Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of ChristianityWritten by Mark A. Noll Reviewed By Nathan A. Finn
Mark Noll is among the most distinguished historians in American evangelicalism. His book Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, now in its third edition, is a semi-scholarly survey written for students and everyday church members. The title captures the essence of the book, which summarizes the story of Christian history by recounting thirteen significant vignettes. Besides some general updating, the major change in the third edition is a new chapter thirteen dedicated to Vatican II and the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Noll argues that these two meetings were important ecumenical and missionary endeavors that captured some of the momentum of and ultimate furthered the growth of global Christianity, especially in the majority world. Overall, Noll does a fine job of summarizing church history. Some readers will quibble with him over his choice of particular turning points. For example, Jesuit missions is given a whole chapter, but Constantine's story is treated as background information to the fourth-century christological debates. Others will bristle at the omissions-where are Anselm and Jonathan Edwards, and why are Pentecostals and Charismatics only briefly treated in the Afterword? Nevertheless, Turning Points remains an excellent resource for church reading groups or, if it is appropriately supplemented, undergraduate surveys of church history.
Nathan A. Finn
Nathan Finn is associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, director of Southeastern’s Center for Spiritual Formation and Evangelical Spirituality, and a book review editor for Themelios. He is co-author of the forthcoming book The Baptist Story: From English Sect to Global Movement (B&H Academic).