Thirty years ago, evangelical Christians could claim perhaps one prominent American historian. Today, it's easy to name half a dozen well-known scholars. Dozens of self-consciously evangelical professors and graduate students all but guarantee that the next generation of historians will have a strong Christian presence. For Christians anxious to win respect in academia, the field of history tells a story of success. But so what? To succeed, some would ask, must you sell your soul? Must you agree not to mention God except as an abstraction?

The debate began in 1991, when Yale's Harry Stout, a prominent evangelical, published a biography of revivalist George Whitefield. Stout emphasized Whitefield's use of techniques to influence crowds, an emphasis that went exactly opposite the traditional Christian notion that Whitefield depended entirely on the work of the Holy Spirit to convert sinners. Stout's portrait scandalized some, particularly readers of the conservative Calvinist Banner of Truth magazine. Iain H. Murray, editorial director of the Banner of Truth Trust, wrote that Stout's portrait of Whitefield was "barely recognizable" and that Stout (and others of a "new approach to evangelical history") had failed to write history from "the standpoint of supernaturalism."

Stout responded to the criticism, writing in Banner of Truth that professional historians "agree to settle for something less than ultimate explanations," and that the academic "canons of evidence and interpretation" leave no room for notions of providence and the work of the Holy Spirit. Westminster Seminary historian D. G. Hart (to whom I am indebted for an account of the fracas) summed up the crime in mock horror: Stout "was guilty of saying that in good history, that is, history practiced by university professors, such questions did not seem to matter."

Banner of Truth's reaction was undoubtedly parallel to that of many a Christian exposed to historical scholarship, whether in a class on biblical studies or a course on the founding of America. Where is God in history? Historians seem resolutely skeptical whenever acts of God are mentioned, and they are nearly as doubtful of religious motivations. Historians seem determined to tell the story of the world without recourse to "the God hypothesis."

And the same questions that Christians have posed to secular historians are now being posed to the best-known evangelical historians, who have become major players in the American academy by writing history like their secular counterparts. If Christian historians write history like everyone else, what is their value?

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The pioneers

I have met many scholars whose offices shamelessly display an infatuation with books, but Mark Noll may be the limit. When I interviewed him in his office at Wheaton College, he had so many books and papers stacked up that they formed a small wall across the front of his desk, making it necessary to talk to him as though through a cashier's window. Tall, cautious in demeanor, Noll seemed uncomfortable speaking about himself. Only when we began to discuss history did his energy level rise.

Noll had just completed what some would consider a revolutionary role, being the first to fill a new position at Harvard Divinity School dedicated to evangelical scholarship. The confluence of proud Harvard with devout Wheaton, best known for its famous graduate Billy Graham, suggested an unprecedented acceptance of evangelical scholarship. Noll modestly downplayed the honor. "As I tried to tell the [Harvard Divinity] dean, having a historian come in is pretty safe. When they get a biblical scholar who says two-thirds of the last century's practice of New Testament criticism is worthless, then it's going to be more interesting."

In the estimate of Alan Wolfe, the Boston University sociologist writing in the October 2000 Atlantic Monthly, "Of all America's religious traditions, evangelical Protestantism, at least in its 20th-century conservative forms, ranks dead last in intellectual stature." For reasons detailed in George Marsden's The Soul of the American University, the late 19th and early 20th centuries relegated Christianity to the fringe of university life; and evangelicals have been ambivalent about wanting back in. Christian colleges and Bible schools were built not so much to compete with mainstream universities as to provide an alternative—and, often, a refuge. Meanwhile, universities became richer, bigger, more dominant in American intellectual life, all without much Christian input.

