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The Renaissance and Reformation were exciting times of learning and discovery – they pushed the boundaries of accepted thought. The repercussions of this, however, were that they left in their wake a period of universal uncertainty. The centuries–old status quo had been turned on its head. Nothing was stable anymore. Conflict ensued. The fourth volume of 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power spans from the 16th to the 18th century. It presents a time from which English Protestantism, Scottish Presbyterianism, and French Catholicism, to name only a few, were birthed and refined. Perhaps few eras have had such a direct impact on the characteristics of our own period of history.
Every book in this series is excellent and this is no exception. If you want a broad understanding of the history of christianity read this series. Whilst I’d reccomend reading the 4 volumes in order you can dive in with any of them if there’s a particular time period you want to dig into. These books give you both an engaging presentation of the events and also a variety of primary source extracts making them work both as a useful and accessible introduction AND as a useful reference resource.
The best church history book I have read. I learned a lot about Lutheranism, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. But where the book came really alive was England and Scotland. The understanding of the development of Anglicanism, Puritanism is superb. The conflicting currents before, during and after the Civil War are well described. I never realised the endless divisions in Scotland over the covenants. God moves in mysterious ways. As well as the history we are treated to excerpts from primary sources too. as well as lists of important people.
This one more so than the other 3 has a rich history, less doctrine and change of teaching—more church/political history comes into view and conflict comes at every corner of Christianity. Although the entire series teaches history as it ought to, Needham has a particular interest that bleeds through his work: 1. He wishes to show how unprofitable conflict and schisms have been, how they can be avoided without neglecting important convictions 2. That every sect and denomination has some parts of truth in them that should be learned from… the mystics were right when it comes to passion, the pietist were right in a great way when it comes to holiness, even the Jesuits who were Catholics with their approach to world missions (until after them no Protestants had ever been sent that we know of) and the Reformed Church everyone can learn from their devotion to the word and applying it.
Nick Needham continues the story of the church into the 17th Century. He covers Lutherans, Reformed, Catholics and Orthodox. A particular focus is England and Scotland. Interesting questions include who was a Puritan – key supporters of the Church of England were Calvinist. There is the tragedy of Dunbar where the Presbyterian Covenanters fought the Independant New Model Army. The book is full of suprises. I didn’t know that the first Protestant missionaries to India were sent by Frederick IV of Denmark, that Brandenburg–Prussia had a separate legal system for Calvinists, that William of Orange was allied to the Pope (!). God had his people in unexpected places such as the Jansenists, Catholics who believed in salvation by grace and approved the Synod of Dort, and Cyril Lucaris, the Patriarch of Constantinople who wrote a confession of faith in Reformed language. I can’t wait for volume 5.
Total Price: £1.99