If you asked me to list my favorite subjects when I was in school, history would not even make the list. While I believe those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, I still found the subject boring. Memorizing dates and seemingly random events never resonated with me. That said, I enjoy studying the Bible and all things related to it. A part of that involves studying history, the subject I loathe. What was I to do? Let me tell you how I learned to love Church history.
When it comes to learning Church history, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Starting with the Apostles, we’re looking at almost 2,000 years of history to explore. I can barely keep up with all the world events that have taken place in my 35 years of life, so how was I going to tackle learning Church history? Easy. I found a resource that gives an overview of the entirety of Church history from early Christianity to the present day, and does it in a way that’s easy to digest. The Atlas of Christian History is that resource!
Instead of tackling a thick history book that would give me far more detail than I want as a newbie, I opted for a book that would give me quick summaries of the major events and people throughout the centuries. In a matter of a few short paragraphs per section, the Atlas of Christian History gives me the high level view I need to get a broad understanding of Christian history. And, for a more abbreviated view of history, the first paragraph to begin a new section is bold and gives you a couple sentence summary of the date or event in view. As an example, here is the first paragraph under “The Arian Challenge”:
Around 318 a particularly divisive dispute flared between Arius (c. 250–c. 336), a presbyter in Alexandria, and the Patriarch Alexander (r. 313–26). Arius was teaching that, if the Son of God had been crucified, he suffered – as the supreme deity cannot do. He argued that Jesus Christ was therefore not eternal, but made by the Father to do his creative work. By dividing off the Son from God the Father, Arius undermined Christ’s status as God’s revelation and as the saviour of humankind.
The thing that sets this resource apart from other history titles is that it’s also an atlas! If there’s anything that makes studying history fun it’s lots of maps and pictures. The Atlas of Christian History does not disappoint in this department. This book has some of the best maps I’ve ever seen in a Christian resource. Quite literally, the maps are the reason to buy this book! The beautifully designed maps are what made learning Christian history fun. I’d often find myself enthralled with the maps, only to begin reading the preceding text to get the context for the data being presented to me. And guess what?! Without even trying, I was learning and loving history!
Take a look at these maps to get an idea of what I’m talking about. The first shows the spread of Christianity by AD 300. The second depicts the distribution of major denominations in the United States as of the year 2000. And along with the maps, you’ll also find stunning photographs of important Christian sites throughout history.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think I could ever love studying history. The Atlas of Christian History changed that for me. If you’re like me, this resource is a great primer for getting a broad overview of 2,000 years of Christian history. The maps alone are worth their weight in gold. If this resource doesn’t get you excited about learning history, nothing will. No matter your level of expertise, the Atlas of Christian History will help you better understand our history as the Christian Church.