Grand Rapids; William B. Eerdmans, 1952
Every few years I like to read a book about the history of the Christian church. In my opinion next to knowing the Bible, sound Christian doctrine, and apologetics, a knowledge of church history is one of the most important things for a believer to know. Our Christian youth should be grounded in church history. It helps them to understand the origins of their faith and the world in general. They learn where denominations started and why there are differences among them. They learn how much their forbearers suffered for the faith. They learn how ordinary, in fact, how sinful these people were, how they argued, even fought with one another, and sadly still do. They learn the importance of standing up for Christ and sound doctrine. The lessons could go on and on.
Though this book is dated, written several decades ago to be used in Christian schools, it is still quite useful. The Church in History is well written and well organized, clear enough for the average high school student to read and understand The 1988 edition of this 500 page book is now available both in paperback and kindle, and it is quite reasonably priced.
The author, B.K.Kuiper, (Barend Klass Kuiper) was born in the Netherlands in 1877 and died in the United States in 1961. He writes from a conservative Reformed perspective, but with a respect for Christians of other traditions. He recounts church history as an interesting story, filled with salient insights about individual Christians, the Christian life, and the world. I only wish a contemporary church historian who knows how to write for young people would bring it up to date by beginning where Kuiper left off, at around 1950.
If I haven’t said enough to whet your appetite to read this book, the following blurb may help:
A standard survey of the history of the Christian church from A.D. 33 to modern times, The Church in History by B. K. Kuiper has long been the textbook of choice for many secondary schools and Bible institutes, having sold well over 150,000 copies since first published more than a half century ago. Detailed and fact-filled yet balanced and readable, this volume offers a panoramic view of the church’s growth worldwide throughout the past 2,000 years, including a comprehensive section on the church in the United States and Canada. With close to 300 photographs, maps, and timelines throughout and thought-provoking study questions at the end of each chapter, The Church in History is an excellent introductory resource for students or for anyone wanting to better understand the history of the church.