Read Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley Mark A. Noll Online


It's about time that someone wrote church history that tells about people, not just about "eras" and "ages." Church History in Plain Language taps the roots of our Christian family tree. It combines authoritative research with a captivating style to bring our heritage home to us....

Title : Church History in Plain Language
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ISBN : 9780849938610
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 544 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Church History in Plain Language Reviews

  • Bryan Paul Sullo
    2018-09-15 00:54

    I'll begin by saying that this is probably one of the most easily readable church history books available. The writing style is straightforward and non-academic. The chapter lengths are perfect for daily reading. For a survey of the last 2000 years, Shelley manages to put in a lot of detail without getting bogged down in it. There's a lot to like about this book.There are a few things to dislike about this book though. First, it should be called Western Church History with a Calvinist Bias. There are factual errors and conflations of heretical and orthodox teachings. The Eastern church is, by in large, given fair treatment, but the Great Schism between east and west is hardly mentioned, and all of Eastern Christianity simply disappears immediately after, to reappear only in the 20th century—at least the Russian Orthodox church reappears—first as the victims of, and then as shills for the atheistic Soviet government.Shelley takes great pains to describe the political climate and machinations that contribute to the rise of Christendom and the Roman Catholic church (as if these political events were the underpinning of the entire movement), but he essentially ignores the politics involved in the spread of the Reformation, leaving one to surmise that Protestantism spread solely by its own merit and Divine Will.The major problems I found are related to Shelley's bias shining through the text at key points throughout the narrative. Some examples follow:p. 4 — "[A]n unprejudiced reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John reveals Jesus' plans for a company of followers to carry on his work."This certainly seems to indicate the necessity of Apostolic succession. Shelley makes this bald statement almost as a thesis for the whole work, and then goes on to present a version of history that is highly critical to hierarchical ecclesiology, and which takes for granted the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.p. 13 — "Stephen, however, was a special case. He dared to renounce the law of Moses and attack the temple of God, openly and repeatedly. . . . He spoke of Jewish history, but he argued that men might worship God apart from the temple."The account of Stephen is given in Acts 6 and 7. Acts 6:13—14 specifically indicate that the accusations of Stephen speaking against the temple and the law are false witness. Furthermore, Stephen's quotation of Isiah 66:1—2 is a charge that the Jewish leaders were trying to subjugate God with their temple authority, not a renouncement of temple worship. Early Christians continued to worship in the temple until it became impossible to do so, after which they created new, sacred spaces, often in the homes of wealthy believers.p. 17 — "These first Christians came to believe that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, followed by the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, were divine events. . . . In a similar way, the second ceremony, the Lord's Supper, as it was soon called, looked back to Jesus' betrayal and death and found in the events of Calvary and the empty tomb evidence of the 'new covenant' promised by the prophet Jeremiah. . . . This simple meal renewed their covenant with God and with one another."I doubt that early Christians would have characterized the Lord's Supper as a "simple meal". As early as 155 A.D. Justin Martyr records that Christians considered the Eucharist to be the flesh and blood of the incarnate Christ. Communion as a simple meal is a modern Protestant characterization.p. 84 — "Among the earliest was a young law student from Asia Minor named Gregory, later nicknamed the Wonder-Worker, because of his unusually successful missionary labors among his own people.""Wonderworker" is not a "nickname"; it is a title bestowed upon St. Gregory by the Church, and not because he was a decent missionary, but because of the many miracles God performed through him! The idea that someone would be referred to as "the Wonderworker" because of his missionary prowess is ridiculous on its face, and seems to indicate a bias toward Dualism.p. 85 — "Origen's overriding concern was to allow the whole Bible to speak for itself . . ."Another ridiculous statement. There was no "Bible" in the time of Origen. To speak of "the whole Bible" as existing at that time is a willful misrepresentation of facts, and only perpetuates the myth that the Bible descended, in bound form, from on high.p. 102 — Shelley misquotes the Nicene creed by including the filioque ("and the Son") as part of the original text. This phrase (which has deep theological implications as to the personhood of the Holy Spirit) was added by the Roman church at a later date. It was never accepted by the churches in the East, and was one of the major points of contention that led to the Great Schism between East and West.p. 106 — "It is clear that