Book Review: “Awakening Faith”

November 12, 2013

Awakening Faith fills a much needed void in today’s Christian culture by giving us a brief glimpse into the writings of the first seven centuries of the church fathers who have gone before us in our faith. For a culture that remains so focused our ourselves and self-help material, reading from the church fathers’ reminds us that we worship God as a part of “a cloud of witnesses” that spans throughout history and across the globe. It also reminds us that God is a “God of the living,” and that the input of those “living” Christians who have gone before us are just as valuable as contemporary Christian writers.

Awakening Faith is a collection of 366 daily readings from a wide range of about 70 different church fathers. Each entry is a page long excerpt from a specific church father, which contains a title header and a relevant Scripture passage along with the text and author below. In some cases, if the excerpt cannot be limited to single page entry, there will be a part 1 and part 2 so that you can get a full understanding of the text broken into sections. These page entries are well formatted, and make it easy for you to read just a little each day from saints ranging from Tertullian, Justin Martyr, and Clement, to later greats such as Augustine, John Chrysostom, Basil, and Benedict. If you are unfamiliar with the church father for the day’s reading, there is a helpful index listing of the different church father’s in the back with a brief (one paragraph) biography of each. There is also a Scripture index in the back.

Overall, this is a great introduction to get Christians reading the early church fathers – for which I heartily applaud Bell & Kelly. My one qualm with Awakening Faith is that there is absolutely no citation of the work, chapter, or page from which these excerpts come – only a listing of the church father’s name. For the average reader, this may not be as big an issue – but as someone who wants to read more of the church father’s than just the excerpts, this is a travesty. It may be easy for those who are familiar with the church father’s works to recognize where the text comes from, but if I were to give this to someone and they enjoyed a passage from Ephrem the Syrian, they would have no help whatsoever in knowing where they could read the context of the passage. The editors could have easily added at least the work cited (if not book/chapter/etc.) after the church father’s name, without sacrificing any aesthetic appeal or creating any formatting issues. I am not sure if this was the decision of Zondervan, or Bell & Kelly – but I do hope future editions will remedy this problem – but until then I can only give this work 4 stars. (To be fair, in the biographical index in the back, under some of the church father’s there is a listing of some of their works – but even this is partial and gives no direction for further reading on specific passages
used in the entries).

Rating: 4 out of 5

I received this book for free from Zondervan via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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