Tag Archives: Christian history

Your voice counts on the future of Christian History magazine


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!

Printing imminent! Watch for Christian History magazine issue #100


The forthcoming issue #100 of (the reborn) Christian History magazine, on the history of the King James Bible, will be at the printer soon. The mailing list for the issue is finalized. This means that the special offer previously linked at this page to get on the mailing list for this issue is now closed.

I will be posting another link shortly where you can register your name and address to receive future information about the magazine.

In the longer term, if you are interested in the magazine and want to follow it in future, you can do so at the following site, which will be up and running sometime in March: www.christianhistorymagazine.org.

I understand that over 1200 people signed up through the web link previously on this page to receive this special CH issue. Thank you, all, for your interest in the magazine. I hope that once people have received this issue, many will sign up to continue receiving the magazine, so we can continue this tremendous resource into the future.

Thank you, Ken Curtis: A pioneer in the popular communication of Christian history passes


Ken Curtis and friends, onsite in Israel for a recent film

I first heard of Dr. A. Kenneth (Ken) Curtis back in the late 1980s, when I was still a fresh-faced, young adult convert within the charismatic movement. That was when I discovered the wonderful magazine Christian History, which Ken had started publishing in 1982 with assistance from the talented Dr. Mark Fackler, then a professor in Wheaton College’s graduate program in communications. Christian History showed me the true depth of our spiritual heritage as Christians—water in the parched land of evangelicalism’s historical amnesia. By the late 80s I had CH in one hand and graduate school catalogues in the other, and by the mid 90s the love for church history that I first discovered in Ken’s magazine took me first to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and then to Duke University to study in that field.

Despite the tremendous early success of Christian History, Ken’s primary business had never been magazine publishing. Continue reading

Retired bishop calls for Christian history teaching in British schools


With the Bishop of Rochester

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, with the Bishop of Rochester

From an article in a British Christian online magazine. Though I am always suspicious when someone starts talking about “Judeo-Christian values” (there’s a lot of slipperiness in this language), I like this guy :) . Also, based on my own recent research into the origins of hospitals in the West, I have to agree with his statement (see below) that the nursing profession as we know it is Christian in origin. Finally, his examination of the origins of modern British systems of law and governance fascinate–I’ll be looking into the details of his narrative . . .

If school kids don’t learn more about Britain’s Judeo-Christian heritage we risk losing our national values, a bishop has warned.

The Rt Revd Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: “The Judaeo-Christian tradition provides the connecting link to ‘our island story’”.

Children should know about the role of Christians in abolishing the slave trade, caring for the sick and improving working conditions, the former Bishop of Rochester said in an article for Standpoint magazine. Continue reading

Violence in Christian history: Proof against the faith? David Bentley Hart speaks


David Bentley Hart is a smart fellow, conversant in philosophy, history, literature, & the arts, who will soon (a little bird tells me) be writing a comprehensive, textbook-type history of the church. Here he is being interviewed about the claim often made by atheists, including the so-called “new atheists,” that the violence evident in Christian history can be used as evidence that Christianity as a whole is a false system of belief, and indeed that there is no God.

The two ways churches mistreat history


Some wise words from the “Reformed Reader” blog:

Christians/churches are often prone to one of these two tendencies, as Carl Trueman notes:

“An idolatry of the new and the novel, with the concomitant disrespect for anything traditional; or a nostalgia for the past which is little more than an idolatry of the old and the traditional.  Both are disempowering: the first leaves the church as a free-floating anarchic entity which is doomed to reinvent Christianity anew every Sunday, and prone to being subverted and taken over by any charismatic (in the non-theological sense!) leader or group which cares to flex its muscle; the second leaves the church bound to the past as its leaders care to write that past and thus unable to engage critically with her own tradition.”

Continue reading here.

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years


Here is a review of the new Diarmaid MacCulloch book, Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years (MacCulloch previously published an accessible survey of the Reformation period). The provocative title refers both to the future of the faith, and to the presence of certain proto-Christian ideas before Jesus.

