Author: Ian J. Shaw
Publisher: Christian Focus
Buy Churches, Revolutions, & Empires 1789-1914
Reading Level: Moderate
The birth certificate of the new nation, the 1776 Declaration of Independence, announced ringing tones that: ‘all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’. The full implications of the declaration seem to have eluded the Founding Fathers. For many decades those who were black, female, or Roman Catholic, would have genuine cause to doubt just how seriously such profound assertion were to be taken (Shaw, Ian J. (2012-10-19). Churches Revolutions & Empires (Kindle Locations 241 of 13235). Christian Focus. Kindle Edition)This book isn’t your dumbed down American history where the white Europeans are the heroes. Shaw describes the ugliness of America’s racism.
But lest you think it’s only about America, he covers the global stage during these critical years. He talks about abolition in the UK and William Wilberforce. He examines the liberal theology developed in Germany, and also the effects of the slave trade on Africa. He covers Darwin and evolution; the development of world mission and the growth of the church world wide. In this period it’s striking how much evil God used for the good of the gospel. It reminds me of Joseph who was enslaved, accused, and imprisoned--all sinfully, all reprehensibly--but God used it to save Israel and to show his mighty power.
I find this chunk of history so interesting and again so critical for understanding what’s happening today. You can’t be ignorant of this period and still be informed today--historically and theologically. Shaw’s analysis was helpful, concise, but still filling. The style was readable but slightly more academic than your entry level history book. I would recommend this book for just about anyone who wants a refresher on their world history during this period. As the church in America seeks to understand the growth of the global church and the ethnic diversity occurring in America having a sufficient foundation in this history will only help contextualize the gospel for the next generation.
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