Apologia: Why is an Americanist writing a book about medieval history?


I admit this project, Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, strays into a field of historical scholarship that is beyond my training: the medieval church. However, I am a historian, and thus armed against facile and presentist appropriations of the past. As a specialist in American church history, I also write from a nuanced understanding of my audience, which may prove as valuable to a book such as this as would a specialist expertise in the historical period under discussion. In other words, I know the historical motives, prejudices, and strengths of my audience and can gear an enthusiastic “outsider’s appreciation” of medieval Christianity to their particular sensibilities.

Finally, I am also a journalist, a former editor of a popular history magazine, and the lone full-time church historian in an evangelical seminary. All three of these roles have formed me as a popularizer and an evangelist for the Christian past. I often hear from my students that I have made history come alive for them. That is my goal, also, in all of my writing.

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