Letter writing was common among some of the founders of the early church, such as Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea, and John Chrysostom. I have read some of their original letters, which revealed so much about them as thinkers and as people—their deepest feelings, hopes, and dreams as well as their motives for doing certain things. All of this information was laid bare in the pages of their correspondence. They articulated many important theological insights in the bodies of their epistles.
This can be seen in the epistles written by Paul to his protégés in budding Christian settlements. The insights and information contained in Paul’s letters have influenced entire communities of people who have struggled with questions, regarding how to live in harmony with each other as one body in Christ. These letters have endured for hundreds of years and still direct our decisions.
In addition to providing insights and information, letters can evoke strong emotions. They can entertain, infuriate, or inspire. Letters that have the greatest emotional impact are those that have been written with sincerity and emanate from the deep places in the soul and psyche of the writer. Not only that, for writers who are diligent and reflective, the work of letter writing can be spiritually liberating.
By Rev. Lorrie C. Reed, Ph.D., M.Div.