Thirty years ago, the late Timothy Smith was one of the very few "name" historians—perhaps the only one—who unabashedly showed his evangelical colors. Smith managed the improbable combination of teaching history at Johns Hopkins while pastoring a sizable Nazarene church in Boston. No Christian tradition can be more out of synchrony with academia than Nazarene holiness, and few subjects less appealing to university scholars than revivalism, but Smith's 1957 book, Revivalism and Social Reform, became a standard work. For many of today's evangelical historians, Smith was the first role model. He showed that it was possible to succeed without losing your Christian identity or enthusiasm.

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Smith was one of a kind, however, a sometimes cranky individualist. Marsden has a different temperament—patient, understated—that enabled him, more than any other single individual, to nurture a new generation of scholars. Marsden grew up in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, went to seminary at Westminster in Philadelphia, and became fascinated by the question of how his family's kind of faith had become so out of sorts with the American mainstream. He took it as his Christian vocation to answer that, and in so doing to help the church understand itself better.

The quest took him to Yale for graduate school. Though Yale was (and is) one of the preeminent places to study American church history, Marsden didn't find anyone interested in the offbeat questions he was asking. He pursued them doggedly nonetheless as he moved to Calvin College in 1965 to teach. Fifteen years later he published his seminal work, Fundamentalism and American Culture.

His choice of Calvin would turn out to be important, for Calvin was not typical of evangelical church-related schools in the Midwest. Sponsored by the ethnically Dutch Christian Reformed denomination, Calvin revered the memory of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian and statesman who led the government of Holland in the first years of the 20th century. Kuyper advocated distinctively Christian leadership in every realm, including politics. Following him, Calvin College nurtured an aggressive confidence vis-à-vis the world, and a strong interest in the life of the mind. While Marsden was there, the college managed to nurture a remarkable constellation of scholars, including Nicholas Wolterstorff and Alvin Plantinga in philosophy, and Harry Stout and Dale Van Kley in history.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter was elected President, and the Moral Majority emerged as a political force. Suddenly the American mainstream, which had been no more interested in fundamentalism than in snake-handling, became very interested in understanding conservative American Christianity. It would fall to Marsden to explain fundamentalism as an internally consistent tradition with deep roots in the American experience. Without particularly intending it, he found a voice in the larger world.

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Adventurous young scholars

Marsden's success would not be in isolation. In the late 1970s, more than ten years into his teaching career, he took leave from Calvin College for a year at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. It happened that Noll had just started his first teaching job at the college there.

During that year Marsden sat down for coffee once a week with Noll and theologian David Wells. "I consider that my real graduate education," Noll says. "Both of them seemed at ease with being academics and Christians, yet very serious. The curse of coffee-room chitchat had not got to them."

Noll soon moved to Wheaton College, which had its own adventurous spirit toward the world—one more entrepreneurial and organizational than Calvin's. Noll had attended Wheaton as an undergraduate, and one of his former classmates was Nathan Hatch, who had gone on to do postdoctoral work with Timothy Smith and now taught history at Notre Dame.

Hatch and Noll were pursuing related topics in 18th-century American religious history, and as they reignited their friendship they found other ways to work together. Hatch was a born administrator, and he helped Noll organize a Wheaton symposium on "The Bible in America," using money from the Lilly Endowment.

Richard Mouw, provost at Fuller Seminary and one of Marsden's former colleagues at Calvin, has a theory that evangelical scholars thrived in history and philosophy because biblical and theological studies had become so polarized. The best minds looked for areas where they could work without being constantly shot at. The conference on "The Bible in America" would bear out that theory. While theologians were waging "The Battle for the Bible" over inerrancy (at Christianity Today, among other places), Marsden, Hatch, and Noll thought a great many interesting questions were being overlooked, such as "How does the Bible actually get used?" The conference was a huge success, drawing a wide cross-section of scholars from various traditions. Oxford University Press published a book based on conference presentations, and Newsweek virtually paraphrased it for a cover story, according to Stout.

