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Since the day he discovered what he calls "the whole mystical, historical massiveness of a church that had been around for 2000 years," Chris Armstrong has had a passion for connecting modern Christians with their roots. (See his past articles "When Theology Comes Alive" and "Top Ten Reasons to Read Christian History".) A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Duke University, Chris served as the managing editor of Christian History & Biography
for almost three years before taking his historical enthusiasm into the classroom. He is now associate professor of Christian history at Bethel Seminary in Minnesota. Chris will be sharing his passion with us in what we hope will become a regular online feature, "Grateful to the Dead."

Dear folks,

Lately my days have been taken up with preparing a book and a course titled "Patron (and Matron) Saints" for Postmoderns (see my blog, deadchristianssociety.blog.com). The book, course, and blog feature the lives of Gregory the Great, Margery Kempe, John Comenius, John Newton, Charles Simeon, Amanda Berry Smith, Charles M. Sheldon, and Dorothy L. Sayers.

So the question has haunted me: "Why should Christians today read biographies of 'dead Christians' from ages past?"

One particularly forceful answer has hit me from (what some evangelicals might consider) "left field"—the young movement of Emergent Christian thinkers and leaders.

Emergents are folks dissatisfied with the way a lot of evangelicals have been doing church, and they are exploring and suggesting alternatives. From the Emergents' perspective, the church today has become culturally stale and bland—speaking an out-of-touch conservative language to a post-Christian generation of young people who have never ...

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