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1. Mere Christianity
2. Christianity: The First Three
3. What's So Great about Christianity
4. A New Kind of Christianity: Ten
5. Pagan Christianity?: Exploring
6. The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering
7. C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity
8. Hipster Christianity: When Church
9. Christianity and Islam (Classic
10. Story of Christianity: Volume
11. The Lost History of Christianity:
12. Has Christianity Failed You?
13. Basic Christianity (IVP Classics)
14. The Rise of Christianity:How the
15. Lost Christianities: The Battles
16. Classic Christianity: Life's Too
17. Christless Christianity: The Alternative
18. A People's History of Christianity:
19. Christ, Christianity and the Bible
20. The Story of Christianity: Volume

1. Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis
Hardcover: 227 Pages (2001-03-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$15.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060652888
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A forceful and accessible discussion of Christian belief that has become one of the most popular introductions to Christianity and one of the most popular of Lewis’s books. Uncovers common ground upon which all Christians can stand together.Amazon.com Review
In 1943 Great Britain, when hope and the moral fabric ofsociety were threatened by the relentless inhumanity of global war, anOxford don was invited to give a series of radio lectures addressingthe central issues of Christianity. Over half a century after theoriginal lectures, the topic retains it urgency. Expanded into bookform, Mere Christianity never flinches as it sets out arational basis for Christianity and builds an edifice of compassionatemorality atop this foundation. As Mr. Lewis clearly demonstrates,Christianity is not a religion of flitting angels and blind faith, butof free will, an innate sense of justice and the grace of God. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (617)

5-0 out of 5 stars The novel that changed my life
This novel changed the way I acted, spoke, thought, and carried myself every single day. I was turned on to this book by my Younglife leader and I was a little hesitant to read it because of the old English style of writing. I was thoroughly surprised to find that every single sentence had meaningful content to my life. From Christians who are trying to find an amazing read about their religion to the person that is not too sure that there is a God out there, this book will give you knowledge and will provoke your thoughts in a way that you could never have imagined.
The first Book in this novel revolves around such an amazing topic. The first book helps us understand why there is a God. C.S. does an exceptional job in describing God without using the words 'Lord', 'Savior', or 'Father'.C.S. describes God in a way that makes you truly believe in a greater force then the ones we see on Earth. I read this book to find answers to my questions about God and why He does the things He does. I definitely found the answers in this book. It is imperative to take these words from 'Mere Christianity' to heart because knowledge is only useful and meaningful if you put this knowledge into practice. C.S. takes such an unknown and occasionally uncomfortable topic and creates a well organized piece that helps you understand who God is and why you need Him in your life.
This novel makes you think. It creates these thought provoking questions and ideas that you truly have to think about for a couple days. I heard ideas from this book that I had never thought were relevant in my life but I soon found out that they were the centerfolds. C.S. also address the fact that we are human, which we rarely think about. We are all the same and we need God in all the same ways when it comes down to it. C.S. writes with such passion and connects with aspects of our lives, which many books can never do.
This book will make you dive into the parts of your brain that you have never explored before. This book will make you look at the world in a new way. This book will raise your consciousness about Our Creator. This book will help you understand the aspects about God that you question or aspects that you have never heard before. This book will blow your mind but also calm it. This book is an exceptional read strictly because C.S. takes a very controversial, and occasionally awkward topic and creates a novel that puts it in perspective. I strongly recommend this book if you have ever questioned your life or the Lord that created you. C.S. creates another epic classic in Mere Christianity.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to conventional christian thinking.
I'm not a Christian and on a polemical level I didn't find this book to be very persuasive.It contained a lot of after-the-fact reasoning to justify pre-existing beliefs.Of course, the same could be said for almost all books about religion or politics.It is a fairly succinct account on how many Christians think so I can recommend it to people who want to learn more about Christianity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Practical yet Inspiring
There is nothing empty or shallow in CS Lewis' explanation of the truths of Christianity. While expressing idealogogical facts, he using allegorical and practical references throughout this masterpiece. Mr. Lewis is engaging and yet down to earth. He does not elaborate on one set of Christian precepts to the exclusion of others.He covers a wide range of beliefs without bias.
It is clear from his explanations of Christian principles that he has struggled to attain the insight and knowledge to express Christianity with such clarity. I will listen to this CD over and over.....it never loses its originality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible!
One of the best books on Christianity I have ever read.This book was given to me by a former agnostic who is now a Christian and much of the conversion was from this book.C S Lewis somehow manages to give practical reasoning to a subject I thought could only be taken on faith.I highly recommend to anyone who wants answers to questions about Christianity that no one else can answer in such a practical way.

4-0 out of 5 stars Timeless and Practical
I really like the practical analogies that C . S Lewis uses to illustrate otherwised difficult concepts to understand.Even thought it was written more than 60 years ago, his writing stye comes across as warm and illustrates his passion for Christianity. ... Read more

2. Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years
by Diarmaid MacCulloch
Hardcover: 1184 Pages (2010-03-18)
list price: US$45.00 -- used & new: US$16.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0670021261
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of The Reformation returns with the definitive history of Christianity for our time

Once in a generation a historian will redefine his field, producing a book that demands to be read-a product of electrifying scholarship conveyed with commanding skill. Diarmaid MacCulloch's Christianity is such a book. Breathtaking in ambition, it ranges back to the origins of the Hebrew Bible and covers the world, following the three main strands of the Christian faith.

Christianity will teach modern readers things that have been lost in time about how Jesus' message spread and how the New Testament was formed. We follow the Christian story to all corners of the globe, filling in often neglected accounts of conversions and confrontations in Africa and Asia. And we discover the roots of the faith that galvanized America, charting the rise of the evangelical movement from its origins in Germany and England. This book encompasses all of intellectual history-we meet monks and crusaders, heretics and saints, slave traders and abolitionists, and discover Christianity's essential role in driving the enlightenment and the age of exploration, and shaping the course of World War I and World War II.

We are living in a time of tremendous religious awareness, when both believers and non-believers are deeply engaged by questions of religion and tradition, seeking to understand the violence sometimes perpetrated in the name of God. The son of an Anglican clergyman, MacCulloch writes with deep feeling about faith. His last book, The Reformation, was chosen by dozens of publications as Best Book of the Year and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. This awe-inspiring follow-up is a landmark new history of the faith that continues to shape the world.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (47)

2-0 out of 5 stars Good concept, but look elsewhere
The promise of Christianity is a concise 3000 year overview of Christian history. Before opening the book you imagine reading about purges, inquisitions, wars, popes and kings gone bad, saints and sinners. Unfortunately Diarmaid doesn't deliver. Instead you have topics bouncing around all over the place under loose association.

It was so bad I couldn't even finish the book. If your looking for a good history book on Christianity look elsewhere. I've already wasted enough time on this tome doing this review.

Rating (gouge my eyes out, below average, average, above average, more please)
Below Average

Enjoyed: The concept - 3000 years of Christian history in one book

Disliked: Meanders along with ancient theological terms that are not explained nor can be remembered, constructed haphazardly

5-0 out of 5 stars 3000 Year Christianity Review
Very thorough and detailed.It reads like a history textbook so underlining key parts may help for a review to see "the forest" instead of the trees.The book is very objective even when that requires unflattering historical facts.For someone who really wants to understand the history of Christianity I would recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book from one who might be called atheist
First of all, in terms of how I relate to the God of Christianity, I don't - nor any other Deity created in Human image, or in the image of Human fears or desires. That being said, this book is a wonderful compilation of the HISTORY of Christianity!

I was born of a mother who had staunch Catholic parents - she rejected that aspect of Christianity over an argument about unbaptized babies going to Hell. My father was born of parents of the Protestant persuasion (Presbyterian or Methodist). They made me go to church when I was young, although they didn't attend unless it was Easter.

I loved Jesus Christ when I was young, learning of compassion and caring about others including sparrows. I loved (and still do) Christmas where a wonderful person who preached love and compassion was born in a stable, surrounded by a loving mother, her husband, other creatures of this earth and three wise men came to visit. Undoubtedly a myth, yet a nice one.

I left Christianity after an argument I had about the age 13, about a theoretical child that was destined to Hell because he had not accepted Jesus Christ (although he had no opportunity to learn of him). Became, after that, agnostic, deist, atheist.

Don't know where I am now. I bought this book when it first came out and am reading it for the second time after pursuing some of the readings mentioned in the notes ( I was happy to see I had read some already). It's wonderful, thorough, and challenging. I also bought the BBC video which is fantastic.

This is REALLY a good book!

Perhaps one statement of the author in the introduction, where he said he is a "a candid friend of Christianity", made a significant impression. Perhaps I am too, although a skeptic. I would not be insulted or felt left out if a manger scene was was put up in in a public square in my little town at Christmas- as long as EVERYBODY who wanted to could participate - regardless of their religion, sexual preference or political affiliation.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not My Favorite
I bought the book and read it. MacCulloch is thorough, but, I think you would be better off reading "A History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell. Russell deals with MacCulloch's topic but he puts it into better historic context, in my view.

5-0 out of 5 stars On the price issue, irellevent for such an outstanding history
I bought the hardcover for the publishers price of $45.00 so $29.00 was a savings to me. Wish I had only spent $9.00 though. I have an extensive historical library. The attraction of the kindle is the ease with which I can take many of these beloved books on the road. This is not a book of religeous doctrine. Those who want to use it as such would be better served by one of the many inferior books that pass their bias off as serious history. This book is actually serious history. Many "oxes are gored" and it is truly enlightening and fascinating. It belongs on the shelves of any serious student of history as well as any objective christian. ... Read more

3. What's So Great about Christianity
by Dinesh D'Souza
Paperback: 368 Pages (2008-10-24)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$9.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1414326017
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Is it reasonable to have faith in God? Can intelligent, educated people really believe what the Bible says? Or do the atheists have it right—has Christianity been disproven by science and discredited as a guide to morality? Best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza (The Enemy at Home; What's So Great about America) responds head-on to the anti-God arguments of prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens and defeats them on their own terms. What's So Great about Christianity provides believers with a straightforward tool kit for meeting the challenge of modern atheism and secularism; for nonbelievers, it offers a compelling apologetic that will challenge their assumptions and affirm that there really is something great about Christianity. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (200)

5-0 out of 5 stars Religious Or Not, A Powerful Read
This book is fantastic. I am Christian, but this book is incredible for anyone. It may not make an atheist a believer, and if you try to use it against an atheist they may say they are unmoved but I am sure deep down it will trigger some thoughts. It's truly incredible and while not everything inside may be agreed by all Christians, even the things I didn't agree with were an interesting point of view for consideration but I agreed with about 99% of this book. The rest was still good stuff and I learned things too. I understand things in the Bible that I didn't even realize like the Big Bang may have been mentioned in Genesis, an argument for evolution, and other things. Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Atheist, this is for thinkers. Use an open mind or not, this is simply a truly wonderful read that will make you continue reading chapter after chapter and when you go to bed you will be thinking about it all night.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The book is excellent. Ihave ordered 30 copies in the last month and all were delivered within the 2 day delivery requested. I just ordered another 10 copies, and delivery will be 20+ days instead of the 2 to 3 days specified. Why offer such quick delivery but take 20 days ?

5-0 out of 5 stars A Solid Contribution to Apologetics
'What's So Great About Christianity' is a strong refutation of the high profile 'new atheists'.

These newer atheists such as Hitchens, Dawkins, etc. bring a 'missionary zeal' to their unbelief.Whereas those unbelievers of years past were content to fight public policy issues, these more radical of their brethren attempt to make theists and specifically Christians look like idiots.They are actively trying to indoctrinate the youth into their un-'belief system'.

Dinesh D'Souza does a stellar job of taking on these arguments in a number of ways.These include philosophical, scientific, and historical arguments.He not only shows why Christianity is a reasonable position, he also makes the case for why it is good for society.

The author is very knowledgeable in wide variety of topics.Some of the areas in which he particularly excels in this book include:the argument from design including the anthropic principle, the problem of evil, the limits of science, the problem with scientists ignoring evidence based upon their presuppositions, and the limits of reason.

Two of his arguments that demonstrate problems for the atheistic arguments are the evidence for a beginning of the universe (in comparison to the claim that it has existed forever) and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.He also does a great job in arguing for the possibility of miracles and the reasonableness of faith (including demonstrating how everyone operates on the basis of faith on a daily basis in many areas). He also does a great job of showing how 'the greatest idea of modern science is based not on reason but on faith'.This section is very powerful as well as indisputable.It is 'the presumption, quite impossible to prove, that the universe is rational.'

