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Christianity Through the Centuries Hardcover – November 19, 1996
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From the Publisher
Building on the features that have made Christianity Through the Centuries an indispensable text, the author not only explains the development of doctrines, movements, and institutions, but also gives attention to "the impact of Christianity on its times and to the mark of the times on Christianity."
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Top Customer Reviews
The book was written from a conservative, nondenominational perspective. Though the author is from the Reformed tradition, I thought the book was thoughtful, fair, and balanced. It is easy to read and contains an abundance of pictures, photographs, maps and charts. Christianity Through the Centuries is an outstanding introductory presentation of Church history that I would heartily recommend.
Earle E. Cairns is professor emeritus at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is a member of the American Society of Church History, the American Historical Association, and the Conference on Faith and History.
It is very accurate and surprisingly readable. Cairns does a great job of showing Church History in the context of world history, and the interdependencies of the two. Although a strong Christian world-view is evident, Cairns objectively analyzes various movements and events and does not bless or condemn in wholesale fashion.
The purchase price is a bargain for the wealth of information and this is a keeper for the library. You'll refer to it again and again. I do hope that the publisher will continue to update it, as the decade which has passed since the last edition has been ripe with significant events and movements.
* It is written as a simple introduction to the history of Christianity, and so one can read it without having a background in church history.
* The book does as good a job as can be expected integrating the history of Christianity with general history. The history of Christianity is shown in its broader historical context.
* The book is written as a textbook. As such, it is clearly organized with an explicit outline. The whole scope of the history of Christianity is divided and subdivided into periods; each chapter is further outlined.
* The book has several helpful charts.
* The style of the book is clear, informative, and engaging.
* Many books are recommended at the end of each chapter as guides for further study.
The book has a few drawbacks, but they aren't very significant. Cairns can get a bit preachy in a few places. The chapters about recent history read like a descriptive lists of groups and movements rather than an analysis of the relationships between groups and broader movements, but the earlier chapters are much better. On the whole, this is the book that I would recommend to anyone who either wanted to read just one book on church history or who is beginning the study of church history.
Although I am myself Protestant I am ashamed of the strong calvinist bias of this book. Very little is said of the Catholic Thomas Aquinas, although he is probably the greatest philosopher and theologian of all times. Worse: the little that is said about Aquinas is false (accusing him of creating a two contradictories realms of knowledge, truths, whereas it is on the contrary Aquinas who solved this problem). The views of Augustine are also misrepresented (Cairns follows the common protestant myth that Augustine believed that faith was prior to reason, p. 229), this just to name a few examples. Some Catholic major thinkers of the 20th century (Maritain, Gilson) are simply ignored. All what is Catholic is under- and misrepresented. Calvinists thinkers are on the contrary over-represented, and too well spoken of.
Concerning Christian movements, the book contains also many mistakes (e. g. that Darby founded the Brethren movement! He never did, only joined them later; when he had become influential he created a schism and took full control of a large fraction, the "exclusive" brethren). Or for example there is no mention that the montanist heretics were charismatic.
The auithor is very (too) enthousiast about some charismatic ideas such as the (short term) growth movement of the third charismatic wave. It is a pity that he never speaks of the authentic spiritual revival happening through the work of Norman Geisler and J. P. Moreland. Although I am also an evangelical, I must say that I find the author much too uncritical of the evangelical movement (there is no mention of the scandal of the evangelical mind, and the emphasis on experiences and emotions).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Become knowledgeable about the past. I'm not a history buff. In fact, I mostly dislike history. However, this book is probably the first history book I've ever picked up and... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Joseph
This book is my favour hand book since several decade it is profited for me and my relativePublished 5 months ago by Caleb Zungkipthang
I read numerous books on church history, this is the best I've read by far. A good summary of events, understandable and interesting without getting bogged down by too many... Read morePublished 7 months ago by neal gerhart
This was required reading for a history class at a Christian College but I found it very interesting, informative, well written and easy to understand.Published 10 months ago by mamasue
Good - A lot more writing from previous owner in the book than I expected.Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer