Baptists Promoting Patristic Theology

by Brandon D. Smith

I recently wrote a blogpost in which I lamented the dearth of patristic theology in much of evangelicalism. I’ve heard from countless people from across the spectrum of evangelicalism—both publicly and privately—who’ve reached out to say they’re also concerned about this problem. It’s not a big secret that evangelicalism struggles with this at some level in every denomination, and the response to my last post is a reminder of that.

Though that post’s point rings as true for me today as it has for years, I realized that I hadn’t done an adequate job highlighting those who are contributing to patristic retrieval. Again, this is not one evangelical denomination’s problem, but I want to highlight those in my own Baptist tribe who are doing this well.

Timothy GeorgeDean of Beeson Divinity School, is probably the most prominent Baptist—and perhaps the most respected among all evangelicals—calling for a retrieval of the Christian tradition. Alongside is definitive work on the Christian intellectual tradition and the Reformation, he’s also done a magnificent job helping shape Beeson’s curriculum around the application of the Christian tradition and ecumenism.

Michael HaykinProfessor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written one of the most helpful introductions to the Church Fathers that I’ve ever read, and wrote a sneaky-good book several years ago on the fourth-century debate about the Holy Spirit. He continues to be a mentor and example to many who love the Christian tradition.

Stephen PresleyAssociate Professor of Church History at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently started the Southwestern Center for Early Christian Studies, which aims to be a think tank and resource for SWBTS and beyond.

Matthew Emerson (Oklahoma Baptist University) and Luke Stamps (Anderson University) recently helped found this very Center for Baptist Renewal and are doing significant work together on Baptist catholicity and renewal through the Christian tradition. Be on the lookout for several forthcoming books and articles from them (together and separately) on these topics.

The Center for Ancient Christian Studies, founded by Coleman Ford (The Village Church) and Shawn Wilhite (California Baptist University), is another encouraging group seeking to foster and encourage patristic renewal in the Baptist world and beyond.

This list could go on, by the way, but I wanted to highlight just a few here. Check out the CBR’s list of fellows to see pastors and leaders who are committed to this effort. For an extensive bibliography of works on Baptist catholicity and renewal, check out the CBR’s resources page.