One area that is pretty weak is D'Souza's support for theistic evolution.He tries to argue in support of evolution, but against Darwinism.He does not make his case for this well.

In spite of that, this is a superb book.It should be read by Christians, skeptics, seekers, and atheists.It is a scholarly work that is excellent overall.

5-0 out of 5 stars "What's So Great about Christianity"
Dinesh D'Souza has a special gift for clarity in writing for ordinary readers.
I especially appreciate his method of sectioning the subjects, and indexing for easy reference.

As to the content - I am equally amazed at his insight, cleverness and bravery.
I very much hope he continues to write on the subject of Christianity. It is desperately needed.Not since C.S. Lewis have we had such an effective champion.

Mary W. Bentley

5-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
As an agnostic who is not sympathetic with either the religious right or the collectivist left, I didn't think I would enjoy this book. I put off reading it for a year and a half.

Having finally read it, I was surprised by a few positions:

1. There is no God versus Science hostility. Christians, according to Dinesh, accept science and even embrace it.

2. Christians do not want to impose their religion on others - Christians do not see the government as having a mandate to impose religious belief on individuals. Dinesh sees this individualism as distinctly Christian. The Jewish religion was collectivistic.

3. Includes a good presentation of the First Mover argument. ... Read more

4. A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith
by Brian D. Mclaren
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$13.54
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061853984
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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"Wherever the willingness to rethink has been squelched, wherever that sense of quest has been buried under convention and complacency, the Christian faith in all its forms is in trouble. But even there, something is trying to be born. Even now, right here, among us, inside you, inside me. You may feel it as a curiosity, a desire for better answers than you inherited so far. You may experience it as frustration, knowing that there must be more to faith than you currently know. You may know it as hope, hope that God is seeking humble people whose hearts and lives can be the womb of a better future. . . . In you, your family, your faith community, and circles of friends, among people of peace and faith everywhere, something is trying to be born."
—from A New Kind of Christianity

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift in the church. Not since the Reformation five centuries ago have so many Christians come together to ask whether the church is in sync with their deepest beliefs and commitments. These believers range from evangelicals to mainline Protestants to Catholics, and the person who best represents them is author and pastor Brian McLaren.

In this much anticipated book, McLaren examines ten questions facing today's church—questions about how to articulate the faith itself, the nature of its authority, who God is, whether we have to understand Jesus through only an ancient Greco-Roman lens, what exactly the good news is that the gospel proclaims, how we understand the church and all its varieties, why we are so preoccupied with sex, how we should think of the future and people from other faiths, and the most intimidating question of all: what do we do next? Here you will find a provocative and enticing introduction to the Christian faith of tomorrow.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (57)

2-0 out of 5 stars High-falutin' theological liberalism
I approached Mr. McLaren's book with an open mind since I had seen many people from the orthodox Christian faith attack--not just his views--but also the man himself. I had never heard of him before so I decided to give his new book a fair shake. I was disappointed to discover that not only did I profoundly disagree with Mr. McLaren (the orthodoxies were correct about his theology, but attacking the man is still wrong) but that most of his theories and assertions went right over my head.

I shouldn't have to know Greek philosophy to understand what McLaren is trying to say. (And to be honest, I know VERY little.) If a person reading this does not have familiarity with Aristotle and Plato, the person is LOST for the rest of the book. Aristotelian and Platonic theories make up the foundation of the book. I read chapter after chapter and wondered, "How does this help a single mother with two children who lives in the inner city and is struggling to pay her bills?" McLaren's book seemed impractical and full of theories that make sense to middle-class to upper-class white people who work white-collar jobs or academia.

McLaren's book is "theological liberalism": not "liberalism" in the sense of bad theology (although I DO think his theology is terrible); McLaren's book is chock-full of political liberalism. His book eventually reveals that he supports a pacifist, environmentalist (and maybe even vegan) agenda. I have no problems with pacifists, environmentalists (and vegans) but with McLaren, the opposing viewpoint is on the defensive; there is no room for disagreement. McLaren takes snide potshots at those who oppose his views throughout the book and tries to smooth it over with an air of "I have nothing against people who see things a different way." Toward the end of the book, I had grown frustrated and realized McLaren had stooped just as low as his attackers.

McLaren started off with a good idea and I agree that the Bible seems like a foreign, antiquated book that needs to have relevance for Christians today, but he and I fundamentally disagree on how that should occur.

This book may be appealing for those who bring home incomes of $60K+ and have completed education at institutions of higher learning, but I fail to see how the error of viewing the Bible through the Greek narrative transforms anyone's life--especially those who need to know the love of Jesus here and now.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book review
A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith

Great book.Right on target.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Faith is the Quest is the Tension - is the Faith
A gripping introduction, swash-buckling hermeneutics (they're not exactly going to roll out the red carpet for McLaren at the next Inerrancy convention), wonderful metaphors and charts (McLaren plays his role of cultural popularizer very well; you won't read many better explanations on how the book of Job throws spanner after spanner into the idea that 'everything' the Bible says is true), heavy borrowing from the New-Perspective-of-the-Mosaic-Law and post-foundationalist theologians, lots of touches of vintage McLaren creativity (e.g. on eschatalogy, on 'fundy-sexuality', etc) and a very personal and timely call for Christians to go on a bold yet compassionate quest for, well, a new kind of faith.

McLaren declares that the Christian church is in a mess despite being the custodian of a priceless tradition; there is something wrong in the midst of something real. He locates the chief cause of the problems in perceptive flaws borne of the evolutionary nature of the faith-community's understanding of God's revelations. The writer of Genesis presumably worshiped the God who sent the Flood but McLaren can't find it in himself to do so, almost declaring (therefore?) that the writer of Genesis lied about who God was. So earlier equals wrong-er and/or more deceptive cum deceived. Does that really fly? Wouldn't it be more responsible to ponder the complexity of God's role as cosmic meta-governor, a responsibility no human can shoulder and thus no human mind can fully grasp? Wouldn't it have been more philosophically robust to question how the God-made Flood differs from man-made genocide and how in fact the story of Noah presents wondrous divine mercy and initiative despite a divine right (due to divine governance) to refuse any of the sort?

That said, I'm not entirely pro-anti-McLaren either. I'm at a loss to explain why the likes of Mohler, Ware and Carson pay so little attention to the questions and issues McLaren raises, preferring instead to focus how much he diverges from traditional doctrines. These anti-Emergent folks embody an utter refusal to even look at where McLaren is pointing, they don't want to engage, they don't want a conversation. This is beyond missing the point; it's missing as a way of life.

Still, maybe the problem of Christianity today is less a problem of incorrect interpretations, evolving meanings and developing paradigms (and even less of heresy and apostasy) but one of irreducible dialectic. This is to say that there simply is no such thing as a God's Eye view of Christian/Biblical truth. Christian truth is in essence this phenomenon of opposing doctrines clashing with no clear resolution in principle (let alone in sight). The new kind of Christian has to listen and learn from the old kind and, quite critically, vice-versa too. It's the listening and learning (and admitting and correcting of mistakes) which matter, which makes, which manifests the kingdom.

The day the tension dies is the day there's no longer any uncertainty, no longer any openness, no longer any quest and thus barely any kind of faith at all.

4-0 out of 5 stars A New Kind of Christianity
I have not read this book by Brian McLaren. I have read two other of his books. So I want the opportunity to read this one also.There was a review in a local newspaper.

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Kind of Christianity
A New Kind of Christianity is an important book that seeks to illustrate how the Christian religion is in need of a major overhaul.Author Brian Maclaren poses his thesis in the form of ten questions ranging from God and Jesus to sex and the future of religion.He states that the classic theological understanding of God, which he calls the Greco-Roman Theos, really accomplishes nothing that Jesus truly taught his followers to believe.Instead, he introduces a new vision of God, Elohim, based on the original Hebrew scriptures.This God is loving, helpful, and wants his followers to live Christlike lives.

Maclaren will find many who willingly take his ideas and run with them, but will also find many who will scoff and reject those same ideas.This mainly happens because the God Theos is so ingrained in our culture and society that people do not want to leave their comfort zone.Theos requires strict obedience.He fosters hate and killing in his name.This is an imperial God.Maclaren points out that this is not the message of Jesus.And if God and Jesus are one, then it cannot possibly be the message God wants his followers to embrace.

This imperial God has been in the vangaurd of religion ever since Emperor Constantine proclaimed Christianity and authorized it in ancient Rome.We are inheritors of that legacy.It is regal, kingly, authoritative, and some people make a good living selling that God.But as in the scriptures, Jesus upsets that apple cart every chance he gets.Samaritan women and men, harlots, tax collectors all were received by Jesus into God's kingdom.In our modern age we need to follow this example and open our church doors to all regardless of their sins and flaws.After all, Jesus came to save the world, not judge it (John 3:17).When will people listen to that message?

Maclaren's writing style is provocative and engaging.He presents his message in the form of responses, not answers, to his ten questions.Anyone who picks up this book will not become lost in a theological quagmire, but instead, if they keep their minds open to new ways of looking at things, will see how simple the message of the Bible truly is.Maclaren says the Bible must be taken in its sum total, not just bits and pieces.He doesn't admit it, but the evangelicals have been saying this same thing all along.But one must take the Bible in its entirity with an open mind fixed on the end message of Christ's love, not God's vindictiveness towards those currently outside the church (homosexuals, unbelievers, etc.).This book should be required reading at all churches, not just the progressive churches who want to make the changes Maclaren proposes.If all did read it, old Theos will finally be relegted to the dustbins of history where he belongs. ... Read more

5. Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices
by Frank Viola, George Barna
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2008-01-01)
list price: US$17.99 -- used & new: US$10.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 141431485X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we "dress up" for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, choirs, and seminaries? This volume reveals the startling truth: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence in the first-ever book to document the full story of modern Christian church practices. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (333)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
I enjoyed this book and found it well researched. I have to say that at least 50% of the points made in the book, I had already learned from Jehovah's Witnesses years ago, especially the non Biblical origin of a clergy laity class, honorific titles, tithing, etc.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pagan Christianity
Timely message to the Church, refreshing and well studied. A great read for all who desire the experience of a living organic Church.

5-0 out of 5 stars Destroying Tradition
Pagan Christianity is an eye opening book that explores the roots of our church practices. Frank Viola and George Barna show us how far the rabbit hole goes with our church practices; being rooted not in the New Testament, but in pagan cultures and rituals. They contrast how the church was intended to be with the church as it has become today. They delve into the problems that can arise when we accept these practices and rituals. In covering a wide range of topics like the order of worship, the pastor, tithing, and the Lord's Supper, we see how the church has transitioned over time gradually shifting from one end of the spectrum to the other. After reading Pagan Christianity you will not look at church in the same manner as you did before, and will have to "decide if you can do church the same way again."

"Why is it that we Christians can follow the same rituals every Sunday without ever noticing that they are at odds with the New Testament? The incredible power of tradition has something to do with it."-Pg. 222

5-0 out of 5 stars Very happy
Very informative info on how and why current church practices came into vogue. A real eye-opener.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking!
This book is well written in segments giving you time to think and consider the points raised.
I have recommended it to many. ... Read more

6. The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith
by Marcus J. Borg
Paperback: 234 Pages (2004-09-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$5.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060730684
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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World-renowned Jesus scholar Marcus J. Borg shows how we can live passionately as Christians in today's world by practicing the vital elements of Christian faith.

For the millions of people who have turned away from many traditional beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible, but still long for a relevant, nourishing faith, Borg shows why the Christian life can remain a transforming relationship with God. Emphasizing the critical role of daily practice in living the Christian life, he explores how prayer, worship, Sabbath, pilgrimage, and more can be experienced as authentically life-giving practices.

