Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) was perhaps the greatest teacher of the Christian faith after the apostles. Augustine’s Christ-centered theology emphasizes the liturgy and preaching of the church as the chief means of incorporation into the Body of Christ, a liturgical order that was quite well established already in his day. Augustine’s Confessions are a moving account of his slow embrace of the Faith. In City of God he shows how the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdoms of Earth overlap in this current age in complex and challenging ways for believers which requires faith in Christ to eventually win the victory.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was a favorite theologian of Luther’s. Bernard was the founder of the Cistercian monastic order which drew mostly from the knights and nobles of the day. Bernard taught that traditional Christian liturgy, preaching, and fellowship of the church creates an alternative community to those of the world which heals our sinful desire for greed, lust, avarice, and personal glory and re-directs our desire to the glory and gifts of Christ which draws us into the City of God even now (though imperfectly) here on Earth.
Holmer, Paul L. (1917-2004) while not widely known outside academic circles, Paul Holmer taught several generations of prominent theologians at Yale University from 1962-1987. He was a leader of the “post-liberal” school of theologians who sought to return to the traditional teachings of the Christian fathers like Irenaeus, Augustine, Bernard, and Luther in opposition to modern theological trends that deny the reality of the supernatural or the efficacy of traditional worship and theology. He was a mentor of Pastor Martin.
Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-200 A.D.) was the bishop of Lyons. As a boy, he heard Polycarp teach. Polycarp had been a student of John the Apostle. This link with the apostolic generation makes Irenaeus important because it shows that our orthodoxy of today is based on what the apostles themselves taught. Against the Gnostics, Irenaeus emphasized the authority of Scripture and the Gospel of Christ, especially His incarnation, death, and resurrection as the world’s salvation by grace through faith. He shows that the pastors of the church all teach this Faith consistently.
John of Damascus (655-750) was a Christian theologian who lived under early Muslim rule. He shows the consistency of Christian orthodoxy. He vigorously defended traditional liturgical forms and the use of religious art (icons) in worship and devotion, contrary to the popular, Muslim-influenced trend of the time for abstract, free-form worship devoid of art and images and sacraments. His teaching of the two natures of Christ is especially powerful, showing that the divine and human natures in Christ can be distinguished but never separated and form one indivisible Person.
Lewis, C.S. (1898-1963) As a professor of literature at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Lewis is well known for his defense of traditional Christian worship and theology in books like Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Abolition of Man and others. He is also beloved for his Narnia fantasy books. Whether in theology or fiction, Lewis consistently defends orthodox Christianity and the central role of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection as our life and salvation which we receive by God’s grace as a gift to faith. His winsome way of defending and presenting the classic truths of the faith have given him a place of honor among the teachers of the faith.
Luther, Martin (1483-1546). Reformer of the medieval church. Luther drew heavily on the great fathers of the church to recall the Church catholic to the genuine worship and preaching of the apostolic and orthodox Church. He is particularly well known for putting Christ and His gifts (rather than human works) back at the center of the Church’s life, and for his critique of the corruptions of a bureaucratic and worldly-minded church hierarchy.
Matins – This is a service of psalms and prayers and preaching that dates from the early Middle ages. At Our Savior Lutheran Church, we offer Holy Communion after Matins for those who desire to commune.
Sasse, Hermann (1895-1976) was a German Lutheran theologian and pastor who worked with Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to oppose the Nazis in the 1930s and who for his courageous stand had to leave Germany after World War II and settled in Australia. Dr. Sasse called the church back to her historic creeds, confessions, and worship as a noble, but it was a “lonely way” through a world bent on self-destruction to the Kingdom of Christ which even now offers light in the dark places.