Michael Haykin's latest book (just out, Crossway), Rediscovering the Church Fathers, is very welcome indeed. Some will recall Ligon Duncan's masterful address at the last T4G Conference (and the blog frenzy that followed it) in which he not only addressed the value of Patristic study, but also where to begin. [As I now recall it, Duncan's 45 minute introduction on the nature of a Christian-Confessional approach to historiography was an example of what he does best].

Haykin writes in an introduction of why studying the Patristics is a vital need of our time, and his answer -- "that it liberates us from our own time" -- is itself worth pondering deeply. We may no always agree with their conclusions, but understanding why they arrived at them helps us address the issues of our own time with hopefully the same sense of seriousness as the fathers did. Whether its the craziness of The Da Vinci Code, or the seeming ubiquity of the thoughts of Bart Ehrman, studying the Patristics is essential.

Haykin includes chapters on Ignatius, Diognetus, Origen, Cyprian, Ambrose, Basil of Caesarea and (curiously) Patrick. This is an introductory book, designed to get our feet wet (rather than immersed -- sorry Michael). A concluding guides interested readers on further study. Thoroughly recommended.