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John Calvin and the Church Fathers - Insights for Contemporary Christianity
By Rev Kim Tan (AICS Executive Secretary)
Mar 2015

The First AICS Lecture for Pastors

One of the main purposes of the Asian Institute of Calvin Studies (AICS) is to introduce Calvinism to pastors and church leaders, so five theological lectures have been arranged for pastors in 2015. The first lecture was held in the afternoon of 12 January at Trinity Theological College. The speaker Dr Lai Pak Wah shared on "John Calvin and the Church Fathers Insights for Contemporary Christianity". 23 pastors (including 3 Presbyterian lecturers at TTC), seminary students, elders and deacons (from 14 different churches) turned up for the lecture and they actively participated in the Q & A session. The lecture was well received and the feedback was encouraging, the attendees learnt much on the topic.

Dr Lai told the class Calvin's primary use of the Fathers' teachings was "a polemical appeal to authorities" against his theological opponents, especially the Roman Catholics. He said if one were to study the Fathers' teachings, especially those of Augustine, they would find these largely supportive of the Reformers' doctrines. And when Calvin used Chrysostom and other Fathers in his biblical commentaries, he was less interested in the Fathers as authorities and more interested in them as dialogue partners for exegetical problems.

Regarding the contemporary insights, Dr Lai shared the followings:

1. There is much continuity between the theology of the Fathers and that of Reformers like Calvin.

2. The Reformers' emphasis on Sola Scriptura must be interpreted in the context of their use of the Fathers.

3. Calvin’s use of the Fathers reminds us that it will be beneficial for us evangelicals to dialogue and be familiarised with the Fathers, lest we lose our ties with so great a spiritual heritage!





 
 




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