Church History

The following books are recommendations for further learning on church history.

 
 

Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley

It's about time that someone wrote church history that tells about people, not just about "eras" and "ages." Church History in Plain Language taps the roots of our Christian family tree. It combines authoritative research with a captivating style to bring our heritage home to us.

Suggested sources for purchase:


A Short History of Christianity by Martin E. Marty

For the non-specialist, Martin Marty traces the church's quest through twenty centuries for unity, sanctity, universality, and authentic witness. He delves into the disparity between the ideals of the church and historical realty in order to provide a brilliant, instructive, and eminently fair statement of the history of Christianity from its founding to the present day. In this second edition, revised and expanded, Marty has added an entirely new section entitled "Postscript and Prescript" in which he discusses the recent past and prospects. Fresh insights and revisions based on the most recent contemporary developments keep this volume abreast of the times, making it an up-to-date survey of the history of Christianity.

Suggested sources for purchase:

Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 10.24.36 AM.png

History Through the Eyes of Faith by Ronald A. Wells

Integrating faith with introductory Western history, this text provides a Christian perspective on the major epochs, issues, and events of Western Civilization. It details the role of the Greeks and Hebrews, Jesus in history, the Renaissance, and more.

Suggested sources for purchase:


Christianity by Roland H. Bainton

In this single absorbing volume, the noted historian and religious scholar Roland Bainton offers a comprehensive, critical portrait of Christianity from its beginnings two thousand years ago to the modern day. From Christ's lowly birth in a stable to the rise of cathedrals and kings, from Roman soliders to Fanciscan monks to Puritans fleeing persecution to a new world across the sea, Bainton paints a rich history of a vast and varied people united by a singular belief. Illustrated with fifty black-and-white photographs, CHRISTIANITY is a perfect introduction for lay readers and a classic in its field.

Suggested sources for purchase:


Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 10.53.57 AM.png

Turning Points by Mark A. Noll

In this popular introduction to church history, now in its third edition, Mark Noll isolates key events that provide a framework for understanding the history of Christianity. The book presents Christianity as a worldwide phenomenon rather than just a Western experience.

Now organized around fourteen key moments in church history, this well-received text provides contemporary Christians with a fuller understanding of God as he has revealed his purpose through the centuries. This new edition includes a new preface; updates throughout the book; revised "further readings" for each chapter; and two new chapters, including one spotlighting Vatican II and Lausanne as turning points of the recent past.

Students in academic settings and church adult education contexts will benefit from this one-semester survey of Christian history.

Suggested sources for purchase:


Fundamentalism and American Culture by George M. Marsden

Many American's today are taking note of the surprisingly strong political force that is the religious right. Controversial decisions by the government are met with hundreds of lobbyists, millions of dollars of advertising spending, and a powerful grassroots response. How has the fundamentalist movement managed to resist the pressures of the scientific community and the draw of modern popular culture to hold on to their ultra-conservative Christian views? Understanding the movement's history is key to answering this question. Fundamentalism and American Culture has long been considered a classic in religious history, and to this day remains unsurpassed. Now available in a new edition, this highly regarded analysis takes us through the full history of the origin and direction of one of America's most influential religious movements.

For Marsden, fundamentalists are not just religious conservatives; they are conservatives who are willing to take a stand and to fight. In Marsden's words (borrowed by Jerry Falwell), "a fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something." In the late nineteenth century American Protestantism was gradually dividing between liberals who were accepting new scientific and higher critical views that contradicted the Bible and defenders of the more traditional evangelicalism. By the 1920s a full-fledged "fundamentalist" movement had developed in protest against theological changes in the churches and changing mores in the culture. Building on networks of evangelists, Bible conferences, Bible institutes, and missions agencies, fundamentalists coalesced into a major protest movement that proved to have remarkable staying power.

For this new edition, a major new chapter compares fundamentalism since the 1970s to the fundamentalism of the 1920s, looking particularly at the extraordinary growth in political emphasis and power of the more recent movement. Never has it been more important to understand the history of fundamentalism in our rapidly polarizing nation. Marsen's carefully researched and engrossing work remains the best way to do just that.

Suggested sources for purchase:


Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 12.34.57 PM.png

Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom by Carl Trueman

Martin Luther’s historical significance can hardly be overstated. Known as the father of the Protestant Reformation, Luther has had an enormous impact on Western Christianity and culture. In Luther on the Christian Life, historian Carl Trueman introduces readers to the lively Reformer, taking them on a tour of his historical context, theological system, and approach to the Christian life. Whether exploring Luther’s theology of protest, ever-present sense of humor, or misunderstood view of sanctification, this book will help modern readers go deeper in their spiritual walk by learning from one of the great teachers of the faith. 

Suggested sources for purchase:


Reformation Thought by Alister E. McGrath

Reformation Thought, 4th edition offers an ideal introduction to the central ideas of the European reformations for students of theology and history. Written by the bestselling author and renowned theologian, Alister McGrath, this engaging guide is accessible to students with no prior knowledge of Christian theology. 

  • This new edition of a classic text has been updated throughout with the very latest scholarship
  • Includes greater coverage of the Catholic reformation, the counter-reformation, and the impact of women on the reformation
  • Explores the core ideas and issues of the reformation in terms that can be easily understood by those new to the field
  • Student-friendly features include images, updated bibliographies, a glossary, and a chronology of political and historical ideas

This latest edition retains all the features which made the previous editions so popular with readers, while McGrath's revisions have ensured it remains the essential student guide to the subject.

Suggested sources for purchase: