How young were you when you first took a serious moment aside to lean back and try to survey some spread of reality and consider it? When you first got a grasp on things beyond yourself? I remember distinctly the time when I had not got my head around the idea that other people existed in their minds in the same way that I did in mine. I remember travelling as a little tiny young person to London for one of the first times. I was peering out of the train window and looking at the rows and rows of houses, and just had a sort of realisation that behind every door there was family that existed to exactly the same extent as my family did. It was over awing.
There are so many others and so much happening. I remember just watching them fly past and not really being able to fully comprehend the magnitude of it all, but knowing I was having a realisation I had not had before, and one that was important and real. I still have not completed that thought, I’m still struggling with it. The thought: in a world of such scale, and a life of such vastness, how should you perceive yourself? Now this may not be the question that dominates everyone’s life, but it sure plays a role in mine. God is kind here, because it is his perspective that matters, how he perceives you that matters, your relationship with him that matters, and you can just let the rest of it fall into insignificance.
It takes a lifetime, pondering these questions, but last week it only took me a few hours to visit North Wales. Beautiful, peaceful and serene. Sometimes a change of context really helps you to gain some perspective. When I travelled to London that new perspective was terrifying, when I visited North Wales it was simply relaxing. Comforting even. Seeing those folk just living day to day as part of the land where they live. You are not a single, alone thing. You are part of everything, and that is a good thing.
The words we have are so old. They have sat in the books in which they were written thousands of years ago. These great books, these great works, these great words. These words have sat and have been observed, absorbed, occasionally ignored, sometimes loved, sometimes hated. Now it is certainly the time to return them to the world, to get them out there, out there to the people. I was walking through College Campuses in the US recently and saw a whole new world, but a world that was all easy to know and shared in all its true form with the world as we all know it and perceive it. There are thousands of souls on college campuses around the United States who could do great things from the work of the early christian scholars. From the work, for example, of Justin Martyr.
One of our great early scholars of our great faith. A man who thought tirelessly about Christ’s life and the meaning of that life in this stage so close to his assent to heaven. He studied so intently and pored his life into the work that he was producing. What greater inspiration to college students could their be than that? There are ways of marketing in college and on campus, it’s just up to us if we want to use these techniques and services.
How much do we want to return Christ to the lives of college students? And not the muddled, dirtied, confused Christ of the modern church but Christ as he was reflected upon by these early and brilliant scholars. If we can do this we can truly change there world and change our world and solve so many problems. I believe that. These ancient scholars were wise and insightful, they were bold and brilliant. They were in tune with Christ as he was and his teachings as he taught them. Now that is what the world truly needs to be, now more than ever.[Top]
Patristics is the practise of studying not current Christian scholars but looking back at the very earliest Christian writers, those greats who are designated by many as ‘Church Fathers’. It may not make sense to all to look back to find out how to move forward, especially looking back to the period that stretches in between the end of the New Testament times, or perhaps even the last times of the Apostolic Age (depending on who you listen too) to perhaps AD 451 (the Council of Chalcedon) of perhaps a little later at the Second Council of Nicaea in the 8th Century.
We look back to this time because the present can be far too obsessed with very transient, very ‘now’ ideas and problems. There is plenty that constantly changes and plenty that progresses and gets better BUT, there is plenty that is eternal and plenty that will always be true. To decipher that which is eternal and universal from that which is merely today’s flavour we must look back, look to the past, look to what lasts…[Top]