Borg reclaims terms and ideas once thought to be the sole province of evangelicals and fundamentalists: he shows that terms such as "born again" have real meaning for all Christians; that the "Kingdom of God" is not a bulwark against secularism but is a means of transforming society into a world that values justice and love; and that the Christian life is essentially about opening one's heart to God and to others.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (105)

5-0 out of 5 stars Outline and Study Guide
I. THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY (Xtnty.) TODAY -- What does it mean to be a Christian(Xtn.)? At least two visions: a) Popular vision, b)Emerging vision
A. Populartenets: 1) Xtnty. grounded in Divine authority (Holy Bible and Church Doctrine) 2) Bible is the literal word of God, a unique revelation, guide for all faith and morals. 3) Faith is believing, sinful man must repent and be forgiven, afterlife is focus, life is a matter of rewards and punishments. 4) Jesus is the only way to salvation, He died for our sins, He is God.
Comments: This is a modern vision developing only after the 1700's as science developed; it has nourished many Xtns. and continues to do so.
B. Emerging -- tenets: 1) Bible is human -- interpreted history, metaphorical vs merely factual, sacramental (symbols convey the Spirit of God), has much in it which is neither sacred nor moral. 2) Xtn. life focus not on belief, but on living in relationship to God,on transformation. 3) Xtnty. is a distinctive way to God, but not one insisting on exclusivity.
Comments: This view satisfies many Xtns. who can no longer accept the anti-intellectualism of the popular vision. Both of these visions share convictions in the reality of god, centrality of the Bible, focus on Jesus, importance of relationships, and the need for transformation.
A. Belief is more inclusive than Faith; Truth is more inclusive than fact. 1) "Faith" used to refer to four concepts: assent (belief in some proposition), trust (radical trust in God, not in statements about god), fidelity(attentiveness to God), vision (way of seeing one's response to God). Assent is a "head" matter; the rest are "heart" matters. 2) Ascent IS important in three affirmations foundational for all Xtns.: The reality of God; The centrality of Jesus; The centrality of the Bible. 3) Pre-modern belief didn't mean giving mental consent to a set of statements about God but rather it meant giving one's heart to God in relationship. Believing meant Beloving.
B. Bible -- the Heart of the Tradition. It is Sacred scripture in status (most important collection of documents) and function (foundation wisdom tradition).
1) The Bible as Metaphor = more than literal meaning (literally true - no; really true - yes)The greatest mysteries can't be related in words, but they can be hinted at for us to intuit. 2) The Bible as Sacrament (an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace) Many cases of Biblical passages opening life altering insights; transformational and relational visions inspired by Jesus(and by other spirit-filled men and women).
C. God -- The Heart of Reality (Why has belief in God diminished so in our time?)
1) Contemporary world views: a) religious -- there is "more" beyond sensory experience: God, Allah, Yahweh, Brahman, Tao, Atman, the sacred, the mystery. b) non-religious -- there is only space and time, matter and energy. Secular, materialistic, naturalistic.
Comment: there is data supportive of God -- from the witness of religions throughout history, from present day religious experiences, from provocative affirmations of leading edge scientists.
2) Two Contemporary Concepts of God (both Biblical) -- a) Supernatural Theism -- God is person-like, He created the world and now lives "out there", occasionally intervening in human affairs. b) Panentheism -- God in Spirit encompasses all, being both transcendent and immanent in relating to humans. This concept is expressed in, e.g.: "I am that I am", "the ground of being", "ineffable mystery", "living in Christ".
3) God is "person-like" -- felt as a presence, experienced in visions, dreams, hunches, intuitions, liturgies, creeds, promptings, hymns, inspirations. "aha" moments. 4) God's perceived character shapes our lives -- if seen as a God of requirements and punishments, we live under threat and focus in on ourselves; if God is a God of love and justice, we have an invitation to compassion and relation to others.
D). Jesus -- The Heart of God -- Xtns. see the revelation of God in a person!
Seeing Jesus anew is important because: 1) Today many are finding the Popular vision of Jesus as God's sacrifice for human sin unpersuasive and even repulsive.
2) We need to distinguish the Pre-Easter human Jesus from the Post-Easter divine Jesus in the layered nature of the gospel record in order to separate the historical memory of the voice of Jesus from the metaphoric narrative of the voice of the community. 3) Christological language (Son of God, Lambof God, Bread of Life) is not from Jesus 4) Glimpse of what Pre Easter-Jesus was like: Jewish mystic, healer, wisdom teacher, social prophet and movement initiator.
5) His death has different interpretations but should not be the primary focus of Xtnty. Jesus' message about the Kingdom of God was not about himself.
III. SEEING THE XTN. LIFE AGAIN -- Implications both personal and political.
A. Being Born Again -- individual transformation of the heart is at the center of life "in Christ". Dying to the old self centered in our ego and rising to a new identity centered in God is the message of all the world's major religions. "By their fruits shall yE know them".
B. Entering The Kingdom of Heaven -- the heart of communal justice. 1) Jesus contrasted the systemic injustice (political oppression and economic exploitation of his time often with religious legitimation) with how things are when God rules. 2) His message is as applicable now as then -- Xtns. need to raise their consciences and work for universal health care, for reducing the lop-sided distribution of wealth and for becoming environmentally responsible.
C. Thin Places -- Places where the self senses the Spirit of God, where closed hearts open to the experience of grace -- the purpose behind spiritual practices: worship, prayer, hymn singing, ritual, meditation, Bible study, sacraments, seeking the light.
D. Sin and Salvation -- Transforming the Heart. Sin is estrangement from God and requires more than mere forgiveness; willful repentance, metanoia, and resolve are necessary to achieve wholeness in the here and now, not postponed to an afterlife.
E. Practices -- the Heart of the Matter. What does it mean to "love god"? Paying attention to god and what God loves by: 1)Being a part of a church. 2)In prayer: using words (in praise or for help), or meditating, or through contemplation. 3) Following a daily discipline of mindfulness. 4) Xtn. friendships and fellowship. 5) Challenging systemic injustice. 6) Acting in imaginative sympathy for the disadvantaged.
F. Heart and Home -- Being Xtn. in an Age of Pluralism -- Xtnty. in context of other religions (In U.S. numbers: Muslim > Buddhist =Episc = Presb >Jewish > Hindu > Sihk) 1) Attitudes toward other religions: a) Absolutist -- one "true" religion. b) Reductionist -- religions are a human construct, a feature of our psychology. 3) Sacramental -- experiences of the sacred; traditions of language and culture; primordial wisdom. 2) Similarities and differences: a) Alike in: affirming "a more", describing a "way", providing places and practices, extolling compassion, having written teachings (sacred scriptures). b) Differ in: culture, history, beliefs, doctrines, details emphasized. (religion is to spirituality as schools are to education). 3) So why Xtnty.? Jesus is "the" way for those who see God most clearly in Jesus. For Borg and many others, Xtnty. provides: a compatible religious community, a path to transformation, familiarity, relationships, traditions, wisdom and a vision into the heart of hearts.

4-0 out of 5 stars Here's a book for both theological conservatives and liberals.
Marcus Borg offers a brilliant alternative to the dogma-centric Christian paradigm of the last few hundred years. He is highly critical of Christian right-wing fundamentalism with its wooden adherance to beliefs about an inerrant-Bible-read-literally, and its exclusiveness. His `emerging paradigm' is about the meaning rather than the historicity of the biblical stories; it's about loving God and respecting others - especially others with differing religious faith-traditions.

Borg writes as a passionate Christian, whose faith is rooted in a church community/tradition and worship (Episcopal, you guessed it). The book begins with Borg's hermeneutic, where he engages our minds; in the second (homiletical) half he speaks to the heart; some of the latter chapters have an eminently preachable lyrical quality.

4-0 out of 5 stars clear exposition of emerging church
Borg's writing style is clear and the book is very well organized.Reading this book will give you a good understanding of the ideas of the emerging church movement.If you disillusioned with a view of Christianity which seems out of touch with the 21st century you may find in Borg's approach a way to connect with God which is more relevant and helpful.If you are strong believer in a conservative understanding of Christianity you may find Borg heretical.Whatever your point of view you will find this book readable and thought provoking.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book which looks at Christianity in both a feeling and thinking way...
As a book about looking at God, Jesus, The Bible and Christianity from a progressive, fully thinking and feeling Christian point of view, it has helped me in the faith I was raised in, and still believe in, in a new and affirming light. It made a lot of sense to me... showing me the unlimitless love of God in my life... and how that can better 'play out' within my actions in the institutional church and the larger community. It was, along with other books by Marcus Borg, a life-changing excellent read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beyond churhc: making Christ relevant for today
An amazing book, that I have already recommended to many friends.
Helped me step beyond the conventions and hypocrisies of today's religious practice, to reach the point where Christ's challenge meets my spiritual needs and helps bring meaning into my life. ... Read more

7. C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity (Shepherd's Notes)
by TerryL. Miethe, C.S. Lewis
Paperback: 112 Pages (1999-10-01)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$2.49
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Asin: 0805493476
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Shepherd's Notes- Christian Classics Series is designed to give readers a quick, step by step overview of some of the enduring treasures of the Christian faith. They are designed to be used along side the classic itself- either in individual study or in a study group. The faithful of all generations have found spiritual nourishment in the Scriptures and in the works of Christians of earlier generations. Martin Luther and John Calvin would not have become who they were apart from their reading Augustine. God used the writings of Martin Luther to move John Wesley from a religion of dead works to an experience at Aldersgate in which his "heart was strangely warmed." Shepherd's Notes will give pastors, laypersons, and students access to some of the treasures of Christian faith.
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Customer Reviews (10)

2-0 out of 5 stars Debes tener el libro
Es como una guía para que vayas entendiendo el libro, si no lo tienes o pretendes leer esto en lugar del libro, pierdes tu tiempo.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
This is a great book to use in compliment with Mere Christianity and I had no problems with the seller.

5-0 out of 5 stars I used this book SO much!!!
I used this book a ton for my world religions class where the book Mere Christianity was required.I found the full length book very dry and repetitive, this book helped me tremenously to get through the text.I am getting a good grade in my class which is based half on my knowlege of this book and half on one other and lecture.I would reccomend it if you have a problem reading C.S. Lewis.good stuff!! The seller got this book to me super quickly and it was very affordable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Detailed Devotion
I am really enjoying the detail that Mere Christianity Shepherd's Notes has for group devotionals, and individual study.This is a great companion to the complete book.

1-0 out of 5 stars Deceptive description
This book is not "Mere Christianity", it is a guide to go along with it.Do not Purchase it thinking that you will get the text of the book "Mere Christianity". ... Read more

8. Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide
by Brett McCracken
Paperback: 255 Pages (2010-08-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$9.57
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Asin: 0801072220
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Insider twentysomething Christian journalist Brett McCracken has grown up in the evangelical Christian subculture and observed the recent shift away from the "stained glass and steeples" old guard of traditional Christianity to a more unorthodox, stylized 21st-century church. This change raises a big issue for the church in our postmodern world: the question of cool. The question is whether or not Christianity can be, should be, or is, in fact, cool. This probing book is about an emerging category of Christians McCracken calls "Christian hipsters"--the unlikely fusion of the American obsessions with worldly "cool" and otherworldly religion--an analysis of what they're about, why they exist, and what it all means for Christianity and the church's relevancy and hipness in today's youth-oriented culture. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

1-0 out of 5 stars Hipster Christianity - Don't Be Fooled - Just Another Emerging Deception
According to McCracken, Hipster Christianity "goes deep into the questions of what it means to be cool and what it means to be Christian." But McCracken's "hipster Christianity" is nothing more than emerging spirituality looked at through different colored sunglasses. Many may be fooled into thinking that this is a "cool" way to look at biblical Christianity. It's not. And it has nothing to do with the way one dresses or which "cool" sunglasses or reading glasses he or she is wearing. It's about spiritual deception, which often looks "good," (especially to those who don't know what God's Word says) but in actuality is lethal.

For those wondering if McCracken, managing editor of Biola University's magazine and regular writer for the emergent Relevant magazine, considers himself a "hipster," the answer he gives in the introduction of his book is "yes." He has found resonance with a lot of emerging leaders such as Shane Claiborne, whom McCracken says is"perhaps one of the most important Christian hipsters around" (p. 99). Other contemplative/emerging advocates whom McCracken includes in his emerging, hipster "Christianity" are Mark Driscoll, Jay Baaker, Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), Lauren Winner, and Rob Bell.

McCracken asks the question, where can you find "Christian hipsters" and answers it accurately by saying Christian colleges and Christian college towns (p. 106). Of course, he includes the contemplative promoting Biola in his list of "cool" colleges. McCracken delves into the political arena and explains how "cool" young Christians helped to bring Obama into office (pp. 158-160).

McCracken says this "hip" Christianity identifies with panentheistic New Age mystic PierreTeilhard de Chardin and says "Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic.... They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina..." (p. 98).

