7 Feb 2014 by Jason Law CM –
When it comes to History, people's standpoint can be rather contentious. While many find the subject to be an interesting one, filled with dynamic events and larger-than-life figures, many others also find a study on it to be an unnecessary demand on their time, consisting of events that had occurred so long ago in the past, and thus, boring and irrelevant. While many Catholics know the names of St Francis Xavier and St Ignatius Loyola, and many Protestants know the names of Martin Luther and John Calvin, many Christians also don’t have much knowledge concerning the historical figures in Christianity beyond Jesus, The Twelve Apostles, and Paul. Goh Kim Guat and Pristine World’s The Family Church History Series aim to direct people’s interest towards Christian History.
Pristine World’s Family Church History Series is an interesting look at the subject, currently consisting of two books, the first covering the first 500 years, and the second covering the next thousand years (AD500-1650). It is a rare and welcome presence in the sphere of local Christian books, lending a Malaysian perspective to the significant events in Christian History, a subject which was previously covered extensively mostly in the West. Broad coverage is given to the spread of Christianity to the East like China, India, and South East Asia.
The series takes a family-friendly approach, in simple language, visualized with plentiful photos, caricatures and comic drawings. Numerous significant events are given background through informative maps, diagrams, as well as quotes, and each topical section in the comprehensive books are covered in snippets of a few hundred words, helping to make it easy to read for busy readers. Interspersed throughout are extra contextual boxes like ‘Do You Know?’, 'Is It True?', ‘True Tales’, and ‘Fact File’, and closing each chapter is a ‘Chat Corner’ and ‘Facing the Challenges’.
|Do You Know?||Covers lesser-known but fascinating facts from Christian History|
|Is It True?||Explores the veracity of known but disputed historical beliefs|
|True Tales||Covers dynamic stories from Christian History that seem unbelievable but are true.|
|Fact File||Provides more in-depth information about topics like culture and significant events|
|Chat Corner||Discussion Corners concerning events and its relevancy to local Christians today|
|Facing the Challenges||The main lessons that can be learned from each chapter such as being thankful for the gifts God has given us and recognizing God as the source of all wisdom and knowledge.|
Currently, the series consists of two volumes:
The Story of Early Christianity: The First 500 Years
This volume covers the first 500 years of the Church from the time of Jesus, the 12 Disciples, and Paul, the great challenges faced by the Early Church, the culture of the early Church, its spread to the East, and how it finally lasted longer than the Roman Empire itself, even until this day. It gives in-depth coverage to the cultural setting of the environment the Early Christians lived in during the Roman Empire, and covers the major episodes like the first Pentecost, how the term ‘Christians’ and the major festivals came to be established, and the persecution under the emperors Nero, Domitian, and Marcus Aurelius.
Historical figures and topics covered include the Apostolic Fathers like Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, the early Christian apologist like Justin Martyr and Tertullian, the early heresies like Gnosticism, Marcionism, and Montanism explaining in detail about the beliefs in these movements and how they deviated from established Christianity, the turnaround under Emperor Constantine, the four ecumenical councils (Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon), and their long-lasting effects on Christianity, as well as Latin Church Fathers like Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, and Augustine of Hippo, the monastic life, and many other events.
Christianity In The Middle Ages: Crises, Crusades and Reformation (AD500-1650)
This volume covers the Medieval Period, including the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades, the growth in affluence of the Roman Catholic Church, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. It also covers other topics surrounding the Church at that time like the rise of Islam, the feudal system, the Holy Roman Empire, the schoolmen and the cathedrals, the controversy over Icons and Iconoclasm, Christianity in Asia and Africa during the period, the reformation in Switzerland and England, and the Roman Catholic Renewal.
Many major figures are covered like the great or influential popes Gregory the Great, Gregory VII, and Innocent III; Byzantine figures like Justinian and Theodosia, the Carolingian Dynasty of Pepin and Charlemagne, the religious movements of the time like the Waldesians and Cathars/Albigensians; the new religious orders like the Cistercians, the Dominicans and Franciscans, heroes and defenders of the faith like Joan of Arc and Thomas Aquinas, influential Renaissance figures like Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo, Reformation figures like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli, as well as giving fair and non-biased coverage on Muslim heroes like Saladin. It even gives information about little-known technical stuff like the differences between the Irish and Roman tonsure and the architectural differences between Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals.
Each of the volumes covers a wide-ranging area of historical topics within less than 300 pages. In the foreword and preface before each book, the editor and writer as well as Heads of the Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist churches of Malaysia outline their hopes for this book. Besides instilling an appreciation for our heritage as Christians, they also have a higher aim of guiding Christians at looking through issues in a balanced, Biblical, and Christ-like manner.
Consisting of fallible humans like you and me, the Church has made mistakes in the past and this series of books does not whitewash things, offering them up as cautionary elements in our history. But as Christians, we also have an identity, and much of this identity is built on the sacrifices and indomitable spirit of people in the past. There are many lessons we can learn from the lives of these heroes and heroines of faith, and the Family Church History Series is a good guide linking us to our legacy, and making every part of it come alive in all its splendor as well as occasional heartbreak for us.
Title: The Family Church History Series Volume 1 and 2
Author: Goh Kim Guat
Publisher: Pristine World Sdn Bhd
The first volume is sold at RM38 while the second volume is sold at RM49. They’re available at the Burning Bush Shop at Dream Centre, Damansara Utama Methodist Church.
References for pictures