Most importantly, the Lilly Endowment was so impressed that it inquired about establishing some kind of permanent venture. Noll and Hatch created the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals (ISAE), headquartered at Wheaton. They got one of Marsden's former students, Joel Carpenter, to lead it. The ISAE began to sponsor a series of conferences, most notably an annual summer event that, for more than 15 years, has served as a summer retreat for historians and their families.

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They became a tight-knit group: Marsden (now at Notre Dame), Noll and Hatch (now provost of Notre Dame), Stout (Yale), Grant Wacker (Duke), Carpenter (now provost of Calvin), and the late George Rawlyk, a Canadian, among others.

"Those connections have been far and away the most important intellectual and personal connections in my life," Noll says. He found what he calls a "Reformed approach to the life of the mind, which would mean working at what you work at for its intrinsic benefit, rather than for what extrinsic uses can be made of it, such as spreading the gospel."

It was a good recipe: lively evangelical traditions, adventurous young scholars, a constant exchange of ideas through conferences, and the money to make it all possible. The Pew Charitable Trusts joined Lilly in sponsoring ISAE projects, and eventually founded the Pew Evangelical Scholars program at Notre Dame, which funds scholarly research in a variety of fields. "The group of Christian intellectuals we have now was unimaginable 50 years ago," Calvin's Ronald Wells says.

Ordinary vs. providential

But what about God? Asked about the anti-supernaturalism of history, Noll made a distinction between what he called "ordinary" and "providential" history. Ordinary history, he said, limits itself to "evidence and causes and effects that almost everyone can be convinced might have taken place." While ordinary history might look quite secular, Noll sees it as fundamentally Christian in its presuppositions and worldview. He compared it to science. Christian scientists do their work with confidence because they believe that the world will make sense, and that God has made it possible for the human mind to understand the world.

So with the historian. "If I want to study the history of the American Revolution, I'm presupposing that something real took place, that the evidence left corresponds in some way to what really took place, that I'm intelligent enough to understand that evidence, that I'm able to put together a plausible explanation of cause and effect that might get us close to the truth," Noll said. "All those enterprises I see as implicitly dependent on a Christian view of God."

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Noll seemed to imply that ordinary history, while it depended on God, would never have much to say about God. For as soon as someone contended that God had acted in a particular way, the subject would be too contentious to hope for general agreement.

I asked, therefore, about what Noll called "providential" history—history that assumed God's goodness to be at work in history and attempted to trace it. Noll resisted such an approach, saying he believed good providential history could be done, but that he has yet to see good examples of it. Providential history only made sense to "people who already shared your very specific religious position. If someone said the Reformation was God's way of bringing about a reform in the church, I knew that person wasn't a Catholic."

Noll's feelings stem partly from his early research in American history, when he studied how Christian ministers justified the Revolutionary War in their preaching. Most often they spoke of the Revolution as, literally, God's work. "When I really got into it, I came to the conclusion that this was hopeless, bogus. If you use Christian standards, it is very hard to say God brought the Revolution." American patriots painted England as the ultimate in godless tyranny, and drew parallels with the biblical escape from Egypt. Such arguments were nonsense, Noll says.

Noll warns that providential history must be driven by the best possible theology, which focuses on the Cross. "Very strange reversals take place in the Christian story focused on the Cross. The Christ is crucified. Good appears to fail. The monuments of historical goodness—Roman order, Jewish morality—conspire to do unspeakable evil. Good things come out of hopeless situations. Things that are not supposed to happen—the resurrection of the dead—happen, and happen at the center of the universe. If you think Christian theology has a lot of built-in reversals in it, then interpreting events becomes more complicated and not less."

D. G. Hart carried such thoughts even further in his essay, "History in Search of Meaning."

"The development of human history has direction, purpose, and meaning. Almost everyone [writing Christian history] agrees about this," Hart wrote. "The difficulty comes in trying to identify this meaning. What does it mean to say that God was in control of the 1992 United States presidential election. … ? When you go from the sublime of the kingdom of God to the ridiculous of U.S. politics, you encounter the difficult situation of trying to make a direct connection between the two. … In fact, the doctrine of providence teaches that God is at work in everything, both good and not so good. But to determine what God intended by a particular event is another matter altogether."