when we think of the Trinity, we should not try to think of three persons in our sense of the term, but three personal disclosures of God that correspond to what he is really like."Shelley spends an entire page discussing the difficulty the church had in expressing the nature of the Trinity, and then goes on to sum it up in one, trite statement—a statement which is, in fact, an expression of Sebelianism (or modalism), a heresy dealt with in the 3rd century.p. 129 — Shelley's discussion of the heresy of Pelagianism is too broad. Not all of what Pelagius taught was condemned, and not all of what Augustine taught was accepted by the whole church, especially in the East. Augustine would remove Man's free will, a will that the early fathers explicitly taught as necessary to understanding salvation. The conflation of Pelagian heresy with standard Christian doctrine of the time reads as a setup for the doctrine of Calvinism some thousand years later.p. 138 — "The sole and independent leadership of the Eastern church by the patriarch of Constantinople was confirmed."Shelley would have the Ecumenical Patriarch as some sort of Eastern Pope. This has never been the case. Eastern Church leadership (and until the Great Schism, this included Rome) has always been conciliar, with one patriarch enjoying primacy, but not authority, over the others.p. 144 — "In the Church of the Twelve Apostles, which he had built, Constantine prepared in the midst of the twelve symbolic tombs of the apostles a thirteenth, for himself. . . . This thirteenth tomb gave rise to the emperor's title as 'equal to the apostles.'"St. Constantine, Equal to the Apostles is called such because he was instrumental in the spread of Christianity, not because he built himself a tomb. Again, Shelley is attempting to discount, or at least temper, the piety of the Medieval Church.p. 145 — "Constantine discovered, however, that Christianity itself was divided and torn over differences in traditions of doctrine and practice. He was superstitiously anxious that God would hold him personally responsible for these divisions and quarrels among the Christians."Is fear of the Lord superstition? Constantine decreed Christianity as the faith his empire. Why would he not be anxious that God would hold him responsible for its practice?p. 147 — "The state itself was conceived to be the only community established by God, and it embraced the whole life of man. The visible representative of God within it, who performed his will and dispensed his blessings, was the emperor."This sounds a lot like the Evangelical view of the United States. (Not a criticism, just an observation.)p. 241 — "Thus, Luther brushed aside the traditional view of the church as a sacred hierarchy headed by the pope and returned to the early Christian view of a community of Christian believers in which all believers are priests called to offer spiritual sacrifices to God."This is a particularly rosy (and modern) interpretation of how the early Church was organized.In the first half of the book, discussing the rise of Christendom and the church of Rome, Shelley is careful to point out the political climate and machianations that surround these events, almost as if they are the primary cause. In his discussion of the rise of Protestantism, he makes no attempt to ascribe any political motives to the spread of these new doctrines, assuming they are spread solely by Divine Will and their own merit.In all the talk of the spread of Christianity, there is no discussion of the Christianization of Kievan Rus in 980, which brought Christianity to almost half the world (geographically). He also fails to mention that the Portugese merchants who brought their faith to India encountered Christianity already established there by Thomas the Apostle over 1,000 years prior. This demonstrates the pervasiveness of of Shelley's Western-centric view of Christianity.p. 256 — Calvin steps in, right in the middle of the narrative, as the hero of the story. Shelley's enthusiasm for Calvin is palpable.p. 281 — "During the Middle Ages, however, an important attitude developed among European Christians. The rise of Islam in the seventh century drove a wedge between Christians in Europe and their fellow believers in Asia and Africa. Only a few outposts of Christianity survived in the Islamic countries of North Africa and the Near East. Christianity was confined almost exclusively to Europe."If anything, the wedge that was driven was because the Western church began to borrow ideas from Islam (strict adherence to a text being one of them). The Eastern church may not have flourished under Islamic rule, but it did survive, and in many cases, coexisted peacefully. p. 371 — "Early Christians believed that, amid his encircling gloom, the Lord Jesus himself prayed for his disciples: 'Father, . . . My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world' (John 17:15—19, NIV)."Do later Christians believe something different? I'm not sure what this statement is supposed to mean.It is clear that Shelley's purpose of writing this book was its second half, the rise and spread of Protestantism, and specifically the history of the denominations in America. It's clear because his level of enthusiasm increases as he draws closer to the present. Shelley does an excellent job of documenting the people and processes that got us from Luther to this point, and anyone looking to quickly increase their knowledge of Church history would do well to read this book, keeping in mind the bias mentioned above.

