Church history monographs

Discussion in 'Church History' started by Reformed Bookworm, Mar 2, 2019.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Good morning, PB. Throughout my life, I have always loved history. As I grew older, my interests took a different route. I have recently been bitten by the Church history bug.

    I finished Bruce Shelley's "Church History in Plain language" and am now burning through Justo Gonzalez's "Story of Christianity." While these have been a fascinating journey, I need more penetrating reads.

    What are some of your favorite monographs on a specific time, event, or person in Church history? Thanks.
     
  2. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

  3. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

  4. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I have flogged this here before, but R.W. Southern's Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe is excellent, even though only two volumes got written.
     
  5. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Does it deal with Schilder's more problematic theological idiosyncracies? There's a reason many of his heritage (but not all) embraced various forms of neonomianism, or at least were not greatly concerned by its rise. Our time in the CanRC during the height of the FV controversy did not do much to endear us to Schilder even as Rev. Bredenhof did valuable work in carefully making distinctions between Schilder and Jordan, Wright, Leithart, et. al.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I have seen various negative references to Klaas Schilder in the PRCA's literature, to the effect that he held to a conditional covenantalism, which they believe subverted the gracious nature of the covenant of grace. If that claim is true, it would appear (to me at least) to be the consistent outworking of mono-covenantalism or not affirming that the arrangement with Adam was a covenant of works, which, ironically, is an error that the PRCA espouse themselves.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  7. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Nathan Hatch's The Democratization of American Christianity will always be one of my favorites. Marsden's Fundamentalism and American Culture is another classic historical work on the rise of the modern American church.

    D.G. Hart has some good historical works, including his book on Machen, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, and Seeking a Better Country. I also enjoyed his biography of John Williamson Nevin, even though he could be a bit too sympathetic to Nevin at times.

    Both major biographies of Charles Hodge are good, though I recall preferring Hoffecker's. Thomas M'crie's biography of Andrew Melville is highly recommended. Charles Jackson's biography of Alexander Henderson is also fantastic. Stanford Reid's bio of John Knox is another good one.

    There are many good biographies of Luther, but Heiko Obermann's is my favorite. I've yet to find one I really care for with Calvin. I suppose Gordon's is the standard one right now.

    The Marrow Controversy and Seceder Tradition by William VanDoodewaard is a good account of an important point in Presbyterian church history. Van Asselt's book on Reformed Scholasticism is a good primer on another important part of our history.

    I'm sure I'll think of more later, but those are a few off the top of my head that I enjoyed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  8. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Schilder is a bit difficult to pin down, especially given that much of his work is still in Dutch. I've heard from those that have read him that he's not an easy, straightforward read in the Dutch and he certainly isn't in his English translations that I've come across. Many of the early FV guys expressly claimed that they were merely repeating what they learned from Schilder and those of his liberated Dutch tradition, some of which defended Norman Shepherd during that controversy. Rev. Bredenhof, Nelson Kloosterman and others have noted, however, that if the FV folk were merely taking up concerns of Schilder and others, they did leave out some extremely critical distinctions that Schilder and others made. He did argue that all baptized were truly members of the covenant of grace, but even so one could be a "legal" member who lacks true faith or a "vital" member who truly receives the spiritual blessings of the covenant by faith. While he rejected the visible/invisible distinction he seem to maintain something similar in practice.

    But Schilder was definitely a mono-covenantalist. He seemed to regard the "covenant of works" as merely another administration of the covenant of grace. Man was created in one covenant, fell in that covenant, was cursed in that covenant, redeemed in that covenant, and is to be glorified in that covenant. He also was a key figure in vilifying the "scholastics," and his unease with historical Reformed theological formulations as such unmoored his successors from Reformed orthodoxy perhaps more than he allowed himself to be.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  9. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Thank you, Chris. That analysis is useful.
     
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would agree with reading the books that @TheOldCourse has recommended (or, at least, the ones that I have read, which is most of them). May I ask, @Reformed Bookworm, what periods, in particular, you wish to read up on at this time? It is hard to know where to start with such a request.
     
  11. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for the suggestions. I was eying "The Marrow Controversy." I will add that to my queue.
     