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The trouble with these points of view is that they seem to treat the meaning of history with a shrug. Indeed, historians are far more comfortable sticking to the mundane: what happened where and when. A Christian, though, is bound to say that God is at work in history, and that he has revealed in Scripture some of what his work is about. There is no possibility of building an airtight wall between theology and the things a historian can know.

The 'perhaps' of history

I went looking for a professional historian to defend providential history, and found that while theory is one thing, practice is another. Plenty of historians want to affirm that God is at work in history, but practically nobody wants to say exactly how.

The closest I found was Richard Lovelace, who has taken a lifelong interest in appropriating the spiritual wisdom of the Puritans. Lovelace says you need to go beyond history to fully grasp his subject. "Puritanism was a renewal movement. You can't deal with Whitefield or [Jonathan] Edwards from a purely academic standpoint," he says.

"I don't say that theological and spiritual insight is absent in Marsden. It's muted, and I would say appropriately quiet," Lovelace says. "We need people like Marsden to give us a set of snapshots of our movements that are not loaded in our favor, that are not artificially highlighted. You know yourself that you get irritated when you listen to news that is slanted. You wish for the ideal CNN in the sky that will give you 'just the facts, Ma'am.'. … I wouldn't want to criticize Marsden or Noll for being academicized. I use Marsden all the time when I'm teaching. You simply write differently if you are, on the one hand, an academic historian and on the other hand, if you are writing a historical theology of Christian experience. [A spiritual theologian] is going to have to come down and say, Was it Christian or not? Was it renewal, or was it a blind alley that led nowhere?"

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But of course, such theological interpretations don't have much of an audience among historians.

Seeking further insight, I talked to N. T. Wright, who works on the borderline between theology and history. Wright's field is the New Testament, but he has insisted that the best historical methodology be brought to its study. Of course, from evangelicals' point of view, historical methodologies applied to the Bible have often proved disastrous, resulting in a gospel story stripped of the supernatural.

I reached Wright at his study in Westminster Abbey, where he is a canon. When I asked what he thought about the possibility of finding God and his work through the historical method, it was as though I had pushed the "play" button: a long, ragged, and excited commentary came out.

Wright began by pointing out that my question was a version of the long-contested discussion of natural theology, "looking at the world [apart from] specific revelation in Jesus and the Bible and seeing what you can deduce about God from that. That is notorious in theology as an absolute minefield." Catholics, Wright said, have tended to be optimistic about finding God in the world of nature and human life, while Protestants typically stress the power of sin to mar the human capacity to see clearly, and warn that "if you start looking at nature and deducing God from it, what you get is an idol."

Scripture itself indicates that God's work in history is hard to read, Wright said.

"The prophets are constantly saying from Abraham through to Jesus, 'This is what God is doing in your midst. Why are you so blind? Why can't you see?' Even within that which is revealed history, sacred history, salvation history, even there you need men and women of God, inspired by the Spirit, to point out to people what is happening. It's not assumed that anyone can go and study history and just read it off. From that, one might well say, if history is so difficult within Israel, what hope have you outside?"

Wright added that many people through the centuries have mistakenly thought they understood what God was doing. One horrible example of Christian history gone wrong: "[New Testament scholar] Gerhard Kittel lecturing in Cambridge in the 1930s wearing Nazi armbands."

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Wright was not quite ready to leave history at agnosticism, though.

