J. STEVEN PAUL
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Reviews by Readers
“Much of everything you’ve ever wondered about Christian history is summarily answered in In Search of Christian Origins. J. Steven Paul has compiled a treasure trove of forgotten roots and historical milestones bookended by his own illuminating reflections. An in-valuable reference book to understand how Christian beliefs, practices, and movements originated and evolved. Will help many rethink Christianity and distinguish man-made religion from Jesus’ love ethic. Highly recommended.”
"I just now read and enjoyed your introduction. I skimmed through the rest of your book, too. Wow, Steve, you really did your homework! For folks who want to know in detail where the Christianity that still shapes so much of our national conversation came from, the story you tell will be invaluable."
KIRKUS BOOK REVIEW An amateur historian tells of questioning his Christian faith in this exploration of the religion’s history. Since his days as a Boy Scout, where he earned the “God and Country Award,”Paul found that his church discouraged conversations that questioned Christianity’s positive role in world history or entertained skepticism regarding the fundamentals of Protestantism. He found it difficult to reconcile the teachings of Jesus with his growing realization that “Christians can be horrible people.” In this debut book, he offers a lengthy and nuanced history of Christianity featuring events and details that are well known to historians but are often glossed over by Christians of various denominations. The 21 chapters each represent 100 years of Christian history from the first century through the 21st. Each chapter is essentially an annotated timeline that walks readers through a year-by-year survey of major occurrences, thinkers, and developments. While emphasizing that “the story of European Christianity is in many ways the story of world Christianity,” due to relentless colonialism, the book also does an admirable job of reminding Western readers of the robust origins of Christianity in the Middle East and Africa. Though many chapters are straightforward and encyclopedic in their writing style, the book’s introductory and concluding material make clear its underlying belief that an unbiased history calls into question core arguments of evangelical and conservative Christianity, including the notion that the United States is a “Christian nation.” A self-described “average man” without formal training in history or theology, Paul writes in a style effectively geared to evangelical laypeople who, like him, are uncomfortable with what they see as their church’s pat answers to difficult questions. At more than 700 pages in length, the book would have benefited from more concision, but it will nevertheless provide evangelical and traditionalist Christians with an historical overview that explores its subject matter in a meaningful way. A comprehensive account of Christianity’s varied history."