Reformed Theology and the Church Fathers

One of the many great things about Reformed theology is the fact that it stands firmly in the line of historic Christian doctrine and truth. The Reformers and the post-Reformation theologians were very much appreciative of the church fathers like Augustine, Cyril, Chrysostom, and so on. For example, when the Reformers and Reformed theologians after the Reformation talked about redemptive history and Christ being at the center of Scripture it was not a novel thought. They church fathers had already said many of the same things. Here’s one example of this in Jaroslov Pelikan’s summary of Irenaeus’ emphasis on Christ in the Old Testament:

“…When the cross and suffering of Christ were taken as the primary content of his uniqueness, even these new and unprecedented [historical] events were interpreted as the fulfillment of prophecy. For Irenaeus, ‘Christ is the treasure which was hidden in the field, that is, in the world… but the treasure hidden in the [Old Testament] Scriptures is Christ, since he was pointed out by means of types and parables.’ But the ‘types and parables’ were not merely the words of the prophets, who, as ‘members of Christ, set forth the prophecy’ about him; the events and persons of the history of Israel performed this function also, as when ‘the suffering of the Righteous One was prefigured from the beginning in Abel, also described by the prophets, but perfected in the last times in the Son of God.’ Abel was a hero of the Christian faith. Abraham was ‘the chief and herald [princeps et praenuntiator] of our faith,’ who ‘saw in the Spirit the Lord’s coming and suffering, the mission of Abraham had reached its goal, and it was right for his followers to ‘forsake their ship and their father and to follow the Logos….’

Jarislov Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, p. 57.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015