Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christians you should know

Nikki knew something of the Apostle Paul and the story of the Exodus of Israel, but she’d never heard of Iraeneus. Jonathan Edwards, as far as she could remember, was a stern old guy who screamed at his congregation about dropping them all into hell if they didn’t shape up.

But she didn’t figure it mattered anyway because she was studying her Bible.

Followers of Jesus often don’t take time to learn church history. It sounds dry as sawdust and irrelevant as yesterday’s dawn.

But the story of people just like us, battling their own weaknesses and their culture’s responses, is important. How did they respond to criticism or weak doctrine? How did they brainstorm about the youth of their day drinking and carousing instead of coming to church?

Try reading 131 Christians Everyone Should Know. It is compiled from the pages of Christian History Magazine. The chapters vary in length but none is longer than 4 or 5 pages, each a short summary of the significance of each person.

History is people and how they make choices based on their surroundings. Sometimes those choices affect many generations (think of the Reformers, for example) and 131 Christians tries to highlight the significant points of each biography.

My one frustration is with how the chapters are organized. The editors chose to organize by topic, starting with theologians and concluding with martyrs. But if you know what category to place a person, you may know enough about the person to skip this book and move on to deeper studies.

However, just starting at the beginning and reading through the book, you’ll get a nice overview of many key players in the church. Each bio includes a timeline to help place that person in history’s chronology.

Overall, the book is easy to read and pretty accurate. It’s a nice place to get acquainted with some of our fellow believers who labored before us in the name of Jesus.

1 comment:

Darla said...

I love John Wesley! haha I do love the history of the church..and when it comes to worship history...I love fanny crosby! my hubby laughs at me for my choices..but hey John wesley was the man! and Fanny crosby rocks!