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Christian History Made Easy (Rose Bible Basics) Perfect Paperback – July 7, 2009
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Church history is not about names, dates, and facts. It is about the flesh and blood people of God and the life and death issues that have shaped their struggles and joys for two thousand years. Christian History Made easy makes this story come alive. I recommend it enthusiastically! --Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Here you have a beautifully simple, beginner-friendly telling of Christian history, a precious heritage. --J. I. Packer
...an indispensable resource for the local church's member training curriculum. --Dr. Robert E. Johnson, Professor of Church History, Central Baptist Theological Seminary--Dr. Robert E. Johnson, Professor of Church History, Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is a brilliant young biblical scholar who helps simplify the complex. His [resources] are great and sorely needed during our time when many are biblically illiterate and know even less about Church history. --Dr. Jerry Newcombe, author, TV host, and spokesperson for Truth that Transforms with Dr. D. James Kennedy (formerly The Coral Ridge Hour)
Rose's product line includes a wonderful collection of high quality, visually attractive materials that lend themselves to learning the basics of the Christian Faith. In most areas where alternative views exist, they are faithfully presented leaving the reader to decide which best fits their understanding of scripture….I have used Christian History Made Easy for my Sunday school class and found it to be very well done. This book has a great collection of auxiliary Study Guide questions. The author, Timothy Paul Jones is obviously a practiced teacher. I used an early edition. The recent upgrade of this package looks even better… --Dr. Gene A. Stringer, Elder, Christian Church of Ashland, Oregon
About the Author
Timothy Paul Jones (Ed.D.) is professor in the School of Leadership and Church Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Formerly senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Rolling Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to bachelor's and master's degrees in biblical literature and pastoral ministry, Timothy earned a doctorate in educational leadership from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received the Baker Book House Award for excellence in theological scholarship, as well as the North American Professors of Christian Education Scholastic Recognition Award for his doctoral work in the field of spiritual formation.
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Top Customer Reviews
The twelve chapters -- each of which covers the main events, names, and terms of a time period -- read incredibly quickly, as each page contains colorful pictures, block quotes, and other graphics which present information in a variety of ways. The scope of the book is grand, covering the time of the apostles up through postmodernism and the Emergent Church, and everything in between. Obviously, nothing is covered in depth, but Jones provides readers with a "big picture" view of history, enough detail to have at least a basic familiarity with the most important aspects of church history, and resources for further study.
I was personally most appreciative of the author's emphasis on the work of God in building the Church throughout history. He is honest about the many failings of the Church and its leaders, but highlights the ideas and contributions made during each era which ultimately led to the spread of the Gospel. This is most evident in Chapter 6 ("God Never Stops Working"), which covers the difficult period from 673-1295. Jones applies the words of Jesus in John 5:17 ("My father is always at his work") to show how God worked through the monastics, the Scholastics, and the mystics to preserve the Bible and a remnant of believers even through the Dark Ages. Taking that view of history helps us to remain optimistic at times when it is difficult to see how God is working.
His final chapters are also helpful in introducing the various streams of Christian thinking in the world today. The book documents the rise of Dispensationalism, Christian liberalism, Pentecostalism, Fundamentalism, and the "Emergent" church. Jones sticks to the "facts" for the most part, describing what happened rather than making value statements about doctrinal differences within evangelicalism, but he does take time to point out the errors of liberalism and it's later postmodern iteration (Readers should expect no less from a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary!). I should also note that from the Reformation onward, the focal point is on the history of the Protestant church, with very little discussion given to events taking place within Roman Catholicism -- the Second Vatican Council being a notable exception.
This edition contains a 12-week detailed study guide so that using the book as a teaching tool or discussion starter is also "made easy". While group leaders may not choose to follow the guide exactly -- each session calls for 60-90 minutes of guided discussion, worship through song, and a "learning activity" which often requires some preparation and supplies from the leader -- everything needed to use in nearly any group format is included. Leaders can simply adapt the provided materials to suit their needs.
If you're looking for a good introduction to church history that doesn't require a long commitment to deep study, this one will serve you well.
It’s a short book, so I confess I felt a little frustrated at the lack of depth. The book takes on a little too big a topic for 188 pages of text, and religion is a topic where oversimplifying by bouncing along the surface can distort as much as elucidate. Therefore, to get the full benefit of the book, treat it like an instruction course and take advantage of the internet research suggestions peppered throughout the text. But for my money (for a lot more money, I’m sure) I’d love to have 600 pages between the covers of this one.
One other minor frustration: Jones is a Southern Baptist whose subtle preaching permeates the book. For example, Deism is at least twice referred to as a false doctrine. This is probably just a personal issue, but I find it easier to trust a scholar who does a better job of hiding his own religious bias.
With my complaints out of the way, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the text! It’s a fun read, full of tidbits from history and helpful explanations of Christian terms. Every Christian should know at least the basics of Church history, and I definitely recommend this book as an entertaining stepping stone to whet your appetite for further in-depth reading.