How to Write a Church History Paper

I started my first church history class with absolutely no understanding of church history. I was still trying to grasp the very basics of Christianity, nevermind the various expressions of Christianity over hundreds and hundreds of years. The only thing I remember from the lectures was finally grasping the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. When it came time to write my paper, I cried and agonized over it so much that I went to the school counsellor to ask if my frustrations were normal.

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The Development of Theology: A Review of J.N.D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines

Like many parents today, I am fighting what seems to be a losing battle with my kids, trying to keep them from the wonders of technology. Whether it’s on-demand shows or games and apps on the iPad, my kids live in a world where they can take all this technological entertainment for granted. I, on the other hand, clearly remember coding on my Apple II and waiting for cartoons to come on at a certain time of the week. Having experienced the development of technology over the past three decades, I have a much deeper appreciation of current technology, and, I hope, a wiser approach as to how to best use it.

In many ways, Christians today can be no different than my kids. They might be aware of their church’s Statement of Faith. They might even recite the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed in a church service from time to time. But for so many, these truths are something they take for granted, a theological package they’ve been handed, which they no idea where it has come from.

It is in this context that J.N.D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines [1] is so helpful. Continue reading “The Development of Theology: A Review of J.N.D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines”

Gateway to Paradise: Medieval and Renaissance Views of Baptism

The transition between the Medieval and Renaissance eras was volatile for the disciplines of theology and philosophy with the events of the Protestant Reformation contributing to the debate from a parallel plain as well. On the eve of this season of change, it is not surprising to see Catholic theology and the highest form of art mingling into one – especially in the city of Florence, Italy. It was there that in 1425, sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) began a 27-year-long endeavor to craft the “Gates of Paradise.” Completed in 1452, the enormous work was created specifically to become the monumental doors of the Florentine Baptistery. While the doors themselves are a magnificent bronze casting containing ten panels that depict various characters and scenes from the Old Testament, the work is widely hailed as a revolution in visual perspective leavng behind the flat, two-dimensional medieval style in favor of robust realism. However, what it did not leave behind was the equally robust doctrine of the supremacy of baptism in the Medieval Era.

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“Karli” and Kids Music

Karl Barth was a complex figure. He’s always had a tenuous relationship with evangelicals. In fact, this site derives its name in part from a simultaneously hostile and humorous conversation between Barth and evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry. As recent research has confirmed, Karl Barth was no perfect man.[1] He harbored sin in his life and attempted to justify it to avoid repentance (as we are all prone to do). But he also made significant contributions to Protestant theology, many of which helped steer a new course away from liberalism and toward a renewed appreciation for Christ and Scripture. If you view theological liberalism and traditional evangelical theology as a road trip from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Barth gets you all the way to about Jackson, Mississippi. His theological program has much to commend and leaves much to be desired.

But this post is not focused on Barth the adult or Barth the theologian. Rather, it will look at Karl Barth the child, “Karli” as his parents called him. As Mark Galli points out in his new book Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals, young Karl had a mean-streak in him that led to his share of fight fights. But alongside this proclivity to confrontation, Karli was captivated by music. He first heard Mozart at age 5 or 6 and was gripped from then on. But Mozart was not the watershed musician for young Barth; his mother was. Continue reading ““Karli” and Kids Music”

Patrick of Ireland: Prepared to Proclaim

Guest Post by John Morrison

While “a young man, almost a beardless boy,” Patrick (c. 389-c.461) was abducted from his father’s villa in Britain by a band of Irish raiders who would sell him as a slave in their native land. While enslaved, Patrick would come to faith in Christ, and he would eventually escape back to his home in Britain. However, he would not stay home. He returned to the land of his captivity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through his missionary efforts, the gospel would gain a foothold in Ireland. Continue reading “Patrick of Ireland: Prepared to Proclaim”

Lesslie Newbigin on the Mission of the Triune God

James Edward Lesslie Newbigin (1909–98), born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, was converted to Christianity during his university years at Cambridge, ordained a minister of the Church of Scotland in 1936, commissioned as a missionary (with wife Helen) to India the same year, and spent nearly 40 years on the mission field, where he served as bishop of Madurai, India for over a decade. Newbigin returned to England at the age of 66 to teach at Selly Oaks College in Birmingham, and then took a pastorate five years later at in small congregation of the United Reformed Church (UK).

Lesslie Newbigin was a missionary, theologian, author, and pastor. He was an endearing man with a gregarious personality. Newbigin loved to tell jokes, “Did you hear the one about John Baillie and Karl Barth?” his friend Rev. Dan Beeby recalled. He also had an adventurous spirit. When Newbigin left the mission field, he made his return journey with wife Helen from Madurai to Bromely (through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey) toting only two suitcases and a rucksack, hitchhiking and bussing their way from south-central India to southeast London. Continue reading “Lesslie Newbigin on the Mission of the Triune God”

When You Don’t Feel Like Going to Church: The Puritans on Worshipping Together

In highschool, Sundays were my favorite days. If I had to miss school or a hangout with friends, I would be disappointed, but if I had to miss church, I felt off for the whole week. I loved hearing the message, singing our songs, eating a big lunch, and laying around in someone’s living room talking about anything. And when Sunday was over, I couldn’t wait until the next one.

Years later in university, Sundays became my least favorite day. I started taking medication that made me sick from Saturday to Monday, and going to church became the time I had to pretend to be happy when all I felt was depressed. On Saturday nights I dreaded the next morning, and on Sunday nights I fell asleep happy. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to get back to where I was.

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