For a Christian, Church history should never be seen as a boring or difficult subject. It's the story not simply of an abstract "God's people," but of the very real Body of Christ of which everyone who confesses His name is a part. If you're a Christian, the history of the Church is your history. Few authors make this truth as immediate or clear as B.K. Kuiper.
The Church in History was written as a textbook for college students, though it works just as well for high schoolers. Everything from the Apostles' work as outlined in Acts to Vatican II are covered in 50 short but comprehensive chapters that read as easily as a novel yet are deeply rooted in traditional Protestant doctrine. Kuiper is Reformed, yet he deals fairly with all branches and denominations, showing the place each has held in the spread of the Gospel, the formation of doctrine, and the general shaping of Christianity.
At the end of each chapter, several poignant questions for discussion or essay/short answer help students reinforce and think about what they've learned. Kuiper evidences a solid faith in Christ, and this isn't just history in the traditional sense; it's the history of God's people, made alive through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
Rich black and white illustrations (mostly classic artwork and photographs), timelines, and maps help visualize key figures and events; there is no shortage of visual supplementation, making the readable text that much more appealing. Kuiper's vibrant prose can't be overemphasized, however—he writes with the passion of one in his element, and his excitement is infectious.
He also writes with an eye to doctrine. The Church in History isn't simply a record of facts, it's a chronicle of the shaping of the Church and the establishment of orthodoxy from the earliest times to the 20th century. Great as an introduction, refresher, or reference, Kuiper's book is already a classic and destined to remain one of the best single-volume treatments of Church history for decades to come.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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