Historians And Christianity

A Christian View of History?, edited by George Marsden and Frank Roberts (Eerdmans, 1975, 201 pp., $4.50 pb), is reviewed by Kenneth W. Shipps, assistant professor of history, Trinity College, Deerfield, Illinois.

What introductory book on the numerous relations between history and Christianity could evangelical Christians read with ease? Beyond the thought-provoking but sketchy essays of John Warwick Montgomery, this vast field has lain fallow. Evangelicals have finally produced a book worthy of the subject, edited by Professors Marsden and Roberts of Calvin College. The essays contained in this volume raise crucial questions, offer some suggested answers, and collect a manageable bibliography of what historians, theologians, and philosophers have written since 1945. The Christian historians who have undertaken this task deserve much praise, as does Eerdmans for publishing their efforts.

Professor Roberts introduces the volume. He notices the need for the student and the scholar to relate Christianity and history. He goes on to affirm the orthodox Protestant perspective of the authors and their attempt to eschew overconfident or overdiffident tendencies in previous Christian approaches to history. He states that the authors have a moderate stance: “While retaining an awareness of the complexity and ambiguity of history, they are unwilling to view human activity as chaotic and under the control of demonic powers. Nor are they willing to accept as valid the observation that Christian commitment must undermine sound scholarship. At the same time, however, they are hesitant to claim the hand of God or the forces of good and evil are easily identified within history.”

After the introduction, the book ...

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