From the end of the Second World War until the rise of Gorbachev, the churches in the two halves of a divided Europe might have been living in different worlds. . . .
Almost all had to adapt to declining congregations, new concerns about women’s role in religion, and changing attitudes to abortion, contraception, and divorce. Yet the Eastern churches, undermined by state control, savage ideological attacks, show trials, and sometimes physical violence, still managed to support resistance movements, for example, the Polish priests who supported Solidarity. In the West, by contrast, tradition—the great monastic orders, the language of the liturgy, pilgrimages to saints’ shrines—was weakened by the fierce winds of secularization; only the charismatic movement proved astonishingly successful. All this is surveyed in the concluding volume of the Penguin History of the Church. The series starts with the first Disciples; it ends in the late twentieth century—with Christians struggling to face up to fresh global challenges and opportunities.
“The editor of the series, Owen Chadwick, the distinguished Cambridge historian, did well to reserve this volume for himself, lending to it the wisdom of his years and an aura of academic detachment. . . . Consistently, he brings to light material which well-informed readers will have missed.”—Michael Novak, The Times
“Dr. Chadwick’s concise narrative ought to enlarge the knowledge and sympathy of many.”—David L. Edwards, Church Times
“Chadwick in his usual engaging style combines fast-moving narrative with dazzling portraits”—Peter Hebblethwaite, The Time Literary Supplement
A History of Christian Missions traces the expansion of Christianity from its origins in the Middle East to Rome, the rest of Europe and the colonial world, and assesses its position as a major religious force worldwide. Many of the world’s religions have not actively sought converts, largely because they have been too regional in character. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, however, are the three chief exceptions to this, and Christianity in particular has found a home in almost every country in the world. Professor Stephen Neill’s comprehensive and authoritative survey examines centuries of missionary activity, beginning with Christ and working through the Crusades and the colonization of Asia and Africa up to the present day, concluding with a shrewd look ahead to what the future may hold for the Christian Church.
The French Revolution dealt a fatal blow to the alliance of Church and State. The Christian church had to adapt to great changes – from the social upheavals of the Industrial Revolution to the philosophical speculations of Kant’s ‘Copernican revolution’, to Darwin’s evolutionary theories. Some Christians were driven to panic and blind reaction, others were inspired to re-interpret their faith; the results of this conflict within the fabric of the Church are still reverberating today. In this masterly appraisal of a doubt-ridden and turbulent period in Christianity Alec Vidler concludes with a discussion of the position of the Church in modern times and expertly answers the question: ‘Has the Church stood up to the Age of Revolution?’
Owen Chadwick stands out as the trustsed authority on Reformation history. Not only is his scholorly knowledge outlined with enough precision to impress any aspiring historian, but Chadwick also manages to convey the facts with a level of underlying passion.
The concept of an ordered human society, both religious and secular, as an expression of a divinely ordered universe was central to medieval thought. In the West the political and religious community were inextricably bound together, and because the Church was so intimately involved with the world, any history of it must take into account the development of medieval society.Professor Southern’s book covers the period from the eighth to the sixteenth century. After sketching the main features of each medieval age, he deals in greater detail with the Papacy, the relations between Rome and her rival Constantinople, the bishops and archbishops, and the various religious orders, providing in all a superb history of the period.