"One of the key words [in interpreting history] is Paul's little word perhaps, which he uses in Philemon. … 'Perhaps this is why Onesimus was parted from me for a while, so that you could have him back not just as a slave but as a brother' (Philemon 15). When Christians try to read off what God is doing even in their own situations, such claims always have to carry the word perhaps about with them as a mark of humility and of the necessary reticence of faith. That doesn't mean that such claims can't be made, but that they need to be made with a 'perhaps' which is always inviting God to come in and say, 'Well, actually, no.' "

Crisis point

The Conference on Faith and History is a mostly evangelical organization founded in 1967 with a dual purpose of fostering fellowship between Christian historians and "to encourage evangelical Christian scholars to explore the relationship of their faith to historical studies." Current president William Trollinger, a historian at the University of Dayton, told the CFH annual conference in October 2000 that the organization had reached a crisis point.

Despite the conference's robust numerical growth, the persistent question of what exactly evangelical historians do that is different from non-Christian or nonevangelical historians remained unanswered.

In looking at the organization's own journal, Fides et Historia, Trollinger noted that "when one moves from the articles that deal with the philosophy of history and historiography into the realm of historical research—into the doing of history, as it were—it would be quite logical to conclude that, according to our organization, to have a Christian perspective on history first and foremost means that one chooses religious history for one's topic." That was because nearly all the articles were, in fact, about religious topics.

Indeed, a look at the careers of the best-known evangelical historians makes the same point. Marsden is known for his work in fundamentalism and the decline of religious perspectives in the university. Hatch made his reputation with his book The Democratization of American Christianity. Noll is writing a history of American theology from Edwards to Lincoln. Stout has chronicled the life of evangelist Whitefield. Nearly all the outstanding work is in American religious history, and it is by no means clear that the same topics would be treated differently by non-Christian scholars.

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Marsden, who has written extensively on the subject of Christian scholarship, most notably in The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (1997), points out that Christians tend to be sensitive to the religious dimensions of history. By their selection of topics, they enrich history by bringing out the truly religious character of many events. "Somebody who has some religious sensibility," Marsden notes, "is in a much better position to say, 'Look, these people are driven by their religious commitment.'. … There's a tendency of reductionism in history, to reduce something to some essential cause, [an] economic or social factor. I think it's worth giving religious factors their due. You don't have to be a religious person to do that, but certainly it helps. Most American historians just don't have any antenna for recognizing that."

A case in point is Van Kley's studies of the French Revolution; he argued that both the revolution and the Enlightenment thinking that supported it were a continuation of religious arguments, not a radical departure into secularism. Would he have seen the religious dimension had he not been himself a committed believer? Perhaps not.

True, history has broadened in the last generation, becoming more attentive to factors like race, gender, technology, culture, economics, and religion. Evangelical historians have contributed to that broadening, helping to establish religious faith as an independent variable in history, a force worthy of reflection. They have also brought to light aspects of American history that were caricatured, ignored, and misunderstood—such as Christian fundamentalism.

Searching for distinctives

For all that, some evangelical historians wish for more. Westmont's Shirley Mullen suggests that "we've only begun the work of really thinking, In what sense does being a Christian historian transform our work once we move outside church history? I don't want to sound overly pietistic, but I do think it's a kingdom issue." That is to say, if Christians can't tell the story of the world in a way that's distinctive, how Christian are they?

The longing for a distinctly Christian history is implicit in Marsden's plea that Christians occupy a niche in the academy comparable to that occupied by feminist historians. Calvin's Margaret Bendroth makes the point that feminists are not content to "add women and stir" to history's story, pointing out a forgotten woman here, or adding a female perspective on events there. They seek to see the world through the lens of gender. The challenge for feminist historians, as for Christian historians, is to reach out into the wider world. "Christian scholars who are fundamentally uninterested in mill workers, army sergeants, society matrons, politicians, or policemen—any aspect of human experience—cannot expect a wide audience," Bendroth writes.

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No historian I talked to would claim that such a wide Christian view of history is anything more than a rumor. Often I heard a tone of wistfulness when I raised the issues. Van Kley told me that he feels dissatisfied and constrained with the way he has been able to write history. "Certainly, I couldn't hope to present events or developments as the workings of God in history, causally linked to the will of God, and hope to get a hearing." What Van Kley says he has been able to do is to make his own field "budge."

