I’m currently reading a book by Rankin Wilbourne entitled “Union With Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God.” Rankin keeps quoting the early church fathers as a way of calling attention to the emphasis on union with Christ in Scripture and in the souls of those who are obsessed with Scripture.

As I absorb the edifying content of Rankin’s book I find in myself a growing curiosity about the life situations, and the substantive contributions, of the early church fathers. So I’ve done some digging and I’ve discovered some compelling sound bites:

“It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but to actually be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name …Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts, wrenching of bones, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, cruel tortures of the Devil – Only let me get to Jesus Christ!” ― Ignatius of Antioch

“Let us, therefore, forsake the vanity of the crowd and their false teachings, and turn back to the word delivered to us from the beginning.” – Polycarp of Smyrna

“We, who used to kill one another, do not make war on our enemies. We refuse to tell lies or deceive our inquisitors; we prefer to die acknowledging Christ.” ― Justin Martyr

“Our superintendence in instruction and discipline is the office of the Word, from whom we learn frugality and humility, and all that pertains to love of truth, love of humanity, and love of excellence. And so, in a word, being assimilated to God by participation in moral excellence, we must not retrograde into carelessness and sloth. But labor, and faint not.” ― Clement of Alexandria

“You cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself.” ― Athanasius of Alexandria

“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.” ― Bernard of Clairvaux

“The truth is, the crook in the lot is the great engine of Providence for making men appear in their true colors, discovering both their ill and their good. And if the grace of God is in them, it will bring it out, and cause it to display itself. It so puts the Christian to his shifts, that however it makes him stagger for awhile, yet it will at length evidence both the reality and the strength of grace in him.” ― Thomas Boston

“Therefore, I first of all invite the reader to groans of prayer through Christ crucified, through whose blood we are purged from the filth of our vices—in order that you might not assume that reading is sufficient without unction, speculation without devotion, investigation without admiration, examination without exultation, industry without piety, knowledge without love, understanding without humility, study without divine grace, merely mirroring things without divinely inspired wisdom.” ― Bonaventure

“The theologian who labors without joy is not a theologian at all. Sulky faces, morose thoughts and boring ways of speaking are intolerable in this field.” …“Jesus does not give recipes that show the way to God as other teachers of religion do. He is Himself the way.” ― Karl Barth

“The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to him is not to believe that he loves you.” ― John Owen

“Theology without practice is the theology of demons.” – Maximus the Confessor

“Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.” ― St. Thomas Aquinas

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” …“Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.” …“He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.” ― John Bunyan

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” ― Jonathan Edwards

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” …“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.” …“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” …“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” ― G.K. Chesterton