Church History

American Catholic (Book Review)
First Things, November 1997
George McKenna reviews Charles Morris's "American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who built America's Most Powerful Church." This book traces the development of two different trends of Catholicism within America since the mid-ninteenth century.
American Congregations
First Things, January 1996
"American Congregations" (2 vols.) is edited by James P. Wind and James W. Lewis. It is reviewed here by Nancy T. Ammerman. These two volumes offer a look at the place of church congregations in American history.
John Gay
What if God had not chosen Abraham, but rather another man to father God's chosen nation? Would that have changed the way the world views the Jewish race? The answer to this question divulges the true basis of anti-Semitism.
Apologetics and Evangelism
Jimmy Williams
A brief analysis of the relationship of faith and understanding in evangelism, and a look a several ineffective approaches and seven aggressive steps to effective evangelism.
Archeology and the New Testament
Numerous people, places and events described in the New Testament have been verified by archeology.
Archeology and the Old Testament
Pat Zukeran surveys the importance of archaeology with regard to its confirmation of biblical history.
Are the Biblical Documents Reliable?
Jimmy Williams
A brief summary of factors determining whether the manuscript evidence for the Old and New Testament books is sound, or highly embellished and corrupted over time and transmission. How reliable are the texts of both Testaments we now have?
Are the Gospels Mythical?
First Things, April 1996
Are the Gospels mythical? More specifically, is the story of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus more than a story? It has been compared to Greek myths since ancient times to undermine the uniqueness, and thus validity, of Christianity. In order for
Augustine and Pelagius
"What was the core issue between Augustine and Pelagius? The doctrine of original sin, particularly with respect to the question of the extent to which the will of fallen man is 'free.' ...Pelagius categorically denied the doctrine of original sin...."
The Authority of the Bible
Patrick Zukeran
Explores why the Bible is the Word of God, by examining internal evidence (self-proclamation, the Holy Spirit, transforming ability, and unity) and external evidence (indestructibility, archeology, and prophecy).
Awakening at Littleton
First Things, August/September 1999
Bottum takes stock of the fevered media speculation surrounding the Littleton school killings and argues that the death of Cassie Bernall could spark not just a public policy revolution but a spiritual reawakening.
Beyond Blind Faith
Paul E. Little
Is there a man in human history who claimed to be God and backed up those claims? Has any man ever conquered death and risen from the dead? This article looks at the claims and life of Jesus Christ. Who was he? What did he do?
Building Bridges for the Gospel
John Studebaker
In order to effectively communicate the gospel, it is important to build bridges to lost people where they are, by seeking to understand them and share the gospel in a way that is meaningful to THEM rather than to US.
But I Worship God My Own Way.
The Artful Dodger: A Skeptic Confronts Christianity (Chapter 1)
Chapter 1 of Dr. Alan Scholes book. The story of one skeptic's confrontation with Christian beliefs. This chapter examines the questions: "Can't I Just Experience God in Nature?" and "Isn't Everyone a Child of God?"
A Call to Counterrevolution
First Things, January 1996
The Reformation of the church was initiated by a university professor, Martin Luther. Just as Luther effectively disestablished the church, so would later professors remove higher education from the church.
Campus Christianity
Dr. Ray Bohlin
A practical guide for the Christian student to prosper in the faith at college with four principles to last a lifetime.
Can't I Just Live a Good Moral Life?
The Artful Dodger: A Skeptic Confronts Christianity (Chapter 4)
Chapter 4 of Dr. Alan Scholes book. The story of one skeptic's confrontation with Christian beliefs. This chapter examines the questions: "How could God condemn anyone?" "Isn't man basically good?" "What about some who's never heard?"
The Catholic Luther
First Things, March 1996
Some scholars believe that Luther's moment of break with Catholicism came all at once. Others believe that it was something that brewed all of his adult life. The author argues that in the year the split actually occured, Luther was still questioning
The Catholicity of the Reformation
First Things, March 1997
There are two predominant views among Protestants on the relation between the Reformation and Protestantism. This book "The Cathlocity of the Reformation" by editors Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson explores one view. Reviewed by Leonard R. Klein.
The Christian Attitude Toward Non-Christian Religions
Rick Rood
This article discusses the fact of religious pluralism in our age, the origin of non-Christian religions, and the Christian?s attitude toward other religions.
The Christian Canon
Don Closson
This essay gives the reader an introduction to how the Bible came to include the books it currently recognizes as canonical.
