Madonna of humility by Fra Angelico, c. 1430. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The final, trumpets-and-cymbals chapter of my Medieval Wisdom: An Exploration with C S Lewis explores a theme that I think can most benefit modern Western Christians, if only we grasp it. This is the opening bit, which starts with a biblical figure who modern Protestants regard with some nervousness as a symbol of Roman Catholicism–the Virgin Mary:
I was working at Christianity Today in the early 2000s, as managing editor of Christian History magazine. After getting a few issues under my belt, I hesitantly offered the suggestion that we do an issue on “Mary in the Christian Imagination.” Though the idea met with more support than I had feared (at that distinctively evangelical Protestant magazine), my art director did hazard the prediction that we would lose readers if we did the topic. Imagine my surprise when in the end, not only didn’t we lose any readers (that we knew), but we actually won the Evangelical Press Association’s award that year for best single-topic issue. This told me we’d hit a nerve with our evangelical Protestant readers. Apparently, there’s “something about Mary,” even for the descendants of Protestant fundamentalists. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Annunciation, Catholic Church, Christian History magazine, Christianity Today, crucifixion, embodiedness, embodiment, Incarnation, Jaroslav Pelikan, Jesus, Mary
Well, my love affair with the Middle Ages (warts and all) continues with the new issue of Christian History. This one is another mini-guide, like our Guide to Christian Thought on Hell.
This one surveys worship from the time of Constantine to the eve of the Reformation.
Master writer and liturgiologist (and friend) Dr. Jennifer Woodruff Tait wrote the whole thing, and it’s wonderful.
The design by Doug Johnson and images found by image researcher Jennifer Trafton help create a marvelous sense of time travel: the thematic articles on art & architecture, Scripture and sermons, music, leadership, and sacraments survey the landscape of medieval worship, and the three “snapshots” of what it would have been like to experience a worship service in 400, 800, and 1400 AD put you in the midst of the action.
Go ahead and check it out, in its full, image-rich glory, at http://www.christianhistorymagazine.org. I would love to hear your feedback here.
Yep. The Christian History editorial team is celebrating the printing of Issue #101: Healthcare and Hospitals in the Mission of the Church. For full access to this full-color issue (including a magnified view for us old people–just click on the magazine to enlarge), see here.
The issue tells the fascinating story of how early and medieval Christians pioneered the healthcare institutions on which we now rely, including the modern hospital.
Christian History itself is moving forward in full and glorious health. Projects in the pipeline for 2011-12 include the following:
–a guided tour of 1,000 years of worship from Constantine to Luther,
–a larger issue or even book on the history of Christianity in America,
–an issue showing how influential early African Christianity (especially North African) was in the development of the faith,
–an issue exploring the ways the church responded to the travails and malaises of industrial society from the early 1800s through the beginning World War II, and
–a special keepsake issue on the history of Christmas.
If you haven’t signed up for the magazine yet at http://www.christianhistorymagazine.org, now is the time! Tell your friends!
The editorial team at Christian History magazine is working away on our Issue #101 on Healthcare and Hospitals in the Mission of the Church, which will release this fall.
Meanwhile, project editor Jennifer Trafton and a writing team including myself, Jennifer and Edwin Woodruff Tait, and Jennifer Trafton have finished work on “The history of hell: A brief history and resource guide.” You can check it out here.
This is not final, but a sneak preview of one possible way the forthcoming (July 2011) “resource guide” to Christian thought on hell might look.
Coppo di Marcovaldo, Hell (ca 1225 - 1274, Mosaic, Baptistry, Florence)
Folks, here’s a sneak preview of some work I did for the forthcoming Christian History magazine Handbook to Christian Thought on Hell. It’s not edited yet, but the guide, which will survey Christian thought on hell from the earliest church to the 21st century, will include something like what follows. If you are interested in getting the entire guide, which will be in a half-size (roughly 5 x 8.5) magazine format complete with timeline and illustrations, go to www.christianhistorymagazine.org and get on the mailing list.
The Middle Ages
The medieval period (roughly 500 – 1500 AD) saw a shift in emphasis from the early church’s focus on the biblical “Last Things”—the Second Coming of Christ, general resurrection, and final judgment—to a new concentration on the afterlives of individuals. Until the 400s AD and even beyond (as in the thought of Gregory the Great (540 – 604)), the “Parousia” (second coming and all its associated events) was still expected imminently, and so those who died in the intervening generations could be thought of as simply sleeping or awaiting the resurrection. There simply wasn’t much written during this early period about the immediate fate of those who died before Jesus returned.
However as the Second Coming came to seem, potentially, more remote, the question of the reward of the saved and the punishment of the damned heated up, and the doctrine of the immediate judgment of each soul at death came into more prominence. The Book of Revelation in particular, which tremendously influenced medieval culture, began to be pressed into service to imagine the shape of people’s fate after death. As we will see, this emphasis on the afterlife and its support from the Book of Revelation resulted in a lavishly visual and grotesque new genre of imaginative literature: the vision of the otherworldly journey, of which Dante’s Divine Comedy was the pinnacle. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Patron Saints for Postmoderns
Tagged Bede, Book of Revelation, Christian History magazine, Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, hell, Middle Ages, Rob Bell, Second Coming of Christ, Thomas Aquinas
Nice of Bethel University to recognize the re-starting of Christian History magazine. Yesterday Bethel posted the following on their internal website. Note the upcoming handbook (July) and issue (September) listed at the end of the article. The CH team is excited to be bringing them to readers; if you’re not on the mailing list, visit www.christianhistorymagazine.org and you can get on.
I’m especially excited about the little “Christian History Handbook of Christian Thought on Hell” that the intrepid Jennifer Trafton is putting together right now for printing next month. It will include a full timeline of Christian interpretations of the scriptural evidence on hell, profiles of key thinkers and their ideas, and a bibliography for further reading. (And I get to do the medieval profiles on folks like Anselm, Aquinas, and Dante.)
I hope many in the church who have been prompted by “the Rob Bell controversy” to look more deeply into this doctrine will find in this handbook a helpful guide to key ideas and sources. In keeping with Christian History‘s usual style, the handbook is intentionally descriptive rather than evaluative or argumentative (a rarity in this field), so, we hope, a particularly helpful resource for those looking for unbiased information on a controversial topic.
[UPDATE: Looks like the following is also on Bethel's public website, here.]
Reviving Christian History
June 10, 2011 | 9 a.m.
By Heather Schnese
Chris Armstrong, professor of church history at Bethel Seminary
St. Paul, is managing editor of “Christian History” magazine
The magazine Christian History, formerly owned by Christianity Today International, ceased publication in 2008 due to recessionary pressures. But Christian History is now being published again thanks in part to Chris Armstrong, Bethel Seminary St. Paul’s professor of church history. Continue reading
As most of you know, I’m once again involved in one of the best magazines out there: Christian History. Under recessionary pressures in 2008, the magazine, which had been published since 1989 by Christianity Today International, ceased publication. Now it has been picked up again by its founding organization, the Christian History Institute (CHI), out of Pennsylvania. I worked with CHI to put together a special “re-inaugural” issue on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
That magazine has now been printed, and you can see the whole thing in its glory as a pdf “flip-book” here: http://www.christianhistorymagazine.org/. At that page you can also order your own printed copy, and most important, you can add your voice of support. Within the next 30 days, CHI will be deciding whether or not to continue the magazine as a print publication. The final decision will be based on responses from folks like you to the survey located on the website above under the sentence “Be a part of Christian History! Please take our brief survey.” Or you can just click here.
If you love this magazine and agree with me that it is an important resource for the church, then please act now!