The Christian Century
Cover of December 14, 2010, issue
|Publisher||Peter W. Marty|
|Publisher||Christian Century Foundation|
The Christian Century is a Christian magazine based in Chicago, Illinois. Considered the flagship magazine of U.S. mainline Protestantism, the biweekly reports on religious news; comments on theological, moral, and cultural issues; and reviews books, movies, and music. The Century website hosts blogs by Drew Hart, Carol Howard Merritt, Elizabeth Palmer, and Daniel Camacho, along with a network of more than 100 outside bloggers.
The Century's current publisher is Peter W. Marty, while David Heim is its executive editor. Regular columnists include Marty, Philip Jenkins, Kathryn Reklis, Carol Zaleski, Sam Wells, Craig Barnes, and Stephanie Paulsell. The magazine takes a "liberal" editorial stance.
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.
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 spokesperson 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 internment of Japanese Americans. Critiques of the internment policy, by writers such as Galen Fisher, appeared regularly in the Century and helped bring awareness to the situation. Unfortunately it also published articles opposing American interventionism in the war for the benefit of the Jews persecuted under the Nazis. As late as 1944 the magazine published articles such as A Reply to Screamers by Fred Eastman (Feb 16, 1944 204-6) which admonished the suggestion that there was a moral obligation for the United States to aid in the plight of European Jews being murdered during the Holocaust.
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 Century remaining the major independent publication within ecumenical, mainline Protestantism.
The magazine was heavily involved in covering and advocating for the civil rights movement. It sent editors to a march in Selma in 1965, and was one of the first national magazines to publish Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
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, Richard John Neuhaus, Albert Schweitzer, Wendell Berry, and Marilynne Robinson. Marty, writing about the 1940s, described the Christian Century at that time as an "anti-Zionist" publication. In recent years, the magazine has published both pro-Palestinian and pro-Zionist authors and argued for a two-state solution to the conflict.
- 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  271-290.
- Left-wing scholars attack the best-selling 'Da Vinci Code', Richard N. Ostling| Associated Press, July 10, 2004 
- Modern American Religion: Under God, Indivisible, 1941-1960, Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago Press, 1999, p. 189.
- Christian Century, "Milestones."
- Elesha Coffman, "A Long Ride on the Mainline," Books and Culture, November 14, 2008.
- Elesha Coffman, The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. online review
- John Dart, "The Rise and Fall of Protestant Magazines," Christian Century, December 26, 2006,
- Linda-Marie Delloff, "Charles Clayton Morrison: Shaping a Journal's Identity," Christian Century, January 18, 1984.
- Robert Shaffer, "Opposition to Internment."