The Christian Scholar in the 21st Century
The Real Issue, January/February 2000
Dr. Alister McGrath of Oxford explains the history of evangelicalism in the university and in academic scholarship. He outlines why evangelicalism abandoned the academy in the past and how it can regain a foothold in the university once again.
Connecting With the Divine
Marilyn Adamson
An article that discusses Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and New Age; their main characteristics and perspectives on God, humanity and salvation.
Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century
First Things, November 1996
John Peter Kinney reviews "Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century" by Philip Gleason. The author reviews the movement of Catholic universtities in this century away from their academic roots in Neoscholasticism. T
Contrition in the Age of Spin Control
First Things, November 1997
If the Catholic Church admits past errors over particular incidents, does it in effect undermine its own authority? Should not the Pope publicly confess the Church's historical errors of judgement and action?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Todd Kappelman
Todd Kappelman provides an introduction to the life and thinking of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an important twentieth century martyr who emphasized radical commitment to Jesus Christ.
Do All Paths Lead to the Same Destination?
Keith E. Johnson
Is it possible that Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, etc. represent differing, yet valid, paths to the same destination? This article examines arguments for and against the claim that all paths lead to the same destination.
Do You Believe in Evolution?
The Artful Dodger: A Skeptic Confronts Christianity (Chapter 7)
Chapter 7 of Dr. Alan Scholes book. The story of one skeptic's confrontation with Christian beliefs. This chapter examines the questions: "How can I believe in a literal Adam and Eve?" "Isn't the world millions of years old?"
Does Christianity Work?
ESC Real Life
Josh McDowell's testimony told as an evangelistic piece for college students.
Evangelizing Theory
First Things, March 1996
Up until Vatican II, the Church relied on religious orders to perform its missionary and evangelical functions. Now the Church expects its members as a whole to share in these duties. Catholics still, however, show a great reluctance to share their fait
Galilee Yields Ancient Treasure
Sarah H. Moore
Two modern-day Israeli fishermen find a boat at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. The boat is descriptive of Peter's boat described in the New Testament. [From Jerusalem Christian Review]
Genesis Unbound
Rich Milne
Dr. John Sailhammer argues in his book Genesis Unbound that after Genesis 1:1, the rest of the chapter describes God's creation of the promised land for His chosen people. The earth may be young or old, but in six literal days God created a home for Israel.
God's Chinese Son
First Things, June/July 1996
Christian missionaries had made great advances in China by the 1840's. Then an ambitious Chinese youth, Hong Xiuquan, read the missionaries' tracts and decided that he was also God's son, the younger brother of Jesus. He sought to begin a new dynasty for
Great Books
First Things, January 1997
Book review of "Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World" by David Denby. Reviewed by Saul Rosenberg.
A Harvest of Evangelical Theology
First Things, May 1996
Dogmatics is not a subject one identifies with evangelicals. Reviewer Carl Braaten in this essay sorts through several books that attempt to define dogmas from an evangelical point of view. Despite this common theme, these authors have radically differe
Hinduism: A Christian Perspective
Rick Rood
The history and basic beliefs and practices of Hinduism are discussed as well as a Christian evaluation of Hinduism.
Historical Creeds of the Christian Faith
The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed
Our basis of Christian unity is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are the two earliest universal Christian creeds, accepted as accurate statements of scriptural truth by all three major branches of the church, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant.
History of Vatican II
First Things, November 1996
In this article, George Weigel reviews "History of Vatican II"(2 vols) which is edited by Giuseppe Alberigo. Several contributors convey the story of Vatican II. Documentation includes the preliminaries, the Council itself, and its aftermath. This thor
House Churches: An Annotated Bibliography
An annotated bibliography on the topic of house churches.
How to Know God
Explains how to know God personally.
How to Pick Your Own God
Comparative Religions
An article that looks at the optimal attributes for a God and which religion has a God that we would naturally find attractive.
I'd Like to Know God, but Why do I Need Jesus?
The Artful Dodger: A Skeptic Confronts Christianity (Chapter 3)
Chapter 3 of Dr. Alan Scholes book. The story of one skeptic's confrontation with Christian beliefs. This chapter examines the questions: "Why did Jesus die?" "Why should it make any difference to me?"
In Good Company
First Things, October 1996
In his book "In Good Company: The Church as Polis," Stanley Hauerwas makes several cogent observations regarding the state of Christianity in the modern world. These observations are made within the context of the theological traditions of the West. Th
Is It the Home of Peter?
