As the author readily acknowledges in his introduction, choosing any number of Christians in the history of the Church and identifying them as "most influential" is a challenge, simply because there will be many differences of opinion about who would qualify for such a list. With this in mind, I think he has selected good candidates and provides easy-to-read summaries of each one's historical context and the contribution he or she has made to the development of the Church.
There are two things that disappoint me, however. While I know that every writer has a slant to the topic, I think that the author has identified his doctrinal preference too firmly right from the start. In his first chapter on Clement of Rome, he takes issue with an episcopal church structure. In other words, he plainly states that a church structured with formal bishops, priests, and deacons is in error. Such a statement basically pushes every Roman Catholic and Anglican (and others) to the side and makes his book appear to be written only for low-church Evangelicals. This leads to my second disappointment, which is that he tends to editorialize in several places. While I realize that he is not writing an academic treatise and is aiming at a general audience, his editorial comments move him away from presenting a reasonable summary of what each person did in history, and reinforce the bias he already stated in the first chapter.
In all, this book is a handy resource to learn about key figures in Christian history, especially for those who do not know much about the first 1500 years of Church history. However, its obvious slant is likely to cause it to be painted negatively by those who are not of the popular Evangelical tribe.
I give this book 3 stars out of 5.
I received this book free from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
This book took me much longer to read than most books do. I wanted to stretch myself to read something out of my usual pick, but this book seemed to last forever! The author does a good job of keeping everything in order and moves well from one chapter to the next as far as following a timeline.
But it felt like the book was just a really long research paper. I would have enjoyed a little more personality behind each person. I felt that the chapters just gave a brief glimpse at each Christian leader.
This book may be more suited to a theology student than for the average reader.
*This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for my personal review.
This book takes you on a brief journey through the lives and influence of 40 people important to the history of the christian faith. A chapter is devoted to each person, and that is broken down to the context (the time the lived, a little about their life, etc), their contribution and a brief conclusion summing things up.
I found this book to be quite dry. I guess I expected it to be more biographical than theological. I would have liked to know more about their lives, as well as what they believed. There really wasn't enough information about the different individuals and too much of the author's opinion on what they believed and/or preached. I can see this being a good resource for Bible School students but it didn't hold my interest.
This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
This book was not very interesting and it took me awhile to get through it. I gave the book 4/5 stars for a few reasons. I would say this book is more of a textbook then a sit down and read for the enjoyment book. I also thought some of the people chosen were not as influential as others. There are so many great Christians to choose from that I was surprised at some that were chosen and written about. If you are looking for a book about Christians and are willing to skim over some boring parts, you might enjoy the book more than I did.
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
A synopsis of the lives and influence of 40 theologians, from second century figures such as Clement of Rome and Justin Martyr, to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth in the 20th century, this book is a well-written and interesting look at some important shapers of the faith.
Each chapter begins with a section on the context of the person, followed by a summary of his contribution, and a conclusion encapsulating the influence of the person. It is a convenient reference for information about names that may or may not be familiar. I was personally intrigued by some of the debates that occupied the leaders of the church during the second and third centuries - issues such as whether those who had succumbed to the civil authorities under threat of torture and death should be welcomed, or even allowed, back into the church once the Roman government embraced Christianity. Other discussions, particularly those on the nature of God and the Trinity, just made my head hurt.
In order to test for myself the objectivity of this book, I started with the chapter on John Wesley, one of the most important theologians for my Methodist self. Satisfied that there was no bias in that chapter, I started at the beginning. I confess that I have not finished the book - it does not lend itself to bedtime reading, which is when most of my reading gets done, but I am continuing through it and enjoying it. It is accessible to lay people who are interested in theology and church history without being overly simplified. On the whole, a satisfying read.
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review