The Pattern of Christian Faithfulness

A religion anchored in the murder of God incarnate is a religion that takes the sinful proclivities of believers as seriously as the entire world’s need for redemption. If taking up the cross and following Christ is the pattern of holiness for individuals and communities, it is no less the pattern for the church universal.

Mark Noll, From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story


This “memoir” by Mark Noll tells less a story about him and more the tale of Christianity’s growth, mostly in the non-Western world, over the last couple of centuries. It is delightful reading, reflective and insightful. As a former student, I found several of his anecdotes filled in details which were only hints of ideas in class.

The book is filled with sources for anyone interested in reading deeply about global Christianity. Yet, the stories Noll tells are accessible to anyone simply interested in an overview of the current state of the Great Commission. Whatever the reason may be, the quote above taken from the later pages of the book, hit me the hardest. (And I was struck by many of Noll’s reflections and insights.) Noll’s is not a story of Christian triumphalism. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is triumphant but, as Noll explains in his typically humble and careful manner, the church of Jesus Christ both bumbles and thrives down through the centuries to this very day.