Harry Emerson Fosdick
...and Alternative Reading Selections for those who Want Them
The Life of Saint Paul
The Life of Martin Luther
homeschool, in part, because I believe that parents have the moral duty and
to pass their faith on to their children. Those parents who embrace the historic doctrines of the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible may find the following information of use as they build their collections of Landmark books.
Harry Emerson Fosdick is not only a Landmark author, but an important figure in 20th century church history. His eloquent efforts to defend and promote theological modernism, or liberalism, have impacted the Church in ways that are still apparent today.
church he pastored during the 1920's, First Presbyterian Church of New York
City, writes the following about his beliefs:
"[Fosdick was] the Modernist, the optimistic rationalist who didn't believe in the physicality of the virgin birth; who found many of the Bible's miracles - particularly the ones embellished in later texts - as discountable. He disbelieved the dogma of the inerrancy of the Bible that the Fundamentalists believed, and the physical ascension of Christ to heaven into the clouds of this earth, for instance. [emphasis added]
"It was these views that drew the accusations from his theological enemies that he was a heretic.
"For Fosdick, the Bible is not so much a revelation from God, but of God. He believed that the Bible contains the word of God, not that it is the word of God, in totality."
and quotes him as saying,
is simply living in the present age upon ideals and standards of an age gone
Harry Emerson Fosdick denied the Resurrection, Special Creation, and Jesus Christ's Deity and worked to teach and promote these unorthodox views. His mission is plainly evidenced in his books, including his Landmark books for children.
parent, you may want to pre-read his Landmarks to determine what place, if any,
they should have in your home, and what amount, if any, you're willing to pay
to own them. (They tend to be rather expensive.)
Even if you disagree with Fosdick, as I do, you may find that the more mature, spiritually alert children and the adults in your family would profit from reading Fosdick's adult books. While I couldn't recommend them for doctrinal content, they are important source documents for 20th century church history (and, for theologically conservative Christians, they make a great foil for exercising discernment and practicing logical debate).
Fosdick's Landmarks are beautifully written--his technical skill as an author is impressive--but they were written to teach children a modernist/liberal interpretation of Scripture. The result is biographies that simply are not true to the historical record.
I would heartily agree with an early Christianity Today reviewer who called Fosdick "immensely readable [but] not edifying."
For those who decide against using Fosdick's Landmark books, I offer the following alternatives. I do not claim, however, to agree with every last jot and tittle of any of these selections, with the exception of the Bible.
For all of the following, I would recommend Lord's Beacon Lights of History.
For Jesus and His times:
any of the chronological Bibles
Go Ye Therefore: A Biography of the Lord Jesus Christ by Petrea Bergman, Mount Hermon Press, 1991 (Much longer than a Landmark, but very close to Scripture with added dialogue and geographical, cultural, and historical content. Excellent.)
The King Nobody Wanted by Norman F. Langford, Westminster Press, 1948
Echoes of His Presence by Ray Vander Laan with Judith Markham, Focus on the Family, 1996 (Also available as a condensed audiobook.)
Nest's "Animated Stories of the New Testament" videos and activity books
Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, Houghton Mifflin, 1961
Vinegar Boy by Alberta Hawse, Moody Press, 1970
The Runaway by Patricia St. John, Moody Press, 1983
People in Palestine by Olivia Coolidge, Houghton Mifflin, 1965
The Centurion by Leonard Wibberley, William Morrow, 1966
Jesus and Paul: Places they Knew by F. F. Bruce, Thomas Nelson, 1983 (Note that there is a companion volume, Moses and David: Places they Knew.)
The Robe by Lloyd Douglas (There is also a movie on video.)
The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain
That the World May Know: Faith Lessons on the Death & Resurrection of the Messiah, Ray Vander Laan, produced by Focus on the Family. (This is two outstanding videos, combining Biblical archaeology with Scripture, illustration, and deep, thought-provoking faith lessons.)
For the Apostle Paul and his Times:
any of the chronological Bibles
Fire upon the Earth: The Story of the Christian Church by Norman F. Langford, Westminster Press, 1950
Conqueror in Chains: A Story of the Apostle Paul by Donald G. Miller, Westminster Press, 1951
From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth A. Tucker (Covers the scope of church history since Pentecost.)
That the World May Know: Faith Lessons on the Early Church, Ray Vander Laan, produced by Focus on the Family. (This is two outstanding videos, combining Biblical archaeology with Scripture, illustration, and deep, thought-provoking faith lessons.)
For Martin Luther and his Times:
Renaissance and Reformation Times by Dorothy Mills, Putnam, 1938 (This is rather hard to find, and tends to be expensive, but it is well worth the search.)
There are many excellent children's biographies of Luther. The following are some of my favorites:
Martin Luther: The Lion-Hearted Reformer by J. A. Morrison, Warner Press, 1924, from the "Christian Heroes Series" (Christian Liberty Press has republished this in an inexpensive softcover as Martin Luther: The Great Reformer.)
A Child's Life of Luther, Gospel Mission Press, 1980, from the "Children's Heritage Series"
Martin Luther: The German Monk Who Changed the Church by Ben Alex, Victor Books, 1995, from the Heroes of Faith & Courage series
Kitty, My Rib, Katharine Luther, The Heartwarming Story of a Woman of Courage and Devotion by E. Jane Mall, Concordia, 1959
Martin Luther by May McNeer and Lynd Ward, Abingdon Press, 1953 (McNeer and Ward, husband and wife, wrote several beautifully illustrated biographies of Christian heroes.)
The Triumph of Truth: A Life of Martin Luther by Jean Henri Merle D'Aubigne. (Outstanding for older readers, this has now been republished in softcover by Bob Jones University Press. It is drawn from his excellent nineteenth century multi-volume history of the Reformation.)
Martin Luther, the classic Louis De Rochemont Production. This is an old black-and-white film now available on video from Lutheran Film Associates. It is excellent--historically accurate and powerful. (The ISBN is 1563640554 and it is still in production and can be ordered from Christian Book Distributors.)
Note: References for the quotations on this page may be found at First Presbyterian Church of New York City