Don't be fooled, Hipster Christianity isn't "cool" at all - it is lukewarm spirituality, and from such we should steer clear of.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brett McCracken is a genius.
I carried this book through Washington, Oregon, and California while I was sick, moving my things into storage, eating chili cheese fries in a diner, and trying to figure out what to do next with my life.It made me giggle, it made me snort, and it very nearly made me cry.

Hipster Christianity has a way of imitating some of the best things about the Bible; it forces the reader to recognize him or herself, acknowledges the huge influence each person can have on another, and requires us to look forward into the future of the church and the human race.

In fair disclosure, I have been Brett's classmate and friend for a number of years.In some ways, reading his book is a little like flipping through a yearbook for me.But for anyone raised in church, there are identifiable markers that serve as talking points for discussion groups, classrooms and readers everywhere for years to come.And if you weren't raised in church, reading this book might help you understand us Jesus freaks.

4-0 out of 5 stars It's hip to be square....
You'd think buying a book called "Hipster Christianity" would dial you in to the what's-what and help you comb your faux hawk just right. Sadly this is not that book. Brett McCracken's book is more of a tale and less a "guide."

Brett writes with a touch of wit and wry sarcasm, and he drops named like Dennis Miller on speed. But again, I warn you, don't buy this book if you're in a dying church and you're hoping to steal some "cool-points" and rev up your congregation. This is not a "how-to" book.

Paul Grant defines cool as: "I am an individual; you are a clone. I know what's really going on here; you don't. I can get out of here; you can't."

The book chronicles the rise of "cool" through church history, from Godspell to Stryper to Relevant Magazine; Brett has really done his homework. That said, I would also offer the book is extremely dated - Brett lists several "hipster" churches, their pastors, books, fashion and "where hipsters hang out" in his book - all of which will surely change in the years (months?) to come as fashion forward moves... well... forward.

Interestingly enough in Brett's "hipsters today" he describes my hipster personality "type." Turns out I am the Detached Ironic. "Media savvy...class-clown...with an ever ready arsenal of witty remarks...popular in large groups... distant in close personal relationships... blogger."

And while you may shun the "hipster" title and decide that neither church nor Christians need be relevant or cool - you may also find yourself (or your church) described within Brett's book (unless you're over 50).

Brett says the reason he wrote the book was because he loves the church. "I want to see her thrive, expand and be all that she can be for the world.I want to see the cause of Christ advanced and not muddled up. And this topic - the relationship of the church to the notion of "cool" - strikes me as a vitally important issue that needs to be addressed with tenderness, nuance and when appropriate constructive rebuke." (page 13)

Is Christianity cool? What you might think was a promotion for hipster Christianity, Brett surprisingly warns against...

"Things can get a little out of hand when pastors no longer care about the rightness or wrongness of something in pop culture, only that it can be used as an attention-getter or gateway to a theologically apropos discussion." (page 182)

"I think the Christian hipster lifestyle has become far too accommodating and accepting of sin, something that should actually shock and disturb us. If it's uncool to draw lines about what behavior is permissible and prudent for the Christian, then Christians should start getting used to the idea of being uncool." (page 200)

But that's just the thing with defining "cool" isn't it? What is so uncool today, becomes cool tomorrow... only to one day become uncool again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hipster Christianity - Review
What could possibly be wrong with churches pursuing "cool" culture in an attempt to attract today's young, trend-obsessed congregants? In Hipster Christianity, Brett McCracken speaks about the church's need to use discernment in its quest to engage contemporary audiences. In his analysis of hipster culture, Brett speaks quite frankly about some of the problems that may be evident in a realm of spiritual discipline that has become second nature for most people. I genuinely believe that Brett's message is worth considering by all who have an interest in the direction that some of today's churches have chosen to pursue.

Beginning with a treatise on the history of hip culture both outside and within the church, and moving into contemporary perspectives, the more McCracken discussed notions of hipness within Christian communities, the more I could relate. Several times I caught a chill reading his descriptions of some very familiar patterns. He notes certain hipster Christian quirks, from post-church activities such as dining--and drinking (!)--en masse, to attitudes regarding the arts.

Overall, McCracken intelligently discusses problems inherent in attempting to apply a "cool" aesthetic to something as transcendent as the Christian faith. For instance the notion of cool itself calls to mind something that is pleasing to the masses. In certain "hip" Christian circles this aim to please may manifest itself through practices such as refusing to take a strong theological stance on anything that is not audience-friendly. After all, who wants to go to church and be told that the way they are living could be wrong?

Ultimately some churches might get on this way out of a desire to make Christianity appear comfortable for the sake of retaining an audience. Yet why, exactly, do any church's leaders want to have an audience? Is it because of a desire to sustain the church itself, merely as an institution run by men, for profit and popularity? Or are today's leaders interested in generating an audience for the church, as the bride of Christ, designed to represent both His grace, as well as His standards? The latter model may not necessarily earn any cool points. But as McCracken gently reminds his readers, that's not what we're here for.

Some of the book's most valid content can be found in its final segment. Here, among many excellent points, McCracken notes the importance of acknowledging the church's past--flaws and all. The Christianity of our forefathers was far from perfect. However in their efforts to improve our faith for the future, some Christians seem a little too eager to dismiss certain aspects of our heritage. They have acted as though they are unable to distinguish between wrong behaviors such as legalism or bigotry, versus things that are difficult for them to relate to (items or traditions that seem odd, perhaps because of their generational appeal). Various aspects of traditional Christianity have been despised or even mocked, simply for mocking's sake. Meanwhile, are these undesirable items truly an abomination that will mean the end of Christendom? Or is it just that certain aspects of our past are not "cool" enough to impress the trendy faithful and our secular peers?

There was a Life and a Love before this. And it wasn't all terrible.

Over the years people have poured their lifeblood into "cool" oriented ministries. I'll be the first to admit that some of McCracken's assertions may be met with resistance. (His "Twelve Types of Christian Hipster" made me bristle a little.) And I should also point out that if one chooses to go by some of his criteria related to likes and dislikes, I am a hipster. (The Imitation of Christ, anyone?) Yet I sincerely hope that today's church folk give his words a chance. Hipster Christianity contains more important points than this review can convey. Its author has shown courage in publicly discussing the nature of a system that needs to consider its true identity. As I wrote in one of my copy's margins, it is vital for all Christians to remember that our chief obsession should not lie in pursuing culture or creation, but the heart of our Creator.

2-0 out of 5 stars Iffy History
The author is insightful and makes some very interesting connections. However, I'm really disapointed with the history section, which is a good chunk of the book. Some of the history is questionable. For example, the Gilded Age and large scale industry emerged before (and stem from different impulses) than the sorts of things we associate with the beginning of the twentieth century (see page 38). And in addition, some of the history is irrelevant. Otherwise, I'm glad that someone observed this trend within the church, and was bold enough to start this discussion. ... Read more

9. Christianity and Islam (Classic Reprint)
by Carl Heinrich Becker
Paperback: 128 Pages (2010-06-08)
list price: US$7.54 -- used & new: US$7.54
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Asin: 1440059624
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CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM ACOMPARISON of Christianity with Muhammedanism or with any other religion must be preceded by a statement of the objects with which such comparison is undertaken, for the possibilities which lie in this direction are numerous. The missionary, for instance, may consider that a knowledge of the similarities of these religions would increase the efficacy of his proselytising work: his purpose would thus be wholly practical. The ecclesiastically -minded Christian, already convinced of the superiority of his own religion, will be chiefly anxious to secure scientific proof of the fact: the study of comparative religion from this point of view was once a popular branch of apologetics and is by no means out of favour at the present B I

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS; PAGE; The subject from different points of view: limits of treatmenti; The nature of the subject: the historical points of connection between Christianity and Islam 2; A Christianity and the rise of Islam :; 1 Muhammed and his contemporaries 9; 2 The influence of Christianity upon the de-; velopment of Muhammed 11; 3 Muhammed's knowledge of Christianity 14; 4 The position of Christians under Muham-; medanism28; B The similarity of Christian and Muhammedan; metaphysics during the middle ages:; 1 The means and direction by which Christian; influence affected Islam 34; 2 The penetration of daily life by the spirit; of religion; asceticism, contradictions and influences affecting the development of a clerical class and the theory of marriage; 3 The theory of life in general with reference; to the doctrine of immortality 55; 4 The attitude of religion towards the State,; economic life, society, etc 64; 5 The permanent importance to Islam of these; influences: the doctrine of duties , 77; TABLE OF CONTENTS; PAGE; 6 Ritual80; 7 Mystici ... Read more

10. Story of Christianity: Volume 1, The: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation
by Justo L. Gonzalez
Paperback: 528 Pages (2010-08-01)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$19.36
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Asin: 006185588X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this fully revised and updated edition, the lauded church historian Justo GonzÁlez tells the story of Christianity from its fragile infancy to its pervasive dominance at the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. The Story of Christianity, volume 1, relates the dramatic events, the colorful characters, and the revolutionary ideas that shaped the first fifteen centuries of the church's life and thought.

From Jesus's faithful apostles to the early reformist John Wycliffe, GonzÁlez skillfully weaves details from the lives of prominent figures tracing core theological issues and developments within the various traditions of the church. The Story of Christianity demonstrates at each point what new challenges and opportunities faced the church and how Christians struggled with the various options open to them, thereby shaping the future direction of the church.

This new edition of The Story of Christianity incorporates recent archaeological discoveries to give us a better view of the early Christian communities. Among these are advances in the recovery of Gnostic texts that have revealed a richer diversity of "Christianities" in the first century. GonzÁlez also includes important research done in the past twenty-five years revealing the significant role of women throughout the history of the church.

With lively storytelling incorporating the latest research, The Story of Christianity provides a fascinating introduction to the panoramic history of Christianity.

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Customer Reviews (36)

5-0 out of 5 stars History of Christianity review
An amazing book. I'm having to go very slowly in it as it's so detailed but so all inclusive. A good book for anyone wanting to know church history.

1-0 out of 5 stars A little to PROGRESSIVE for me.
I really must say that this book although meant for people studying the Church in Seminary,has all the progressive buzz words that I consider an anathema to good theology.
Unity, Diversity, greening and environmental movement bla bla bla.
Can't you just hear the social justice crowd in the back ground of this book?

4-0 out of 5 stars Well written overview
Excellent, easy to read book about the history of Christianity. This does not have a lot of information beyond the reach of the east & west Roman empire. Touches a lot of subjects without going into too great of depth, also has further resources listed after each section.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not Revised and Updated Version
Please do not be fooled.The Kindle edition is not the revised and updated version released in August 2010. Unfortunately, Amazon and HarperOne have done a great disservice to its readers for not making this clear.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very readable survey of Church History
This volume skillfully covers the growth of Christianity from the time of the apostles to the birth of the Reformation. He covers all branches of Christianity. He focuses on key individuals and the development of theological concepts. He does of masterful job of interweaving all the threads of the narrative to keep the story interesting. He explains the theological controversies simply, but accurately. He points out the corruption, but always brings up the individuals who tried to bring reform to the Church. He does a good job of not showing partiality to any particular branch of Christianity. The most interesting section to me was the growth of Christianity in Latin America. I knew some bits and pieces, but Gonzalez gives a nice overview of the major players.

The faults are few. There is an intentional lack of footnotes. Gonzalez writes in the introduction that he didn't want footnotes to bog down the narrative. However, he has made some good points and made some good quotes that I couldn't track down. Another very minor point, since it is a survey, he spends very little time on any particular point. He often left me wanting more details.

In summary, this is a very readable, comprehensive survey of Church history. The books gives the broad sweep of history while bringing out some of the personal details of the giants of the faith. I enjoyed the book immensely. ... Read more

11. The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and How It Died
by John Philip Jenkins
Paperback: 336 Pages (2009-11-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$6.43
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Asin: 0061472816
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Untold Story of the Church's First Thousand Years

In this groundbreaking book, renowned religion scholar Philip Jenkins offers a lost history, revealing that for centuries Christianity's center existed to the east of the Roman Empire.

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Customer Reviews (46)

3-0 out of 5 stars Fitting a Missing Piece
This book suprises readers by showing more Christians lived in the Middle-East and Africa than in Europe. The balance tipped towards the West around the year 1200 and this book documents why. Western powers protected Christianity but Muslim conquests slowly choked it. I found this book was a refreshing antidote to the idea that Christianity is a "Western" religion.

