I enjoyed Diarmaid MacCulloch’s History of Christianity series on BBC 4. Apparently, and presumably because of it’s positive reviews, the series is being re-run soon, this time on BBC 1. So make sure you tune in if you missed it on BBC 4 first time round.
MacCulloch isn’t a Church Historian working from within the Church itself, but he isn’t a secular historian who’s just taken an interest in Church History either. Rather, he counts himself as a ‘friend of the Christian faith’ rather than a committed Christian or a committed Atheist – he’s a rare agnostic I suppose. This perspective is interesting and unique and it comes over in the programmes. Because he stands at arms length from the Christian Church itself he is willing to ask the questions and scratch the surface of subjects some Church Historians would avoid. And because he’s not just another Marxist or other kind of secular Historian he doesn’t just explain deep religious and spiritual movements in history through socio-economic paradigms – he’s willing to see spiritual power at work in history although he himself, at present time, hasn’t found peace in the spiritual sphere.
The television series is a spin off of his recently published magnus opus A History of Christianity. The witty George Pitcher made a good job of pointing out the absurdity of the book when he said in the Telegraph:
I haven’t read this book – but please don’t turn this page yet, because I’m going to provide you with a critique of sorts in a moment. First let me say that I don’t think anyone is going to read this book. It’s 1,161 pages long, for goodness sake. If you missed out the “begat” bits, you could read the Bible in less time.
So just watch the series when it gets repeated on BBC 1 some time soon.