Occasionally I read a book that changes my life forever. Dr. Bruce Shelley’s hefty tome, Church History in Plain Language is the latest addition to my personal list of such books.
If you have never done a chronological study of the entire 2000 years of church history, or if you have but would like a single-volume review, this book is perfect for you. Dr. Shelley’s writing style is easy to follow, engaging, and quite witty at times. I read the book cover-to-cover over a period of two months, and it felt like reading an epic novel. It really is THAT good. If you are a Christian, this should be on your shelf.
Shelly’s book not only covers the historical events within the church, it also examines the impact of historical phenomena such as the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution upon Christianity. It explains how the various branches of the faith diverged from one another, and the theological, philosophical, and sociological issues that caused the various divisions. The biographical sketches of important figures from church history are highly informative, yet not dry and tedious like some other sources can be. I loved the way Shelley brought the book to a close, with a beautiful encouragement to the church.
I can say that, without a doubt, my faith is stronger and my ability to defend Christianity from a historical perspective is vastly improved.
Get it. Read it. Use the wisdom you glean to further the Kingdom.