Dr John Peet compares the Genesis record with other early accounts of origins. What about the content of other ancient documents?
INTRODUCING MAJOR THEOLOGIANS:
From the Apostolic Fathers to the Twentieth
By Michael Reeves
IVP. 335 pages. £14.99
ISBN 978 1 783 592 722
Historical theology is a valuable tool for deepening and enriching our understanding of the Christian faith.
While our theology must be based on Scripture as our supreme authority and should also be conversant with the thinking and cultural context of today’s world, we would be foolish to ignore what previous generations have taught. Faithful theology must be deeply informed by the church’s tradition. This is not traditionalism, although that is a constant danger, but rather the way of wisdom as we learn from the best that has been left to us by our forefathers.
However, there is bad and good historical theology. Bad historical theology cherry-picks the bits from the past that we like and that confirm what we think rather than reading the older theologians in their historical context. Sadly there is far too much of that kind of historical theology among evangelicals... (to read more click here)
Kenneth Brownell, senior minister, East London Tabernacle
Every Christian ought to be an informed historian.
Though it was written 200 years ago, Jane Austen’s fiction is still popular, since so much of it still rings true to human experience. In her novel Northanger Abbey (1817), for instance, the heroine Catherine Morland makes a statement that is amazingly prescient about the modern boredom with history.
In Catherine’s words, history ‘tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all – it is very tiresome’. Many in the modern world, sadly even Christians, see the past as little more than this: a tiresome account of a few big names with little wisdom to impart for life today. At best, it may offer a couple of hours of entertainment and diversion via a movie or a novel….(to read more click here)
Michael Haykin is Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.
The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist
By Karen Swallow Prior
Thomas Nelson. 272 pages. £8.39
ISBN 978 0 718 021 917
Karen Swallow Prior has filled a significant gap in the shelves of Christian biographies with this well researched and engagingly written biography of an extraordinary woman.
Hannah More was well known to Christians in the 19th century, but up till now feminists and social historians were more likely to be familiar with her than the even averagely well-read Christian. So Karen Swallow Prior is to be applauded for bringing this timely story to the attention of today’s embattled church.… (to read more click here)
Hope Church, Huddersfield
Edward Vines exposes the historical roots of the cultural shift in the Western world
In 1776 the group of men who would become known as America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
Thereby they informed King George that the American colonies would no longer subject themselves to the rule of the British Crown. At the close of the American Revolution, many of these same statesmen set about to design a government which was so unique in history that it has been called the Great American Experiment.
In order to fully understand the principles that underpin our founding documents and the philosophies that have led our nation to such incredible success, you must understand a few things about the authors. First, they were overwhelmingly Christian. Nearly all 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of a recognised Christian denomination. Even such figures as Jefferson, Franklin and Madison, whose religious beliefs were rather unorthodox, had all attended the Episcopal Church at various times in their lives and all spoke favourably of the moral teachings of Jesus.
While today’s landscape abounds with historical revisionists who claim that the founders were indifferent to religion and were committed to creating a purely secular society, it is hard to explain away quotes from early American statesmen such as:.…(to read more click here)
The Honourable Edward B. Vines is a district judge in Jefferson County, Alabama, who hears domestic relations cases. He is a practicing Christian and an active member of Shades Crest Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Hoover, Alabama.
The Life and Work of a 19th Century
By Stanley E. Porter
Bloomsbury. 200 pages. £16.99
ISBN 978 0 567 658 029
The name ‘Constantine Tischendorf’ is unfamiliar to most British evangelicals, and one suspects that a biography about a man whose most famous achievement was the discovery of a fourth-century manuscript would not seem the most exciting story, at least compared to a biography about a Christian MP who freed the slaves (William Wilberforce), or an evangelist who led multitudes to Christ (George Whiteﬁeld) or a pioneer missionary (such as William Carey).
Neither was Tischendorf a kind of evangelical ‘Indiana Jones’, battling evil men and ancient trap-doors to recover some priceless ancient artefact. However, his story is important, not least because what he did and later wrote is even more relevant today than at its original publication, as we face attacks upon the integrity of the Bible from atheist and especially Islamic propagandists, the latter at ground level in schools, colleges and on the streets.
Porter is Professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College, Canada, and is obviously also an able and popular writer. The book is admirably lucid, accessible and engrossing. The author is doubtless aware of how such a topic, dealing with admittedly technical issues, can be a great turn-off for the average reader and he has managed to present the story in such a way as to grip the layman.
Apart from the bibliography in Part III, the book is divided into two main sections, the first part looking at Tischendorf’s life, then his work, and the second part being a re-publication of Tischendorf’s seminal work When Were Our Gospels Written? Such is the strength of this work in terms of continued usefulness that Porter has only added… (to read more click here)
Dr Anthony McRoy, scholar in the field of Islamic Studies
Joy Horn highlights some significant anniversaries from Christian history in 2015
Justin Martyr was put to death in Rome in 165. From a pagan background, he became a Christian aged about 30, and taught in Ephesus and Rome. He wrote two ‘Apologies’ or defences of Christianity against misrepresentation.
The Basel Mission (now called Mission 21) was founded in 1815, and trained German, Dutch and British missionaries who went to the Caucasus (1821), the Gold Coast, now Ghana (1828), and throughout the world. A major feature of their work was creating employment, such as printing, tile-making and weaving.
William Booth began working in the East End of London in 1865, leading to the foundation of the Salvation Army in 1878.
The Second Vatican Council closed in 1965. This council, which had held four sessions since 1962, allowed some use of vernacular languages (rather than Latin) in services, and referred to non-Roman Catholics as ‘separated brethren’ rather than ‘heretics’, but reiterated traditional Catholic teaching.
Isaac Watts’s Divine Songs attempted in Easy Language, for the sake of Children, was published in 1715. It became a best-seller, remaining popular well into the 19th century, when it was parodied in Alice in Wonderland.
Hudson Taylor’s pamphlet, China: its Spiritual Need and Claims was published in 1865. Consequently many candidates applied to the China Inland Mission.
The 12th and final small volume of The Fundamentals was published in the United States in 1915. The series aimed to reassert and defend traditional Christian truths, and three million copies were sent out free, one to every theological student and Christian worker. The series led to the term ‘fundamentalist’ being coined in the 1920s.
The Anglican Hymn Book was published in 1965. It was faithful to the Bible (making judicious alterations to some hymns), and although its content was heavily 19th century, it introduced some 40 new tunes and 20 new texts, including Timothy Dudley-Smith’s Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord.
4 T.S. Eliot died, aged 77, in 1965. A poet and dramatist, his Christian convictions, of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion, are evident in The Waste Land (1922), Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Four Quartets (1944).
13 Mary Slessor died at Calabar, Nigeria, in 1915, aged 67. A tough and brave woman from the Dundee slums, she worked with considerable success among the Ibo people, and fought against twin-killing and witchcraft.
16 Henry Thornton died at the house of his cousin, William Wilberforce, in 1815, aged 55. An MP and governor of the Bank of England, he was enormously generous, and his home at Battersea Rise was the centre of the ‘Clapham Sect’. He was involved in the campaign to abolish slavery, in the foundation of the Sierra Leone colony, in missions abroad and, together with Hannah More, in writing simple evangelistic tracts.
25 David Bentley-Taylor, an outstanding missionary leader, was born in 1915. Converted on his fourth day at Oxford, and subsequently president of the Christian Union there, he went to China in 1938 as a member of the China Inland Fellowship, and served there and in Indonesia. He was a founder of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in 1947, with the aim of seeing a Christian Union in every university in the world.