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Church History in 13 Minutes

Think of Enter the Bible as your guide, a helpful reference tool to accompany you in your reading of the Bible. Visit Enter the Bible. Out to support, nurture, and inspire preachers working at the craft of creating compelling, faithful, and creative biblical sermons. I provided the following review on Amazon: This small book attempts to answer an important question about a very big topic, church history.

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It is not a church history book itself, but one that can Robert F. Prior to his teaching career, he served as a pastor and youth minister, and has contributed articles or book reviews to publications such as the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, Christian Standard and The Stone-Campbell Journal.

Does it matter how Christians in other times and places thought? If the Bible alone is God? For many Christians who believe the Bible is the ultimate authority for faith and life, questions about the role and value of the church's traditions can be difficult to tackle. The first chapter attempts to define tradition, considering the parameters of history and church history and the differing forms of tradition.


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Rea delves into the provocative question of whether tradition is good or bad, taking a balanced approach which finds that Christian traditions are neither necessarily good or bad, but must be weighed theologically and historically. Chapter two looks at how tradition has been understood historically, offering an outline of how scripture and tradition have interacted throughout the history of the church. Rea does an especially fine job summarizing the major contours of scripture and tradition throughout history and his section on the development of scripture and specifically Christian tradition in early Church is particularly insightful.

Thoughts on books, reading, and life

The third chapter examines contemporary approaches to the relationship between scripture and tradition. Especially helpful is the overview of Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican conceptions of tradition, as is the general survey of general Protestant approaches to scripture and tradition.

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The second section focuses on the importance of expanding interactions with theological perspectives and ideas, calling readers to become transcultural, global, and transtemporal in their worldview. The chapters in this section engage Christian identity formation and corporate communities, the possibility of theological accountability across time and space, and the importance of finding historical voices which broaden theological horizons and supplement current understandings of the past.

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The third section of Why Church History Matters details the practical ways in which the study of history serves the Church. Chapter eight offers a detailed assessment of Christian exegesis throughout the ages, again offering a useful periodization and overview of the general shape of how Christians conceived of and interpreted scripture.

In this chapter, Rea emphasizes how historical understanding allows for better bible study, balanced exegesis, textual engagement, and translation. The final chapter dwells on the relationship between tradition and ministry, outlining a number of practical suggestions for integrating history with preaching, teaching, systematics, spirituality, worship, mission, ethics, compassion, unity, and social engagement.

Throughout this book, Rea does an excellent job presenting the importance of a balanced perspective in the study of Church History.

While the contents of this book are most clearly geared toward this type of background, there is plenty of value for students of a variety of backgrounds and academic levels. Affirmation of truth and cautious humility, proper integration of scripture and tradition, reliance on the great thinkers of the Christian tradition, and the plethora of practical advice are just some of the reasons that this treatment of why Church History matters stands apart from other introductions to this field.