2000 Years of Christ’s Power, 4 Volume Pack by Nick Needham and published by Christian Focus Publications.
Volume 1 – The Age of the Early Church Fathers Every generation has an uncanny tendency to view themselves as more enlightened than those that have gone before. The Church certainly has made mistakes all through history – and yet, no insights which we possess would be possible without the efforts, and even some of the mistakes, of our ancestors. The first volume of 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power covers the period from the 1st Century AD to the start of the Middle Ages. From the works of Saint Augustine of Hippo to the first apologetic ever penned, this time in history established the foundations of what we take for granted today.
Volume 2 – Middle Ages: The Middle Ages were dubbed the ‘Dark Ages’ almost before they had begun to draw to a close. Ever since then, they have continued to be seen as a time of hardship and oppression, full of Popes and Crusades. In the second volume of 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, another side of the Middle Ages shines through though: The continual workings of Christ as He built His kingdom through figures such as Thomas a Kempis and John Wycliffe, who lived and struggled during these centuries. This was far from a period of stagnation; rather it was the fire from which the Reformation was kindled.
Volume 3 – Renaissance and Reformation: The Renaissance was a reaction against the attitude of the Middle Ages. And the Reformation was the passionate, divisive argument that grew out of it. Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans, Anabaptists – our present–day divisions were the front–page headlines of the Reformation. Volume three of 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, in showing the progression of the Reformation era, and the daring bravery of its figures, presents a period of history from which there are many lessons to be learnt – not least of all, the vibrancy of people’s lives and the courage with which they faced death.
Volume 4 – The Age of Religious Conflict: The Renaissance and Reformation were exciting times of learning and discovery – they pushed the boundaries of accepted thought. The repercussions of this, however, were that they left in their wake a period of universal uncertainty. The centuries–old status quo had been turned on its head. Nothing was stable anymore. Conflict ensued. The fourth volume of 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power spans from the 16th to the 18th century. It presents a time from which English Protestantism, Scottish Presbyterianism, and French Catholicism, to name only a few, were birthed and refined. Perhaps few eras have had such a direct impact on the characteristics of our own period of history.
What a great series! I really am against recommending that you single any of the 4 volumes out and read it alone but they were made in such a way that you can. If you only can read one, read Volume 3 which is the reformation. I gained some weighty lessons from it as well as a great overview of Christian history—as the Cross is the center of history altogether, the reformation seems to be the centerpiece in history of the church.
Every book in this series is excellent. If you want a broad understanding of the history of christianity read this series. Whilst I’d recommend reading the 4 volumes in order you can dive in with any of them if there’s a particular time period you want to dig into. These books give you both an engaging presentation of the events and also a variety of primary source extracts making them work both as a useful and accessible introduction AND as a useful reference resource.
This is highly recommended both for a layperson looking for an introduction on the subject and for trainees and Christian ministers who already have a general grasp but are looking to ‘fill in the gaps’ in their knowledge. Nick Needham’s particular strengths include his insight into the ‘story behind the story’ (eg character analysis of key figures such as Arminius and Amyrault) and his good all–round knowledge of the different branches of the Christian church, especially the non–English–speaking world and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which can often be sidelined in general histories of the church written from a Protestant/Roman Catholic perspective.
Nick Needham is a raconteur of a historian who has the gift of making the events he relates come alive. Needham has an eye for the telling detail. His books are lively, entertaining and engrossing histories, written by a man with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of people––famous, infamous and unknown––and events great and small in the history of Christ’s Kingdom.
The entire Needham series is highly readable and a great product for those who don’t want to be bored to sleep reading.
Total Price: £1.99