Raymond E. Marley
"Archaeological, historical and literary evidence all point to the same conclusion: this first century structure was the home of one of Jesus' closest companions and disciples, Simon Peter," said the well-known archaeologist, Prof. Vasillios Tsaferis, while pointing to a series of buildings uncovered at the ancient city of Capernaum. [From Jerusalem Christian Review]
Is It the Palace of King David?
Sarah H. Moore
Recent discoveries and research by Hebrew University archaeologist, Dr. Eilat Mazar, has unveiled convincing evidence that pinpoints the exact location of the palace of King David. [From Jerusalem Christian Review]
Is There a God?
Marilyn Adamson
A discussion of the evidence for God's existence. Simple, straightforward reasons that would lead one to conclude there is a God.
Israel's History Written in Advance
Rich Milne
In the Old Testament, God made many predictions about nations and cities and their fate. With remarkable accuracy, archeology shows that in every case, what God predicted would happen even hundreds of years later, came to pass. That the Jews still exist is an amazing testimony to God's faithfulness even as He judged the nations around them.
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Trinity
Patrick Zukeran
This essay defends the doctrine of the Trinity and teaches Christians how they can refute the basic arguments JW's use to disprove the Trinity.
Jehovah's Witnesses: Witnessing to the Witnesses
Patrick Zukeran
This work gives Christians four simple arguments to use when witnessing to those in the JW organization: the record of false prophecy, the name Jehovah, the Resurrection of of Jesus' body, and the personhood of the Holy Spirit.
Jerusalem Burial Cave Reveals Names, Testimonies of First Christians
Jean Gilman
A first-century catacomb, uncovered by archaeologist P. Bagatti on the Mount of Olives, contains inscriptions clearly indicating its use "by the very first Christians in Jerusalem." [From Jerusalem Christian Review]
Jesus the Christ
Leadership University Special Focus
Leadership University exists to explore the truths about Jesus Christ and the Christian worldview. This special focus pages explores the biblical and historical Jesus, personal stories of those who have accepted Christ's claims, and asks the question "Would You Like To Know Christ Personally?"
Jesus' Claims to be God
Sue Bohlin
This essay was written in response to a friend's request: "Can you tell me where in the Bible Jesus claimed to be God?" Although not an exhaustive list of Christ's claims to be God, this article does cover the major ones. I suggest you read this with a Bible open, as I have not posted all the scriptures listed.
The Jews as the Christians Saw Them
First Things, May 1997
The Holocaust and the founding of the state of Israel were occasions by which Christians were forced to reconsider their relations with Jews. The author reveals the original attitudes about Jews and Judaism that pervaded the early Church.
Looking at the Liturgy
First Things, May 1997
Aidan Nichols explores liturgical reform in the Catholic Church in his book "Looking at the Liturgy: A Critical View of Its Contemporary Form." Reviewd by Jeremy Driscoll.
Love and Saint Augustine
First Things, April 1997
A political theorist's dissertation about St. Augustine's theories on love is the subject of the aptly titled book "Love and St. Augustine" by Hannah Arendt, edited by Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott and Judith Chelius Stark. Reviewed by George McKenna.
Luther and Science
Donald H. Kobe
Modern science developed during the Renaissance and the Reformation. The role of the latter on the development of science has sometimes been said to have been negative. In this paper the views of Martin Luther and his followers toward science, especially astronomy, are examined. Although they have been criticized as being negative and obstructionist, this criticism is without justification.
Mary Through the Centuries
First Things, February 1997
Jaroslav Pelikan is the author of "Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture." It is reviewed by Edward T. Oakes. This book particularly explores Mary's role in the Church's doctrinal development.
Ministering to Muslims
Charles D. Egal
The author has been serving as a missionary in a Muslim country. He has attempted to apply the principles in this article and has found them to be helpful.
More Than Eggs
Leadership University Special Focus
Seeing stores filled with chocolate bunnies, toy chicks and colored eggs reminds us that it is Easter time again. But is there more to this holiday than the pretty bonnets and baskets on a nice spring day? See our special focus on the subject of Easter.
People of the Book: Christian Identity and Literary Culture
First Things, October 1997
Book review of "People of the Book: Christian Identity and Literary Culture," by David Lyle Jefferey. He traces the Bible in the development of many cultures. The Bible is shown to remake culture. Reviewed by Alan Jacobs.
