Seven Summits in Church History

Augustine. Luther. Calvin.

Hubmaier. Edwards. Carey. Henry.

Some of the richest spiritual lessons have come to me by way of great biographies. Jason has chosen seven fascinating, critically important figures and distilled some of their most important contributions to our faith and life. It’s a delight to read. 

–J.D. Greear, Pastor of The Summit Church, author of Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart and Gospel

In Seven Summits, Jason G. Duesing gives a brief introduction to major figures in the history of Christianity for churches and all readers.

The history of Christianity is like that of a great mountain range, with immense length comprised of peaks and valleys, enduring both stormy and prosperous weather. Certain figures in this history have risen to high peaks and represent significant moments in theological development. These figures are the hinge for major swings in the expansion of Christian thought.

Duesing offers a quick, yet insightful introduction to seven of the highest peaks worth climbing in church history. His biographical summaries include Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Hubmaier, Edwards, Carey, and Henry. By examining the peaks of Christian history in these seven figures, this book engages several key issues without overwhelming the reader.

It is brief but packed with pertinent information any student of history should know.

Seven Summits in Church History
Jason G. Duesing
Rainer Publishing, 2016
132 pages

Available today at Amazon from Rainer Publishing.

What People Are Saying About Seven Summits in Church History

For those intimidated by church history, or for those who want to learn more but don’t know where to start, this little book may be just what you need. Dr. Duesing offers a user-friendly introduction to seven sinners saved by grace who shaped the life of the church in significant ways. Think of those mini theological biographies as enticing appetizers designed to whet your reading appetite for more!

Justin Taylor, Vice President of Book Publishing at Crossway and he blogs at Between Two Worlds—hosted by The Gospel Coalition.

Jason Duesing’s Seven Summits in Church History delivers serious Christian history in a crisp, lively format. I recommend it to anyone wanting a reliable introduction to the history of Christianity, from the perspective of some of its greatest minds, from Augustine to Jonathan Edwards and more.

Thomas S. Kidd, Professor of History, Baylor University

Studying the history of the Church is vital to Christian life but often viewed as a daunting endeavor. With short, concise chapters on seven major figures in the history of the Church, Jason Duesing has produced an incredibly helpful book for the everyday Christian looking to explore Church History.

Kevin Peck, Lead Pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church, Austin, Texas

Jason Duesing has done it again! He has shown the importance of Christian history by giving us these succinct and accurate vignettes of seven of the most important figures among the people of God—from St. Augustine to Carl F.H. Henry. A great primer in Christian biography.

Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture.

Every movement needs heroes. Evangelicals stand to gain wisdom and perspective by standing on the mountaintops of church history and looking at our current setting in light of what God has done in the past. In this book, Jason Duesing provides an introductory guide to important figures in church history. This is a book that is both insightful and accessible and will serve to whet your appetite for further study.

Trevin Wax, Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, author of Clear Winter Nights, Gospel-Centered Teaching, and Counterfeit Gospels

If anybody’s looking for a tantalizing appetizer for the big world of church history, this little book on 7 of the heaviest hitters can’t be beat.

Jared C. Wilson, Managing Editor of For the Church, author of Gospel Deeps, Gospel Wakefulness, and The Story of Everything.

This is an excellent tool for the novice to the history of Christianity and also a great reminder for more advanced students that God changes history through people.

Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History, Southern Seminary.

You can purchase Seven Summits here.

For updates and more information follow Seven Summits on Twitter at @7SummitsHistory or take a look at the Seven Summits Facebook page.

Reviews of Seven Summits:

(Feb 2016) Books at a Glance by Cody Glen Barnhart

(Apr 2016) Evangelicals Now by Michael A. G. Haykin

(April 2016) LifeWay Pastors by Mark Dance

(April 2016) Hobbits and Handkercheifs by Joe Garner

(Aug 2016) Themelios 41:2 by Michael A. G. Haykin

(Spring 2016) SWJT 58:2 by W. Madison Grace II

Seven Summits Series Posts:

“The Great Man in History”: Allen Guelzo and Seven Summits

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In this recent interview with David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press “Press Pass” edition, Allen C. Guelzo, professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College, provides some balance and support for the idea that major trends in history do often rise and fall on the actions or in-actions of individuals.

Since the nineteenth century, historians have debated the merits of viewing history through the lives of “great men.” Thomas Carlyle’s statement that, “The History of the world is but the Biography of Great Men,” defined the virtue of this approach for many. But others critiqued Carlyle and preferred to elevate the social environment that shaped men of charisma and influence.

