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Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C. S. Lewis Paperback – May 17, 2016
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"A wonderful introduction to our neglected Christian tradition"
"With lilting prose and sparkling insight, Armstrong draws us into the spiritual riches of medieval Christianity. He uses the insights of C. S. Lewis and other modern interpreters to shine a light on that long-past yet still remarkably relevant era. This book will serve equally well in college, seminary, and church education classrooms."
--Grant Wacker, Duke Divinity School
"Using the wisdom of C. S. Lewis as a point of entry, Armstrong unpacks the material and sacramental world of the medieval church, demonstrating why such dated material is much needed in the life of the evangelical church today. This is a must-read for anyone who cares about the evangelical church's future."
--Greg Peters, Biola University; author of The Story of Monasticism
"Armstrong's approach to introducing twenty-first-century Christians to the rich resources of medieval and monastic wisdom is ingenious. He uses C. S. Lewis to invite us into a conversation with other contemporaries who have found that this oft-neglected period of Christian history provides the kind of embodied and holistic spiritual life that is needed as a remedy for today's gnostic, individualistic, and shallow spirituality."
--Dennis Okholm, Azusa Pacific University; author of Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks
"With a searching evaluation of his own evangelical leanings and inspired by the discerning medievalism of his spiritual mentor C. S. Lewis, Chris Armstrong takes us on a delightful tour through the insights of medieval Christians that have most profited him. With Armstrong's sparkling prose, the journey never turns arcane or becomes tiresome, and it leaves us with many treasures to ponder."
--Robert B. Kruschwitz, Institute for Faith and Learning, Baylor University
"A wonderful introduction to our neglected Christian tradition for all those who feel something is missing in the modern church. It is also a real treat for fans of C. S. Lewis."
--Devin Brown, Asbury University; author of A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C. S. Lewis
"An excellent introduction to medieval spirituality, philosophy, theology, and Christian practice."
--David Neff, former editor in chief, Christianity Today and Christian History
About the Author
Chris R. Armstrong (PhD, Duke University) is the founding director of Opus: The Art of Work, an institute on faith and vocation at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Formerly professor of church history at Bethel Seminary, he is also senior editor of Christian History.
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With C. S. Lewis, a self-described medieval in a modernist body, as our guide, Armstrong brings us back to a period of church history filled with many a misconception in today’s popular culture. Not only are inaccurate myths exposed but Armstrong uses several key Christian thinkers and topics to give the reader suggestions as to how to engage culture today with timeless truths and harmony of thought that our medieval friends subscribed to in an era of Christianity that many believe to be an alleged dark age of thought and reason. What deeply resonated for me was Armstrong’s critique—not of the medieval world, but of the current one, in which he astutely points out that we may well find the antidote of many of modernity’s ills in the past. In his own words, we find ourselves in a world filled with people with do not know “who we are either morally or metaphysically.” In an era of hyper individualism it is necessary to go back and look at times where “community” was less of a buzzword and more of a reality, necessity, and value.
Armstrong’s playful yet articulate language and deep exploration help us explore multiple facets and categories of faith from this era. Subjects such as but not limited to theology, philosophy, Christian spirituality, and mercy and justice are covered. Along with this, Armstrong makes important mention of how the medievals understood the natural world not as disproving faith, which seems to be the binary that is forced upon us today, but as God’s “second book”, which further anchors the truths of the Christian faith.
This book is written in an articulate yet accessible way that would be useful in or outside of the classroom, in a church library, and perhaps more importantly in a general library. In our current age of brash disagreement, it is refreshing to read something that seeks to in an academic tradition be critical of its area of discourse and to also highlight positives of an era or subject of study. In education we are taught to be critical thinkers, which is vital, yet along with it which seems to happen not as often: humble and generous thinkers, too.
This book is a powerful reminder that in any and every age God is at work in profound and powerful ways. Logical positivism, the belief that progress is naturally the only way we move forward when we move forward through time is fraught with its own set of issues. It’s hard not to sound a bit hypocritical when we judge history’s ills sitting in a century that already early on has had so much bloodshed and conflict. May we learn to not only be a judge of history but a student of it. If we care about the future of evangelicalism, those of us who are evangelicals need to become better students of our past. We need to give our people both roots and wings, and this book does precisely that.