Carter Lindberg, “A Brief History of Christianity”

And that’s what this is — less than 200 pages, covering from A.D. 33 to the present.  Not profound, and without any big surprises for me, but straightforward and with little bias.  A couple of tidbits:

  • Ephesus’s Artemis/Diana cult became a Mary cult (31).
  • The Christian as wayfarer originated with Augustine (44).

And there’s this paragraph near the end of the book (178):

Our narrative of the history of Christianity now verges on journalism as we try to picture contemporary developments.  It may well be that the most significant development in the modern story of Christianity is its remarkable shift from “Eurocentric” denominationalism to a truly global movement whose center of gravity is now the southern hemisphere of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia, and whose form is increasingly a trans-denominational Protestantism.  In contrast to the efforts by the modern Western churches to adapt the faith to modern culture, the younger churches bear a stronger resemblance to the early churches’ belief in prophecy, faith healing, exorcism, visions, and charismatic leadership.  Like the early church, the younger churches confronted by pluralism and its concomitant relativism have embraced Christian identity, albeit in inculturated forms.  The variety of new forms of churches as “community churches” also has a certain parallel to the early church in their decentralization.  The old saying that all politics is local may perhaps be paraphrased to say that many churches are developing from the local context rather than depending upon denominational missions.

The author, by the way, is Professor Emeritus of Church History at Boston University; he seems to be a Christian.