A couple of clips from the review, which appears on the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s website, and is written by Margaret McGuiness, chair of the Religion Department at La Salle University:

No text purporting to trace the rise and development of a major world religion can do it all, and Christianity is no exception. MacCulloch does at least touch on many important representatives of events, movements, and doctrinal developments. Topics as diverse as the teaching on Purgatory, Eucharistic doctrine, and evangelicalism are explained and placed within the context of major events such as the Reformations (Protestant and Catholic), the Enlightenment, and the culture wars of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In addition, the author attempts to incorporate the role of Christian women into the larger history, and includes figures as diverse as the mystic Teresa of Avila; Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline nuns, the first active women’s religious community; and English Protestant feminist Mary Astell.

The Christian History Project–a series of popular church history books worth noting


If you haven’t seen the large-format, lavishly illustrated “Christian History Project” books, based out of Canada, then you might want to check them out. Though their Wikipedia entry has been marked for deletion based (as far as I can understand) on the fact that it amounts to self-promotion, it is a good source of information on the project.

Podcast on evangelical theology, globalization, postmodernism, and seminary education, with John Franke & friends


This conversation was really fun to have. And maybe even has some light to cast on, as my colleague Kyle Roberts says, “the present and future of evangelical theology, the challenge of globalization and postmodernity, the prospects for the evangelical church in the days ahead, and the role of seminary education in all of this.”

Kyle (a rising theologian, like Christian Collins Winn, who also speaks out on this podcast) explains: “The dialogue participants were John Franke, of Biblical Seminary (on campus to lecture at Bethel University and Seminary), Chris Armstrong, church history professor at Bethel Seminary, Christian Collins Winn, historical theology professor at Bethel College of Arts and Sciences, and myself. Enjoy this discussion and please add any comments or questions of your own for further discussion.  We view this as the beginning of a conversation, not the end.”

Enjoy the podcast, and (we hope) many fascinating posts to come on Kyle’s blog.

History, truth, and evangelicalism


In the life of an academic, some things get written but never see the light of day. I wrote the following while in grad school (at Duke University) as an entry into an essay contest for the InterVarsity conference “Taking Every Thought Captive,” held in Mundelein, Illinois, in Spring, 2000.

It didn’t win, and I moved on to other things. But it represents some of my excitement about the discipline of history, and some of my frustration with the ways evangelical laypeople and evangelical scholars were handling history. I would modify my opinions now about some of the things I say here, but my heart for the discipline of church history remains the same:

History, truth, and evangelicalism

Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom
[Ps. 51]

This paper is a meditation on the uneasy relationship of evangelicals with the discipline of history—in particular, the history of the church.  In it, I will address what historical inquiry and historical honesty can—and should not—mean to evangelicalism.  In the end, I am suggesting that historiography must be pursued, at least by some, as a ministry to the church.

* * *

On April 20th, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Cassie Bernall was asked by a young man pointing a gun, “Do you believe in God?”  As the book written by Cassie’s mother tells it, “She Said Yes.”  And was shot to death.  During the next few days, as a shocked nation sifted through the psychic rubble of the Columbine massacre, the news of Cassie’s stand for Christ spread swiftly.  Youth groups across the country made the riveting account of her final act the theme of rallies and perorations.  Cassie’s story—not only her martyrdom, but her conversion after a troubled youth marred by drugs, rebellion, and witchcraft—challenged thousands of teen-agers to commit or rededicate their lives to Christ.  Within six months of her death, her mother’s book sold a quarter of a million copies.

Clearly, martyrdom holds a magnetic attraction for evangelicals.  Adrift in modern lifestyles crammed with presumptive comforts and imperative conveniences, evangelicals need martyrs.  And here was one, not only standing at our suburban doorstep, but bearing testimony—as it turned out—of a classic evangelical conversion from a life of visible sin and despair to one of vibrant faith.

Yet, a problem arose. Continue reading