READING (at the bookstore or on reserve):

(Warning: Beware the used or library textbook with highlighting. Do the human race a favor and don't highlight your books.)

Brian Moynahan, The Faith: A History of Christianity, Doubleday, 2002. degree of difficulty:
Any one-volume history of a tradition a world wide and two thousand years long has to be selective. Moynahan's tour of twenty centuries of Christian tradition selects judiciously, thematically, and honestly. It is well written, interesting, and historically responsible. Its attention to social and political history complements the more doctrinal focus of our lectures. It also makes sobering reading alongside the usually upbeat theological reading, because much of his history of the faith is a history of failures to be faithful. Moynahan is a historically interested journalist from the United Kingdom.

Donald E. McKim, Theological Turning Points, John Knox, 1988.
McKim, a Presbyterian minister, sees the Christian tradition as a series of "turning points" — moments of epiphany that forever changed the ways Christians thought about God. For instance, the doctrine of incarnation emerged with unprecedented clarity in the fourth century, and ever since the Christian faith is framed by a strong affirmation that the person Jesus Christ is both truly human and truly divine. Your church doesn't think this because it leaps right off the Bible's pages into your minds; you think this because Athanasius of Alexandria paved the way for you. McKim's book will introduce us to the pivotal moments in Christian history that made us who we are, both for better and for worse. He will help us appreciate that Christian doctrine has a history, and that its history does and should still shape us.

Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, One Hundred Thirty-One Christians Everyone Should Know, Broadman and Holman, 2000.
The Church practices its favorite ways of remembering its past in times of worship. In its weekly and yearly rhythms it orders that worship according to the life of Jesus, but it also sets apart special days that remember exemplars of the Christian walk. As you read this text, consider the differences between the history of Christianity, the history of doctrine, and the practice of hagiography (remembrance of saints) in Christian worship. There you will find the reason Christians remain hopeful despite so many centuries of falling short.

William F. Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 3rd ed., Macmillan, 1979, or 4th ed., Allyn & Bacon, 2000.
In this class you will regularly write and review others' writing. For decades "Strunk & White" has been a favorite guide to good writing. It is concise, accessible, and powerful: just like your writing will need to be. If you cannot identify (for instance) a run-on sentence, sentence fragment, split infinitive, or appositive on sight, or confuse "its" with "it's" – or see why I care – then consider this book required.

Telford Work, Clutter,
I maintain a "weblog," an on-line web journal, where I write about theology, converse with others, meditate on Scripture, and respond to current events in and beyond the Christian world. It is a little self-indulgent to ask you to read this. However, checking in every few days will give you a glimpse into the way I think, react to events and texts, and merge my teaching, learning, and living.


Robert E. Van Voorst, Readings in Christianity, Second Edition, Wadsworth, 2001.
In history, there is no substitute for reading texts from the players themselves. The dead come alive and speak anew, from one world into another that is both foreign and familiar. Van Voorst's anthology of readings in Christian history has been recently expanded to incorporate both voices long silent, and new contributors from the recent past. In this text they tell the teachings of churches seeking fidelity to the faith "believed always, everywhere, by all." I will read selections in class.

Elizabeth A. Livingstone, ed., Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford University Press, 2000.
The unabridged Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church () is an indispensable resource for students of history who want brief descriptions of the major people, places, movements, and events of Christianity. This abridged version is a lot less expensive. If the proper names in this course leave your head spinning, think about investing in this resource.

Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology, InterVarsity, 1999.
Alister McGrath, Historical Theology: an introduction to the History of Christian Thought, Blackwell, 1998.

William C. Placher, A History of Christian Theology: An Introduction, Westminster, 1983.

These introductions to the history of doctrine center on the teachings of the Church rather than its social contexts. Lectures will concentrate on these themes, so these texts can help you follow along with what we are doing in class. I have included Placher's readings in my outline to give you an idea of how to use these texts if you wish.

Richard J. Foster, ed., Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups, Harper, 1993.
One of the old axioms of Christian thought is that "the law of prayer is the law of belief." (In other words, we believe in the way God teaches us to pray, not just vice versa.) We will be opening classes with devotional readings from the historical eras and figures of our studies, perhaps using this volume as a reference.

RECOMMENDED LINKS (compiled in part by Katharine Brown, a Westmont colleague): This is the "Christian Classics Ethereal Library;" it has an extensive collection of primary source material. This is a beautiful century-by-century map of Europe and the Mediterranean. Short articles to clarify just about anything you might wonder about in church history or theology. General links. Hypertext encyclopedia of early church history. Provides links to documents from early church history available on the Internet. Internet theology resources; this page provides links to a number of early, medieval, and reformation primary sources; also a few from the Eastern Church. The Medieval Sourcebook. Excellent primary sources MLA stylebook APA stylebook

Back to Syllabus