Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III recently traveled to Sovereign Grace to teach on covenant theology at the Pastors College. Dr. Duncan currently serves as senior minister of First Presbyterian Church (Jackson, MS) and as an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS). In late March, Dr. Duncan generously opened his schedule for me to ask a handful of questions on the value of the early church fathers, especially for busy pastors. Patrology, or the study of the early church fathers, was the topic of Dr. Duncan’s PhD thesis from the University of Edinburgh.
The interview answers questions like Why should a busy pastor invest time in reading the patristic authors? How will a pastor benefit? Where should he start? What cautions should he be alerted to?
Download the full interview MP3 (14.4 MB).
Outline of interview questions [with time markers]
[00:00] – Intro
[01:30] – Define for us patristics or patrology.
[04:28] – Why should busy pastors read patristic literature in the first place?
[09:29] – What hurdles do pastors face in reading and benefiting from patristic writings?
[14:13] – For the busy pastor, recommend a few specific patristic titles covering history, biography, and primary sources.
[26:52] – What contemporary debates reflect controversies addressed by the patristic authors?
[32:00] – Our culture appears to be growing increasingly secular. If it's true that secularism is on the rise, what can we learn from the church fathers on engaging a “pagan” culture?
[36:06] – In patristic literature, a reader will be faced with thoughts or practices of the early church fathers that were incorrect. What concerns do you have for a pastor getting his feet wet in the patristic writings?
[41:46] – Would you agree that in patristic writings we see a stress on ethics over and above the gospel?
[45:08] – Dr. Duncan, you are a gifted patristic scholar and have been pastoring at First Presbyterian in Jackson for over twelve years now, preaching on a regular basis. How do your preaching and pastoral ministry reflect the impact of patristic authors?