les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book review : God's Story - a Student's Guide to Church History

History is not bunk. It is awesome.
It tells you the route that brought you where you are today.
It warns you of the mistakes and errors that others, wiser than you, made.
It inspires you with stories of heroism shown by people in worse circumstances than you.
And the history of the church is especially God's Story.

Dr Brian Cosby is pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church in Tennessee, and he has sketched out this little survey of Church History for students.

Here we hit our first snag. British people will think the book is aimed at university students, at kids of 18 - 21. If the book is aimed at university students of age 18 - 21, then I suggest it is aimed a bit low. But high school kids would appreciate the level of Dr Cosby's approach.

The book is the product of a pair of theologically safe hands. You can generally see where the author is coming from in his treatment of the reformation, of the puritan period, of Christianity in the New World, etc. On the other hand the Anabaptists get one sketchy paragraph and the twentieth century is skimmed over very quickly. Also it's very centred on Europe and the USA. We don't get anything about the faith in China or in the Middle East. North Africa disappears after Augustine. For information about the Missionary Movement and the growth of the church in the southern hemisphere the student will need to look elsewhere.

What the book does, however, it does pretty well. I would suggest that rather than it being a history of the church, really, it is a history of the theological roots of the reformed churches today.

There are some clangers due perhaps to sloppy editing - for example I googled "ad fonts" just in case, and got some fascinating information about typefaces, rather than the renaissance return to the sources, ad fontes.

And is it true that the Western Church adopted latin rather than greek because the latin language was not tainted by its use by the Roman persecutors, who spoke greek? I always thought that it reflected the historical use of the languages, greek in the eastern empire following the conquests of Alexander the Great, and latin in the western empire following the conquests of Caesar. Google and Wikipedia didn't help me and after all, what do I know? Gentle reader, can you help?

I enjoyed the book, and it could be useful for kids in their late teens to give them a quick overview of the road that got us where we are. But I would want them to move on to something more substantial and more thorough pretty quickly.

I received a review copy of God's Story free of charge from Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review.

Here's a video promoting the book :

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