A Short History of Christianity

A Short History of Christianity

A Short History of Christianity

A Short History of Christianity

Synopsis

For the non-specialist, Martin Marty traces the church's quest through twenty centuries for unity, sanctity, universality, and authentic witness. He delves into the disparity between the ideals of the church and historical realty in order to provide a brilliant, instructive, and eminently fair statement of the history of Christianity from its founding to the present day.

In this second edition, revised and expanded, Marty has added an entirely new section entitled "Postscript and Prescript" in which he discusses the recent past and prospects. Fresh insights and revisions based on the most recent contemporary developments keep this volume abreast of the times, making it an up-to-date survey of the history of Christianity.

Excerpt

Historic Christianity has worn many faces. a hymn-sing in a plain Methodist chapel in Iowa and high mass at St. Peter’s in Rome; a peasant prayer and a Catholic system of theology; the percussive affirmation of a tribesman and a choral rendition of the B Minor Mass; the simplicity of a St. Francis and the pomp of a Renaissance pope; the withdrawal of a hermit and the involvement of a worker-priest or socialist Christian—all are somehow directly related to the Christian faith. To speak of these many things is, in some senses, to speak of one thing. the contrasts and disparities between them are understandable only in their common reference or loyalty to a historic person, Jesus Christ, who died in Palestine c. A.D. 30. To make sense, the narrative of the Christian movement must begin with Jesus of Nazareth.

From the first we are thrown into the midst of a mystery, the mystery of Christian life: the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and the relation of Christ to the Church, primitive and historic. This event cuts across time and eternity: when the creed declares the incarnation of God in Christ, the Catholic Christian kneels. and this event cuts across East and West: Christianity is an oriental religion, yet it shaped the Western world. the “many” in the Christian tradition would all insist that there is only “one” in Christ. the theories as to the meaning and intention of Jesus vary, yet the historical reality of the Church seems to by-pass the theories. Many recent critics, from Adolf Harnack through Rudolf Bultmann, argue that Jesus did not intend to found a church; as Alfred Loisy put it: “Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, but it was the Church that came.” the Catholic Christian, on the other hand, insists that Jesus came expressly to found the Church. Adherents of both . . .

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