The downside to this book has to be the continual shift in focus. Jenkins jumps around in time quite a bit which makes it hard to contextualize this books list of events in a chronological manner. Nevertheless, it would make a useful addition to a library since it offers a glimpse into the forgotten half of the church.

3-0 out of 5 stars More about How It Died than the Golden Age
The Lost History of Christianity turns the common view of history portrayed by Tertullian's famous quote about "the blood of martyrs being the seed of the church" onto its head. For it was Tertullian's own church tradition that all but vanished before the Muslim invaders (p 34). I enjoyed this book for several reasons:
1) I was surprised to learn that, in relative terms, the Middle East is only recently "Muslim" (less than 100 years). This was accomplished in very recent history "by carnage on a massive scale."
2) Alliance with political powers of the day came back to bite Christians by hastening the extinction of their churches.
3) Where the church failed was in not sinking roots into the world of the native peoples (p. 229). They made next to no progress in taking the faith to the villages and the neighboring tribes, nor did they try to evangelize in local languages.... they utterly neglected the countryside. The "African churches were destroyed not because they were corrupt but because they failed to reach the hearts of the true natives of the province... they were the churches of a party and not of a people." (230)
4) The Eastern Church died because it failed to adapt: "Churches that remained wedded to the old social order found themselves in growing difficulty, while more flexible or adaptable organizations succeeded" (p. 234).
Having spoken to some of the aspects of the book I appreciated, I was disappointed on several fronts:
1) I had hoped to read more about the early church in China. There's a little of that here, but not much.
2) Similarly, I had hoped for a well-told story:a narrative relating the sadness of a tragedy which gradually transpired over time. But I found Jenkins'account - interesting in many places--often coming across as dull, uninspiring, repetitive dry history, and with little direct bearing to the human condition (there was some application, philosophical reflection and theologizing near the end, however).
3) How did the traditions and rituals these early Christians practice impart richness and meaning to their daily lives? I had hoped to understand how these extinct branches of Christianity might inform my faith with fresh vitality. Unfortunately, what was expressed here mostly fails to express the fervency and vibrancy which many early believers must have experienced in their lives. The perspective throughout is that of an outsider-- never able to penetrate beyond exterior forms and structures (buildings, etc). Or is that why their version of Christianity is now lost to history?
4) To Jenkins, who is a Christian? Who is a Muslim? Or are these just labels? Jenkins seems to sometimes confuse religious and political entities regardless with how they stack up with the claims the New Testament makes for itself about what a person of faith looks like. For example, "the sensational Palestinian terrorism across the globe in the 1970s was planned and orchestrated by Christian commanders..." (167).There's a difference between faith in name and reality.
5) From start to finish, the author goes way overboard in trying to be politically correct. Time and again he goes out of his way to stress the gentleness of Muslims. The most irritating example of this is on page 242 where we learn that the "scriptures of Islam include considerably fewer calls to blood-curdling violence than do their Christian and Jewish counterparts." I'm not going so far to say here that Islam is necessarily a violent faith by nature, but Jenkins' interpretation not only conveniently ignores the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus, but also ignores the diametrically opposite paths down which these two faiths travelled in their earliest years of development.
6) Finally, Jenkins writes from a thoroughly secular, pluralistic perspective--which assumes religions belong to the private sphere, must make no claims to exclusivity, and must be subjugated beneath the claims of secularism (which, by the way, is itself nothing but a religion making its own claim to exclusivity). For example, see page 175, "Assuming for the sake of argument that all religions are equally true, or equally untrue..." Or page 257: "If we assume for the sake of argument that Christianity's claims are genuine..." Or if Islam is not to be understood, as Muslims believe, to be "the only true faith"... And finally, Jenkins applauds certain "progressive" Christians because they believe that "Christian evangelism of Jesus is unnecessary and unacceptable... [it is] an equally valid path to God." (259).
In conclusion, I would have enjoyed reading about this topic more from an unapologetically and unashamedly Christian perspective (and thankfully, I did google some good historical material online). I bought this book because of its highly acclaimed review on the Christianity Today website.Having now finished it, I'm glad I read it, but will think twice before buying the next book that CT whole-heartedly recommends!

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable for its historical perspective
I would highly recommend this book for, essentially, two reasons:

1) It provides a very accessible introduction to the Church of the East, the "Nestorian" church, the apostolic church that existed for over a thousand years outside of the dictates of the Roman (both Western and Byzantine) empire. While this book does not delve with detail into doctrinal differences between what the West has considered "orthodoxy" and the teachings and practices of the Church of the East, it aptly describes both the geographical and cultural impact of what once claimed a membership far larger than that of both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches together.

2) The latter half of the book touches upon two highly ignored (I suspect purposefully) subjects: the religious context from which Islam (the religion which supplanted the Church of the East throughout most of its territory) arose, including likely inclusion of many elements of the Church of the East itself as well as the equally ancient (and equally unswayed by Roman/Byzantine control) Ethiopian Church (and I would add most likely from the remnants of earlier Semitic "Jewish-Christians" escaping Roman/Byzantine persecution as well); and some foundational thinking for the study of the extinction of churches/religions, together with a look at the theological complications presented when any church/religion believing in a God who personally intervenes in history disappears.

This was not only a welcome entry into the popular library of a completely neglected area of history and religious studies -- imagine, a Christianity that was not at all part and parcel of the Western world! -- but totally relevant to today's world vis-a-vis the "problem" (as we Westerners seem to insist on seeing it) of Islamization.

5-0 out of 5 stars Much needed
Jenkins's book fills a much needed vacuum (on a popular level) in terms of the history of Christianity in the Middle East as well as how Christians have fared under Islamic regimes.I would take issue with how he characterizes the policies of some early Caliphs such as Omar II, 'Abd al-Malik, and Yazid, all of whom instituted policies designed to squelch Christian presence and practice in the Middle East.Despite these shortcomings, it is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Christianity and Christian-Muslim relations.For a book that explores more of the theology of Arabic and Syriac-speaking Christians living in the world of Islam, I recommend Sidney H. Griffith, THE CHURCH IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOSQUE.

4-0 out of 5 stars How half of Christendom was wiped out
One thousand years ago, there were almost as many Christians in Asia and Africa as there were in Europe, and yet we tend to think of the Roman Catholic church as being essentially the only church prior to the Protestant Reformation, according to Philip Jenkins in this book. Churches that were thriving in the Middle Ages have now vanished, almost without trace.

In the year 544 AD, the city of Merv in southern Turkmenistan became a metropolitan see of the Eastern Church, forming a base for mission further East in Asia. By 550 AD numerous monks had reached China, although the first recorded establishment of a mission in China was at Ch'ang-an in 635. The Emperor Taizong was tolerant towards Christianity, but the mission was destroyed in the 9th century when Emperor Wuzong expelled foreign religions. Genghis Khan was no Christian, but he knew a number of Nestorian Christians.

So how did large numbers of apparently vigorous churches disappear? In the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia, Christianity coexisted peacefully with Islam for many centuries when Islamic rulers were tolerant, but was eradicated when Islamic rulers were less tolerant. Much of the church in the Middle East was wiped out in the early part of the 20th century.

There is certainly plenty of interesting information in the book. However, a lot of the text seems to be the subjective views of the author rather than a recounting of historical occurrences. The chapters are not arranged chronologically, so the exact sequence of events is not easy to follow. This is not amongst the most engaging history books that I have read, but it certainly has aroused my interest in medieval church history.
... Read more

12. Has Christianity Failed You?
by Ravi Zacharias
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2010-06-29)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$11.67
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Asin: 0310269555
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In 2006, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) held an open forum at the Fox Theater in Atlanta to address the subject: 'Has Christianity Failed You?'Tickets were sold for the event and---to the complete surprise of everyone---the event was sold out with a capacity crowd of over 5,000.People lined up offering to buy tickets from folks in line for higher prices.Before the event, an RZIM cameraman walked the streets and asked people if they had rejected the faith they held at one time.One answered that, because of a Christian's rejection of his gay lifestyle he had done just that.Another answered that she had left her faith because she had fallen into adultery and could never live it down in the church.Others had their own reasons.Some said it was just intellectually untenable in an age of reason.They chose to come to the event to judge if there were adequate answers.It is estimated that for every one person who writes a letter or attends an event, there are one thousand who agree.If the Atlanta crowd was any indication, the question is real and troubling.Why is it that many live with silent doubt, many leaving the 'evangelical fold' for something else?Is there something wrong with the message, the communicator, the hearer...or is it all three?It's time to ask the hard questions of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and why it seems as though God has made it so hard to continue believing.In fact, the son of a prominent U.S. Senator phoned me with that very question.'Why has God made it so hard to believe in Him?'Such skepticism is not just representative of the hostile; it also represents many honest questioners.This book attempts to lay out the response to those within as well as those outside the Christian faith so as to understand what it is we believe and why it is so hard to do so.More to the point:Why it is actually so hard to deny God and still make sense out of life?In the end the answers should be both felt and real, with the added truth that God is nearer than you think.He desires that we sense Him very near to us and not distant.But closeness comes at a cost just as any relationship of love and commitment does. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

3-0 out of 5 stars Deep and Wide
Hoping to gather additional materials to help the youth of our congregation -giving them reasons to believe I purchased Has Christianity Failed You.

I am finding it a difficult read. Mr. Zacharias is a brilliant scholar, of this there is no doubt.I, on the other hand am not, and I think therein lies the problem.

For those of like mind this book will be of great benefit. For those of us less scholarly - not so much.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Classic Text from the Thinking Man's Apologist
I owe a lot to Ravi Zacharias. I've followed his podcasts - Let My People Think and Just Thinking - for some time now and always been enthralled by the perspective and rationality he brings to the table. Now, in his newest offering Has Christianity Failed You?Ravi discusses the areas where Christianity has been commonly perceived as failing and offers his insight some of these difficult topics.

He begins with a discussion of Jesus. Who is Jesus and why is He important? Ravi covers the misconceptions - the ethnic Jesus, the Republican Jesus, the Jesus for the other guy, the political empire Jesus - and present the Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, the Savior of humanity.

Second, Ravi tackles the meaning of being a Christian. Ravi contends that if we cannot identify Christians, we cannot truthfully know if Christianity has failed us. He talks about faith and the rationality of Christianity, and debunks pluralism, the idea that all faiths are created equal.

Then, through graceful prose and insightful anecdote, Ravi unravels a whole web of issues, tackling suffering - and mentioning that it only makes sense in the Christian context - and the human desire of relationship and commitment - which find their consummation in Christ. He also writes at length about the difference between the "purpose driven" or "reason driven" life.

For me personally, Ravi's most insightful chapter was his discussion on the power of prayer. It was wonderful to see him weave quotes and anecdotes around prose and wisdom to powerfully illustrate the life-changing power of prayer. His deconstruction and exegesis of the Lord's Prayer is especially insightful.

Ravi closes by juxtaposing the atheistic worldview with the Christian and ask which one it is that truly fails. His conclusion is that while churches have sometimes failed us and Christians have sometimes failed us, Christianity - the person of Christ - will never fail us.

Dr. Zacharias's style and cadence shine clearly through this book, and I almost found myself hearing his voice in my head as I read. As always, Ravi writes eloquently and ties together a variety of personal anecdotes and historical quotes to support his point. At times, it seems as if this is a bit overdone, with the didactic teaching buried under anecdotes without being brought to a full conclusion, but this is not always the case. One must needs carefully read through the material in order to digest it well. Ravi's love of Chesterton and Lewis shine through as well, as he quotes them often.

For any lover of Dr. Zacharias's ministry or apologetics in general, you will find this - along with any other Ravi Zacharias book - an indispensible add to your collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Christianity Examined
Within this timely book, Ravi Zacharias explores several questions people have concerning Christianity.The discussion is lively and direct.Topics include "Who Is Jesus", "What Does It Mean To Be A Christian", "Points of Tension", "What Difference Does Christianity Make', and other topics of great interest to those who wonder why Christians are not all alike and prayers are not always answered to their liking.

With humbleness and candor, Ravi urges all who have left Christianity to return to the faith, study scripture afresh, and direct thoughts toward a faith worth living for.

I first read Ravi's memoir, "Walking From East To West" and was captured by his intelligence, writing style, and sincerity. I've since read several more of his works.This book reaches out to reassure skeptics and believers that have given up that Christianity is alive and well!