  12. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    I should add that I just started reading Presbyterian Worship in America: Changing Patterns Since 1787 by Julius Melton and am enjoying it so far. With Melton being a PCUSA pastor I do feel like sometimes he has some difficulty with the nuances of historic RPW concerns but he's generally quite fair and pays careful attention to primary source material, which is not surprising with him being a student of Horton Davies. Presbyterian historiography too frequently passes over worship concerns for theological ones and this helps fill that gap.
     
  13. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I bet Dr. Strange would have some excellent recommendations, if you could limit him on this question to something under 100 volumes. ;-)

    I think some of the more detailed histories are valuable, like Schaff and Pelikan. Works of historical theology are also quite valuable, like Muller's 4 volume Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Obermann's The Harvest of Medieval Theology, and the like.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  14. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I will probably narrow my focus in on the Reformation through the Puritans. My starting point will be D'Aubigne's two works on the Reformation and follow it up with Neil's History of the Puritans. I also have John Brown's Pilgrim Fathers of New England and their Puritan Successors. Any suggestions on works to supplement these would be appreciated.
     
  15. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    You should probably begin with Nick Needham's 4-volume 2000 Years of Christ's Power. They are popular and lack references (no footnotes or endnotes), but they are a good overview and they are written by an academic historian. He also provides pointers for further reading. As Lane has already alluded, there are an awful lot of books that we could recommend. I will, however, throw out two recommendations: Mark Noll's America's God and John Coffey's, Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: The Mind of Samuel Rutherford. The latter is the best academic book that I have ever read.
     
  16. Shanny01

    Shanny01 Puritan Board Freshman

    Some good volumes that supplement especially Neal would be the 3 Volume Set by Bogue and Bennett History of the Dissenters from 1688 to 1838. Also for more specific groupings there's Oliver's History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771 to 1892, Scottish Theology by MacLeod, The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales by Jones (2 Vol.), and the recently published Great Awakening by Joseph Tracy. I recommend these mainly based on my own research for standard volumes on the history of dissenting Protestants and that their all in my own cart(s) awaiting tax refund money ;)
     
  17. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Scottish Theology by MacLeod is good and one I forgot to mention, but as a theological history but it really requires some general acquaintance with the history of Scottish Presbyterianism that you will have to pick up in one of the other works.
     
  18. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    No more idiosyncratic than Kuyper's faulty views. I know why some are suspicious of Schilder on the covenant. I think he could have phrased it better.
     
  19. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I've always wondered about that. He never really defined what he meant about scholastic. He seemed to lump it with the iron prison of belief that Abraham Kuyper's system placed on everyone--and Schilder seemed to call that "Scholastic."

    As to scholasticism in general--it's okay as long as it doesn't replace a love for the biblical languages (which is what I am seeing among the Reformed Thomists on the internet)
     
  20. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    They both had their idiosyncracies to be sure. Unfortunately the way Dutch Calvinism turned in the early 20th century was that you were either with Kuyper or Schilder, not the older more historically grounded writers (or even Bavinck!) who were better than both.
     
  21. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Like with other matters, he's hard to pin down on it. I think the rhetoric had more of an impact on his followers than him personally and for a time we lost most of Reformed high orthodoxy to a wave of a hand and a claim that they were too scholastic and which was accompanied by the Calvin against the (scholastic) Calvinists nonsense. Thankfully Muller and others helped us recover a healthy and balanced appraisal of Reformed scholasticism. Thomism can certainly go overboard but guys like Vermigli, Junius, Turretin, Heidegger, etc. are essential to Reformed historical theology.
     
  22. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    What is the saying—one Dutchman a believer, two Dutchmen a church, and three Dutchmen a schism?
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • List
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That's true. I got mocked on the Reformed Thomism facebook group for suggesting that a knowledge of Hebrew might be more relevant for exegesis than going to Thomas's etymology word studies based on the original Latin.
     
  24. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    o_O Well that's ridiculous.

    And I continue to not regret my avoidance of Facebook groups! I'm glad you are there to confront their foolishness but it would drive me crazy.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  25. Joseph Knowles

    Joseph Knowles Puritan Board Freshman

    Consider Saving the Reformation by Robert Godfrey. It covers the Synod of Dort (as well as the Canons themselves). I thoroughly enjoyed it and wrote a review here:
    https://wp.me/p5Opx1-ez
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page