By Dustin Bruce
Despite what it may seem, your local Baptist church didn’t appear out of thin air. It falls within a long line of Christian history, much of which has shaped the way you understand your Bible and gather as a church, in ways that are hard to overestimate.
Baptists have been shaped by a number of individuals, institutions, and movements. Of the many, perhaps no movements have shaped us so much as the 16th century Reformation and the 18th century revivals that formed early Evangelicalism.
If you would like to know more about these movements, I recommend two recent publications.
First, the recent appearance of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Timothy George’s Theology of the Reformersmarks the revising and republication of a treatise that serves as a great introduction to the key leaders and theological contributions of the Reformation. If you want to know more about the 16th century Reformation, I heartily recommend this volume. Read it and you may be surprised how much you learn about why you do the things you do.
Second, the publication of Early Evangelicalism: A Reader, edited by Jonathan M. Yeager, comes as a great service to those interested in exploring the roots of the Evangelical movement. This work features a short introductory piece on over 60 persons of key influence, followed by a sampling of their work. This book also comes highly recommended as a helpful guide to exploring the roots of the larger movement of which we are a part.
I don’t believe it to be a stretch to say that you can’t understand yourself as a 21st century Baptist (or Evangelical) without understanding these two key movements. Whether you know little or much about these movements, these two volumes will undoubtedly be of service to you.
Pick up and read!
Dustin Bruce lives in Louisville, KY where he is pursuing a PhD in Biblical Spirituality at Southern Seminary. He is a graduate of Auburn University and Southwestern Seminary. Dustin and his wife, Whitney, originally hail from Alabama.