The Persecuted Church
Leadership University Special Focus
Twentieth-century martyrdom and persecution have outstripped that of all other centuries. Who and where are the persecuted Christians? We have put together a Special Focus discussing the
Persecution in the Early Church
Rick Wade surveys the turbulent history of the early church with regard to persecution directed toward Christians and the particular Roman emperors who issued the persecution.
Politically Incorrect Salvation
William Lane Craig
Contemporary religious pluralism regards the traditional Christian doctrine of salvation through Christ alone as unconscionable. The problem seems to be that the existence of an all-loving and all-powerful God seems incompatible with the claim that persons who do not hear and embrace the gospel of salvation through Christ will be damned. Closer analysis reveals the problem to be counterfactual in nature: God could not condemn persons who, though freely rejecting God's sufficient grace for salvation revealed through nature and conscience, would have received His salvific grace mediated through the gospel. In response, it may be pointed out that God's being all-powerful does not guarantee that He can create a world in which all persons freely embrace His salvation and that His being all-loving does not entail that, even if such a world were feasible for Him, God would prefer such a world over a world in which some persons freely reject His salvation. Furthermore, it is possible that God has created a world having an optimal balance between saved and lost and that God has so providentially ordered the world that those who fail to hear the gospel and be saved would not have freely responded affirmatively to it even if they had heard it.
The Politics of Baptism
First Things, December 1996
Bringing baptism to the gentiles was a seminal event in ancient history. The wide spread of Christian thought and practice throughout the Roman Empire ultimately destroyed the division between the patricians and plebians. This class struggle had long sus
The Pope in Germany
First Things, December 1996
Pope John Paul II has made repeated efforts to reach out to the Lutheran Church in ecumenical fashion. This attempted reconciliation is especially relevant in Germany, the birthplace of the Reformation. It remains to be seen how far the Pontiff will go
The Artful Dodger: A Skeptic Confronts Christianity (Preface)
The preface to Dr. Alan Scholes book. The story of one skeptic's confrontation with Christian beliefs.
Probe Answers Our E-Mail: Chester Beatty Manuscripts
Answers the question, 'Is There a Version of the Bible that Agrees with the Chester Beatty Manuscripts?'
Probe Answers Our E-Mail: Old Testament Rip-Off
Answers the question, 'Isn't the Old Testament Just a Rip-Off of Older Tales From Other Cultures?'
Probe Answers Our E-Mail: Should Women Be Pastors?
Answers the question, 'Should Women Be Pastors?'
Probe Answers Our E-Mail: Unknown Jesus
Answers the question, 'Evidence that Jesus Didn't Become the Christ Till Centuries Later?'
Protestant Principle, Catholic Substance
First Things, November 1996
Reformation thought has long been characterized by its anti-rational bent. Does this mode still serve Protestantism in contemporary academia as it did when Scholasticism ruled the universities?
The Public Square: Jews for Jesus, Established A.D. 32
First Things, December 1996
Much controversy surrounded the recent statement by the Southern Baptist Convention on the importance of evangelizing to Jews. Should this be a part of the Christian mission? If so, what means are both appropriate and respectful?
The Public Square: The Taming of the Church
First Things, November 1996
The author eloquently recounts the origins of the English Reformation. He makes clear the issues at stake which separated the English Crown from the Roman Catholic Church. He also ties this history into the current concerns about the relationship betwe
Reaching the World That Has Come to Us
Rick Rood
This article discusses a Christian response to the presence of a half-million international university students in the U.S. each year.
The Real Jesus & The Jesus Quest
First Things, June/July 1996
In this review essay, Richard B. Hays considers two books on the historicity of Jesus: "The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth" by Ben Witherington III and "The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of
Real Life: What it is and Where to find it
ESC Real Life
Three testimonies offering perspective on being a Christian at college.
Recovering Christendom
First Things, November 1997
What is the purpose and history of political theology? That question is addressed in the book " The Desire of the Nations: Rediscovering the Roots of Political Theology" by Oliver O'Donovan. It is given a favorable review here by Gilbert Meilaender.
The Religious Origins of the French Revolution
First Things, February 1997
"The Religious Origins of the French Revolution: From Calvin to the Civil Constitution, 1560-1791" is authored by Dale K. Van Kley. It is reviewed here by Norman Ravitch. Did the Reformation or the Enlightenment lead to the French Revolution?
