Hard as this is to believe, some people just do not like history. You may have experienced this yourself: A friend from church, or even your own 13-year-old daughter, spies a copy of Christian History on your coffee table and either ignores it completely or—horror of horrors—asks, "Why do you read that boring stuff?" Shocking, yes, but the all-too-common response from anyone inoculated against good history by years of bad social studies classes.
Timothy Paul Jones, a pastor and author with several educational titles to his name, has attempted to rectify this situation with Christian History Made Easy (Rose Publishing, 1999). In 12 short chapters he traces church history from AD 64 to the present, highlighting significant people, events, and ideas in a primarily narrative (and frequently humorous) style. His favorite history book is Dave Barry Slept Here, if that helps you get a handle on the tone.
While Jones's book is entertaining, its primary objective is to educate history-phobes and neophytes. The cover promises "13 Weeks to a Better Understanding of Church History" (how that matches up with the 12 chapters I'm not exactly sure), and the book contains many familiar elements of Sunday-school curriculum: a leader's guide, puzzles and worksheets, discussion questions, and review activities. Youth Sunday school or home school is probably the book's best usage, but the material could be adapted for an adult class or for very structured individual study.
On the one hand, the book's quick pace is one of its main strengths. For church history novices, one page on Nikolaus Zinzendorf is likely sufficient, and reading his story in a context including Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, and George Whitfield fights the habit of picturing ...1
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