The Good Works Reader

The Good Works Reader

The Good Works Reader

The Good Works Reader


Often considered one of the sparks that ignited the Reformation, the place of "works" in the Christian life is still debated. In this volume distinguished theologian Thomas Oden draws together Christian teaching from across the centuries to provide a comprehensive witness on this essential topic.

Oden listens to the timeless teaching of the patristic writers, the theologians who defined orthodoxy in the first five centuries after Christ. His listening extends not only to well-known fathers such as Augustine, Irenaeus, and Eusebius, but also to lesser-known yet no less important fathers such as Oecumenius, Pseudo-Basil, and Peter Chrysologus. Oden's masterly compendium of classic Christian teaching covers treatment of the poor, the outcast, the imprisoned, and "the least of these." Anyone involved in any ministry of compassion will find stunning spiritual resources here.


The Reader Series presents classic Christian texts on vital contemporary issues.

This volume of the Reader Series is designed to be read either separately or in sequence with the previous volume — The Justification Reader. the two themes (justification by faith alone and good works) are best kept in constant tension.

The Good Works Reader probes both the faith that becomes active in love, and the grace by which faith lives. These are inseparable. Yet it is still possible that some who might see this book independently, apart from the previous volume — The Justification Reader — might conclude that good works may be somehow detachable from justifying grace. Those who may be inclined to draw this conclusion are referred to the last Part of this volume and to the previous Reader. There is no way to reverse the order. Good works are born in grace, and live breathing the air of grace.

To anyone who might imagine that Christianity begins with good works, we can only say that the great classic exegetes all rejected this assumption. Christian teaching on good works is at every point correlated with the Gospel itself, the good news of God’s coming into human history.

The Surprising Relevance of the Fathers

Nowhere in the modern literature on the poor, to my knowledge, has extensive attention been paid to patristic writers. Here they speak for them-

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