This book is 234 pages of examining Christianity against all other alternatives.Ravi believes the reader will be convinced that Christianity has not failed you and he makes his case well.I am giving this effort five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars JDS Thoughts
The book is excellent, giving support for the validity of the Christian belief.Perceptive defenses for the faith are supplied.For me it will require a second and third reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential Christian Reading
When I read a book by this man I do so with a pen in one hand, because I've learned it is easier to just mark up the book in the beginning then to try to find that juicy nugget later on. He comes up with some winner saying that are too good to not remember.

I'm I getting smarter or is Ravi making his books easier to read? I found this book a cinch to follow. Ravi is a "brainy" writer and when I first got turned on to him there were some paragraphs in earlier books that I had to reread more than once to figure out. He is a natural philosopher and can "see" an issue with what I believe is Holy Spirit insight.

In this book that is just the right length he boils it down to you and God. What can we reasonably expect from God and what is our part in the deal. Ravi is never one to heap blame on any one. I think this book does what all his books do and that is make us think deeply. He reminds us of the supremacy of Christ. He throws in some timely stories and annotates, so you can step back and see "the big picture." Understanding the problems and issues is his priority. I think if you read this book honestly, he won't leave you hanging. At the back of the book is a 12 page interview of the author.

Feeling jaded for any reason, or just want a good Christian book to deepen your faith, do yourself a favour and order this book before the sun sets on another day. ... Read more

13. Basic Christianity (IVP Classics)
by John Stott
Paperback: 180 Pages (2006-11-30)
list price: US$6.00 -- used & new: US$2.62
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Asin: 0830834036
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Who is Jesus?

"If Jesus was not God in human flesh, Christianity is exploded," writes John Stott. "We are left with just another religion with some beautiful ideas and noble ethics; its unique distinction has gone."

If Jesus is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he had come to do, the whole superstructure of Christianity crumbles in ruins to the ground. Is it plausible that Jesus was truly divine? And what might this mean for us?

John Stott's clear, classic statement examines the historical facts on which Christianity stands. Here is a sound, sensible guide for all who seek an intellectually satisfying explanation of the Christian faith. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Basic, thorough, deeply needed...
I find this book to be especially well written. Consider the fact that it is now almost 60 years since it was written, it is completely pertinent to today's society and takes you from an unbeliever's point of view to a daily walk with God. I would encourage everyone to buy this but only if you intend to read it!!! No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, it is a real help to keep your focus on the real prize.

5-0 out of 5 stars Satisfied
Book in great shape as expected....arrived within time allotted.Good service....will use again. As far as content of Basic Christianity, it should be in every thinking man's collection. This particular order was for high school student's English class.

5-0 out of 5 stars Basic Christianity
"Christianity is not just a creed; it involves action." Stott translates Christian beliefs into deeds of submission; heart, mind, soul and will, "un-reservedly" to Jesus Christ with implicit, unreserved, trust. He includes taking a place "as loyal members of a church and responsible citizens...". This is where we digress. All church experiences have been either negative; filled with bigotry and idolized leaders, or 'Charismatically pervasive'.
Never the less, even in the alternative of "home church", many basic, study-able facts on the person of Jesus Christ, Sin, His work and being a Christian are basic,practical and easy to follow."Being a Christian", carried the most significance, as it lent itself to 'Christian Maturity'. Included were "when and how to pray, and read the Bible", to create a good balance of God speaking to us and our speaking (through prayer) to Him.
This book is a must for new and old Christians. A great guide for church-goers and non-attenders, alike.
Elizabeth Laine author of, "A Butterfly Landed an Eagle".

3-0 out of 5 stars Maestro Stott
John Stott's Basic Christianity is a very practical, step-by-step introduction for the new Christian disciple.Basic, fundamental questions are answered in a straightforward manner.The logic of Christ's sacrifice to the deeper meanings in the Ten Commandments are presented here.Stott hits his stride when describing Christ, his life, and his mission.He has a clear way of describing the truly important beliefs of the Christian church.Basic Christianity is a compact book but loaded with helpful information.

Please visit my website, Delight In Him, for more.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Classic on the Doctrines of the Christian Faith
I decided to read Basic Christianity because I always see it on lists for books that we should read. It is a thin book that was first published 50 years ago, but its words will be read for many more generations to come. This modern classic begins with a focus on God the Father and follows with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Stott's next major topic he addresses is the unpopular topic of sin and later how Christ conquered sin. The last part of the book is how we are to respond to Christ's invitation. This book tells us how we must commit all of ourselves to Jesus Christ. This means trusting Him as our Savior AND submitting to Him as our Lord. To be an ambassador of Christ we must adopt a Biblical worldview so we can have an eternal impact on this world. To God be the glory forever! ... Read more

14. The Rise of Christianity:How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force ....
by Rodney Stark
Paperback: 272 Pages (1997-06-18)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.56
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Asin: 0060677015
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This "fresh, blunt, and highly persuasive account of how the West was won--for Jesus" (Newsweek) is now available in paperback. Stark's provocative report challenges conventional wisdom and finds that Christianity's astounding dominance of the Western world arose from its offer of a better, more secure way of life.

"Compelling reading" (Library Journal) that is sure to "generate spirited argument" (Publishers Weekly), this account of Christianity's remarkable growth within the Roman Empire is the subject of much fanfare. "Anyone who has puzzled over Christianity's rise to dominance...must read it." says Yale University's Wayne A. Meeks, for The Rise of Christianity makes a compelling case for startling conclusions. Combining his expertise in social science with historical evidence, and his insight into contemporary religion's appeal, Stark finds that early Christianity attracted the privileged rather than the poor, that most early converts were women or marginalized Jews--and ultimately "that Christianity was a success because it proved those who joined it with a more appealing, more assuring, happier, and perhaps longer life" (Andrew M. Greeley, University of Chicago). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars The number one on the subject
I have studied for ten years the issue of the christianity birth and did'nt find any book as documented and deep as the Crossan's book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Rise of Christianity
Reasonably priced and fast delivery. The book was in great condition and the seller gave an accurate description of the condition of the book. I will do business with this seller again.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not a historian
The period from the death of Christ until the end of the first century was the most fruitful in the history of the church. During these few decades, Christianity spread clear across the Roman Empire and beyond in to the Parthian empire, India, and North Africa. The best estimates put the number of Christians at the end of the first century at around 1 million (according to historical authorities like Kenneth Latourette and Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia). That's an increase of 2000 times the number of Christians before Pentecost (perhaps 500). At this rate of growth, the entire world would have been converted within the next hundred years!

What is the significance of this phenomenal growth? Just this: Those who believe the early church is the best pattern for church life (like me) point to these results as an important part of their backing.

That's why I'm not happy with Rodney Stark's book, The Rise of Christianity. Stark admits right at the beginning, "I am not a New Testament scholar and shall never be. Nor am I a historian..." (p. xii). His lack of expertise in these fields really shows in this book. (He's a sociologist).

He lays out an entirely implausible estimate of only 7530 Christians by the end of the first century (p.7). This estimate is at variance with most scholarship and flatly rejects the testimony not only of the book of Acts, but also secular historical references to the Christian movement.

I agree with the earlier scholars. Stark is wrong.
In the first place, we can account for 8000 Christians within the first few chapters of Acts, unless these narratives are completely discounted. Stark frankly dismisses Acts on page 5, speaking of the "many thousands" claimed by James in Acts 21 and the 5000 males mentioned in Acts 4. He says, "These are not statistics...figures in antiquity...were part of rhetorical exercises." (citing Robert Grant). His basis for rejecting Luke's numbers is the out-dated estimate by J. C. Russell that Jerusalem only had 10,000 inhabitants. Historians at the time had much higher numbers. Josephus says that at the siege of Jerusalem the population was 3,000,000, a figure nobody believes. Tacitus' statement that it was 600,000 is nearer the truth, but still too high. Most historians today believe it was 35,000 to 50,000 people, mostly based on the extensive water supply systems excavated in recent decades. This figure could easily include thousands of Christians.

Stark absolutely rejects the historicity of Acts. He says, "I shall assume there were 1000 Christians in the year 40." (p. 5) He bases his estimate on a straight mathematical formula assuming 40% growth per decade for 300 years, ending in six million Christians by the time of Constantine. But this is not how Christianity grew. The growth was far better during the early years and slowed thereafter.

Stark distorts his sources. For instance, in an interview he says of Pliny's famous letter to Emperor Trajan, "...he [Pliny] says he knows nothing about how they [Christians] are to be punished or even charged (10.96.1-2). This is proof positive that Christians must have been extremely scarce--to the point of social invisibility." This is amazingly distorted!
Here is what Pliny actually says:

"The case seemed to me to be a proper one for consultation, particularly because of the number of those who were accused [of being Christians]. For many of every age, every class, and of both sexes are being accused and will continue to be accused. Nor has this contagious superstition spread through the cities only, but also through the villages and the countryside. But I think it can be checked and put right. At any rate the temples, which had been well-nigh abandoned, are beginning to be frequented again; and the customary services, which had been neglected for a long time, are beginning to be resumed; fodder for the sacrificial animals, too, is beginning to find a sale again, for hitherto it was difficult to find anyone to buy it. From all this it is easy to judge what a multitude of people can be reclaimed, if an opportunity is granted them to renounce Christianity."

So we see that, contrary to Stark, the Christians were actually so numerous in his province that temples were empty, and they couldn't sell sacrificial animals or fodder. The temples were being abandoned! This letter is referring to Bithynia, which got a late start with Christianity.

Christians in Rome were way more numerous. Notice how Tacitus (an anti-Christian Roman historian) refers to the "huge multitude" of Christians captured during Nero's persecution (Tacitus, Anal. XV. 44). And yet we're supposed to believe that only 8000 were won to Christianity in the first century?

The lesson here is twofold. First, I've been surprised to hear evangelical leaders quoting Stark's conclusions without apparently realizing that he dismisses the historicity of Acts. Christian leaders should check out their sources more carefully and critically.

Second, the first century really was the best century, no matter how you want to measure it. This shifts the focus from the post-apostolic church with its formalism to the New Testament church as the most successful pattern. It suggests we should take another look at simplicity in church life, at personal discipleship as the best way to develop leadership, at mobilization of the whole body for ministry, and other New Testament practices. We should also reject modern entertainment theories and market-driven theories for attracting growth. Trusting to the power of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit might still cause us to see the kind of power they did.

Dennis McCallum, author Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How It Matters to You and Organic Disciplemaking: Mentoring Others Into Spiritual Maturity And Leadership

4-0 out of 5 stars A Helpful Study of the Early Church's Growth
Rodney Stark admits that he is not a New Testament Scholar but is a historian who has taken a keen interest in the rapid expansion of Christianity in its first three centuries.He approaches the growth of the religion as a sociologist using methods of social science.Through the course of the book, he elaborates on these methods while mostly excluding from his discussion the theological, soteriological, eschatological elements of Christianity's rise.Stark is careful and serious about his analysis; although, he does make assumptions both about Christianity and its comparison to other similar movements--such as Mormonism or the Moonies.Stark's analysis reveals the powerful influences that interpersonal relationships and social services had on the expansion of Christianity.Christians who attribute growth to the truth of the gospel and the presence of the Holy Spirit must also discern how both work through human touch and endeavors highlighted by Stark in this book.

Stark examines the early Christians' social networks, activities of caring for others, consequences of epidemics, attitudes toward the sanctity of life, martydom and the effects of Christians' core doctrines on their behaviors.

The conclusion Stark draws about the rise of Christianity appears to rest primarily on the strong commitments that the early Christians maintained to the community of believers and to showing love and care to outsiders.He writes, "The primary means of its growth was through the united and motivated efforts of the growing numbers of Christian believers, who invited their friends, relatives, and neighbors to share the `good news.'" (208)In a pluralist culture, Christianity's exclusivity was promoted through the effective practice of loving one's neighbor.The Christian community created a sense of belonging that Stark considers unrivalled by the pagan religions of the time.

By focusing on the social sciences of the expansion of Christianity, Stark shows the contemporary church how the Holy Spirit works through the community of the church to add numbers to the kingdom.One could infer from Stark's analysis that when churches face declines it is related to their neglect of living out the gospel message through interpersonal contacts.What Stark has done is underscore the importance and in fact the necessity of Christians following their beliefs with good works like caring for others and creating attachments to outsiders.His analysis also demands a response from the church.The church could dismiss Stark's work as tenuous and based on assumptions; however, the church ought to rediscover its missional-incarnational nature and re-establish committed communities that exist for others.