  • Carrie
    2018-09-25 07:59

    Two-thirds finished!!! LOVE HISTORY! Just as they say, studying another language improves understanding of your native language....that is what this book has done/is doing for me--religiously!FINISHED!! What a book. I loved it! The chapters I particulary enjoyed were those about the 18th-21st century. I am crazy-wanting to read a kazillion books now. I feel like this book does an excellent job of outlining Christian history, gives a few juicy details, and then moves on...just enough to make me lick my chops for more! For me the author's style of writing was enjoyable and I liked how he catagorized his chapters---I am amazed that he was able to take so much history and consolidate it into this 500 page book. I can't imagine the research process and then then eliminating and narrowing process. The thought that came to me the most as I was reading is how grateful I am for all those devout and faithful Christians throughout history who have enabled me to have what I have now. I really enjoyed the book. Now, I hope I retained the parts my professor claims to be "important" so I can do super on my last test!!!

  • Rob
    2018-09-13 02:49

    This book is an approachable introduction to the history of the Christian church. Those seeking a basic understanding of church history (or a quick review of it) will probably be satisfied with what they find in it. The end of each chapter lists recommendations for further reading; and a list of popes and several indexes in the back of the book make this a ready reference book. It could be good for church small group study.However, the book lacks two things for the academic reader. First, it lacks adequate citations. To make the book seem more approachable, Shelley uses endnotes that vaguely refer to parts of each chapter; he does not use superscript numbers to point to these endnotes. Sometimes Shelley quotes people without even mentioning their names in the text. Second, Shelley's writing is often rather disorganized. Frequently his paragraphs don't seem to have a central idea or topic sentence, and some chapters thus become a bit hard to follow because of how they proceed or (fail to) cohere together. Perhaps he dictated this book and left it mostly as is. So the book is not so scholarly, despite the fact that its author, Dr. Bruce Shelley, was Senior Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Denver Seminary. Given the title of the book, though, it was probably never intended to be for an academic audience.

  • John
    2018-09-04 05:02

    For a number of years, I've wanted to fill in my lack of knowledge of the history of the church of Christ between the book of Acts and now. Hence, my purchase of this book. The "in plain language" part also was important to me.Professor Shelley succeeds both in telling the story of Christian church history and doing so in plain language. It is such a massive topic that even in 500-plus pages he has to go over things very quickly. All sorts of fascinating characters step in and out of the narrative, but getting to know any of them in any depth is the work of many other books. This is a survey, and I think it's accomplished in a very even-handed and understandable way.If you want to get it all in the briefest possible narrative, check out Professor Shelley's Epilogue. But if you go to the bother of purchasing or checking out this book, you're going to want more than that.Since Professor Shelley has passed beyond history, R.L. Hatchett took on the task of completing this fourth edition, which is so up to date it includes developments from 2013.

  • Nicholas Bradley
    2018-08-30 07:02

    This book helps you to palm church history and teach you about groups of people that are simply not remembered in every day life. It goes into where certain traditions and doctrines came from and how we as the Ecclesia all fit into this crazy world. It talks about doctrine to a fair degree and explores greatly where a lot of these doctrines came from. It is VERY understandable and is organized in such a way that you can either read straight through like a timeline (although it is a little jumpy) OR you can look up certain groups of people in history and read all about their origins. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is at all interested in the history of the church. Enjoy.

  • Jeff Mcadams
    2018-09-05 00:50

    Fantastic! I finished this book with a sense of awe at the work of God, the Architect and Builder of the Church. I also gained a more gracious and inclusive perspective of my fellow Christians in sundry traditions and denominations here and abroad.

