Christ’S Challenge To History

Ideas of History, edited by Ronald H. Nash (Dutton, 1969, Volumes 1 and II, 291 and 369 pp., $8.95 each), is reviewed by C. George Fry, assistant professor of history, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.

“From its beginning,” writes Ronald H. Nash, “Christianity has had a special interest in history.” Across twenty centuries—from St. Luke to Kenneth Scott Latourette—Christian historians have confessed with their fellow believers that Jesus Christ is the center of world history. This conviction has not gone unchallenged. Rival philosophies of history have arisen. In the resulting struggle for men’s minds, it has become essential that Christian intellectuals be familiar with the competing and complementary interpretations of the past.

This is no small task. But help has arrived. Ronald H. Nash, head of the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Western Kentucky University, has provided what is indeed “the finest survey of the subject to be published in recent years.” In Ideas of History Dr. Nash has furnished an anthology of significant selections from the major philosophers of history from Augustine to Toynbee, prefacing each excerpt with a fair and penetrating analysis, and following it with excellent suggestions for further reading. The beginner in the field can find no finer introduction and the professional historian, theologian, and philosopher can secure no better summary than this work.

The philosophy of history, Nash explains, has two major divisions: speculative and critical. The speculative dimension is concerned with meaning in history and asks three questions: What is the pattern of history? What is the mechanism of history? and What is the purpose or value of history? Intellectual ...

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