Bruce L. Shelley


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The United States
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Dr. Bruce Shelley was the long-time professor of church history and historical theology at Denver Seminary. He joined the faculty in 1957.

He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and received a theological degree from Fuller Seminary. He also attended Columbia Bible College.

Dr. Shelley wrote or edited over twenty books, including Church History in Plain Language, All the Saints Adore Thee, The Gospel and the American Dream, Theology of Ordinary People, and The Consumer Church. He served on the editorial advisory board of Christian History and published numerous articles for magazines and encyclopedias. He served as consulting editor for InterVarsity’s Dictionary of Christianity in America. He was a corresponding editor of Christianit
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Average rating: 4.14 · 2,532 ratings · 269 reviews · 17 distinct worksSimilar authors
Church History in Plain Lan...

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4.15 avg rating — 2,472 ratings — published 1982 — 22 editions
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Theology for Ordinary Peopl...

4.40 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 1993
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All The Saints Adore Thee: ...

3.63 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 1994 — 3 editions
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What Baptists Believe

3.80 avg rating — 5 ratings
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The Consumer Church: Can Ev...

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4.50 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 1992
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Transformed by Love: The Ve...

4.25 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2002
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The church, God's people (T...

4.25 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 1978
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A History of Conservative B...

2.75 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 1981
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What Is The Church? (Basic ...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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By What Authority: The Stan...

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 1998
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“Christianity is the only major religion to have at its central event the humiliation of its God.”
Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language

“In a sense the rise of Anabaptism was no surprise. Most revolutionary movements produce a wing of radicals who feel called of God to reform the reformation. And that is what Anabaptism was, a voice calling the moderate reformers to strike even more deeply at the foundations of the old order. Like most counterculture movements, the Anabaptists lacked cohesiveness. No single body of doctrine and no unifying organization prevailed among them. Even the name Anabaptist was pinned on them by their enemies. It meant rebaptizer and was intended to associate the radicals with heretics in the early church and subject them to severe persecution. The move succeeded famously. Actually, the Anabaptists rejected all thoughts of rebaptism because they never considered the ceremonial sprinkling they received in infancy as valid baptism. They much preferred Baptists as a designation. To most of them, however, the fundamental issue was not baptism. It was the nature of the church and its relation to civil governments. They had come to their convictions like most other Protestants: through Scripture. Luther had taught that common people have a right to search the Bible for themselves. It had been his guide to salvation; why not theirs? As a result, little groups of Anabaptist believers gathered about their Bibles. They discovered a different world in the pages of the New Testament. They found no state-church alliance, no Christendom. Instead they discovered that the apostolic churches were companies of committed believers, communities of men and women who had freely and personally chosen to follow Jesus. And for the sixteenth century, that was a revolutionary idea. In spite of Luther’s stress on personal religion, Lutheran churches were established churches. They retained an ordained clergy who considered the whole population of a given territory members of their church. The churches looked to the state for salary and support. Official Protestantism seemed to differ little from official Catholicism. Anabaptists wanted to change all that. Their goal was the “restitution” of apostolic Christianity, a return to churches of true believers. In the early church, they said, men and women who had experienced personal spiritual regeneration were the only fit subjects for baptism. The apostolic churches knew nothing of the practice of baptizing infants. That tradition was simply a convenient device for perpetuating Christendom: nominal but spiritually impotent Christian society. The true church, the radicals insisted, is always a community of saints, dedicated disciples in a wicked world. Like the missionary monks of the Middle Ages, the Anabaptists wanted to shape society by their example of radical discipleship—if necessary, even by death. They steadfastly refused to be a part of worldly power including bearing arms, holding political office, and taking oaths. In the sixteenth century this independence from social and civic society was seen as inflammatory, revolutionary, or even treasonous.”
Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language

“Stephen, of course, never lived to see it. Yet he grasped first of all the special meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and outpouring of the Spirit for biblical history. He sensed deeply that Christianity could never be confined to the rigid boundaries of the Pharisees’ laws. Jesus himself had hinted that a breach would open. Once, when asked why his disciples did not fast like the Pharisees, he said, “Men [do not] pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matt. 9:17, NIV). The most important development in first-century Christianity was the rip in”
Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language



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