Mirroring Guelzo’s comments, striking a balance between these two views is what I attempt to do in my forthcoming book Seven Summits in Church History due out later this year from Rainer Publishing. Thanks to kind instruction from Michael A. G. Haykin, and following another historian, James Davison Hunter, I see the balanced work of theological biography–describing and displaying both the life of great individuals and the thinking of that life in a historic context–as a helpful tool for learning and edification.

See also my post “150 Years Ago: The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863”

(HT: Zach Bowden, Cedarville University)

Spring 2014 Courses at Southwestern

The Spring Term is underway at Southwestern Seminary and I am enjoying seeing new and returning students again on campus and especially meeting the students taking my classes.

Here are the courses I am teaching this spring in addition to my ongoing administrative and strategic initiative responsibilities:

Baptist Heritage
This is our required historical theology course for masters students that I enjoy a great deal. While some folks cannot imagine having to teach the same material over and over again, I prefer it.

Since 2005, each semester has given me the opportunity to refine and update my lectures and have another go at appealing to students that ecclesial tradition matters and that, in most cases, it is not what they think it is.

In fact, Baptist history and heritage is far more doctrinal, relevant to day to day church life, and helpful for the task of world evangelization than they’ve ever imagined. I have fourteen weeks to convince them of this and I love that challenge.

Here is my syllabus for Baptist Heritage (BPTST 3203), Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:00 p.m. in Price Hall, 217

Church History 2

This is second semester of our required Church History survey course and will cover events and doctrinal development from the Reformation to the Present. In this class I especially enjoy weaving together both a straight Church History approach where we review biography, dates, events and why they matter, as well as a Historical Theology approach that discusses and evaluates specific doctrines as they developed in their unique historical contexts.

Particularly, I am looking forward to this semester as I have the opportunity to return to Little Rock, Arkansas to teach Southwestern students at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention building. Baptists in Arkansas have a rich history and these pastors and church workers make this venue one of my favorite locations to teach. Here is my syllabus for Church History 2 (CHAHT 3113), Mondays at 1 p.m. in Little Rock.

Directed Study
Often students nearing graduation need a class that is not scheduled or they have moved on to a ministry assignment and no longer can make it back to Fort Worth or Houston. Our Academic Catalog provides them the avenue of a limited number of Directed Study courses to allow them to finish their degree. This fall I will direct a few students in Baptist Heritage (BPTST 3203).

Are you interested in taking a class at Southwestern? Find more information here or make plans to attend our Spring Preview Conference, March 27-28, 2014. I would love to meet you and welcome you to Seminary Hill.

Photo Credit: SWBTS President, L. R. Scarborough, 1922 (Roberts Library Archives)

Ben Affleck is the Batman and Charles Spurgeon Still Speaks: Footnotes from Class this Week

In my Baptist history class this week I began to make the case that the most important reason for the study of church history is that it can change your life.

One of the ways I argue for this is to bombard the students with the claim, followed by seven supporting statements, that the study of church history is one of the most effective tools of personal sanctification outside of the Bible. History humbles. And its fixed facts are no respecter of persons, intellects, or achievements.

Thus, an early but difficult step we must take in the sanctifying study of church history is to admit that there is much we do not know.

As I’ve written elsewhere, just as Martin Luther quipped to Desiderius Erasmus, “Your thoughts of God are all too human,” the student of the history of Christianity soon realizes that there is a similar humanness to our thinking with regard to God’s work in eras other than our own. We are more equipped to discuss the world of popular culture than the near-ancient worlds of Christian history. We know with little effort that Ben Affleck is the new Batman, but wrestle to admit we really haven’t ever read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon.

The encouraging truth here is that the two worlds are not that different and ancient, when known, can help the modern. Knowledge of the old serves to warn us of the perils of our current situation, while at the same time giving a promise of hope that change can come. Studying the revival that was the Reformation reveals that the intervention of God in the lives and hearts of men and women can drastically change all that is accepted as the status quo. In all ages, sin is still sin and man is still man, but God is still God and there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl 1:9).

These warnings and promises from the past, however, benefit us only when we first admit we do not have the knowledge of such warnings and promises. The admission of our ignorance can not be fully absolved by small confessions to the Google Search Engine or to Wikipedia in private anonymity. Rather, we should turn to God and ask for his help so that we can gain refining instruction from those who have gone before, both in the Bible (1 Cor 10:11) and the ensuing history of Christianity.

When we find that our lives are changed much by a nineteenth century sermon and less informed by the latest Hollywood mega-deal, we will realize the sanctifying blessings that come from the humbling of history. What a joy then to share with others why and how we’ve discovered that Spurgeon is the Batman we need.

Photo: Grave of C. H. Spurgeon, West Norwood Cemetary, London, May 2013.