ACL's Lyle Shelton writes today in Online Opinion :

Rumours of Christianity’s demise greatly exaggerated

In an age of historical amnesia, it is easy to fall for glib catchphrases like 'religion poisons everything'.

But with the passing of Christopher Hitchens, who coined this phrase in the title of one of his books, a new history of Christianity provides historical context and nuance.

It undermines Hitchens' and other assumptions of the 'new atheists' about the contribution of the most influential religion of the past two millennia.

Following his Short History of the World and Short History of the 20th Century, Australia's greatest living historian, Geoffrey Blainey, tackles the Jesus sect in A Short History of Christianity (Penguin Books, 2011).

Like the previous works, this is accessible history to the layperson (no pun intended).

Blainey writes with perspective and deep understanding that doesn't shoe-horn people and events into the narrow prism within which we make moral judgements today.

Complete article :


Also - In yesterday's Online Opinion, Bill Muehlenberg writes :

Like a seed of the mustard tree

This is another very important and helpful volume by the world-class historian and sociologist of religion Rodney Stark. Stark has already penned a number of volumes on related themes, but here he offers a detailed look at the spread of Christianity over the last two millennia.

This is not a standard history of Christianity, but more of a thematic approach, with each meaty chapter covering important historical, sociological and ecclesiastical topics. Those already aware of his earlier works will find some familiar territory here, but there are a number of new issues covered as well.

He demolishes a number of widely held myths along the way, and backs up his impressive array of knowledge with prodigious amounts of research. He has done his homework quite carefully, and is fully abreast of contemporary scholarship and the relevant literature.

Complete article :