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Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity Paperback – February 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080106211X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801062117
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Noll (Christian thought and church history, Wheaton Coll.) has taken the broad topic of the history of Christianity and given it a structure of turning points, focusing on individuals and events at key points in Christian history. The "turning points" put history into perspective and provide opportunity to add a human quality by often focusing on individuals while looking over particular events. Noll adds intimacy by opening each chapter with a hymn of the times and closing with a prayer of the period. When the hymn is familiar, it is particularly poignant. The book looks both at the historical roots and at the different paths the Christian church has taken, enabling readers of different backgrounds to appreciate the context for differences within the churches. This highly recommended work provides a thoughtful yet comprehensive framework for the history of Christianity.?George Westerlund, Providence P.L.,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

This popular introduction to church history now includes a comprehensive study section with application challenges for today's church, making the second edition of Turning Points all the more useful for students of church history and church study groups.

"This highly recommended work provides a thoughtful yet comprehensive framework for the history of Christianity."

-Library Journal

"Noll's treatment of the material is evenhanded, engaging and illuminating. This will be a useful text for readers seeking a historical framework within which to understand their Christian faith."

-Publishers Weekly

"An informative and inspiring survey of the history of Christianity designed for the general reader . . . . A thoughtful introduction to the two millennia of Christian history."

-Church History

Mark A. Noll is the McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. He is a leading historian with many works to his credit, including A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada and The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.


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Customer Reviews

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Turning Points is one of Noll's most accessible books.
Stephen M. Bainbridge
Noll brings over 13 turning points in the history of Christianity to his book in 20 page segments.
William Thornton
There are obvious pros and cons to this style of writing history.
Todd Hudnall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Todd Hudnall on August 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dr. Noll's reason for organizing church history around a series of "turning points" arose from his need to have a framework for teaching the history of Christianity to diverse groups. The author selects twelve defining moments in church history and uses them as entry points into the sweeping and potentially overwhelming events of the two-thousand-year history of the Christian Church. He hopes this method will bring order into a massively complicated subject, provide an opportunity to highlight moments that constitute the actual history of the church, and provide an opportunity to interpret why certain events may have marked an important fork in the road for the outworking of Christian history.
Turning Points was written for lay people and introductory students rather than for scholars. The style of writing is interesting, easy to read, and to the point. As such, it makes a great book for his audience. Though Noll is a Protestant evangelical, he is careful to avoid bias as he attempts to present Christianity as a worldwide religion. The book is a survey of church history but the thesis revolves around the importance of twelve defining moments within the two-thousand-year span. His selection of "turning points" include the Fall of Jerusalem (70), the Council of Nicaea (325), Benedict's monasticism (530), the coronation of Charlemagne (800), the schism of East and West (1054), the Reformation (1521), the English Reformation (1534), the founding of the Jesuits (1540), the conversion of the Wesleys (1738), the French Revolution (1789) and the Edinburgh Missionary Conference (1910). The book is chronologically arranged around each of these events.
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Bainbridge on November 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, Mark Noll is the foremost (American) church historian of our generation. In a series of books, he has set forth biblically-grounded and scholarly rigorous treatment of a vast range of theological and historical issues. Almost single handedly he is has reversed the dearth of evangelical intellectualism.
Turning Points is one of Noll's most accessible books. Not a dry scholarly treatise, but rather a lively and well-written overview of 12 critical events in the history of Christianity. Noll's idea is that focusing on specific episodes not only allows for a more detailed treatment of each than would be possible in a comprehensive text, but also permits "more opportunity interpretive reflection." I think he was exactly right--he can go into considerable depth on each event, explaining why it was so significant.
Turning Points thus does not pretend to be a comprehensive narrative. For those looking for such a treatment, may I recommend Paul Johnson's "History of Christianity," which I regard as the finest one-volume comprehensive church history.
Like any list-making project, one can quibble with Noll's choices. He leaves out some of my favorite episodes (which is not exactly the right phrase, but you get my point). Not included are such events as the three Great Awakenings; the installation of John Paul II; the crusades; and so on. At the same time, however, it is hard to quibble with Noll's choices. Events like Nicea, Worms, the French Revolution, and so on were all major "turning points" that deserved comprehensive treatment.
As an adult convert to Catholicism from evangelicalism, I particularly appreciated Noll's objectivity and even-handedness. Without betraying his own evangelical tradition, Noll treats Catholicism eminently fairly.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm just finishing this book and found it to be a thought provoking approach to the subject. Noll takes an openly evangelical approach to things, yet is very fair to the Catholics and the Orthodox. In fact, the chapters on monks and on orthodoxy were quite good. The format is also appealing, with each chapter bookended with hymns and prayers from the period being covered. The bibliography after each chapter is also very useful.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By George R Dekle on May 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Noll identifies twelve "turning points" in the history of Christianity, times at which the faith struck off in a distinctly different direction from that which it had been traveling. He seeks to set forth the significance of each turning point and set it in its proper place in the broad sweep of history.

You cannot argue with his first few choices, although he seems to read more consequence into the events than may be warranted. The fall of Jerusalem was indeed a watershed event, but Noll sees its significance in the formation of canon, clergy, and creed. These three things formed after the fall, and would have formed quite differently but for the fall, but were not the direct result of the fall. The main significance of the fall is that it freed Christianity from its status as a sect of Judaism. Until Jerusalem fell, the premier church of Christianity was the Jerusalem Church. The Jerusalem Church considered itself a sect of Judaism. Until the death of the Jerusalem Church, all Christians everywhere would feel constrained to follow its lead.

One must wonder whether it was the Council of Nicaea or the Battle of the Milvian Bridge that was the second turning point in Christian history. Nevertheless, the Nicene Creed's significance cannot be overstated.

The next turning point, the Council of Chalcedon, "settled" Christ's nature. Although there is still disagreement among various Christian denominations, most still adhere to the doctrine of Christ hammered out at Chalcedon.

Later "turning points" are more debatable. Charlemagne's coronation may or may not have laid the foundation for Christendom. You could make an excellent case for the proposition that we have Constantine, not Charlemagne, to thank for Christendom.
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