Tuesday, September 17, 2013

John Woodbridge and Frank James III Publish New Church History Text

Are you a professor at an evangelical seminary or college who is looking for a new textbook for your modern church history class?  You may want to consider  John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III's recently published Church History: Vol 2--From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day (Zondervan, 2013).  Many of you may know Woodbridge as the longtime professor of church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL.  James is the president of Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, PA and former provost at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the Boston area.  They write from a clear evangelical perspective, but are also sensitive to current academic trends in the field of church history.

The text has 22 chapters, from "European Christianity in an Age of Adversity, Renaissance, and Discovery" to "Christianity and Islam: The Challenge of the Future."  (I might also add that volume 1 of this text was written by Everett Ferguson.)

Here is a taste of the preface:

This volume has sought to accomplish a number of goals.  The first of these is to provide an academically responsible engagement with the facts of history as best we can determine them, whether or not these facts comport with personal convictions.  We believe that such honesty, although at time painful, will ultimately serve the best interests of all, Christian or not.  Second, this volume endeavors to provide a global perspective.  We now inhabit a world where the center of Christianity has shifted from the West to the global South, which requires that due consideration be given to the theology and movements in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Third, we intend this volume to be contemporary and relevant to the church today.  Change, whether cultural, technological, political, or social, is now happening at an ever-increasing pace.  Although it is impossible to keep up with every new movement, we nevertheless endeavored to engage the most significant of those developments that are most likely to impact the Christian church.  Fourth, we have not avoided controversial issues of the past or the present.  But we do not presume to make final judgments.  Rather, we seek to present the relevant dimensions of the debate in order to provide readers with enough information so that they can begin to reach their own conclusions.

Fifth, we are keenly aware that church history--like all history--is culturally conditioned.  The social norms that governed an earlier era may not be the social norms today.  For example, we do not execute heretics.  However, even as we evaluate actions according to the cultural standards of the time, we are mindful that Christians affirm doctrinal beliefs and ethical standards that are culturally transcendent.  Finally, we have embraced a broad ecumenical stance; that is to say, we have endeavored to be respectful to all Christian traditions and indeed, to give a thoughtful and faithful treatments to other religions.