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Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future Paperback – July 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (July 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830837191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830837199
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,075,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Taken together these 'patron saints' become a most valuable 'cloud of witnesses' for the many and varied circumstances of Christian believers in our own day. Careful reading of this well-crafted book will pay rich rewards." (Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame)

"For those who have been tempted to think that Christian history has little to teach the contemporary church, Patron Saints for Postmoderns may come as a delightful and unexpected surprise. In his beautifully crafted and well-researched volume, Chris Armstrong provides his readers with a winsome and convincing argument for the continued relevance of the past. Patron Saints for Postmoderns is both a treasure trove of valuable insight and a genuine joy to read." (Garth M. Rosell, professor of church history, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

"The church in America has no lack of novelty. Bloated with self-referential congratulations, our American Christendom needs a hearty dose of wisdom. In Patron Saints for Postmoderns, professor Chris Armstrong tells the stories of ten flawed yet wise historical figures who incarnated the gospel afresh at a pivotal time in the life of the church, each offering a glimpse of how we might critically bring flesh to the gospel in our own pivotal era." (Mark Van Steenwyk, founder of Missio Dei and and general editor of www.JesusManifesto.com)

"Lives have consequences, and Armstrong reminds us just how consequential our lives are. In ten crisply drawn portraits of saints whose lives resonate with our times, he challenges us to take our freedom with eternal seriousness." (David Neff, editor-in-chief, Christianity Today)

"Saints can be off-putting and unapproachable figures, trapped in pious pictures and stained-glass windows. The pleasure of Christopher Armstrong's attractively written book is in seeing the very human, quirky side of some of the greatest heroes and heroines of the Christian story." (Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity)

Review

"Saints can be off-putting and unapproachable figures, trapped in pious pictures and stained-glass windows. The pleasure of Christopher Armstrong's attractively written book is in seeing the very human, quirky side of some of the greatest heroes and heroines of the Christian story."

More About the Author

Chris R. Armstrong (Ph.D., Duke University) is professor of church history at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Chris has written Patron Saints for Postmoderns, a group biography of 10 figures, from Antony of Egypt to Dorothy Sayers. He is now writing Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants. For more on that project, search on the blog mentioned below:

Chris was--and now is again--managing editor of Christian History magazine. He blogs at gratefultothedead.wordpress.com/. And he writes for Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, and other publications.

Chris has contributed chapters to Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land (edited by Mark A. Noll and Edith L. Blumhofer) and (co-authored) to Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders (edited by James R. Goff Jr. and Grant Wacker). His research and teaching interests include the holiness, Pentecostal, and charismatic movements; a usable medieval past; the "Inklings" authors; religion and emotion; evangelical spirituality; and the "ancient-future" and "new monastic" movements within evangelicalism.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scot McKnight on November 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Protestants are nervous about the famous saints of the church, and they are nervous for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that veneration of saints by some in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions exceeds what is to be said of humans and diminishes (by default) what is said of Christ. But, those excesses do not diminish the powerful stories of those whom God has used mightily. This is the perfect book for this issue. Armstrong introduces us to ten saints, some of whom are not always on the top one hundred saints lists. This book would serve as an excellent textbook for Sunday school classes, for adult Bible studies, and for reading in a college course on Church history. The genius of the book is to teach church history while keeping us in touch with spiritual formation.

Armstrong finishes his book with a chapter reflecting on how these saints can be of help to Christians today. What makes these stories, these biographies of use to us? One of his answers: "Because, for Sayers, as for Dante, and Kempe, and Gregory, the visible, physical world is loaded with spiritual meaning" (205). Armstrong's book is a wonderful book for the Church, a real gift. Why? Because the church needs more contact with its past, and this is how to do it: by telling the stories within that Story of the Church. And, yes, I agree with him: the visible, physical world is loaded with spiritual meaning...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By read for the glory of God on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
In Patron Saints for Postmoderns, Armstrong offers ten tasty morsels from church history intended to transform readers trying to make sense of life today. Thanks to Armstrong's salty if not spicy writing these morsels give readers a richly flavored experience with authentic Christians - no artificial tastes here - and lots to chew on. These chapters aren't like sticks of gum that lose flavor after five minutes; they're engaging conversations we can mull over for the rest of the week and they might change your life. Armstrong graciously has given us access to conversations with these saints that changed his own life. That's one of the pleasures of this way of doing church history: the historian joins his postmodern readers on the various segments of the pilgrimage paths these saints have trod, stumbling or running or just pausing to catch a breath when needed. We need more church history stories today to make us laugh and cry and give us strength to make a few more steps in the right direction, just like we can with NPR's Story Board features.
But there's a difference. These folks and their stories are Christian; all sorts of Christians from all the major "Streams of Living Water" or traditions of the Christian faith, to compare these stories with Richard Foster's well-known book on spirituality. In fact, this would be a good next step for those who've read Foster's book and are looking to go deeper into the stories of the saints and sinners that populate Christian history. What should you expect from the true life stories of the monk Antony of Egypt? Yes, "busting myths about monasticism" but in a way that gets all of us back to basics, to praying that "opens the gates of heaven", to hospitality that provides "social service centers" for all in need.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike Robinson on February 10, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Those who enjoy History and Christian biographies will delight in Chris Armstrong's "Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future." Armstrong offers many marvelous stories of men and women who lived to glorify God. The author presents ten believers from the pages of history (some who are relatively unknown) as he sketches their lives and provides numerous excellent quotes. This volume is also an outstanding text for those who are not normally drawn to history as it inspires as much as it educates.

Armstrong furnishes very readable biographies of:
- Dorothy Sayers
- Dante
- Gregory the Great
- John Newton
- Charles Sheldon and more.

Chris Armstrong notes: "We needed to know whose shoulders we were standing on."

The author doesn't often provide the weaknesses in deeds or doctrine of some of the less orthodox subjects, but one can learn a great deal about various important Christian figures as the author energize you to embrace a greater passion to glorify God.
God Does Exist!: Defending the faith using presuppositional apologetics, evidence, and the impossibility of the contrary
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trevin Wax on November 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I miss Christian History and Biography. I know that the magazine still exists online, but I miss reading cover-to-cover the stories of ancient Christians.

Chris Armstrong's book Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future (IVP, 2009) has the flavor of Christian History and Biography. Chris focuses on ten "saints" from Christian history and offers insights from their lives that can be learned and applied today.

Chris puts his finger on one of the weak points of evangelicalism that drives the younger generation's desire to be linked to history. He writes:

"There was no sense at all of the whole mystical, historical massiveness of the church. No sense that Christ had created and then defended and nurtured this church over two thousand years. No sense that our foundation actually stretched down and back through time to rest on such giants in the faith as John Wesley, Martin Luther, Bernard of Clairvaux and Ignatius of Antioch...We needed to know whose shoulders we were standing on." (9)

Because "there is no essence of Christianity that is not clothed in history" (11), Chris believes that the stories of Christians in the past have something to offer those of us sojourning in a postmodern world. The book features biographical portraits of ten Christians - from Antony of Egypt to Dorothy Sayers.

From Antony, we learn the power of pursuing holiness in the context of community. Though monasticism can lead to unhealthy tendencies, "a 'separated life' may turn out to be a most powerful evangelistic technique" (32).

From Gregory the Great, the first practicing monk to be elected to the papacy, we learn that a secular task can be transformed into sacred duty.
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