BA Books & Authors on the Web – April 15, 2016

Cover ArtScott Sunquist was interviewed on the Bible Gateway Blog about his book The Unexpected Christian Century.

“In 1900 religionists—people following and studying religions—assumed Islam would become the religion of Africa. They were wrong. They thought Christianity would remain strong in the West. They were wrong. They assumed Christianity would continue to look Mainline, Catholic, and Orthodox. They were wrong: Pentecostalism was not even a concept at the time.

Historians were wrong because they and politicians were progressive; they thought everything would get better and better. The Russian Revolution, Armenian genocide, and the Great War put all those ideas to bed.”

Robert Sherman’s Covenant, Community, and the Spirit was reviewed at The Gospel Coalition.

Norman Wirzba’s From Nature to Creation was featured as part of an essay in Duke Magazine.

Scot McKnight, at Jesus Creed, continued his series on Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian by Michelle Lee-Barnewall.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – December 18, 2015

Cover ArtOur congratulations to Craig Keener, whose four volume Acts: An Exegetical Commentary won a Christianity Today 2016 Book Award in the Biblical Studies category. Craig spent many years bringing this set to completion, and it is gratifying to see that effort acknowledged.

Keener is a scholar with gifts that come along once every century, and here we see them employed in full force. Words like encyclopedic, magisterial, and epic come to mind when you examine 4,000 carefully argued pages on every aspect of the Book of Acts. Nothing like this has ever been done—and it’s doubtful that anything like it will be done for a long time. Keener has a grasp of the ancient world like few scholars anywhere, but he also has a heart for the church and its mission

Also, congrats to Alistair Stewart and R. W. L. Moberly, whose The Original Bishops and Old Testament Theology appeared on the Jesus Creed Books of the Year list.

At Euangelion, Michael Bird recommended Gospel of Glory by Richard Bauckham.

The Pastor as Public TheologianCover Art, by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, won in the Ministry category of the TGC Editors’ Picks: Top Books of 2015.

“This book was a key factor this past year in renewing an important (and ongoing) conversation about the nature of the pastoral office. Vanhoozer and Strachan seek to restore the vision of the Reformers and their Puritan ancestors of the pastorate as an office primarily defined by theology. The pastor must not see himself fundamentally as a counselor or motivator, but as a man called to mediate the transcendent truth of God to the people of God so they might live all of life to the glory of God.”

Scott Sunquist’s The Unexpected Christian Century was reviewed by Robert Cornwall.

Aaron at AJ Cerda reviewed David Wilhite’s The Gospel According to Heretics.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – December 4, 2015

Cover ArtJustin Taylor, at Between Two Worlds, introduced Scott Sunquist’s The Unexpected Christian Century.

“The third great transformation took place in the twentieth century, a great reversal . . . .

It was certainly a reversal in that the majority of Christians—or the global center—moved from the North Atlantic to the Southern Hemisphere and Asia.

But it was also a reversal in that Christianity moved from being centered in Christian nations to being centered in non-Christian nations. Christendom, that remarkable condition of churches supporting states and states supporting Christianity, died. The idea of Christian privilege in society was all but killed. And yet the religion seemed stronger than ever at the end of the twentieth century.”

At Western Seminary’s Transformed blog, Tim Harmon reviewed Mapping Modern Theology, edited by Kelly Kapic and Bruce McCormack.

Andrew Spencer, at Ethics and Culture, reviewed David Wilhite’s The Gospel according to Heretics.

Cover ArtThe Pastor as Public Theologian, by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, was reviewed at Books at a Glance.

“This is a volume that should be read by seminary faculty and administrators and used to shape their curriculum. It should find its way into the hands of many students at seminaries and Bible colleges…Finally, it should be read by pastors as a call to do the hard work of thinking theologically in order to equip the saints for the good works prepared in advance for them by God.”

Brian LePort recommended Dale Allison’s Constructing Jesus.

Thomas Schreiner summarized Magnifying God in Christ for Books at a Glance.


Christianity, Modernity, and Missions in the Nineteenth Century – an Excerpt from The Unexpected Christian Century

The following is an excerpt from The Unexpected Christian Century, by Scott Sunquist.


