It has been widely observed that the contemporary Church is suffering from disrepair and superficiality. A variety of causes have been identified, not least a lack of knowledge among both congregants and leaders concerning the history and doctrines of the people of God. Sketches from Church History is an attempt to remedy that problem, presenting the story of the Church from its origins to the early 20th century through readable text and illustrations.
S.M. Houghton, a Welsh history teacher who died in 1987, writes with the conviction of a deeply committed Christian and the passion of a lover and student of history. This isa strongly Protestant text, with the Reformation described as a powerful work of God for the preservation of pure doctrine and His people.
The fact that there are so many beautiful black and white illustrations (photographs, paintings, etc.) and that the book is short make this an excellent introductory text for high school students and adults. Houghton offers a fairly comprehensive survey, critiquing and commenting from his own Reformed perspective. His style is methodical but accessible, and filled with details often overlooked in other treatments.
A consumable student workbook includes activities for each of the book's 50 chapters, an 18-week syllabus for school study, maps and charts, essay topics, and three tests; answers to all written work are included in the back. Since the work if formatted for one semester's worth of work, it would be easy to use this as your child's high school history program for half a year, or to supplement a world history overview.
Authors apparently have a difficult time making their material interesting and debatable without dumbing it down too much for their intended audience; Houghton navigates the median beautifully. His text is exciting yet scholarly, and rooted in Christian faith, so that students understand not just the events themselves, but their theological significance. Great for the whole family, Sketches from Church History is one of the better resources of its kind.
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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