Church History Book ReviewDecember 1, 2023 Book Review
Remember. Study. Meditate. Throughout the Bible, God repeatedly calls his people to remember all that he has done. Studying God’s past faithfulness help us to understand difficult providences today. Meditating on his mighty deeds invigorates our prayers so that we can plead along with the psalmist: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders” (Ps. 77:11–14).
God calls us to pass down accounts of his enduring faithfulness to the next generation. Author Simonetta Carr has done just that in Church History. In this visual encyclopedia, she invites young and not-so-young readers to come and behold God’s wondrous deeds. Arranged in nine parts, this hardcover book chronicles God’s faithfulness to his church.
Designed for children nine and up, this work includes substantial content to excite not just the minds of children but also any aged Christian thinker. Starting with the New Testament early church in 30–312 A.D., the first section opens with a large map and timeline of major events. Immediately the young reader embarks on a journey through history.
Photos of ancient artifacts, such as a libellus—certificate that authenticated the possessor had performed a sacrifice to the Roman gods—demonstrate the persecution early Christians faced. In addition, pictures of caves where French Huguenots met for worship introduce young minds to the bravery of our Christian forbearers.
The work also includes short bios on faithful followers of Christ in each time period. Summaries of martyrs, missionaries, and leaders highlight major contributions to the church, and their accompanying portraits visually connect young readers with the past. Not only does the author chronicle notable Christians but also challengers of Christianity—Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx—are studied.
Simonetta Carr’s experience in the classroom is evident in the pages of her book. The Did You Know? sidebars present captivating cultural facts that a teacher can share with students. And the Think about It sidebars provide thought-provoking questions for family and classroom discussion. This one caught my eye: “What do you think about Kuyper’s idea that Christians can learn many things from nonbelievers? Name some books written by or forms of art composed by nonbelievers that have taught you something important.”[i]
Our covenant children live in a digital age fraught with shrinking attention spans and a short-sighted focus on the present. Studying the past, considering God’s wondrous deeds, and beholding his invincible faithfulness are disciplines we must pass to the next generation. For the cherished child in your life, pick up Church History and together explore God’s steadfast devotion to his church, the bride of Christ.
[i] Simonetta Carr, Church History (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2022), 154.