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A Brief History of Christianity

ISBN: 978-1-4051-4887-0
232 pages
February 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
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Charting the rise and development of Christianity, Carter Lindberg has succeeded in writing a concise and compelling history of the world’s largest religion. He spans over 2,000 years of colorful incident to give an authoritative history of Christianity for both the general reader and the beginning student.

  • Ranges from the missionary journeys of the apostles to the tele-evangelism of the twenty-first century.

  • Demonstrates how the Christian community received and forged its identity from its development of the Bible to the present day.

  • Covers topics fundamental to understanding the course of Western Christianity, including the growth of the papacy, heresy and schism, reformation and counter-reformation.

  • Includes an introduction to the historiography of Christianity, a note on the problems of periodization, an appendix on theological terms, and a useful bibliography.

  • An authoritative yet succinct history, written to appeal to a general audience as well as students of the history of Christianity.

  • Written by internationally regarded theologian, Carter Lindberg, who is the author of numerous titles on theology and Church history.
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Preface x

1 The Responsibility to Remember: An Introduction to the Historiography of Christianity 1

Tradition and Confession 4

2 The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing 6

The Roman Empire and its Political Achievements 10

Hellenization and its Cultural Achievements 10

Development of the Biblical Canon 12

3 Sibling Rivalry: Heresy, Orthodoxy, and Ecumenical Councils 17

The Structure of Tradition: Confession and Doctrine 18

Doctrine as a Key to Christian Memory and Identity 19

Heresy 21

Jesus’ Relationship to God: The Doctrine of the Trinity 22

From the Council of Nicaea to the Council of Constantinople 26

Jesus and Humankind: Christology 28

4 The Heavenly City: The Augustinian Synthesis of Biblical Religion and Hellenism 35

Augustine’s Path to Conversion 40

Augustine’s Theological Contributions 41

Augustine and Donatism 44

The Pelagian Controversy 47

5 The Development of Medieval Christendom 51

Monasticism to Mission 52

The Emergence of the Papacy 54

Papacy and Empire 59

The Gregorian Reform 61

The Investiture Conflict 66

The Crusades 68

6 Faith in Search of Understanding: Anselm, Abelard, and the Beginnings of Scholasticism 71

Universities and Scholasticism 73

Contributions of Early Scholastic Theology 79

7 The Medieval Church 84

The Cultural and Theological Development of the Sacraments 84

The Rise of the Mendicant Orders 89

The Rise and Decline of Papal Authority 95

The Decline of the Papacy 97

Conciliarism 99

8 The Reformations of the Sixteenth Century 104

Context 105

The Reformation in Germany 108

The Reformation in Switzerland 112

The Reformation in France 116

The Reformation in England 117

Scandinavia and Eastern Europe 120

Early Modern Catholicism 121

The Reformations’ Aftermath 122

9 Pietism and the Enlightenment 125

The Enlightenment 135

The Catholic Church and the Enlightenment 141

10 Challenge and Response: The Church in the Nineteenth Century 143

The Churches and the French Revolution 144

From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna 145

Church Reform in Germany: The Prussian Union and its Consequences 146

Inner Mission and the Social Question 147

The Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century 152

Pope Pius IX and Vatican I 153

From Kulturkampf to the Anti-Modernist Oath 154

Nineteenth-Century Theology 155

The Awakening 157

Theological Currents 158

Liberal Theology 160

11 The Christian Churches since World War I 163

New Formulations in Protestant Theology 164

The Churches during National Socialism 167

Developments in the Catholic Church after World War I 171

The Ecumenical Movement 173

Back to the Future: Christianity in Global Context 179

Appendix: Periodization 181

Glossary 189

Further Reading 195

Index 204

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Carter Lindberg is Professor Emeritus of Church History at Boston University. His recent publications include The Pietist Theologians (2004), The Reformation Theologians (2001), The European Reformations Sourcebook (1999), and The European Reformations (1996), all available via Blackwell Publishing.
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  • A brief and compelling history, telling the story of Christianity from its origins to the present day.

  • Ranges from the missionary journeys of the apostles to the tele-evangelism of the twenty-first century.

  • Demonstrates how the Christian community received and forged its identity from its development of the Bible to the present day.
  • Covers topics fundamental to understanding the course of Western Christianity, including the growth of the papacy, heresy and schism, reformation and counter-reformation.
  • Includes an introduction to the historiography of Christianity, a note on the problems of periodization, an appendix on theological terms, and a useful bibliography.
  • An authoritative yet succinct history, written to appeal to a general audience as well as students of the history of Christianity.
  • Written by internationally regarded theologian, Carter Lindberg, who is the author of numerous titles on theology and Church history.
See More
"There is much to praise here. Lindberg manages to explore many key events, issues, people and developments in a very concise manner. The text is very strong on theology and institutions with helpful historical context. I particularly appreciated the attention to Roman Catholicism as well as Protestantism in the modern period. The book is brief, but the history of Christianity is vividly portrayed here in all of its drama and complexity." Jeff Tyler, Hope College

"This is a wonderful book: accessible, concise, clearly written, and thoroughly absorbing. Lindberg has chosen to present the Christian tradition through the history of its principal ideas, but these ideas are grounded in the flesh-and-blood reality of persons, their struggles for faith and for power, and the social and political worlds they inhabited. Reflecting the author’s erudition and wit, this cogent distillation of a complex past will serve beginners as an ideal introduction and old hands as a thought-provoking synthesis." Christopher Elwood, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

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