Preaching Helps: Church History Tool
Good preaching aims at helping people live gospel lives. A key part of that is opening people’s awareness of the wider community of faith. As Paul put it, that we might comprehend with all the saints the love of Christ in all its dimensions (Eph 3:18-19). Fellow believers are scattered throughout history and across the globe. When a preacher skillfully tells a piece of Catherine Booth’s story, or describes a life decision of Bernard of Clairvaux, a personal struggle of John Wesley, or the stubborn love of Dorothy Day, some people perk up a bit: “Who were these Christians I’ve never heard of before?” “I can connect with that!” And they connect even better when the speaker can describe the context of these folks.
Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity is a useful tool to do just that. In thirteen brief but substantial chapters, distinguished evangelical historian Mark Noll describes in some detail fourteen events in history that he believes have decisively shaped the church’s outlook and mission.
This is a survey of church history at its readable best. Noll describes not only the event (eg. the Council of Nicea, the conversion of the Wesleys, the Edinburgh Missionary Conference) but the issues that precipitated the event as well as its long-term effects up to our present day—the how, the why, and the so what.
The writing is clear and informed. Noll has field-tested this way of teaching Christian history with pastors and with adult classes in a local church—and it worked! One chapter a week would engage an adult Sunday School class for three months. Adults learn best by discussion, and this is a great tool to make that happen.
This book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Baker Publishing in exchange for an honest review.