Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: Churches, Revolutions and Empires: 1789-1914 - Ian Shaw


I have always loved Church history. The first time I read about Martin Luther hiding nuns in a barrel to sneak them out of their convent, I was hooked. Many think of History as boring, especially Church History, but it doesn't have to be. Shaw proves it with this book.

Most of the books I have read on Church history have focused on the time of the Reformation and Puritans. Seeing that this book was set between the late 1700s and early 1900s, I felt that it would fill in some blanks in my understanding of Church History.

It did just that.

Packed full of facts, it is a good overview of the period. Because of it’s density, it is a little daunting. Being a medium to large work, it is not bed-time reading. That said, it was still a great book.

Moving from historical characters like Wesley, Edwards, Wilberforce, Carey, Finney, and Moody, this book keeps you moving on to the next chapter to see who else is included. So many times I have heard or read about great men and women of God but had no idea where they fit in the historical context. Shaw, with this overview, places each person in context along with their peers, setting up a time-line with words. For instance, coming from a Baptist background, I have heard about Lottie Moon but had no idea where she fit into history. She is include in this book.

Shaw spends very little time on each person (if he did the book would have to 10 times it's current size) but he spends just enough time to give you the setting, then moves on.

I have read books about many of these men, but an overview like this puts it all into prospective. Much of it is focused on missionary movements. It also includes the many changes in Church and government during this period.

One of the best sections deals with the subject of slavery. This
subject is seldom touched on from a prospective of Church History. Many Christians helped pave the way for the abolition of slavery, but there were also many that were pro-slavery. This is both a proud time and an embarrassing time for the Church. How could those who proclaimed to love God and love his fellow man be so wrong?  Shaw gives details of the Christians who fought for and against the practice.

Toward the end, he shows how the industrial age changed many lives for good and bad. There is also good section where he moves through countries around the world and show what influence the church had.

This book is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it for those who are interested in history. It is not light reading, but it is good reading.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided free by Christian Focus and Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for an honest review

1 comment:

  1. Roger,

    Thanks for being a part of the Churches, Revolutions and Empires Blog Tour. I'm glad you got so much out of the book. It's on my "soon to read" shelf. After reading your review, I might have to move it towards the front of the line. Looking forward to working with you again in the future.

    Shaun Tabatt
    Cross Focused Reviews