Learning From The Early Church Fathers – A Research Project By Edwin Daniel Johnson

What in your life and context compelled you to write this particular paper?

I grew up attending an Afro-Latino Episcopal Church in Boston and have had most of my experiences within the context of urban churches of color. When I first encountered the Patristic and Cappadocian Fathers during seminary I became intrigued about how their approaches to theology may be helpful, constructive, informative and inspiring for urban church communities. I became drawn to a completing a project that would allow me to make some of their work accessible to a theologically sophisticated and creative audience that may lack certain forms fo theological education.

What is the problem you are addressing?

The urban church communities that I have been a part of have often been called upon to answer the question: “Are you saved?” They must do this while in the midst of great violence, drug-related issues, racism, classism, and other forms of discrimination while being estranged from nature. They must also do this within a religious landscape that is dominated by conservative, charismatic, perhaps “fundamentalist” churches. In general, the approaches of the earlier theologians were very incarnational, unapologetic, and grounded in Scripture, which sets it up as a helpful point of departure for communities that continue to struggle with soteriological and other theological questions.

What is the resolution you propose in the paper?

I propose that these urban church communities build soteriologies that address what “happened” in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, what continues to happen in their own lives since their Baptism and/or affiliation with the Church, and what is happening and must happen in their communities that encounter evil and death at disproportionate rates. I propose that they use the works of the Patristic and Cappadocian Fathers as places of departure and further education.

What is the takeaway piece?

I came away even more thoroughly convinced of the importance of theological education for all and its application to truly life and death issues. I also learned some of the ways that both the strengths and weaknesses of other theological approaches can be helpful for communities seeking to modify and better understand their own.


I am an Afro-Latino third-year Masters of Divinity Student at Church Divinity School of the Pacific soon to embark on an urban curacy in my home Diocese of Massachusetts. I seek to present and proclaim the Good News in everything I do and have gained an incredible amount of tools to do that in seminary while somehow finding the time to dance salsa and take part in fitness competitions.

Explore posts in the same categories: Lived Theology, R Student Post

One Comment on “Learning From The Early Church Fathers – A Research Project By Edwin Daniel Johnson”

  1. Jonatan Says:

    i have found it to be very inspirational !

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