  • Bill
    2018-09-03 05:49

    A helpful introduction to Church History. Fairly comprehensive (for a survey) and quite readable -- each chapter is only about 10 pages. Having said that, 600 pages (with no footnotes taking up space) is a lengthy read! Helpfully attempts to draw out the significance of historical events for modern day readers throughout. Shelley writes as a protestant evangelical, but I thought he made a fair effort to be objective. The 'plain language' feature was frustrating -- I constantly found myself checking for references in vain. There are a few inadequate notes at the back, but the choice has obviously been made to avoid academic referencing completely. This is a good feature for a popular level book, but I am a little surprised that it is a staple textbook at many Bible Colleges. The Further Reading lists at the end of each chapter are good. The new content in the 3rd edition is an interesting but risky effort to grapple with events of the last 20 years -- some conclusions already seem a little dated even in the 5 years since publication.

  • Jang David Kim
    2018-09-10 03:58

    It is impossible for one book to cover the entire church history. However, if I had to pick one, I would recommend this book. It's easy and fun to read (remember, history can get a bit dry and the author can get off track in meaningless events), while hitting all the major significant events and persons of the church history. I love Shelley's thoughtful reflections to the events, not just "this is what happened." And most of all, it gives you a healthy framework of the entire church history and he leaves you with the desire to go further into the topics he briefly covered!

  • Igor
    2018-09-20 23:47

    I'm not against apologetics books.I'm not against Church history books written unashamedly from the Christian POV.I'm not even against shameless mixing of the two.I like books written in plain language.I like good books.This one is not. Neither is in in plain language. This is a bad book, the language is above all boring to death. What the book lacks in style, it has in abundance in bad history and pitiful apologetics. I can't understand how anyone could have read it, even on assignment.

  • Will
    2018-09-06 03:53

    This book was really good. I was a history minor in college and have read through a few history books. This book takes the historical approach seriously. He does a good job at hitting the high notes and making you feel like a part of the story. My one complaint with the book is not really the authors fault, its the nature of history. So, many of the themes are overlapping by centuries and half-centuries that you can get side tracked on where he is at on the timeline while on a particular point. Overall I think it should be one the reading list of every high-schooler in christian schools.

  • Becky
    2018-09-14 05:51

    Great start to find out the history of Christianity. I enjoyed it very much, but I'm disappointed there isn't more about U.S. (Mormons, Christian Science, Scientology). Also when it did get to the late 20th century, I thought he lost his steam. But, it made me feel I've got at least a good basic understanding to start learning more.

  • Brian Eshleman
    2018-09-04 01:08

    A good overview that hits the Big Questions of Christian history in an approachable way. Each chapter's suggestions for further reading also intrigue me.

  • David Smiley
    2018-09-09 06:14

    Fantastic read for any lay person or undergraduate course. It is written like a novel and was an easy read. For a more indepth, technical book go read Justo Gonzalez.

  • Becky Pliego
    2018-09-25 00:54

    Very good.

  • Kevin Riner
    2018-09-09 02:47

    Great book for folks who want to know church history but don't want to wade through history heavy books. This was my textbook in college for Church History so it's worth the read.

  • Melissa Travis
    2018-09-26 07:10

    FANTASTIC survey of Church history! Reads like an epic novel. EVERY Christian should invest the time to read this!

  • D Posey
    2018-09-24 04:56

    Clear, concise , and fascinating. Well worth the time.

