My Top 5 Favorite Church Historians

I have recently noticed a lot of postings all over the web on favorite theologians (including a great one on professors on our own website)! Now don’t get me wrong, I love that people are talking about this! Nevertheless, for me, nothing is more exciting than church history. So I thought I would share my top five, favorite living historians in the U.S.

In no particular order:

(1) Martin Marty:

Starting with a classic, Martin Marty is pretty much the godfather of church history. Emeritus professor at University of Chicago, Dr. Marty is not only one of the most prolific writers of history, but also helped form a whole new generation of church historians. Some of his most famous books are:

* Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America
* Modern American Religion
* The Fundamentalism Project

(2) Mark Noll:

Professor at University of Notre Dame, Dr. Noll is an expert on Christianity in the United States and was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in America. Dr. Noll has over 20 books, but three of my favorites are:

* The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind
* The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys
* The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith

(3) Jan Shipps:

Dr. Jan Shipps is an emeritus professor of history and religious studies at IUPUI, specializing in Mormon studies. In fact, she is considered the foremost non-Mormon scholar of the LDS. She was the first non-Mormon and the first woman elected president of the Mormon History Association. Some of my favorite books:

* Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition
* Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years among the Mormons
* Religion and Public Life in the Mountain West: Sacred Landscapes in Transition (editor)

(4) Caroline Walker Bynum:

I can’t say this about many scholars, but I have read absolutely everything Dr. Bynum has written. The first time I read her book, Christian Materiality, my entire concept of church history was changed. She focuses on the Middle Ages, but don’t let that scare you. Instead, let her be your guide to a period that so many ignore. I would say read everything, but if you can’t, here are three awesome picks:

* Christian Materiality An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe
* Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond
* Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion

(5) Rodney Stark:

Rodney Stark isn’t technically known as a historian, but his books are used in church history classrooms all over the U.S. Dr. Stark is a professor of sociology and comparative religion at the University of Washington. Trust me, reading his books will change everything you thought you knew about church history. You won’t be sorry that you let him into your life. It’s hard to pick, but some of my favorites:

* The Churching of America 1776-1992: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy
* The Rise of Mormonism
* Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome

Who are your favorite church historians?