"I have gotten people to take religion more seriously," he says. "My job has been chipping away at the metanarrative of progress, to make possible a providential view. … Progress and providence are not the same things. I see history as providence; I don't read it as progress." He admits, though, that he has not been able to articulate a providential reading of history in a compelling way.

"The nub of the issue is, how do you talk about God in history in a public university?" says Duke's Grant Wacker. "Does that kind of language have any credibility? If language is likely to repel, or to bemuse, there's no point raising it."

Whether or not they find it comfortable, all evangelical historians find themselves living between two communities. Professionally they are oriented toward the academy. All are students of a rigorous secular training, because you cannot get graduate training in history at any evangelical school. To be in dialogue with peers inevitably means speaking in a secular voice.

And yet evangelical scholars also belong to a church community in which they worship and in which many teach. That community speaks a different language.

There are two challenges here. One is to the evangelical Christian college, which bases its existence on the possibility of providing uniquely Christian learning. The word integration is supposed to describe the process that professors at Christian schools follow, bringing their faith and their learning together into a coherent whole.

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The church's storytellers

In history there is little evidence that this has amounted to much. Ronald Wells told me of several well-known historians who have challenged the possibility of writing Christian history by saying, essentially, "Show me the books. … I see a lot of assertions, but I don't see much material. If you mean Marsden, if you mean Hatch, if you mean Noll, well sure, I know those guys; they're wonderful scholars, but there isn't anything uniquely or particularly Christian about them."

It remains to be seen whether evangelical Christian colleges can take the next step and offer a truly Christian historical education, if that means anything more than offering a larger-than-usual dose of church history.

Whether or not evangelical schools manage to produce Christian history, there will continue to be an evangelical cadre of historians. They face a second challenge: to communicate the value of their work to the church. Hatch is typical when he says, "If there's anything I have tried to give my life to, it's the value of Christian thinking. … The evangelical world is very dynamic, but it's a marketplace of entrepreneurs. … What's going to give it ballast over 50 or 100 years? Can the gospel hold up to people who are the leaders of society? The people who are going to go to the Ivy League, control Time magazine, and so on?" For Hatch, it's essential to have Christian thinkers who provide perspective and depth.

In the end only God is wise enough to write Christian history. Historians must write "perhaps" in tracing God's pathway. Nevertheless, history plays an important role.

Stout, who upset Banner of Truth with his unsupernatural reading of history, doesn't doubt the Christian significance of his work: "I think [my work is] indispensable. I think if the church didn't have people like me, the church would cease to exist. I've often said it; I know it sounds glib, and I don't intend it to be glib, but Christian historians are in the resurrection business. We play a unique role in the church as its collective memory. We aren't theologians or philosophers. Our specialty isn't complicated, abstract words and concepts that you have to furrow your brow and think hard and deep about to understand just what they are saying.

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"We're storytellers. Through the powers of our archival skills that we learn in graduate school, how to locate sources and documents and translate and transcribe them, and through the powers of our imagination, we have the capacity to bring the dead back to life, and at some level to bring them to the table of conversation," Stout says. "In so doing we learn something about the past, to be sure, and I think we learn even more about our present. But I think, most importantly, we are reminded that we are also [the continuance of] many stories that have been part of this Creation from the beginning of time until eternity. In reconstructing those stories, we know we aren't isolated in time and space, that our community of faith isn't something that was invented by us and constructed by us, and therefore can be deconstructed by the next generation, but that it's timeless. If you don't have those storytellers around, it doesn't matter how many theologians you have, or how many philosophers, it doesn't locate us historically. And if Christianity isn't historical, it's nothing."

At its most basic level, the discipline of history provides us with a memory before birth; and it is memory, as Augustine taught, that grants us a conscious (that is to say, human) existence.