  • Bendick Ong
    2018-09-01 08:06

    Being a new student in modern church history, this book is exactly the one i am looking for. Written in simple and clear language, the 520 pages of contents are informative and yet filled with interesting anecdotes and enticing appetizers while keeping the readers on track in a chronological account of events.The whole book is divided into eight parts, beginning with the ministry of Jesus and ending with the rise of the mega-churches and the challenges that come with globalisation, both much-discussed topics in the 1990s. The book closes with an epilogue that summarises everything, demonstrating the mutability of historical events and in contrast, the enduring truth of Christ.Since it is not designed to be an academic book, it has only a few endnotes for each chapter and comes with separate indexes for the different people, movements and events mentioned. It also supplies its reader with a list of popes from leo I to john paul II. Each chapter comes with recommended books for further reading for one who would like to go more in-depth.The parts of this book in which my course is concerned are the final four sections, covering the age of the reformation (beginning with the reformation in 1517 and ending with the conclusion of the thirty years' war in 1648), through the age of reason and revival (from 1648 to the modern era and then to the revival and awakening in america under the wesleys and whitefield), through the age of progress (from the french revolution in 1789 to the first world war in 1914) and finally to the age of ideology (the name of which is derived from arnold tonybee's summary of the “three post-christian ideologies: nationalism, communism, and individualism.”) The divisions are clear, logical and convenient. The title for each section relevant to the spirit of the times it covers.Writing for the lay and Bible students alike, shelley's challenge is to keep it simple yet with depth, and to do that, he has to go through the painful sieving and exclusion of less significant events. In accounts that involve many details, he has stayed clear in his focus for the book. While commenting about the thirty years war, shelly has revealed the standard by which he chooses what to be included in his writings, and what not to. He explains that there is “no place for the military or political details. We are interested in the change in ideals, and we can find this in the simplest highlights.”I take this as meaning a person interested in historical details of religious events, military campaigns in religious wars and political motives behind religious movements, might feel short-changed while going through this book, and given the length constraints of the book, rightly so. Shelley is more interested in the history of ideals (ideas). And truly in this particular account of such an important war predominantly between the catholics and the protestants, which takes no more than two pages, there is no room for excruciating historical details. We are not told of how the war can be divided into different phases, or the impact it has on the holy roman empire. Rather, shelley seeks to illustrate how ideals catalysed events, and how events in turn impacted thinking.Yet given this, it is still interesting how certain ideals are given more emphases than others. For example, the westminster assembly that met from 1643 to 1649, the impact of which is great on later ecclesiastical developments, was only given a short paragraph, whereas the independents in the group, the “dissenting brethren of westminster,” was given half a page for their articulation of the “denominational theory of the church.”The last section of the book also swings toward more narration of political events proper instead of seeing everything in the framework of ecclesiastical history. Perhaps the last century has seen so many changes in the political field that the author feels obliged to summarise them before explaining their impact on the church, instead of taking for granted that the reader has already the background knowledge, evidently for the benefit of the lay readers.But on the whole this book is a good read and an excellent supplement to the more academic textbooks. Even in its recount of historical events, Shelly has done it in a language most apt and vivid. In fact, the book is filled with new vantage points supported by good illustrations.For example, when describing the beheading of king charles I, shelley describes its impact from a different perspective through the effect of an artwork:“It was a brash move, a sure sign of puritan's ultimate fall from power for it gave the royalists their own martyr. Centuries of english royal tradition could not be erased, even by the saints of God. Shortly after the king’s execution a portrait appeared allegedly depicting his last hours. He was kneeling at a table; on it rested the Bible. The royal crown lay on the floor. In the king’s right hand was a crown of thorns. His eyes were lifted to a crown of glory above.”In addition to that, shelley also departs from objective reporting of events to making warranted guesses, and even attempting 'what if’s and 'if you were’s' which adds a personal and casual touch to the narration. For example, when discussing the appearance of christian denominations and speculating where the common saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” comes from, shelley commented,“The statement probably belongs to voltaire (1694-1778) the proud, self-sufficient humanist of the age of reason. It is the kind of thing martin luther or ignatius loyola would never say, because neither believed it. In the light of the reformation, dissent was neither a christian virtue nor a human right. The reformers were as eager as catholic to suppress nonconformity. That was because both camps believed that christian truth held societies together. It was an instrument of power. And only one side in a religious conflict had the truth. The idea that God’s Word could be found on both sides of a battleline was a revolutionary concept that only gained a hearing after both sides fell from exhaustion.”It is an excellent choice of words especially for the last sentence. And we can see insightful expressions like these in many parts of the book – not only a result of shelley's grasp of historical knowledge, but also his understanding of history itself. Must also point out that the title for the individual chapters are also innovative and refreshing. For examples, “unwilling to die for an old idea”, “the heart and its reason”, and “new creeds for breakfast” – they appeal to the curiosity of the reader and make them want to read more.I have benefited much from the book. This is not the kind of book that one would read sitting upright before a desk with highlighters and ruler ready; it is more of the kind that one could enjoy over coffee on a couch for a few rainy afternoons. And perhaps this adds on a new dimension to the study of church history – the fun lies not in the rigorous memorisation of terms and clauses in councils, or the recollection of every piece of religious history to the most minute dates, instead, it is encapsulated in the nuggets of insights and truths that surprises one as one turns the pages.