Christianity in the nineteenth century was closely wedded to the advancing Christian kingdoms in the world. Throughout the nineteenth century, when Chinese saw British boats unload kegs of opium followed by missionary families, it was difficult not to see that this was all part of the same foreign invasion. Chinese culture was being attacked through the body and the soul.

When missionaries in East and West Africa brought in pianos and organs and taught against polygamy, dancing, and the use of drums, it was hard not to assume that this was all an attempt to erase African cultures.

Cover ArtProtestants in the late nineteenth century, unlike those of the early nineteenth century, were more sophisticated and had the modern ideology of progressivism and social Darwinism. Missionaries often saw themselves as helping lower civilizations rise to become more civilized like them. The missionary calling was confused with the civilizing effort of Western nations. Jesus’s mission was to make people like Jesus; civilizing meant to make people like us. The two became confused in the late nineteenth century.

Modernity is in part a movement led by rational application of the mind to understand and even quantify the natural world. The modern or Enlightenment world studied the universe in all its great expanse and all its microscopic detail. This movement did not find God. God became an unnecessary presupposition for the modern person. Christianity dwelled in an uneasy alliance in this new world. As a result Christians struggled to make sense of how to appropriate this new knowledge.

All Christians had to deal with the new reality. Some adapted the new teachings and saw that in the Bible and Jesus’s teachings there is also development and progress. However, in the original teachings of Jesus, as these Christians read them, the real Jesus was not the miraculous atoning savior; he was a model and example of what it means to be fully human. Jesus was more like a perfect human than a God-man. These teachings emphasized the humanity of Jesus and the goodness of humanity. People and societies would be nurtured and slowly evolve or develop to greater peace and harmony. The era was an optimistic and progressive one, and this version of Christianity became known as liberal or modern Christianity.

Other Christians responded by confronting the new teachings, holding on to the past and affirming a scientifically verifiable Bible. They used the word “inerrant” to describe the Bible and began to defend literal (can we say scientific?) interpretations of the Bible. In an effort to fend off newer theologies that treated the Bible as any other history book and Jesus as any other man, these Christians circled the wagons and established fundamental teachings about Jesus and the Bible that must be believed.

Some of this group remained evangelical (focused on the evangelistic message and the need for conversion); others turned fundamentalist (more concerned with hard scientific facts to prove the Bible and creation). Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, was being divided from within. Without any outside persecution, Western Christianity began subdividing and rapidly declining. Missionaries in the early twentieth century carried these tensions and convictions with them throughout the world.

©2015 by Scott W. Sunquist. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.


For more information on The Unexpected Christian Century, click here.


New Release: The Unexpected Christian Century

Cover ArtIn 1900 many assumed the twentieth century would be a Christian century because Western “Christian empires” ruled most of the world. What happened instead is that Christianity in the West declined dramatically, the empires collapsed, and Christianity’s center moved to Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific.

How did this happen so quickly? Respected scholar and teacher Scott Sunquist surveys the most recent century of Christian history, highlighting epochal changes in global Christianity. He also suggests lessons we can learn from this remarkable global Christian reversal.


“It would be hard to overestimate the valuable contribution Scott Sunquist has made to our understanding of the global Christian movement.” – Gerald L. Sittser, Whitworth University

“This book provides a learned overview of major themes in twentieth-century world Christianity.” – Dana L. Robert, Boston University

“Full of surprises, this is an astounding, fast-moving story, whose latest chapter was not and could not have been predicted by earlier generations of church historians.” – Jonathan J. Bonk, Overseas Ministries Study Center

The Unexpected Christian Century sheds considerable light on Christianity’s prospects in this century by reviewing the last. A valuable addition to a vital discourse.” – Jehu J. Hanciles, Emory University

“This volume could be Sunquist’s best offering yet.” – J. Nelson Jennings, Overseas Ministries Study Center

“A godsend for opening up a vitally important history and pointing the way toward responsible Christian life in the future.” – Mark A. Noll (from the foreword)


Scott W. SunquistScott W. Sunquist (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is dean of the School of Intercultural Studies and professor of world Christianity at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He previously served as professor of world Christianity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Sunquist is the author of the Christianity Today Book Award winner Understanding Christian Mission, coauthor of the multivolume History of the World Christian Movement, and coeditor of A Dictionary of Asian Christianity.

For more information on The Unexpected Christian Century, click here.