11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Michael C. Boling
- Published on Amazon.com
Other than some very academic church history texts often known to only Bible College or Seminary students, there is a seeming dearth of layman level church history books on the market today. Certainly there are some classic church history series available such as Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church or perhaps Kenneth Lattourette's own multi-volume church history effort, not much other than history texts aimed at specific time periods is available. Professors John Woodbridge and Frank James in their book Church History Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day, provide an accessible and sufficiently thorough engagement of this period of church history.
This book is a follow up to Church History Volume One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation by Everett Ferguson, a valuable text in its own right. By continuing where Ferguson left off, Woodbridge and James take the reader on a journey from right before the time of the Reformation to the current day, addressing a number of key pivotal events and important characters that shaped Christendom as we know it today. Divided into 22 sections each engaging its respective time period and notable church leaders and movements, this book offers the reader with a valuable look into how the church moved from a time of Papal and Catholic dominancy to the multi-faceted nature of Evangelicalism of the current church climate. Additionally, Woodbridge and James engage something of great importance in the world today, that of the conflict between Christianity and Islam.
As one who enjoys matters of history yet is not what one would label as a "history buff", there are likely certain events and individuals Woodbridge and James left out of this text in favor of engaging other notable issues of church history. Given the sheer volume of incidents and characters which have served to bring us to where we are today, a church history text of this size and scope is not intended to mount a thorough and minute engagement of everything that could possibly be discussed. The more astute church historian will likely note this event or that person was left out, something this reader is not knowledgeable enough to have noticed. Again, the nature of such a text as this is not to cover everything, but to give a solid, purposeful, and salient overview of the time period that is under review, in this case from the Pre-Reformation to the present day.
Overall, this book is well laid out, full of illustrations, maps, charts that add a bit of life to the text as nothing is worse than a church history book with only page after page of text to read. Personally, I enjoy the illustrations as it provides the reader with an element of being able to visualize the life and times of the events and people they are reading about. Additionally, each chapter concludes with references for further study, always a valuable element of a great book. As one who is always on the hunt for books on various specific topics, having the ability to look up a certain period of church history and finding a list of additional books on that certain topic is extremely useful.
As I read through this book, I quickly became engaged in the time period of the Reformation, a period of church history of great importance given the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli to include their lasting influence on not just church history, but the theological landscape for many years after their time on earth. Woodbridge and James cover that particular period in great detail and I found those sections of this book to be very engaging.
I also appreciated the section on the rise of the Fundamentalist movement and its conflict with Darwinism and the German critical scholars, something I have studied in great detail in Seminary. Woodbridge and James aptly covered this important period rightly focusing on the key players in that movement, namely Charles Finney, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Julius Wellhausen, the Princeton scholars such as Charles and Alexander Hodge and B. B. Warfield. The discussion of the development of references such as the Scofield Reference Bible and the Fundamentals, two important and influential products of the Fundamentalist movement and its reaction to liberalism and evolutionary thought was also quite useful and engaging.
For those who are interested in reading about the Pre-Reformation period to our current religious environment without having to wade through a multi-volume church history set, will find Church History Volume Two to be a valuable asset to their studies. Woodbridge and James do a very admirable job covering the relevant material without bogging down the reader into too many minute historical details. Individuals desiring to dig a little deeper need only to take advantage of the recommended reading list at the end of each chapter as well as the rather ample bibliography at the end of the book. I recommend this text as a useful resource to have, one that will serve the reader well anytime they are interested in reading a bit about a very important period of church history.
I received this book for free from Zondervan Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."