Monday, July 11, 2022

Today on the Almanac, we head to the mailbag.

*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***

It is the 11th of July 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at; I’m Dan van Voorhis.

Happy Monday if you observe or listen on some other day- maybe in the distant future. Welcome. My name is Dan, and I talk into a microphone about church history.

Two questions today.

Darren in Scottsdale asked me about a book- not a work of historical research but a book by a man named Simon Sinek- a book called Start With Why. True story: my colleague at 1517, Doug Klembara, recommended this to me years ago, and I read it. Darren gave me his run-down of the book and asked me if I would provide the “Why” of the Almanac.

Briefly, Sinek claims that if we think about the “what,” what we make or do, we are doing it backward. Even starting with the “how” you create something is insufficient for getting to the heart of what you do, make, etc. So, Darren asked what the “Why” of the Christian History Almanac is.

Ok- so I don’t know if I can do this perfectly- but let’s start at the end and work inwards. The “What” for CHA is a daily podcast that examines and teaches church history.

The How- I’d say that on account of 1517 and supporters like yourself, this is university-level teaching, in a short format, for free.

And so, what is the why? A big picture of church history centers us, teaches us, and makes us more generous.

When doing theology- this is true at a university or church or org like 1517 we have, to use some old-timey language- Dogmatics, Ethics, and Apologetics. What do you believe, how does it affect your life, and how do you explain and defend these beliefs.

But I don’t do those- I tell the story of the people who have struggled with these things throughout space and time. I’m not primarily looking to agree or disagree- but to tell the story. Our faith is more significant than our family, church, denomination, country, civilization, etc. It is central to many of those things but more significant than that. Also, there is a lot of folly, stupidity, and sin, and Jesus is still faithful.

Darren, I hope I approximated something like an answer.

And speaking of books- I seem to get asked for book recommendations as often as anything. So- let’s do this.

Check out the rough transcript of today’s show if you want to see the spellings for these.

It will likely be surpassed at some point, but I can’t think of a better single-volume history of Christianity than Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

Mark Noll is the dean of the history of American Christianity- his surveys are good- but let me praise Christopher Evans and his "Histories of American Christianity: An Introduction."

And this is technically two volumes, but both books of History of the World Christian Movement by Irvin and Sundquist are worth it.

And, let me give you a hint. When you find a book you like or are recommended, those books have footnotes and a bibliography.

Also- Christian History magazine, which for years was at Christianity Today and is now at the Christian History Institute, is fantastic- written at a level for the layperson, lots of topics, and you can get pdfs of them for free at the Christian History Institute.

If you want to get nerdy- Jstor and Doctoral dissertations can be tough sledding, but if you’re looking for something particular- that’s a good option.

Alright- let’s get out of here. Darren- thanks for the question and all the others who ask for book recommendations.

The Last Word for today comes from the lectionary for today from Psalm 25:

Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.

Relieve the troubles of my heart

and free me from my anguish.

Look on my affliction and my distress

and take away all my sins.

See how numerous are my enemies

and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;

do not let me be put to shame,

for I take refuge in you.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 11th of July 2022, brought to you by 1517 at

The show is produced by a man who knows Scottsdale and is named after Winfield Scott- minister, chaplain during the civil war, and politician. That’s true. He is Christopher Gillespie.

The show is written and read by a man who thinks Arizona is too hot. But so is everywhere. I miss Scotland. I’m Dan van Voorhis.

You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.

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