Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Sacred Theology (STM)


Historical Theology

First Advisor

Joel Elowsky

Scripture References in this Resource

Philippians 3:13–14, 19–20; Matthew 6:19–23; Colossians 3:1–2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:5–6; Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:14; Romans 1:20–23


Vanderhyde, Joshua S. “Straining Forward to What Lies Ahead: Models of Patristic Contemplation.” Thesis, Concordia Seminary, 2022. 111 pp.

As secularization sharpens the contrast between Christian belief and western culture, many Christians are looking for ways to take a more active and intentional approach to the struggle to be conformed to Christ. The Church Fathers offer a unified theory of Christian spirituality, grounded and structured by the concept of contemplation—a theory of perception widely held in the ancient world and integral to diverse systems of thought, including Neoplatonism. In this thesis, the concept of contemplation is elucidated as a theory of human perception and its role explained in the theology and spirituality of the Fathers. Patristic contemplation is then illustrated by presenting three models: Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine. Finally, an examination of Luther’s writings demonstrates that patristic contemplation underlies much of the theology and spirituality of the Lutheran Reformation, absent its classical terminology.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.