The Christian Century

The Christian Century
The Christian Century

Cover of December 14, 2010 issue
Exec. Editor
John M. Buchanan
David Heim
Categories Christian magazines
Frequency Biweekly
Circulation 36,000
Publisher Christian Century Foundation
First issue 1884
Country  United States
Language English
ISSN 0009-5281

The Christian Century is a Christian magazine based in Chicago, Illinois. Considered the flagship magazine of U.S. mainline Protestantism,[1] the biweekly reports on religious news; comments on theological, moral, and cultural issues; and reviews books, movies, and music. The Century also publishes a group blog, Theolog, and hosts a network of more than 100 outside bloggers, CCblogs.

The Century's current editor and publisher is John M. Buchanan, while David Heim is its executive editor. Rodney Clapp and Philip Jenkins are columnists; other regular contributors include Carol Zaleski, Walter Brueggemann, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Will Willimon. The magazine takes a "liberal" editorial stance.[2]

The magazine describes its mission as follows:

For decades, the Christian Century has informed and shaped progressive, mainline Christianity. Committed to "thinking critically and living faithfully," the magazine explores through argument and reflection what it means to believe and live out the Christian faith in our time. As a voice of "generous orthodoxy," the Century is both loyal to the church and open to the world.

The Century was founded in 1884 as The Christian Oracle in Des Moines, Iowa as a Disciples of Christ denominational magazine.

In 1900, its editor proposed to rename it Christian Century in response to the great optimism of many Christians at the turn of the 20th century that "genuine Christian faith could live in mutual harmony with the modern developments in science, technology, immigration, communication and culture that were already under way." Around this same time, the Century's offices moved to Chicago.

The magazine did not receive widespread support in its denomination and was sold in a mortgage foreclosure in 1908. It was purchased by Charles Clayton Morrison, who soon labeled the magazine nondenominational. Morrison became a highly influential spokesman for liberal Christianity, advocating higher criticism of the Bible, as well as the Social Gospel, which included concerns about child labor, women's suffrage, racism, war and pacifism, alcoholism and prohibition, environmentalism and many other political and social issues. The magazine was a common target for criticism by fundamentalists during the Fundamentalist - Modernist debate of the early 20th century.

During the Second World War, the magazine helped provide a venue for promotion of ideas by Christian activists who opposed the Japanese-American internment. Critiques of the internment policy, by writers such as Galen Fisher appeared, regularly in the Century, and helped bring awareness to the situation.

In 1956 the magazine was challenged by the establishment of the evangelical Christianity Today by Carl F. H. Henry, which sought to present a theologically conservative Christian viewpoint, while restoring many social concerns abandoned by fundamentalists. Both magazines continue to flourish, with the Christian Century remaining the major independent publication within ecumenical, mainline Protestantism.

In 2008 both Martin E. Marty and former editor James M. Wall concluded long runs as Century columnists. Other notable writers published by the Century over its long history include Jane Addams, Reinhold Niebuhr, Martin Luther King Jr., Richard John Neuhaus, and Albert Schweitzer. Marty has described the Christian Century as an "anti-Zionist" publication.[3]


  1. ^ Gary B. Bullert, "Reinhold Niebuhr and the Christian century: World War II and the eclipse of the social gospel," Journal of Church and State 44 [2002] 271-290.
  2. ^ Left-wing scholars attack the best-selling 'Da Vinci Code', Richard N. Ostling| Associated Press, July 10, 2004 [1]
  3. ^ Modern American Religion: Under God, Indivisible, 1941-1960, Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago Press, 1999, p. 189.

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