Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Tuesday

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December 2011

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Whatever Happened to Christian History?

Written by , Posted in History, Links

During my last couple of years in college, I became increasingly interested in American religious history. It seemed like a reasonable fit: I was intent on attending seminary and preparing for pastoral ministry, but was also a history major who loved studying the past. The more I read, the more I became particularly interested in a couple of areas: American evangelicalism and Baptist history. These interests ultimately came together in my 2007 dissertation, “The Development of Baptist Fundamentalism in the South, 1940-1980.” I hope to rework the dissertation into a monograph one day.

When I began pondering doctoral studies in church history, I was particularly encouraged by an April 2001 article Tim Stafford wrote for Christianity Today┬átitled “Whatever Happened to Christian History?” Stafford introduced me to some of the leading debates among self-confessed evangelical historians. He also recounted the professional journeys of historians such as Mark Noll, George Marsden, and Harry Stout, scholars whose works I was already beginning to read. The article helped to cement my desire to become a church historian.

I was recently reminded of Stafford’s article when I saw it referenced in the latest issue of Fides et Historia, the journal published by the Conference on Faith and History. I’m truly thankful that a decade after first reading the article I’m serving as a “professional” church historian. I’m also glad I’m writing about the very topics I became interested in almost a dozen years ago (though I don’t write as much as I hope to in the future). I’d encourage you to read Stafford’s thoughtful article.

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