1-0 out of 5 stars Socialogy applied to bad, unfounded assumptions...
I bought this book looking for a good read on the history of early Christianity. I assumed that I couldn't go wrong based on the good reviews, but boy was that assumption wrong. There are really too many bad assumptions to list or discuss here, but I'll mention a few.

First, on page 90, Mr. Stark asserts that miracles played a large role in Pagan conversion to Christianity. In bold, if not ludicrous, support of that assertion, he implies that the miracles of the New Testament must have happened because "we are aware that in tabernacles all over modern America, faith healing are taking place." Really?! Maybe you could give a few confirmed examples, Mr. Stark, because if that's the case, America's healthcare issues are solved. NBC Dateline followed several of Benny Hinn's faith healings for confirmation of the "healing." It's not even necessary to say how that turned out.

In chapter four when discussing the impact of epidemics on conversion, Mr. Stark states that Christians cared for their sick while Pagans abandoned theirs. His assertion is that belief in an afterlife gave Christians the bravery to care for their sick while Pagans lacked that same bravery. It's the same old "no atheists in foxholes" cry that I heard for 20 years in the military. Well, Mr. Stark, I can assure you that there are atheists in foxholes and that they are just as self-sacrificing and brave as their religious counterparts. Throughout the book, Mr. Stark implies that benevolance and self-sacrifice had their roots in early Christianity and that that played a part in conversion. If Mr. Stark were not opposed to the science of evolution (as indicated in his 2004 article), I would recommend that he read Introducing Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans. It would probably burst his bubble to find out that societal mores such as not killing or stealing from fellow clansmen, and protecting and caring for fellow clansmen have been around for ten of thousands of years before Christianity. Without those principles, mankind would not have survived! I can assure you, Mr. Stark, that some Christians ran from the epidemics and not all Pagans abandoned their relatives at the first sign of sickness. Such black and white categorizations are simply ludicrous.

It seems convenient, even suspiciously so, that Mr. Stark chose to terminate his study before the Crusades began, even though an extremely important period to discuss with regards to Christian expansion. His theme throughout is that Christianity spread through meekness and benevolence. I guess it would have been a little difficult to have continued that theme while discussing the barbarity of the Crusades.

I had hoped for a good science and history presentation of early Christianity. This book is nothing but sociology applied to bad assumptions and misused history. The good points that are made such as how Christianity used social networking as opposed to mass conversion to spread are buried under a mountain of bad assumptions. If you're looking for an unbiased, factual, historical account of early Christianity, don't waste your time on money on this book as I did.

... Read more

15. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
by Bart D. Ehrman
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-09-15)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$9.48
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Asin: 0195182499
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human. In Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman offers a fascinating look at these early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. All of these groups insisted that they upheld the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, and they all possessed writings that bore out their claims, books reputedly produced by Jesus's own followers. Modern archaeological work has recovered a number of key texts, and as Ehrman shows, these spectacular discoveries reveal religious diversity that says much about the ways in which history gets written by the winners. Ehrman's discussion ranges from considerations of various "lost scriptures"--including forged gospels supposedly written by Simon Peter, Jesus's closest disciple, and Judas Thomas, Jesus's alleged twin brother--to the disparate beliefs of such groups as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, and various "Gnostic" sects. Ehrman examines in depth the battles that raged between "proto-orthodox Christians"--those who eventually compiled the canonical books of the New Testament and standardized Christian belief--and the groups they denounced as heretics and ultimately overcame. Scrupulously researched and lucidly written, Lost Christianities is an eye-opening account of politics, power, and the clash of ideas among Christians in the decades before one group came to see its views prevail. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (122)

4-0 out of 5 stars A great start
Everyone should read Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman. Its a pretty far breakdown of the political structure of the early church exactly why were some books considered part of the Cannon and others not? Who was in charge of picking them and how long did the process take?

The book itself starts out very strong, wanders in the middle and then staggers across the finish line but I would say that this is simply a symptom of there not being a lot of research on this side of the field.The few works on this subject that I know of are either propaganda or counter propaganda trying to combine the two into an honest academic approach has never been done before.

Back when I was a christian I either didn't think about those things on a regular basis or I figured maybe Jesus gave the apostles a list before he ascended into heaven.Turns out the process was a great deal more complicated then that in the end it was a process that cost a lot of parchment and more then a few lives.

Overall-An excellent place to start for anyone interested in the subject.

4-0 out of 5 stars Propaganda and Counter-propaganda.

Not everybody agreed with the positions defended by the Gospel community.

Rejecting the evangelist's fundamental affirmations is already clearly documented within the community that composed the texts: Jesus is considered insane and should be restricted. His teachings are also opposed to the Pharisees' who represent the Temple. The Gospel's second name is trouble.

The early Ebionites were also initially very critical towards the evangelist's resurrection story, the divine birth and the Messiah's divinity.They later, to varying degrees, accepted more of the Christology without completely integrating.

After Paul had exported Jesus to the Greco-Roman world, quarrels in the Levantine messianic spheres will be completed by disputes opposing the Gnostics and the Church fathers.

As a symbol of righteousness, Jesus has always been used for a variety of community purposes.Propaganda and counter-propaganda pave the way and the winning creed will be a compromise between different trends. Competing groups accused the others of forgery and falsehood, just as today democrats and republicans are capable of mutual accusations of lies, dissimulation, fabrication and fraud, implying that the others are leading the world to the greatest of catastrophes.

Bart D. Ehrman gives us a taste of the rivalry that divided the families of thought within the Messiah-driven religious parties. Power structures and society projects stood behind the esoteric compositions. Ehrman offers a recommendable book for readers unfamiliar with the struggles that intervened to represent the wide-spreading beliefs in eternal life.

5-0 out of 5 stars "How Early Christianity Was Crafted From Diverse Gospels",a book by professor Bart D.Ehrman.
This is an extensive(yet not exhaustive) excellent overview of the wide variety of gospels that were available after the death of Jesus : there were different interpretations on the life & death of Jesus and what it meant (hence a variety & sometimes contradictory gospels).Some of the gospels were authentic & others were forgeries,some were included in the New Testament & others excluded.The powers that be at the time (Constantinople & Roman Empire) decided on what is to be taught in the Church (hence the New Testament Gospels were chosen) & voting on the Divinity of Jesus (some gospels pronounced Jesus human & others Divine) and the Trinity of the Godhead.The gospels that did not make it where banned & their followers driven underground.Great introduction & read on Early Christianity and how it was crafted the way it was & why?

1-0 out of 5 stars Tread carefully
I'm glad I put this book down.It has a thin, veiled anger, lacks faith and love, and helps the faith of others to deteriorate.

3-0 out of 5 stars Erhman the airhead?
Erhman is a great man and a scholar who has lost his faith through his studying on the new testament.That being said.This book is great if you try to forget Erhman's agenda.(to think like he does) Pretty much like any other writer.This book gives a good in depth look and strive towards hidden gnostic and text that you won't see in any catholic apocrypha bible.This is awesome.I have used his book in essay at community college level.Check out him VERSUS STEPHAN COLBERT on youtube.Although, I only use it for his text on lost and hidden scripture, you may see his point of view in better "darkness?"then I have ... Read more

16. Classic Christianity: Life's Too Short to Miss the Real Thing
by Bob George
Paperback: 192 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$11.99 -- used & new: US$7.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0736926739
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The breakthrough book that has helped over half a million Christians worldwide since 1989!


Classic Christianity—Bob George’s eye-opening distillation of the life-transforming truths of the gospel—now has a fresh cover and interior that reflect the up-to-the-minute relevance of its message.


Like so many Christians, Bob George started out in love with Jesus, only to end up feeling disappointed and empty. Drawing on his struggles and his teaching and counseling experience, Bob cuts to the heart of believers’ common questions…


*Doesn’t God expect me to clean up my act before I approach Him?

*I know God loves me—but does He accept me?

*I’m saved and forgiven… do I just wait for heaven now?


In Classic Christianity, believers will see the way back to the life Jesus provided—a life set free from the law’s bondage, lived in the newness of the Spirit, and secure in the Father’s affection. Find out more at www.classicchristianity.com.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (65)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Grace of God Explained
As a believer for the past 40+ years, I found myself strugging to find "peace" and "contentment" in the faith.Where was the power behind the faith?Where was the zeal that the disciples demonstrated after the Lord appeared to them after his resurrection?I thought I was missing something in my faith, thinking the solution was going to be in one more book, one more audio tape, one more internet site, or one more Bible class.For years I struggled to find the "missing puzzle piece", wondering what I had to DO to find the contentment and satisfaction the Bible promised.Author and Christian Counselor, Bob George, identifies the heart of the issue, and gives a clear and logical explanation for solving it in his book, "Classic Christianity".

My mistake is that I thought I had to DO something to find satisfaction and fulfillment.Bob George teaches that it is not something we need to do, rather, we instead need to find (or rediscover) our love for God and what he has done for us, develop a life of dependency on the Lord, and then walk in obedience to his teachings.I was trying to find fulfillment through my own effort, (as a branch disconnected from teh life-giving vine) rather than allowing the vine to give life to the branch.For it is only through discovering God's awesome love for us that we can fully appreciate his sacrifice on the cross and its tremendous meaning for the believer.Christ's death on the cross not only bought us our salvation (and eternal life), but his resurrection from the dead brought us new life that we all need as believers.Once we are assured that we are loved, forgiven, and accepted by God, we can finally stop trying to EARN his favor through activities.Our response to Christ's sacrifice and love is one of overwhelming gratitude and love in return.We cannot fully love (or show our love to) others until we love God first. Once we find that reverence for the Lord, we are to model Christ's life on earth, and offer oursleves back to Christ in total dependency, allowing him to live in us. It is through Christ's life in us (He is the life-giving vine, we are the branches), that we can then find the "power" to obey his teachings.The entire book can be summarized in this:LOVE leads to DEVOTION and DEPENDANCY, which in turn leads to willful OBEDIENCE.Simple really, yet how many Christians miss this message?I certainly did.

Christians seem to endlessly debate the issue of works vs. grace.The Bible clearly teaches (Romans and Galatians) we cannot "earn' our way to salvation through good works.Our good works and acts do not impress God as much as what is in our hearts.(example: It does not so much matter how much we give rather than our willingness to give).Do we give and pray out of a sense of obligation, or are giving and praying out of a sense of love for God and his Kingdom?Bob George emphasizes the importance of GRACE first, recognizing that our salvation is something Christ did - not us!Grace awakens in us the mind-opening recognition of love that God has for us.Grace then produces within the believer the natural response, which is to love God with all our beings and to follow his teachings and commands.Therefore good works naturally follow grace, not out of a sense of obligation, but of love of God.Several reviewers have taken Mr. George to task for not placing more emphasis on good works in the life of the Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth!As Mr. Geoge writes, good works are the natural result of experiencing God's love and acceptance.Good works are not "merit points" we earn for good behavior, rather, good works are the natural expression of a heart that is devoted to God. The key distinction is in the believer's attitude.Good works are certainly important, but good works do not in and of themselves earn our salvation.

I am thankful for this book.I recommend it to all Christians who are struggling in their daily walk, wondering what they are missing.Rediscovering the grace of God reattaches the branch to the vine, connecting us to the Father and his spirit life.


