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The Work We Have To Do: A History of Protestants in America

January 30, 2012

The study of history is absolutly necessary to provide a context for both thought and practice in every area of life. This is even more true for believers in Jesus Christ and Church History. In a refreshingly short book of only 154 pages noted church historian Mark A. Noll delivers a very readable overview of the history of protestants in America (Oxford, 2002) titled The Work We Have To Do taken from remarks Jonathan Edwards spoke at the funeral of his son in law David Brainard in 1747. The book itself begins and endswith reflections on Martn Luther and his impact on creating protestantism and his influence on its theology. The rest od the book is divided up by chapters reflecting upon about 50 years of time throu American history. The use of key people to illustrate and exemplify movements makes the book read at times like a novel with strong characters and plot. The addition of a time line section, index and suggestions for further reading add value to the volume. My only question is how can the history of protestantism in America be told without Carl F.H. Henry and his work? I kept waiting expectalntly for some mention of The Uneasy Conscious of American Fundamentalism but it was no where to be found. I realize 154 pages to cover over 225 years of history requires serious editing but I would love to ask Mark about the overlooking of the man in my mind is the most signifigant theological influencer of the evangelical wing of American protestantism who ever lived. That question not whithstanding this is a great book, accessable to those new to the subject a great review for long time church history fans. I am now hunting for a place to use the book in the CCU classes I teach because if the college student of today needs anything it is context!

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