It is the 11th of October 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.

Time to go to the mailbag, Scott from Tyler, Texas (one of two places in America known as “Rose City”!)

He writes nice things- likes the music we currently use (not everyone does, but) and then asks: “What do you think are the most underrated people or events in church history?

Ok, Scott- you are speaking my language as I love to talk about things that are underrated, overrated, or properly rated. Let me give you some non-Church history examples.

Burgers

  • Overrated- Whataburger
  • Underrated- IN-N-OUT
  • Properly Rated- White Castle/Five Guys

TV Shows

  • Over- Friends
  • Under- Parks and Rec
  • Properly- Office

So, we could take this with church historical figures:

Church Fathers

  • Overrated- Augustine
  • Underrated- Origen
  • Properly Rated- Jerome

Books of the Bible

  • Over- Matthew
  • Under- Philemon
  • Properly- John

But this question and game might help us think about how we think about church history. On this particular show, I treat the church’s story like a family tree, or perhaps more like a family reunion across space and time. Maybe you’ve been to these events before- maybe as someone who doesn’t know everyone.

And so consider me that cousin that walks you around the crowd and points out who is who. Of course, I can just say a few things and so you wouldn’t(or shouldn’t) judge someone based on a thumbnail sketch. And as this is the Family of God I’m not always going to “warn” you about people. You can decide whose picnic table you want to sit down at for the meal, but I want you to meet as many family members as possible.

I think I would have a lot of fun at Dr. Gene Scott’s table- I imagine Sister Aimee Semple MacPherson would be there- Billy Sunday, Bobby Schuler, Tammy Faye… good times.

Some tables might have more rules than others. I respect that and might get anxious if it seemed too formal. But I would want to watch why they do, what they do, who they defer to, who wears the fancy hat, etc…

Most of the tables wouldn’t speak English- wouldn’t understand early 21st century America and I would feel like an outsider. And that’s helpful to remember.

And that’s part of the point I’m trying to make in answering your question- the under/over/properly has to come from your own perspective. For years global Christianity- especially in the Global South was unknown to me- it was underrated and now I hope, properly rated.

As a Protestant in the Reformation tradition, I underrated Catholic thinkers for too long- we’ve only been around for 500 years, so perhaps some humility is in order. But also, we’ve not been around for just 500 years because our history is the history of everyone before then. I’ve heard Protestants speak of themselves as being in the larger “western Catholic” tradition.

So ask yourself- who is underrated or under-studied or under-appreciated- type those words into Google and see if something pops up. Check the 800 plus episodes here (if you go to 1517.org and search you can find my pods but also others!

As always- send me your questions, comments, favorite recipes…

The last word for today comes from Philippians 4:

8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 11th of October 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.

The show is produced by the always properly rated Christoper Gillespie.

The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis who does apologize to the Whataburger crowd.

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.