Review: “A History of Christianity” By Diarmaid MacCulloch

written on January 1, 2011 in My Articles and Religion with 4 comments
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I recently saw a documentary “A History of Christianity” By Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch. It consists of six parts. He covers from early Christianity till the modern day Churches.

I don’t know whether it is only me or not, it seems that the narrator purposely vilified the Roman Catholic Church. (Yes, Catholic with a Capital ‘ C ‘ ). Throughout the documentary he says things happen, but fails to notify the justification of both sides for those actions.

He is giving the history with a partial and biased look as an Anglican historian alone. Being openly Gay and Anglican, no wonder he hates The Catholic Church. (See: John 15:18) So it is not fair to expect him to give a just view.

It was full of errors with respect to the Catholic Church’s teachings and purpose. (Who knows what other errors were present with other denominations)

Theological Errors in the Documentary:

  • He speaks as if The Catholic Church has invented all its doctrine (Papacy, Confession, purgatory etc., ) in due course of time. (This of course is not true)
  • The worst of all is in Part 4 – (Reformation – The Individual before God), around 39:16 he says that the Catholic Church projects Mary as a divine being. It is ridiculous. The Catholic Church has not made that claim anywhere in its history.
  • He projects as if, the Catholic Church has oppressed its followers and lived because of that oppression. Throughout the series he says that “Being Obedient” to is important to the Church. Which again is not true. Often calls the Church as “The Rome” rather than the Catholic Church. Which again is offensive. (at-least to me)
  • At the end, he projects as if Pope John Paul II, was the blundering block for the changes brought out by the Second Vatican Council. It is funny because , if you ask any Catholic Theologian he would say that the contrary is true.

Unfair Projections:

  • He projects as if the popes were all bad and were thirsty for power and money and always oppress the individual faithful. Everything the popes of the past has done (like clerical celibacy) , is shown in a negative light. The actual intent of those actions were hidden and the viewers are manipulated to believe what the narrator believes.
  • For example, when he touched the Anglican split. He says that King Henry split from the Catholic Church because the Pope refused to nullify his first marriage. But he doesn’t say why the pope refused. It is small things like this which matters the most.
  • He hails Luther for the reformation. But hides the facts that he tried to re-write the Bible and the reason for his ex-communication from the catholic church. Again this is unfair.
  • He did talk about Pope Pius XI pastoral letter against Nazism and Hitler, for barely for 10 seconds and engulfs as if the entire Christianity was supporting Hitler. Forgetting the fact he himself stated that the Catholic Church has apposed him.
  • He projects human errors as if they were that of the church itself. Yes, I agree people in the church tried to influence politics and politicians used the name of Christ unfairly. But clear distinction is missing with what the church does and with what the people did. When it comes to Good deeds, he emphasis on the person (as if it is his own action), when it is bad, he emphasis it on the entire Church. – Thats unfair.

Church as an Industry

He projects the church as an Industry, a company or something man made. Seeing the Church history without its spiritual significance makes it an industry and not a mission.
Remember in a Church without Holy Spirit:

  • There will be no “God Experience”.
  • Christ is just an Historical figure
  • Church is just yet another institution

When there is Holy Spirit

  • God will be at the center of human life
  • Christ IS God
  • Church a loving mother of all the faithful and an integral part of Divine plan.

Final Thoughts

It gives a good view of the history of the Christianity from a view point of a protestant/outsider/anti-christian. In other words this documentary is not for people who want an unbiased History of Christianity. They may very well re-name it as “A History of Christianity from the view point of a anti-christian”