As 2010 drew to a close, I found myself bogged down within a philosophical book about the nature and praxis of the church. I was so bogged downed that I decided to take a hiatus from that book and to return to my first literary love – that of church history.
Specifically, I chose to read Mark Noll’s book entitled “A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada.” Written in 1992, this book covers the development of Christianity from the Spanish missionaries in the 1400’s to the late 1980’s.
Yeah, it’s a thick book…
But it is also a really, really interesting and informative book that seeks to explore how the American frontier influenced Christianity. This book also helped me to understand the following items a little more (in no particular order):
- The ‘liberal’ and ‘fundamental’ divide within USA Christianity
- Why the emerging church folks are so hostile to the intuitional church
- The reason(s) behind the plethora of church movements and groups within the USA (i.e. there were more church ‘splits’ in the USA then in Canada or in Europe)
- Why Roman Catholicism in the United States is so different than in Latin America
- The reasons behind the speed of secularization and the collapse of Christendom
- Why Christians in the US always seem to chase revivals and form personality cults around big name preachers/ evangelist
In a nutshell, Mark Noll helped me understand myself and the culture in which I was raised.