Excerpt Provocateur: Stephen Nichols’s “Jesus Made in America”

Stephen J. Nichols’s new book looks worth a read. Nichols is a historian at Lancaster Bible College who is fast emerging as a scholar of note in the evangelical movement (and even beyond it). He’s just published Jesus Made in America, which includes this little gem:

“Some, such as David Wells, have argued rather persuasively that contemporary American evangelicalism lacks a robust theological center and, what’s worse, the skill and the moral will to construct one. Such judgments don’t bode well for the future of evangelicalism, especially in terms of Christology. A rigorous and even fought-for Christology was the lifeblood of the early church. Early Christians recognized that Christianity would indeed stand or fall based on how it settled the question of Christ’s identity. So they debated. They debated the subtle distinctions between the terms nature and person, and on the issue of the Trinity, person and substance. They agonized over the biblical data. Getting it right on Christology meant everything to the early church. The church fathers labored over Christology not because they enjoyed splitting hairs and relished a good debate, but because if they didn’t, there would not be much of a Christianity at all.” (Jesus Made in America, 17)

This would be a terrific book to pick up. You’d learn a good deal about American evangelical history and you would enjoy the prose. Nichols is a gifted writer, and his provocative words will spur on much helpful thought.

See also the TOC, Q&A with Nichols, the introduction, and chapter 7 (“Jesus on a Bracelet: Christ, Commodification and Consumer Culture”).

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