All Christians’ beliefs are shaped by those who went before them. Now these giants of Christian history are presented chronologically and in a format that helps readers get to know them. In addition to a biographical sketch, readers will discover each person’s primary contributions to the Christian faith along with a brief quotation from their work. Students, history buffs, and curious readers will be fascinated as their faith is strengthened. Included are Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Karl Barth, Carl F. H. Henry, and more.
A guest review by Rev. Derwyn Costinak
As the author readily acknowledges in his introduction, choosing any number of Christians in the history of the Church and identifying them as “most influential” is a challenge, simply because there will be many differences of opinion about who would qualify for such a list. With this in mind, I think he has selected good candidates and provides easy-to-read summaries of each one’s historical context and the contribution he or she has made to the development of the Church.
There are two things that disappoint me, however. While I know that every writer has a slant to the topic, I think that the author has identified his doctrinal preference too firmly right from the start. In his first chapter on Clement of Rome, he takes issue with an episcopal church structure. In other words, he plainly states that a church structured with formal bishops, priests, and deacons is in error. Such a statement basically pushes every Roman Catholic and Anglican (and others) to the side and makes his book appear to be written only for low-church Evangelicals. This leads to my second disappointment, which is that he tends to editorialize in several places. While I realize that he is not writing an academic treatise and is aiming at a general audience, his editorial comments move him away from presenting a reasonable summary of what each person did in history, and reinforce the bias he already stated in the first chapter.
In all, this book is a handy resource to learn about key figures in Christian history, especially for those who do not know much about the first 1500 years of Church history. However, its obvious slant is likely to cause it to be painted negatively by those who are not of the popular Evangelical tribe.
I give this book 3 stars out of 5.
I received this book free from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.