Robert Graham, S.J.
First Things, June/July 1997
Father Robert Graham, S.J. was a tireless defender of Pope Pius XII against accusations of indifference toward the fate of Jews in World War II. Several years after his death, the Pope became the target of vehement criticism in this regard.
Salvations: Truth and Difference in Religion
First Things, January 1996
"Salvations: Truth and Difference in Religion" was written by S. Mark Helm and reviewed by Paul J. Griffiths. A perennial question for Christianity has to do with the status of other religions and their members.
Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns Through Two Millennia
First Things, June/July 1997
As a comprehensive account of women religious through the ages, "Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns Through Two Millennia" demonstrates the enduring contribution of women to Christian ministry.
A Study of New Testament and Twentieth Century House Churches with Application for Moscow
This paper survey the house church in the first and twentieth centuries. One dynamic is observed in each of these churches -- the various house churches are pragmatic, adapting to their cultures and surroundings wherever they go.
Stunning Answers to the Mystery of Calvary
Benjamin Hartman
Christian-Biblical historian, Prof. Ernest L. Martin, after working with the renowned Jerusalem archaeologist, Prof. Benjamin Mazar, offers a theory on the site of the Crucifixion that differs from the traditional opinions. [From Jerusalem Christian Review]
Talbott's Universalism
William Lane Craig
Thomas Talbott rejects the Free Will Defense against the soteriological problem of evil because (i) it is incoherent to claim that someone could freely and irrevocably reject God, and (ii) in any case, God would not permit such a choice to be made because it would pain the saved. I argue that a Molinist account escapes Talbott's objections. It is possible both that in no world realizable by God do all persons freely accept salvation and that God alone will endure the pain of knowledge of the lost.
Talbott's Universalism Once More
William Lane Craig
In the debate between universalism and particularism, three questions need to be addressed: (I) Has it been shown that it is inconsistent to affirm both that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent and that some persons do not receive Christ and are damned? (II) Can these two affirmations be shown to be consistent? (III) Is it plausible that both affirmations are true? In this on-going debate with Thomas Talbott, I argue that Talbott has failed to show the above affirmations to be inconsistent, that while one cannot prove them to be consistent, it is plausible that they are, and that it is also plausible that both affirmations are in fact true.
The Truth About Jesus
ESC Black History
Charles Gilmer debunks the myth that Christianity is a "white man's religion."
Truth or Tolerance?
Scott Scruggs
There are terrible implications if truth is relative instead of absolute. Tolerance has become the ultimate virtue, especially on university campuses. A Christian response to this alarming trend.
The Untold Story
Jamie Cowen
The author discusses the role of Christian Zionists in the establishment of modern-day Israel.
Using God's Design to Communicate Faith
John Studebaker
We can use evidence of several kinds of God's design to communicate the reasonableness of the Christian faith: the design of the earth, of biological life, of history, and moral design.
We Learned How to Overcome the Adversary in Jesus' Name
Spiritual warfare, or dealing with the demonic, is a topic that is often avoided. Yet it is an ever-present reality for all front-line soldiers in the army of God. Here is one missionary's account of how the Lord led him and his wife into waging battle with the enemy - and triumphing over his deceptive tactics. Their experiences in Indonesia and the United States are crucial for anyone preparing for the ministry.
What Is Islam?
Rick Rood
The history, current status, basic beliefs and practices of Islam are surveyed. Also, a Christian response to Islam is offered.
What's Wrong with Evangelical Theology?
First Things, August/September 1996
As liberal Christianity sought to define itself through human experience (rather than the Bible and doctrine), it lost anything that was distinctively Christian. Evangelical Christians face a similar problem. In his book "No Place for Truth," David Wel
Where Have All Our Heroes Gone?
Ray Cotton
A discussion of the need for heroes with some modern-day examples.
World Hunger
Kerby Anderson
An examination of the causes of world hunger, the culture of poverty, and the Christian ethic in dealing with compassion to try to solve this problem.
The World of the Apostle Paul
Rick Wade
This essay examines different aspects of life in the day of the Apostle Paul: religion, philosophy, the family unity, social morality, and Christians? conflict with the culture.
Jerry Solomon
Jerry Solomon gives an examination of the history and purpose of worship, some contemporary hindrances to worship, and suggestions concerning renewal in corporate worship.
Would You Like to Know God Personally?
The following four principles will help you discover how to know God personally and experience the abundant life He promised.