The Story of Christianity, Vol II The Reformation to the Present, Justo Gonzalez

So I’ve taken a little break from blogging, but not from reading. I know I’m a little behind in my weekly book reading (the last post was from, yikes, February 23) but I think I will be caught up in nearly a week.

This past semester, I took 2 classes on Church History: Part 1, from the inception of the Church to the Reformation, and part 2, from the Reformation to the Present. The text for the class was this book that I read, not in a week, but over the course of eight weeks. It still counts right?

Church history is so fascinating to me: it is amazing that even after 2,000 years, there is an institution that has gone through trials, even through the fire and nearly broke apart; it was only through the predestined plan of God that it continues to this day and that is nothing less of a miracle. Out of all of Church History, my favorite act in this wild play would have to be the Reformation. I had to write a paper on Martin Luther and it was some of the most enlightening and informative research I have ever done. My favorite line in the scene of the Reformation would have to be Martin Luther’s monologue at the Diet of Worms: Martin posted his 95 thesis’ in protest of the indulgence preachers (preachers who were saying that you had to pay for a certificate that got you into heaven or out of purgatory) and catapulted him into a confrontation with the Pope’s “Papal Bull,” culminating at the Diet of Worms which was a gathering to decide whether Martin would be excommunicated from the Church and given to the Inquisition (which would guarantee death). Here they asked him to recant and he asked for one more day. The next day, he was again asked to recant and he replied,

“Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God’s word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.

On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.”

Others took part of this momentous occasion, including Ulrich Zwingli and another favorite, John Calvin. After the reformation, Europe erupted into war and uncertainty. Later, those searching for religious freedom from the oppressive Church of England would take a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to a colony in North America, thus beginning American Christianity. One can see how gracious God has been with our own country with the First Great Awakening featuring Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield (it is said that there wasn’t a person in the 19th century American Colonies that had not heard George Whitefield speak), the Second Great Awakening, and the Layman Church Revival. Not all is happy though: with the onset of humanism and the enlightenment, philosophy has been ever near to Christian thought, threatening it’s very existence with the ideals of Deism in the 19th century and existentialism in the 21st century. Today, we are beginning to see the unification of a global society, and with that the ecumenical (one world church) movement take shape as we move further into end times.

In any case, I think we as Christians have a responsibility to learn Church History and I recommend this book as a starting point in your studies.

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