History Department

Chris Gehrz

Associate Professor of History

Chair, Department of History

Co-coordinator, Christianity and Western Culture (CWC) program

Chris Gehrz
Ph.D., Yale University
M.A. and M.Phil., Yale University
A.B., College of William and Mary


(651) 638-6105

Courses Taught

Christianity and Western Culture
The Cold War
Human Rights in International History
Modern Europe
The Reformations
Senior Seminar
World War I 

Academic Podcasts & Blogging

Radio Modern Europe

CWC: The Radio Show (continuing, with Sam Mulberry, Amy Poppinga, and Sara Shady)
Historia!: The Bethel History Department Podcast (continuing, with Sam Mulberry and other History Dept. faculty)
Radio Modern Europe (from Fall 2008)
The Policast (special 2008 election season series, with Stacey Hunter Hecht and Sam Mulberry)

Click on the links to download or subscribe, or visit Bethel's iTunes U page. You do need the iTunes application, which you can download for free from Apple.

I also blog regularly at The Pietist Schoolman, covering Christianity, history, education, and the intersections among those topics.

Research Interests

Trained in the history of international relations, I am primarily interested in how individuals, groups, organizations, governments, and cultures interact across national borders. I am especially concerned with such interactions at levels other than "high politics" and military conflict. My dissertation, for example, examined the British, French, and American educators who went to occupied Germany in 1945-1949 and tried (without much success) to "modernize" German educational values, policies, and institutions.

Here I am also guided by my growing conviction that peace is not merely the absence of conflict; it requires the presence of justice, mercy, compassion, and righteousness. This has led me to a growing interest in human rights in international history.

Finally, my interest in education has, of late, expanded to the history and theory of Christian higher education. I am currently undertaking a research project on the Swedish-American Pietist understanding of higher education as seen in the histories of Bethel University and North Park University. In conjunction with this new interest in Pietism, I recently worked with two colleagues to coordinate the Lilly Fellows Program regional research conference, "The Pietist Impulse in Christianity" (March 2009).


The Pietist Impulse in Christianity, edited with G.W. Carlson, Christian T. Collins Winn, and Eric Holst (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2011)

"Recovering a Pietist Understanding of Christian Higher Education: Carl H. Lundquist and Karl A. Olsson," Christian Scholar's Review 40 (Winter 2011): 139-54.

“Dean Acheson, the JCS and the ‘Single Package’: American Policy on German Rearmament, 1950,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 12 (March 2001): 135-60.

“America, Europe, and German Rearmament, August-September 1950: A Critique of a Myth,” written with Marc Trachtenberg, in Between Empire and Alliance: America and Europe during the Cold War, ed. Trachtenberg (Rowan & Littlefield, 2003), 1-31.

Review of John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (Penguin, 2005), in Fides et Historia 39 (Summer/Fall 2007): 155-57.

Review of Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History (Norton, 2007), in Fides et Historia 40 (Summer/Fall 2008): 109-11.

Review of William Inboden, Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960: The Soul of Containment (Cambridge, 2008), in Fides et Historia 44 (Winter/Spring 2012): 133-34.

Selected Unpublished Papers

"Is Hope a Scholarly Virtue?: Reflections on Teaching the International History of the 20th Century," Conference on Faith and History Biennial Meetings (Bluffton University, September 2008).

"Education for 'God's Glory and Neighbor's Good': The Pietist Idea of a Christian College," "Not (Quite) Ready for Prime Time" presentation (Bethel University, April 2007).

Books that have influenced me as an historian

• The Bible

Long before I was old enough to understand fully my faith or my field, the Bible taught me to love stories of the past. I’m afraid that some outstanding sermons by some outstanding Covenant pastors went unheard as I sat in the pew paging through the stories of the Old Testament and the Gospels.

• E.H. Carr, “What Is History?”
• Brad S. Gregory, Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe

Though he is not the first to make this point, Carr’s famous essay contends that history is a project of “imaginative understanding.” I continue to approach every class with the goal in mind that students will be able to imagine themselves in the shoes of people from different times, places, and cultures. One outstanding example of historical empathy is Brad Gregory's acclaimed study of Protestant, Anabaptist, and Catholic martyrs in the Reformations. Without advocating for any one group, he brilliantly captures the beliefs, values, and passions that led so many Europeans to die (or to kill) over questions of faith.

• John Dower, War without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War
• John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History
• Michael Hunt, Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy
• Emily Rosenberg, Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890-1945

Just as international historians are expanding their scope, so too are historians of U.S. foreign policy – particularly those who study its cultural sources and effects and those who insist that its evolution cannot be studied in the isolation of one nation’s history.

• Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia
• Alistair Horne, The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
• Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
• Alan Furst, Night Soldiers
• Patrick O'Brian, The Aubrey-Maturin series (Master and Commander, etc.)

While I admire many historians for their writing, too often we think of ourselves primarily as scholars, rather than storytellers. In this respect, we have much to learn about our craft from journalists and historical novelists.