Monday, December 6, 2010

Review of MacCulloch’s A History of Christianity DVD

I received episode 1 of this BBC series free in the mail to review.  It took me awhile to sit down and watch it, so my review is a little tardy.

I had heard of MacCulloch before.  I know him as the agnostic-homosexual-Anglican church historian that has tried to recapture the story of Eastern Christianity.  Often church histories are decidedly Western and neglect the massive influence and history of Eastern Christianity.  MacCulloch has made it his life’s work to change that. 

My only exposure to this video series is the one that I received in the mail: Episode One.  It was pretty interesting and I think foundational to the rest of the series.  I would probably like to view the rest of the series, though I disagree with some of the positions. 

The scenery is typical of films on church history, but what makes this interesting is that MacCulloch travels to Eastern places that many do not see in typical church history films.  The cinematography is nothing to write home about, but it is sufficient for a documentary. 

What I dislike about this film is that his bias obviously shapes the way he views the history of the church.  For instance, at one point he said “this is not the story of Jesus”.  I understand what he is saying.  But on the other hand, the history of the church is the story of Jesus (at least part of it).  I would hope that you could not write a biography of my wife without it being also deeply related to me.  But his agnostic, “the Bible is just another book”, view of Christianity shapes his church history. 

In the end, though, it is interesting.  I hope it sparks more discussion and scholarship on Christianity in the East.  It’s not as black and white or anti-West as MacCulloch would love it to be, nonetheless, it’s a pretty compelling video.

Rating 3 out of 5 stars

You can buy it for 71.99 or get the book for 30 bucks.

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