5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite Christian book (other than the Bible) thus far
I highlighted the heck out of this book and keep re-reading.I've also been able to turn more areas of my life over to God in faith.Many folks at my church have been reading it as well and love it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The most life changing book you'll ever read!
Why, you ask?Because it's not about you!Bob George tells it like it is, full of truth and grace!I highly recommend this book to anyone who is asking, "What am I missing?"I've been studying with this book for the past five years, and I'm amazed at what God has done in me!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I have Ever Read! (well, next to the Bible)
God used this book to free me from trying to be the Super-Christian. I had no clue about the New Covenant and what Jesus did for me by fulfilling the Old Covenant by nailing it to the cross. For so many years I sat under teaching that left me feeling guilty and wondering if God really loved me enough to forgive all of my sins. After reading Bob George's book, the scripture jumped from the pages of the book and into my heart. God was setting me free from a life a legalism and being unsure of my status with God. If you've ever wondered which book to read to begin a journey - this is it. It's a journey of a lifetime and one that never gets old.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book will change your life
You will hear the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in this book-about what we are on earth for. You can give up religion and take up the persona Christ made you to be eternally. Bob George hewed his communication skills in many years of business before coming to the conclusion that personal peace could not be found through the things of the world. Bob's gravitas, laser-ability to get points across with ease,big heart and humor, will keep you turning the pages. ... Read more

17. Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
by Michael Horton
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2008-11-01)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$12.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0801013186
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Is it possible that we have left Christ out of Christianity? Is the faith and practice of American Christians today more American than Christian? These are the provocative questions Michael Horton addresses in this thoughtful, insightful book. He argues that while we invoke the name of Christ, too often Christ and the Christ-centered gospel are pushed aside. The result is a message and a faith that are, in Horton's words, "trivial, sentimental, affirming, and irrelevant." This alternative "gospel" is a message of moralism, personal comfort, self-help, self-improvement, and individualistic religion. It trivializes God, making him a means to our selfish ends. Horton skillfully diagnoses the problem and points to the solution: a return to the unadulterated gospel of salvation. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars Timely message
I agree with the general sense in the reviews that Horton has really nailed the problems with the modern church.His critique really cuts deep.A lot of things in the book resonated with me personally.The one star left off my review is due to one question still in my mind.

I also agree with the reviewers who rated Horton's assessment of the problem as being much more bang on than his solution.As I read Horton's prescription for re-ordering our thinking (God serves us first through weekly reminders and admonitions of the actual gospel message, and then we are equipped to serve each other and others), I really, really wanted (and want) to believe that this reordering of mission would cause a church to thrive.

Problem is that I actually do attend a church in which correct doctrine is preached week after week.The Pastor is extremely careful not to put the cart before the horse (works before grace).Yet, the church is shrinking and I feel many of the same feelings of emptiness Horton describes as being present in a church which misrepresents the gospel (the inability to "mourn before one can dance", etc).

Another reviewer mentioned that a church can have 100% correct doctrine, and still be 100% dead.I can vouch for that, and wish that Horton would have addressed a situation like this.If he did, I missed it.

Beyond that one wish, this book is so desperately needed in a time when the church's relevance diminishes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Too much tickling of ears in American Christianity
What a sad state of affairs when the church is so lukewarmish and putrid. In this book, Horton points out some of the alternative gospels posing as Christianity. While he says that we have not yet arrived at "Christless" Christianity, we certainly are on our way, and he is right. So many churches are stressing the here-and-now rather than the eternal, and the result is a Christianity so different from the gospel as portrayed in the Bible. The sad part about this is that so many ignorant Christians will never take the time to pick up the Bible, let alone this book, to see how they really ought to live. Though the book does drag in the second half of the book, there are so many quotable quotes here that I must give it a 5-star rating. It is, overall, very readable and ought to be considered by followers of those leaders such as Olsteen, Schuller, etc. who are used as popular examples in the book.

Some favorite quotes:

* "My argument in this book is not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal but that it is becoming theologically vacuous."

* "In contrast to previous generations that at least had some residual knowledge of the Bible and basic Christian teachings, it seems there is very little serious ability to state, reflect upon, or examine their beliefs, much less to relate them to daily life."

* "'Smooth talk and flattery' is part of the staple diet of successful American religion today. And it is almost advertised simply as more effective mission and relevance."

* "When we try to fit God into our life movie, the plot is all wrong--and not just wrong but trivial."

* "When even good, holy, and proper things become confused with the gospel, it is only a matter of time before we end up with Christless Christianity: a story about us instead of a story about the Triune God that sweeps us into the unfolding drama."

* "Find me on my best day--especially if you have access to my hidden motives, thoughts, and attitudes--and I will always provide fodder for the hypocrisy charge and will let down those who would become Christians because they think I and my fellow Christians are the gospel."

* "So there are really only two religions in the world: a religion of human striving to ascend to God through pious works, feelings, attitudes, and experiences and the Good News of God's merciful descent to us in his Son."

* "There is no balance here between law and gospel. The law tells us what we must do; the gospel tells us what God has done for us."

* "The church desperately needs a second Reformation, to be sure, but one that--like the first one--returns the church's focus to Christ and his work. Neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party is entrusted with this commission."

Overall, I recommend the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars No more excuses for the American Church
This is a hard-hitting wake-up call for those of us in the American Church. Horton, a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, essentially dismantles what passes for theology at most evangelical churches in this country.

While he does confront the errors of "pop theology" movements such as the "Word-Faith" or "Prosperity Gospel" of Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen, and the "seeker-sensitive" or "Emergent Church" of guys like Brian McLaren, his harshest criticism is reserved for those of us who attend conservative evangelical churches. His primary argument "is not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal, but that it is becoming theologically vacuous". In other words, it doesn't take a great heresy to lead the Church into apostasy. All that is necessary to make the Church ineffective is for Satan to succeed in de-emphasizing the centrality of Christ in our churches. Horton's argument is that the vast majority of churches follow a "flavor of the moment" mentality, emphasizing programs, political activism, and social work -- in and of themselves all admirable undertakings -- at the expense of the preaching and understanding of God's Word. This leads to a lack of discernment among professing believers, leaving many unable to even tell the difference between sound doctrine and heresy.

This is not to say that this book is merely a collection of criticisms. After all, anyone can identify problems. What is needed are visionaries who offer solutions. This is the purpose of the final chapter in the book, in which Horton calls for the Church-at-large as well as individual church congregations to recommit themselves to theology, and, most of all, to the power of Christ and the Word. After all, it is the Word of God that equips us for good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Still, read by itself, this book is long on critique and short on solutions. However, Horton wrote in the introduction that this would be the case, as this book is actually part one of a two-book effort in this area. Its counterpart, "The Gospel-Driven Life", is entirely solution oriented, giving direction for those who, like Horton, do not believe that the Church has already arrived at "Christless Christianity", and that reformation is not only possible, but imperative. I hope to offer a review of this second book in the next month or two.

All in all, this is a great read, though you should be prepared to be convicted by it. I certainly was!

4-0 out of 5 stars Painful at times, but poignant
Christless Christianity is Michael Horton's diagnosis and prognosis of the state of the Christian church in America. Going into painful detail, he presses in on the places where the church has shifted its focus from God's activity to ours, from Christ as Savior to Christ as coach, from the transforming Good News to our own transformed lives.

Horton says that our narcissism has taken the form of what has been coined "moralistic, therapeutic deism", but he suggests that, at its core, it is simply a repackaged Pelagianism. He calls it "the default setting of the human heart: the religion of self-salvation".

While Horton seems uncomfortably spot on through much of the book, I imagine every reader will find a critique with which they might disagree (or in the case of the fans of Joel Osteen, an entire chapter). Also placed under the microscope are the Emergent Church, fundamentalism and the religious left and right, but his diagnosis is so often returning to the Gospel message that it is hard to argue against it.

While Michael's writing style flows well and moves at a good pace, there was one thing that made this book a slightly harder read: 260 pages were broken up between only seven chapters. I know this is a bit of a juvenile complaint, but long chapters just make a book feel longer.

Christless Christianity is sharp critique of the state of the modern church, and I imagine that no one can walk away from this book perfectly unscathed. However, it is well-reasoned and -argued, and the cuts it makes seem to be the necessary and precise cuts of a surgeon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Evangelicalism: Defined and Exhorted
In "Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church" biblical scholar Michael Horton defines Evangelicalism and energetically urges Christians to hold firm to the "faith once for all delivered unto the saints." Horton furnishes a fine historical overview of Evangelical thought as he contends for the truth found in scripture as rightly summarized and outlined in Evangelical creeds and confessions. The author presses the church to draw its professions from scripture as he exegetes and sketches-out the doctrinal application of the Law and the Gospel. Furthermore he stresses the church's need of the content and power of the gospel forasmuch as man-centered religion fails to deliver that which men must have to be accpeted by God.

So much modern American evangelical expression lacks a focus on Jesus Christ and that's one significant reason the author calls the church back to the Redeemer.

Dr. Horton (Westminster Seminary professor) in this volume advocates:

- Building a foundation upon biblical doctrine centered on the person and work of Christ
- Rejecting Self-help religion because it is not Christianity
- The ever-persisting consequence, implication, importance, and necessity of Christian truth.

In this fairly large but readable volume (272 pages) Horton offers an educational and nourishing defense and proclamation of Evangelical truth with clarity and power.
There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies ... Read more

18. A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story
by Diana Butler Bass
Paperback: 384 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$6.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061448710
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Grassroots Movements That Preserved Jesus's Message of Social Justice for 2,000 Years and Their Impact on the Church Today

For too long, the history of Christianity has been told as the triumph of orthodox doctrine imposed through power. Now, historian Diana Butler Bass sheds new light on the surprising ways that many Christians have refused to conform to a rigid church hierarchy and sought to recapture the radical implications of Jesus's life and message.

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Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent summary of Christian History
This is a wonderful summary of the history of the Christian religion. It is well written, and told mainly from the perspective of those people who questioned the policies of the "official church" throughout the last 2,000 years.It reminds us that the true expressions of the Great Commandments, Golden Rule, and Great Commission break out throughout Christianity's history despite organized religion's best efforts to organize itself around dogma and doctrine.

4-0 out of 5 stars worth reading
I had hoped for more re women and re science, more of the "little guy's" approach for Howard Zinn, to which Bass refers. Yet, the book is well-written and offers a fresh perspective. Glad I bought and read. Am loaning to friends.

2-0 out of 5 stars Kindle version lacks hyperlinks to footnotes
I'm surprised no one has mentioned this in a review of the Kindle edition of the book: There are no hyperlinks to the footnotes. This makes it almost impossible for the reader to use the footnotes. The publisher needs to fix this error.

5-0 out of 5 stars Writing History as a practice of compassion
Butler Bass gives a kinder sort of history. She walks through the centuries looking for little-known heroes, and focusing on what's good in people. Where many historians would expose the dark sides of founding fathers or crusading reformers, Butler Bass highlights their moments of generosity and service. Concerning the theocracy of Calvinist Geneva, she emphasizes medieval Europe's enormous popular demand for community-enforced justice, and adds, "they enacted their own vision of heavenly society in sometimes restrictive ways."

Some readers will feel this is history lite. Maybe I was expecting her to get real and indulge in self-righteous denunciations of other people's hypocrisy. But in an age of almost hopeless division between progressives and fundamentalists, Butler Bass focuses on appreciating big-hearted compassion wherever she finds it. For her, Christianity as a series of experiments in practicing love, and the future of love seems wide open.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The book was in perfect condition, just as advertised.It was delievered in a very timely fashion.I have no criticism of this source. ... Read more

19. Christ, Christianity and the Bible
by Isaac Massey Haldeman
Paperback: 80 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003YMMXZQ
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This title has fewer than 24 printed text pages. Pleistocene Soricidae from San Josecito Cave, Nuevo Leon, Mexico is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by James S. Findley is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of James S. Findley then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

20. The Story of Christianity: Volume 2: The Reformation to the Present Day
by Justo L. Gonzalez
Paperback: 560 Pages (2010-12-01)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$23.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061855898
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THE STORY OF CHRISTIANITY, VOLUME 2, is an informative, interesting, and consistently readable narrative history. Beginning with the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, this second volume continues narrative history to the present. Historian Justo Gonzalez brings to life the people, dramatic events, and shaping ideas of Protestantism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy during this period, keynoting crucial theological developments while providing fresh understanding of the social, political and economic forces that influenced the formation of the church. In particular, the author notes recurring themes of unrest, rebellion, and reformation.Gonzalez presents an illumination record of the lives, impelling ideas and achievements of such prominent figures as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin-movers and shapers in the emerging Protestant church. His biographical insights, in conjunction with vivid historical accounts, reveal how individual lives mirror and clarify core theological concerns and developments.The interpretive overview of The Story of Christianity includes a thorough and timely analysis of the growth and maturation of Christianity, including events in Europe, the United States, and Latin America-the latter an area too often neglected in church histories, yet increasingly vital to an understanding of Christianity's historical development, present situation, and future options.Gonzalez's richly textured study discusses the changes and directions of the church in the traditions of Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and Eastern Christianity. The Story of Christianity covers such recent occurrences as the World Council of Churches, the Second Vatican Council, the movement toward Christian unity, and much more. It concludes with a thoughtful look at the major issues and debates involving Christians today.The Story of Christianity will serve as a fascinating introduction to the panoramic history of Christianity for students and teachers of church history, for pastors, and for general readers. ... Read more

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