Patron Saints for Postmoderns: Ten from the Past Who Speak to Our Future, By Chris R. Armstrong
Patron Saints for Postmoderns
  • Length: 249 pages
  • Published: July 27, 2009
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3719
  • ISBN: 9780830837199

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Are you feeling discouraged in your efforts to reflect Christ each day in our broken world? Does it feel lonely? Too difficult? Too overwhelming?

The saints can help you. Especially the ones whose stories Chris Armstrong tells here, because he's chosen them for the ways they've inspired him and deepened his own faith. A professor of church history, Armstrong provides rich portraits of ten people from the past who

  • translated the gospel for their own times
  • broke down barriers
  • ministered out of the brokenness we all share
  • knew what it feels like to live on the margins
  • believed in the power of stories to bring transformation through Christ

Knowing their stories buoys our own, and observing their steps gives us lived-out action to go with our theology. Perhaps more important, seeing their ordinariness--their foibles, sins and mistakes--helps us realize that no matter where we come from, no matter how inadequate we think we are, God can change each of us by his grace and use us for his glory.

So settle in, and spend some time getting to know these brothers and sisters in Christ who struggled and failed and fought and lived faithfully in their day. Together, Armstrong and ten saints from the past will encourage you in your struggles and help you live faithfully in the present.

"Taken together these 'patron saints' become a most valuable 'cloud of witnesses' for the many and varied circumstances of Christian believers in our own day. Careful reading of this well-crafted book will pay rich rewards."

Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"For those who have been tempted to think that Christian history has little to teach the contemporary church, Patron Saints for Postmoderns may come as a delightful and unexpected surprise. In his beautifully crafted and well-researched volume, Chris Armstrong provides his readers with a winsome and convincing argument for the continued relevance of the past. Patron Saints for Postmoderns is both a treasure trove of valuable insight and a genuine joy to read."

Garth M. Rosell, professor of church history, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"The church in America has no lack of novelty. Bloated with self-referential congratulations, our American Christendom needs a hearty dose of wisdom. In Patron Saints for Postmoderns, professor Chris Armstrong tells the stories of ten flawed yet wise historical figures who incarnated the gospel afresh at a pivotal time in the life of the church, each offering a glimpse of how we might critically bring flesh to the gospel in our own pivotal era."

Mark Van Steenwyk, founder of Missio Dei and and general editor of

"Lives have consequences, and Armstrong reminds us just how consequential our lives are. In ten crisply drawn portraits of saints whose lives resonate with our times, he challenges us to take our freedom with eternal seriousness."

David Neff, editor-in-chief, Christianity Today

"Saints can be off-putting and unapproachable figures, trapped in pious pictures and stained-glass windows. The pleasure of Christopher Armstrong's attractively written book is in seeing the very human, quirky side of some of the greatest heroes and heroines of the Christian story."

Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity

Worth considering for any modern religious reader who wants to discuss the unsung heroes of Christianity.

James A. Cox, Library Bookwatch, November 2009

Armstrong profiles some oft-overlooked saints and reminds us in a postmodern-friendly fashion that all history is biography, and that the past is more unpredictable, complicated, and instructive than the way it is often presented.

Madison Trammel, Christianity Today, October 2009


1 Antony of Egypt: Pursuing Holiness and Living Powerfully
2 Gregory the Great: Discening Hearts and Finding Balance
3 Dante Alighieri: Loving the Universe and Saving Our Souls
4 Margery Kempe: Weeping Over Jesus' Body and Praying His Heart
5 John Amos Comenius: Learning Diversity and Teaching Peace
6 John Newton: Proclaiming Grace and Uniting the Church
7 Charles Simeon: Overcoming Wounds and Shaping Leaders
8 Amanda Berry Smith: Standing Tall and Breaking Down Barriers
9 Charles M. Sheldon: Knowing Our Neighbors and Serving Them Well
10 Dorothy L. Sayers: Keeping It Real and Waking the Church
Conclusion: A Postmodern Challenge from Dante via Sayers


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Chris R. Armstrong

Chris R. Armstrong (PhD, Duke University) is associate professor of church history at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Armstrong contributed chapters to Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land (edited by Mark A. Noll and Edith L. Blumhofer) and to Portraits of a Generation: Early Pentecostal Leaders (edited by James R. Goff Jr. and Grand Wacker). He has written over seventy articles as the former managing editor of Christian History & Biography magazine, and he is a contributing writer to Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, Christian History, and other publications. He blogs regularly at