The announcement of Christianity Today's annual book awards calls attention to some important new contributions in Christian history. Two books on historical topics made the top 10, and two more followed close behind.Saint Augustine by Garry Wills (Viking) took top honors in the history/biography category. Challenging assumptions made by readers who feel they know Augustine based on his famous Confessions (which Wills argues should be translated The Testimony instead), this book explores what Augustine believed and what those beliefs meant to him and to the church at large. Wills, a professor at Northwestern University who won a Pulitzer for Lincoln at Gettysburg, describes Augustine as "a tireless seeker, never satisfied" yet also a man who knew his intellect could never fully penetrate the mysteries of God.The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform by Roger Olson (Intervarsity) won in the theology/ethics category, but its focus is thoroughly historical. Olson, a professor of theology at Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University, delivers on his promise to tell the story of theology. He introduces us to the main characters, the setting, and the plot of each theological controversy through the ages, then explains what difference it all makes. Best of all, nonspecialists can actually understand this stuff.Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President by Allen C. Guelzo (Eerdmans) earned the history/biography award of merit. A professor of history at Eastern College, Guelzo endeavors to place Lincoln in his historical context—a time of competing ideas about economics, religion, politics, civil rights, and the very identity of the United States. Guelzo finds his approach unique and necessary, as most people have "difficulty in beholding Lincoln as a man of ideas … [or] conceding that the American republic has any intellectual history at all."The New Millennium Manual: A Once and Future Guide by Robert G. Clouse, Robert N. Hosack, and Richard V. Pierard (Baker) didn't make CT's published list but finished third in the history/biography voting. Released during the pre-Y2K flurry, this is the most informative—and entertaining—book available on the end times.
Mark Galli is Editor of Christian History and Books Editor of Christianity Today. Elesha Coffman is Assistant Editor of Christian History.
More Christian History, including a listing of events that occurred this week in the church's past, is available at ChristianHistory.net. We also strongly encourage you to subscribe to the quarterly print magazine. See the list of Christianity Today Book Awards here.Christian History Corner appears every Friday at ChristianityToday.com. Previous Christian History Corners include:The Original 'Charitable Choice' Program | Transferring authority over Native Americans from the military to the church was a nice idea, but it failed. (Apr. 7, 2000) Donne on Death | Poet John Donne's "morbid tendencies" were neither unfounded nor without an attendant hope. (Mar. 31, 2000) Heaven Can't Wait | Mass suicides, like last week's in Uganda, may be a newer tactic, but the temptation to predict, even force, the coming of kingdom bliss is not. (Mar. 24, 2000) Forgive and Remember | Pope John Paul II's apology was unprecedented, but not entirely unique. (Mar. 17, 2000) Modernism's Moses | Harry Emerson Fosdick, one of the century's most controversial Christians, devoted much of his life to fighting fundamentalism. (Mar. 10, 2000) The Man They Made a Monkey | William Jennings Bryan won the battle but lost the war against teaching evolution in the schools. (Mar. 10, 2000) Guess Who? | Can you identify the most influential Christians of the twentieth century? (Feb. 29, 2000) An Ambitious Aboltionist Account | In Tim Stafford's novel Stamp of Glory, the main character is a movement. (Feb. 18, 2000)
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