Adolf von Harnack

(1851-1930)

Harnack believed that the church had so obscured Jesus's message, only a ruthless criticism could possibly uncover it. Layer by layer, he peeled back church doctrines—ideas like the Resurrection, Christ's divinity, and the inspiration of Scripture—to find "the Gospel in the Gospel." Harnack's father believed his son had undermined Christianity altogether, and many of Harnack's peers agreed. For decades, though, his What is Christianity? was considered the definitive statement of liberal Protestantism.

Georges Florovsky

(1893-1979)

Because Florovsky, a native Russian, worked from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, it took awhile for his thought to impact of the West. Yet his insistence on finding meaning in history and his emphasis on the continuing relevance of the church fathers combined to form a unique, and now influential, theology of history. "[P]recisely because history was apprehended as 'God's history,'" he wrote, "the 'history of man' was made possible."

Roland Bainton

(1894-1984)

& Heiko Oberman

(1930-2001)

In Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, Bainton focuses on the Reformer's convictions: "Luther's principles in religion and ethics alike must constantly be borne in mind if he is not at times to appear unintelligible and even petty." Oberman makes more of context in his Luther: Man Between God and the Devil: "Luther is to be regarded not so much as a lonely prophet—let alone as the Hercules of the humanists—but as a leading member of the Wittenberg team which, in keeping with the motto of the university, initiated its program 'in the name of St. Paul and St. Augustine.'" Both books are essential reading on Luther, as both authors (in these books and in other work) contributed mightily to ...

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