Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: A Short History of Christianity


(Note: This is Ed's first post!)

Earlier this year, we both read A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins.

This book is exactly what the title suggests – a short history of Christianity. Tomkins covers Christianity from the early church to today. And he does it in a way that keeps your interest. This book is a quick read at about 250 pages. For those of you proficient in mathematics, that works out to a century of history every 12 pages or so. This may seem like a fast pace, but his purpose is to hit the highlights of Christian history, not dive into every decree, faction, sect, or martyr.

I think Tomkins does a good job at covering the years between the early church and the Reformation. He covers the spread of Christianity and how the Catholic church eventually came to its authority. He covers the political and religious actions and influences of the various popes. I particularly like that he doesn’t play favorites – he tells the good with the bad. Tomkins’ sarcasm comes out at times, making it somewhat difficult to discern what exactly was happening, but that same sarcasm makes the book easier to read.

Overall, the book is very enlightening. I was surprised that the cover has recommendations by both Terry Jones (of Monty Python) and J. I. Packer (a contemporary theologian). Tomkins gives a briefer history than a seminary textbook but still covers the highlights.

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