Saturday, October 20, 2012

A review of Churches, Revolutions, & Empires by Ian J. Shaw

Churches, Revolutions, and Empires by Ian J. Shaw
Publisher description:
"1789 to 1914 was a time of momentous and often violent change religiously, socially, politically and economically in the western world. The revolutions in the churches and the powerful empires of the day were to have a profound effect upon society at large both then and in the years that followed. In this detailed yet fascinating study, Ian Shaw gives context and understanding to this legacy which has been passed on from that era by providing an expert analysis of the period with a focus on the key leaders, influences and issues."

This book was extremely helpful to me as I've tried to understand some of the factors that have affected modern Christianity, especially here in America.  In the last few years I've struggled to understand what moved American Christianity from it's confessional, historic, orthodox Protestant roots to it's present state.  You can't understand the modern church if you don't understand the forces that have shaped her.  I've been studying this area for a few years now, but this book has filled in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge.  It's thorough and scholarly, but understandable even to a layman like myself!

I think it's helpful if I list out the chapters to give an ideas of what Shaw covers here.  It helps to convey the immensity of everything going on during this time.  Each chapter covers a lot of ground and Shaw is very detailed and precise, but you can only cover so much  in a book like this.  Helpfully, at the end of each chapter is a "further reading list" for anyone wishing to fill in the gaps in a particular area.  I thought that was a great help and it's a big selling point for me.

For anyone desiring to learn more of Church history, this book is a great addition to your library. I learned a lot from this book and I can't recommend it enough. I give this book five stars!

Here are the chapters:
1) The Legacy of the Revolutionaries: the American War of Independence and its consequences
2) Crush ‘l’Infâme’: The French Revolution and its Legacy
3) Churches and the Industrial Revolution - Britain: 1780s-1820s
4) ‘To Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen’: The Revolution in Protestant Overseas Mission, c. 1790–1840
5) Moral Revolutionaries: The Abolition Of The Slave Trade And Slavery
6) Revolutions of the Theological Mind: Nineteenth-Century Germany
7) Building Jerusalem, or Redeeming Babylon? Churches in the Industrial Age: Britain 1820s to 1870s
8) Revolutions in Modern Social and Political Thought: Protestant and Roman Catholic Responses
9) The Rising Tide of World Mission: the 1840s to 1880s
10) Religious Responses to Revolutions in Science
11) Revolutions in American Religion and Society: the Shadow of Civil War
12) Christianity and Emerging National Identities
13) Missions in the Age of Imperialism
14) Mission at the Heart of Empires: Crisis in Late Nineteenth-Century Cities
15) Old Defences, New Expressions: Nineteenth-Century American Christian Thought and Expression
16) Conclusion: The Dawn of the World Church

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.


  1. Alex,

    Thanks for your enthusiastic endorsement of Churches, Revolutions and Empires. It's a weighty book, but it's so worth it. Looking forward to working with you on future book review blog tours.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews

  2. Shaun,

    You're very welcome, it was slow going at times but well worth the effort. Thanks for having me and on to JV Fesko's book next! :)