Item description for Global History of Christians, A: How Everyday Believers Experienced Their World by Paul R. Spickard & Kevin M. Cragg...
Overview Surveys the progression of the Christian experience within historical, social, economic, and cultural contexts as it has evolved throughout the past 2000 years.
Publishers Description Surveys the progression of the Christian experience within historical, social, economic, and cultural contexts
Citations And Professional Reviews Global History of Christians, A: How Everyday Believers Experienced Their World by Paul R. Spickard & Kevin M. Cragg has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Library Journal - 11/15/2000 page 33
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Studio: Baker Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 1.3" Weight: 1.45 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2001
Publisher Baker Academic
ISBN 0801022495 ISBN13 9780801022494
Availability 0 units.
More About Paul R. Spickard & Kevin M. Cragg
Paul R. Spickard (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Kevin M. Cragg (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is professor of history at Bethel College.
Reviews - What do customers think about Global History of Christians, A: How Everyday Believers Experienced Their World?
More Indoctrination than History Jun 12, 2007
As a history student, I found this book to be extremely disappointing. Rather than taking an unbiased approach to examining the history of Christianity, the authors here seem more concerned with converting the reader to their particular brand of evangelical Christianity than with educating the reader on Christianity's history. I found the scholarship in this book to be extremely sloppy, and there were numerous unsubstantiated and speculative claims as to the nature of everyday life for historical Christians. Assertions that the Christian religion is true are laid down thick, and few dubious church claims are questioned or examined. This book presents some outrageous accounts--including the resurrection of Jesus and "tongues of fire appear[ing] before believers' heads"--as historical fact.
Overall, this book is better suited to a religious seminary than a history classroom. You'll find no hardcore history here.
A nice overview Sep 9, 2006
Spickard and Cragg give a fine historical overview to the history of Christians. They show when and where it deviated doctrinally as well as practically, and what were some of the cultural/social/political factors that influenced and impacted believers. For the most part, my opinion, is that they leave much of their personal bias out of interpretation of events--FOR THE MOST PART. Obviously, complete objectivity is a near impossible feat.
I do have one major caveat for readers of this book. The authors use the term "Christian" in its most broadest sense. In other words, if you claim the name--you are represented here. I am not talking about Catholic/Eastern Orthodoxy/Protestant differences and divides here. The authors use a broad brush to show how many heretical sects and cults emerged out of orthodox faith (e.g. Nestorians). In that respect, it is overly ecumecal for my convictions. Yet, the authors critique them where there doctrine strays. Just be warned.
Otherwise it is a fascinating read and very engaging.
Only because of grace, --Jeffrey
Not What It Claims to Be Oct 3, 2004
I could make a lot of small nitpicks with this book; but I'll just stick to a more general overview. I give it 3 stars only because I am the first reviewing it, and I don't want to be personally responsible for an "average customer rating" of 2 stars. Besides, maybe that would be too harsh anyway.
If you know anything about the history and development of Christian thought, you will most likely find this book frustrating and uninformative. If you are not already familiar with the subject, I'd advise you to avoid this book -- as it will only leave you with some very skewed perspectives.
It purports to include "depictions of everyday life in various Christian communities, descriptions of native cultures as more than objects of missions, and analyses of key developments in society and economics." Of those claims, the only one it delivers on adequately is the last, regarding developments in society and economics.
Non-Western Christians are treated very cursorily except for when they are, in fact, the object of Western missions. The single chapter devoted to Eastern Orthodoxy is terrible -- even within the context of the overall historically bad Western scholarship on the matter. The title of the chapter itself, "Eastern Orthodoxy: Christians Who Never Changed?" betrays the almost "debunking" attitude the authors take with regards to the Orthodox Church. In a later section about the Soviet era in Russia, the impression is created that the Russian Orthodox Christians basically surrendered their Christianity with minor persecution by the state, and became lethargic and dormant. They mention that "monks who spoke out against the communist government found themselves restricted or sent off to prison camps." This shamefully belittles the suffering of the Church under Soviet persecution: Tens of Thousands of Orthodox believers were assassinated, murdered, executed, and sent to die in the Gulag. And it was the clergy (especially the bishops) who were targeted the most. No mention is made of this.
they omitted some rather relveant information from the Reformation period, as well. While they went to some lengths to explain the corruption of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church, they glossed over some of the most extreme behavior of the Puritans in the wake of it. When discussing the Puritan takeover of Parliament in England (and the consequent beheading of King Charles), they have only to say that the Puritans couldn't agree as to how to run the country once they had control of it, and had to allow the return of the monarchy. No mention is made here about Oliver Cromwell's tenure as Lord Protector of England -- let alone his outlawing the celebration of Christmas, or the bloody massacres of the Irish which he led.
Discussing Archbishop Cranmer, they say that he was an "Erasmian" and a "moderate reformer." No mention is made of the fact that he instigated Henry VIII to gut the monasteries of England, nor how he dismantled the Anglican Episcopacy to the ultimate effect that they have had, in the last century, to restore their apostolic succession through Old Catholic lines.
The bulk of descriptions of Non-Western Christians -- despite the promises in the product description -- take place in the context of things like the Portuguese Jesuits showing up in India and encountering some indigenous Christians. And again, the suffering of the Malankara Church in India under Portuguese occupation is invisible in the text here.
Overall, the picture this book paints is one of all of christian history leading up to, and being fulfilled in, the Protestant Reformation. What comes before is pointing to it... and what has happened subsequently is relevant mostly only in the context of how it relates to the world created by the Reformation.
If you are an Evangelical with very little knowledge* of Church History and the development of theology, this book will not challenge you at all -- with the net effect that you will not know what the authors haven't told you.
If you want to read a good (relatively) unbiased treatment of the purported subject of this book, I highly recommend the following two books -- both very accessible.
"Historical Theology: An Introduction to the History of Christian Thought," by Alister E. McGrath. This book is designed as a text for colleges -- so the intended audience is the same as "A Global History," but to much better effect.
"Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years," by David Edwards. This book is written in the form of a straight narrative, rather than as a set of case studies. The treatment is fair with all concerned, and the flow is an asset to an understanding of Christian History as a whole -- rather than as a set of different "periods."
*This is not a suggestion that Evangelicals are generally lacking in knowledge in this subject. I mean, rather, that if you are BOTH an Evangelical AND lack knowledge in this area, etc.