisely explains where the writings of the Fathers came from and explains the relationship between the Magisterium and the Fathers' teachings. He then includes maps of various regions where they lived and preached. Brief biographies shed light on some lesser known ECFs and refresh the memory about more familiar names. Closing out Part One of the book, additional writings which are referred to are explained and early heresies and schisms are explained. While reading through the section on heresies, I was struck by how many of them are quite visible in society (and sadly, sometimes in our own Church) today.
The Fathers Know Best is undoubtedly an essential book for learning about the early Church and how deeply Scriptural the Church yesterday and today truly is.