I have read many books on history and the history of the church. Church history was also my minor or cognate field of study in seminary.
There is much to like about John Dickson’s Bullies and Saints: An Honest Look at the Good and Evil of Christian History. Sometimes instead of a regular review, I like to offer five things I appreciated about a book. Here goes with Bullies and Saints:
*Dickson is balanced in laying out the good, bad, and downright ugly or evil. He does not fall prey to either the cynic on one hand or the hagiographer on the other hand.
*There is a responsible engagement with the best scholarship, yet the book remains accessible.
*Dickson is a lucid writer who knows how to find the telling anecdote or illustration.
*Unlike some Christians, Dickson does not go back to the past to find talking points he already agrees with. He allows the strangeness of the past to speak to him and by way of extension, us.
*It is the kind of book that a Christian could comfortably give to a thoughtful non-Christian. I think many non-Christians would be pleasantly surprised by Dickson’s fair-mindedness.