Bruce Shelley: A Historian for the People

Longtime Denver Seminary church historian Bruce Shelley passed away earlier this week at the age of 82. Christian History has published a great online tribute to Shelley written by Scott Wenig, who teaches applied theology at Denver Seminary. Shelley is probably best known for his bestselling church history textbook, Church History in Plain Language. I first read Church History in Plain Language when I was in college, shortly after I first began considering a career as a church historian. It is a book I have recommended many times since to pastors, students, and other readers interested in an excellent narrative introduction to the history of Christianity. I’m thankful for the example of this scholar-churchmen who used his giftedness to teach Christians from all walks of life about the importance of church history.

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  1. sfg   •  

    I was a student of Bruce Shelley at Denver Seminary (then called Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary) in the late 1970s. He was a wonderful teacher, and a great communicator. He classes were a joy to attend. He also was often found in the coffee room talking informally with students and he required that each student in one of his classes visit him in his office at least once during the term. He also taught the required Baptist History and Polity class, which was a challenge as even then the school had a majority of non-Baptist students. He wrote a small book on Baptist Distinctives, which I had to nearly memorize for my interviews to be a missionary with the then Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society (now WorldVenture). Bruce will be greatly missed.

  2. Roger Simpson   •  

    Dr Finn:

    I am going to order Dr. Shelley’s book on Amazon. I gave away several books I had on the topic. Other than SBC history books, about the only church history books I have now cover the period from the apostles up to Constantine.

    I’ve never read much about the period from Justinian up to the Reformation. Maybe Shelley’s book would fill in some of my own “blind spots”.

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