Chris Gehrz

Professor of History

Faculty Past President

Courses Taught
Educational Background

A.B., College of William and Mary
M.A., M.Phil., and PhD, Yale University

Get to Know Prof. Gehrz

What’s your favorite primary or secondary source to teach in a course at Bethel?

I don’t think I’ve ever taught HIS354 Modern Europe without having students read Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men, an analysis of German military police who killed and deported thousands of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. Students then play roles in a mock trial. Whether they serve as prosecutors, defense attorneys, or jurors, students invariably learn a great deal about the perpetrators of the Final Solution… and themselves.

What’s your favorite museum?

Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz in Paris
With colleague Sam Mulberry (left) in Paris on our 2019 J-term travel course, HIS230L World War I

The first museum I can remember loving as a child was the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, and I’ve circled back to it in adulthood, as writing a biography of Charles Lindbergh (and marking the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11) has helped me understand the technological, political, and even religious dimensions of flight.

What book in the Bible have you read most often in your life? What keeps bringing you back to it?

If I can treat Luke-Acts as a single book… Luke is my favorite gospel, both because it’s so clearly written as a work of history and because its focus on healing miracles always reminds me of my dad’s career as a pediatrician and medical researcher. Then Acts never fails to teach me that if the Holy Spirit can work through people as flawed as Paul, Peter, and the other apostles, it can work through anyone who follows Jesus — including me.

If we asked the people who know you best to describe you, which three adjectives would they be most likely to use?

Thoughtful. Earnest. Clutzy.

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