  • Cody Owen
    2018-09-19 05:07

    Shelley can't decide if he wants to be a churchman or an historian so he flounders between both, following the path of least resistance.He's typically unhelpful, especially in areas of blatant wrongdoing (his defense of the crusades is shady at best, his understanding of mass conversions is shockingly un-evangelical, etc.)For a Protestant, he seems terrified to take stances that could challenge Roman Catholic consensus (including in instances of morally dubious popes).When he arrives at the modern era, he finds the courage to condemn communism, sing the praises of unbridled capitalism (and John D. Rockefeller?), and America in general. He spends moments on important movements not engaging with common objections or obvious debates. He includes the most famous thing Luther never said ("Here I stand..."). It's a statement any layman with a modicum of research can find is a clear fabrication. He quotes it without any qualification, even in the form of a footnote. I read the book with two friends (one with a master's in History, one that's a history buff, I have a bachelor's). They pointed out questionable statements as their areas of expertise intersected with chapter topic. We were disappointed throughout the text.

  • Tanwin
    2018-09-10 02:16

    This is a brilliant book on church history! The best thing about the book is its promise: that it was written in plain language. In other words, the book reads like a novel and therefore accessible to anyone.The second brilliance of the book is its division. Shelley divided the book in particular ages. Starting from the age of Jesus and the apostles, the age of Catholic Christianity, the age of the Christian Roman Empire, all the way up to the age of Global Expansion. This divion creates context for the chapters underneath them.Unsurprisingly I learn a lot while reading church history in high level: no particular event happened in a void, there were always circumstances that made certain event necessary. The growth and expansion of the Church also happened in bursts. It's amazing how you can trace the growth of 21st century church to a small gathering of believers in Palestine in 33AD.There's so much I can say about this book and what I have learnt. Unfortunately, I don't have the space for it.In closing, this is a brilliant book. Accessible to everyone and a good high level overview for history nerds. One of the best books I've read this year. Highly recommended!

  • Jodi
    2018-09-11 01:51

    I’m not sure why this took me fooooorrrrreeevvveer to read (I think my dates are off & I started it more like a year ago). The information was interesting, but I’ve gotten soft in my ability to keep momentum while reading educational style books. I finally determined to get it done, but it sure slowed down the rest of my reading.As for the content, I appreciated the approachable language the author used. -I wish he would have discussed Eastern Orthodoxy (he briefly mentions Russian, but doesn’t give any real history of it overall). -Also, what I’ve learned about dispensational beliefs is very different than what he presented. For most things he seemed unbiased, but not in that one. He’s obviously not a fan. -On a related note, while I’m not a cessationist per se, the author presumed to know their motives (fear) rather than discuss the actual theological arguments for/against. Again, it came across as biased. There were a few other items like these where the reasons for differences were blamed on cultural ideals and not necessarily theological study of scripture. Not that theology isn’t influenced by environment, but there’s more to it.

  • Simo Ibourki
    2018-09-02 02:00

    The book is a good introduction to Christian history (inside and outside of the church). It's easy to read and a little bit long but that's okay because Christianity has a long history.The author wrote the book from the christian POV. He said it in the beginning that the book is destined to the average christian who is ignorant of the history of Christianity. So while reading the book , I felt that Mr Shelley was on the defensive (read apolegitic), espeacially when he talks about "heritics", the age of reason's thinkers, liberal christians, communists and secularists. At the end he becomes nostalegic when he talks about the decline of the church in Europe.But overall I learned a lot about the history of the church, different movements and couter-mouvements and the never ending list of denominations.

