While not neglecting the supreme importance of Scripture, I think it is also an excellent Christian practice to read theologians from throughout history. Those who have gone before us can provide an amazing depth of insight into the Word of God and Christian life and practice, while also shedding light on the struggles that the Church has faced since its inception.
Do you wonder what the church was like in the 2nd century? Read Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John. Are you concerned about the trajectory of the Church in America and how by and large Scripture is being emphasized less and less and is even being allegorized, mythologized, or simply marginalized? Look to C. H. Spurgeon and the difficulty he faced during the Downgrade Controversy. Curious about what led to the Reformation and the Protestant break with the Catholic Church? Look to Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others who were there.
A balanced view requires reading opposing authors, so I encourage you to look at both sides. I would not suggest overloading on the writings of the heretics, but a basic reading of one or two works will give you an idea of what they promoted. Or, if you are investigating the various theological debates of the ages, consider all of the positions. For example, when looking at the debate of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, I would highly recommend reading the works of Calvin and Arminius for yourself rather than reading a contemporary author who is commenting on either of their positions.
I will periodically read a work written by a theologian from the past and comment on it in the podcast, and I encourage you to look for those episodes. Comment on this page, send an e-mail to joe at jwexperience dot com, pop over to the Facebook group, or Tweet @bite_sizedtheo to let me know what theologian you are reading or if you have one you’d like me to read and comment on.
Of course, no theological endeavor is complete without some sweet swag, and I’ve got you covered! Head over to https://teespring.com/stores/read-old-dead-guys to pick up a coffee mug or T-shirt of your favorite theologian and show off your theological chops! More theologians will be added as time goes on, and you can use the contact info above to let me know if there is one you especially want included. Please note that the inclusion of a theologian is not meant to be an endorsement of every last bit of doctrine held by that individual.