Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Church History from 30,000 feet.

God's Story: A Student's Guide to Church HistoryGod's Story: A Student's Guide to Church History by Brian Cosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The study of history, in general and church history specifically, is a discipline that we neglect at our own peril.  Beyond that, we also miss out on opportunities of worship when we do not recognize God’s providential presence throughout the ages.  The joy that is found in seeing how God has worked, the appreciation that grows in seeing what was endured by those who came before and suffered and struggled, and the warnings that spring forth from conflict and heresy are all invaluable.

But, Church history is a daunting subject. Multiple continents, multiple people groups, tons of personalities and 2000+ years to cover all make a book like this from Christian Focus and Brian Cosby that much more valuable.

Cosby sets out to cover the length of Church history in less than 200 pages.  If you are looking for a detailed, nuanced guide to every twist and turn in the history of the Christian Church, this is not it!  If, however, you are like most and would be utterly overwhelmed by a detailed, nuanced guide to every twist and turn in the history of the Christian Church, this is a work you definitely should avail yourself of!  This bird’s eye view of Church history can easily and pleasurable be consumed in one sitting and you will walk away informed and intrigued, filled with a greater desire to learn of even more that God has done throughout the last two millennia.

In a book where I genuinely enjoyed each chapter it is a bit difficult to list what stood out.  However, his section on Scholasticism and the chapters on the 19th/20th centuries and on the English Reformation were especially good.

My main issue with this work, though acknowledging that space is obviously an issue, is that the reader can walk away from thinking, “Has God acted in East Asia?  South America?  The majority of Africa?”  While I know it would be difficult to go into too much detail, the work would have benefited, as would have the reader, with more emphasis placed on God’s actions in the Southern and Far Eastern hemispheres.   I think a 3-5 page chapter looking forward based on current trends in Christianity would have rounded the work out quite well and would have been a great opportunity to include the Southern and Far Eastern world in this work.

God’s Story is a work that will benefit anyone seeking a basic understanding of Church history.  This is a work where a highlighter might prove useless.  Not because there is nothing worthy of marking, but because it is so packed with useful, interesting, encouraging, and intriguing facts and stories that you might find yourself just like me and end up coloring your book yellow.  This will be the work I recommend to people as they begin study of Church history for some time to come.

Excellent book on an-oft neglected topic.

I received a review copy of this work from the publisher.

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