Seen this way, history is a God-given task, an inescapable part of being human. Christians might have a special role in at least two ways.

First, because they live in the community of the church, Christian historians are equipped to bring memories to life within the church.

Second, because they are sensible to the power of God, Christian historians are equipped to bring the church's memories to life in the world. They can tell religious stories that a secular culture might just as soon forget, and thus help secular people understand that they are not, in fact, creatures of time and chance.

Evangelical historians have taken a large first step forward, establishing the validity of religious memories. The second step, to tie those memories to everything else, has barely begun.

Tim Stafford is a senior writer for Christianity Today and author of Sisters: A Novel of the Woman Suffrage Movement (Nelson).

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Related Elsewhere

See today's related article by Preston Jones, "How to Serve Time | There is a Christian way to study the past without weakening the truth."

Not only does our magazine's Web site have a special history section and a weekly history column, but our sister publication Books & Culture has another history section. In fact, another of our sister publications, Christian History, is devoted to the subject (and is planning a special issue on historiography).

Those interested in more of the history and practices of the historians profiled in this article may be interested in Maxie Burch's The Evangelical Historians: The Historiography of George Marsden, Nathan Hatch, and Mark Noll. It's now five years old and has Marsden's name misspelled on the cover, but also offers insightful personal and professional histories and analysis of these men.

The Atlantic Monthly's Web site not only offers Alan Wolfe's October 2000 cover story, "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind," but also interview transcripts with Noll, Mouw, Marsden, and literary critic Alan Jacobs.

The Conference on Faith and History site offers more information about the organization and its publication, Fides et Historia.

In one of her recent Christian History Corner columns, Christian History associate editor Elesha Coffman reported that the Conference on Faith and History was experiencing a kind of identity crisis.

Christian Reviews in History: A Journal of Historical Understanding had big plans for being "a new forum for engaging Christian historical discourse," but nothing seems to have come of it.

Mark Noll's "Traditional Christianity and the possibility of historical knowledge" is reprinted from Christian Scholar's Review at the Web site of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

The Graduate & Faculty Ministries of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship offers bibliographies on the integration of faith and scholarship both in general and specifically about history.

Tim Stafford's interest in historiography partly stems from his writing a series of historical novels.

Earlier Tim Stafford articles for and Christianity Today include:

The First Black Liberation Movement | The untold story of the freed slaves who brought Christ—and liberty— to West Africa. An interview with Lamin Sanneh (July 14, 2000)

Taking Back Fresno | Working together, churches are breathing new life into a decaying California city. By Tim Stafford (Mar. 10, 2000)

CT Classic: Ron Sider's Unsettling Crusade | Why does this man irritate so many people? (originally published Apr. 27, 1992; posted online Mar. 13, 2000)

How God Won When Politics Failed | Learning from the abolitionists during a time of political discouragement. (Jan. 28, 2000)

CT Classic: Bethlehem on a Budget | Planning a church budget and the Christmas story share surprising similarities (originally published Dec. 15, 1989; posted online Dec. 23, 1999)

The Business of the Kingdom | Management guru Peter Drucker thinks the future of America is in the hands of churches (Nov. 8, 1999)

Anatomy of a Giver | American Christians are the nation's most generous givers, but we aren't exactly sacrificing. (May 19, 1997)

God's Green Acres | How DeWitt is helping Dunn, Wisconsin, reflect the glory of God's good creation. (June 15, 1998)

God Is in the Blueprints | Our deepest beliefs are reflected in the ways we construct our houses of worship. (Sept. 7, 1998)

The New Theologians | These top scholars are believers who want to speak to the church (Feb. 8, 1999)

The Criminologist Who Discovered Churches | Political scientist John DiIulio followed the data to see what would save America's urban youth. (June 14, 1999)
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Stafford also writes the "Love, Sex, and Real Life" column for Campus Life magazine, another Christianity Today sister publication.

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