“I hear this too, but he’s not! The only way to make him Protestant is to be very selective with his writings.”
I was in a Protestant Bible College many moons ago and we did study a bit about the Early Church Fathers, and they taught us in exactly this way. They cherry-picked through the writings so that they made them say what they wanted them to say. We didn’t actually read through the entire writings of one of even one of them. It is why I was actually familiar with who the Fathers were. It is also why I was shocked when I read them and came up against the fact that their theology was obviously Catholic.
That’s sad. It is good that people are reading them, and learning they exist. But its a tragedy to miss the true depth of what’s available. Fortunately I started reading the letters and essays etc without interpretation or collation. Just what was written. That way when I did look at interpretations claiming things like they didn’t believe in the real presence, it was obvious how twisted the use was. But even without these guides, its so easy to read what one already believes. I think I had an advantage because I had previously lost all faith and was approaching everything as new (as new as one can anyway), so maybe I was more able to just read what was written and go from there.
Yes, that is the way I felt as well. It had been years since I had even approached the Fathers, so when I read them, it was like seeing them with fresh eyes; whereas when I read Scripture, I always had my old Protestant reading glasses on simply out of habit. I could only see them one way, subjectively, but the Fathers I saw objectively as if for the first time.