  • Kiel
    2018-08-27 02:06

    Some Christian traditions have a bit of an adversarial view of church history. The reasons for this are varied and nuanced, but every tradition clearly favors their own history most, and generally for good or understandable reasons. The difficulties of dedicating time to understand church history widely and deeply include justifying that study against just purely studying the Bible, the time it takes to really understand nuances of history and their implications, and the hurdles of content curation and knowing what sources to trust. In this book there is a concerted and helpful effort to move the intermediate level reader and novice historian to both a wider and deeper appreciation of the great collective of church history. It's not a perfect book, I don't believe any single summary of church history could come close. But as a part, or even the beginning of a life dedicated to understanding the up, down and sideways of the winding and wide road the Christian church and her people have traversed, this is a helpful and approachable resource.

  • Caleb
    2018-09-12 05:07

    Another great resource for learning church history!This book is great for the everyday believer looking to know more about the Church and how they've gotten to their beliefs. The author presents a great format of exploring ideas, changes, and themes with a priority of sticking to a rigid chronology. I really enjoyed this approach. Every church history book I read I'm blown away by how little I actually know. Books like these still fly pretty high and give important people only a sentence or two. I found myself writing down names/events to look up on my own after.I'd recommend a book like this as a necessity to any Catholic or Protestant believer.

  • Jaimie
    2018-08-30 04:05

    This book was a little bit of a chore to get through, simply because of it's length and the subject matter. However, it was very well written and the definitions and description of the origins of the many movements in Christian history were very helpful. The authors also took a balanced approach in describing the diverse beliefs and heresies that have arisen in Christian history; labeling ideas that blatantly fall outside the lines of orthodoxy, while at the same time suspending judgement for the ideas that testify to the diversity of christian belief within the body of Christ.

  • Dan
    2018-08-28 04:50

    Fantastic summary of Christianity from Christ until now. He stays pretty neutral about what practices of the historic church are Biblical and what are not. That is both a pro and a con to this book. I recommend it for those who know the Bible very well, and who are looking for a good understanding of Christendom. I do not recommend it as devotional, nor as something that will help the reader grow in Christ. For the right audience, it is a great book which you will likely read and re-read and refer back to as a reference.

  • Ben Labelle
    2018-09-20 06:54

    Far too liberal and ecumenical for me. If you're on the liberal side of evangelicalism, this book is for you. Most of the first half of the book is the history of the Roman Catholic Church, rather than Christianity. Shelley continues to devote chapters to the Catholic Church, even after the Reformation. When Baptist historians and Catholic historians disagree, he takes the side of the Catholic historians. For example, he states that the Waldenses were founded by Peter Waldo, and that they're doctrines were Catholic rather than Protestant.

  • Jacob Stevens
    2018-08-29 02:46

    This book is as advertised. It is a church history book that is written in "plain language." It is highly readable and very informative. It takes you from before Christ to modern days. Shelly "drives" his book by telling stories about people who embody the main ideas of each era that he discusses. This book is so valuable because we can't know who we are and where we're going until we look back and see where we come from.

  • Ben
    2018-09-16 01:11

    Pretty long for an audiobook listen (21+ hours), but a very accessible approach that covers a ton of ground without spending too long on any one detail or controversy. It's hard to call this an introduction, since it's such a brick, but it would likely serve as an excellent one for anyone without any context, and it can definitely only help anyone else who picks it up better understand the origins, highs, and lows of what is still a global presence. Great narrator, to boot.

  • Eric
    2018-09-13 04:58

    An excellent resource for the somewhat serious scholar of the church over its life. Going back to the "Age of Jesus," Shelley has outlined in some detail all the highlights of the followers of Jesus from His sojourn on this earth up to the present day. He seldom, if ever, pulled any punches as he relays this remarkable story all the way from Christ's birth and resurrection, through Rome and the Middle Ages, the Reformation and the Age of Reason, up to today. Truly worthwhile..