How Could You Forget . . .

Adolf von Harnack

Georges Florovsky

(1893–1979) 

Because Florovsky, a native Russian, worked from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, it took awhile for his thought to impact of the West. Yet his insistence on finding meaning in history and his emphasis on the continuing relevance of the church fathers combined to form a unique, and now influential, theology of history. “[P]recisely because history was apprehended as ‘God’s history,’” he wrote, “the ‘history of man’ was made possible.”

Roland Bainton

(1930–2001) 

In Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, Bainton focuses on the Reformer’s convictions: “Luther’s principles in religion and ethics alike must constantly be borne in mind if he is not at times to appear unintelligible and even petty.” Oberman makes more of context in his Luther: Man Between God and the Devil: “Luther is to be regarded not so much as a lonely prophet—let alone as the Hercules of the humanists—but as a leading member of the Wittenberg team which, in keeping with the motto of the university, initiated its program ‘in the name of St. Paul and St. Augustine.’” Both books are essential reading on Luther, as both authors (in these books and in other work) contributed mightily to Reformation studies.

Hubert Jedin

George Williams

(1914–2000) 

Williams believed that church history stood apart from other history, but he freely crossed many other boundaries. After Williams’s death, his former student Timothy George wrote for the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, “A Unitarian who did not deny the Holy Trinity, [Williams] dared to write about ‘sectarian ecumenicity,’ ‘wilderness and paradise,’ ‘evangelical rationalism,’ ‘Catholic liberalism,’ and ‘benignant Calvinism,’ not to mention ‘radical reformation.’” Williams made his most significant contributions writing on the last topic—his name for Anabaptism.

Martin E. Marty

(1928– ) 

The leading scholar of American public religion, Marty keeps a close eye on subjects like church—state interaction, civility, and fundamentalism. In three volumes on Modern American Religion, with a fourth coming, he privileges no group, focusing instead on the breadth of religious experience that has flourished in American society. His warmth toward pluralism upsets some evangelicals but accurately and often insightfully describes current trends in religion.

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #72 in 2001]

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