In my book about prison ministry: The Lampstand Prison Ministry: Constructed on Catholic Social Teaching & the History of the Catholic Church, I suggested that the book on Church history that so influenced my conversion, Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church by H. W. Crocker III, become a central criminal evangelical tool, for it is within the history of the Church that the seeking criminal will find the walking of the talking which will inform his conversion.

Each one of our books is a response to a likely objection to Catholicism that will be encountered when doing ministry to professional criminals; and for links to all of the Lampstand books which are available at Amazon, go to

Consequently, this article from Catholic World Report about the importance of Church history is one I readily endorse.

An excerpt.

In the 1980s, Richard John Neuhaus famously criticized the “naked public square”: the notion that public life—politics, business, education—should be devoid of religious content. Advocates of the naked public square see religion as inherently divisive. In a pluralistic society, they say, it’s best to keep such potentially explosive issues to ourselves.

A similar understanding has come to dominate many academic disciplines, where personal beliefs concerning matters such as religion are thought to have no importance—or discouraged from having any bearing—on scholarly research or writing.

In The Past as Pilgrimage: Narrative, Tradition, and the Renewal of Catholic History (Christendom Press, 2014), Christopher Shannon and Christopher O. Blum launch a frontal assault on the idea that historical scholarship should be theologically neutral. Dr. Shannon is professor of history at Christendom College in Virginia, and Dr. Blum is professor and academic dean at the Augustine Institute in Denver. They corresponded recently about some of their book’s central points.

Schmiesing: First, some groundwork. Some people naturally love history, while some hate it; many are indifferent. You see history as playing a vital role within the Catholic tradition. Why should the past be of interest to those who are serious about their Catholic faith?

Dr. Blum: The simple answer, of course, is that the past matters because Almighty God has entered the human story: first, through his messengers and prophets; then, in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ; and finally, through the presence of his Holy Spirit in the Church. It is because of these events and the words of God recorded in the Bible that Popes Francis and Benedict XVI have affirmed that the current crisis of faith is also a crisis of memory. Without a real connection—alive in our memories—to God’s saving work in the past, we can hardly be Christians.

Dr. Shannon: History is not only essential to Christianity, but is perhaps the most distinctive feature of Christianity among the religions of the world. Every faith has a history, but Christianity is a historical faith whose truth depends upon real, as opposed to mythic, events. We can only know our faith through knowing these events and how they relate to each other. The Church teaches timeless truth, but lives truth in time. Philosophy and theology do not comprise the whole truth of the Church. We cannot fully know the Church without knowing how it has lived—that is, without knowing its history.

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