Followers of Christ should know their church history, not so you can win trivia games at the church potluck, but to get a sense of the sweep of God’s work in building His church in the last 2,000 years. Furthermore, a sense of church history keeps us grounded in good ways, from seeing our moment in time as ultimate. Lastly, church history helps keep us anchored to the “old paths” of truth, the orthodoxy that has been passed and preserved from generation to generation. Dr. Matt Hall, vice-president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a good short video here explaining why church history is relevant to our present-day Christian lives.
Thankfully, there are some great, accessible, understandable resources out there to study church history. Here are a few that I’ve benefited from:
Church History Made Easy by Timothy Paul Jones.
This is a terrific resource. Dr. Jones, is a professor and associate vice-president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This book, which also is available as a video-based small group study, is one of the most easy-to understand resources on church history I’ve ever seen. The book is colorful, full of charts, timelines, and illustrations. What’s more, Jones writes in such a compelling and clear way that makes studying history not like studying history.
Church History Lectures on Itunes U
If you don’t know about iTunes U, you should. It’s a free app on your iPhone and has thousands of free lectures on a variety of subjects. Here are a few, relating to church history:
- Dr. Carl Trueman is a professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary. He has three series of lectures available: The History of the Reformation and Medieval Church and Church History
- Covenant Theological Seminary has several courses available: Reformation and Modern Church History and Ancient and Medieval Church History
- Knox Theological Seminary has an excellent series by Dr. Gerald Bray: Church History, Ancient and Medieval and Church History II: Reformation and Modern Era.
Church History Lectures on Youtube
I just stumbled on an excellent series of lectures on Youtube by Dr. Ryan Reeves, Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. On his Youtube channel, Dr. Reeves has a variety of church history lectures. If you want to study a period in sequential order, I’d recommend clicking on the “Playlists.” Right now I’m listening to some of the lectures from “Reformation and the modern era.” I’m particularly interested in his extended treatment of early colonial American church history up until the present time.