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Church History in Plain Language: Third Edition [Paperback]

Bruce Shelley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 2 2008
With morethan 275,000 copies sold, this is the story of the Church for today’s readers. The third edition of Shelley’s classicone-volume history of the church brings the story of Christianity into thetwenty-first century. This latest edition of the book takes a close look at therapid growth of evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity in the southern hemisphere,addresses the decline in traditional mainline denominations, examines theinfluence of technology on the spread of the gospel, and discusses howChristianity intersects with other religions in countries all over the world.

The concise book provides an easy-to-read guide to church history withintellectual substance. The new edition of Church History in Plain Languagepromises to be the new standard for readable Church History.

Featuresinclude:

  • Includes contemporary developments related to the spread of the gospel
  • Discusses how technology has an impact on how the church worships and grows
  • Covers the explosionof Christianity in the Southern hemisphere


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About the Author

Dr. Bruce Shelley was Senior Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Denver Theological Seminary. He held the M.Div. degree from Fuller Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. Among his previous publications are The Church: God's People; Evangelicalism in America; and The Cross and the Flame.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for one volume commentary Feb. 14 2012
Format:Paperback
This one volume compendium of church history lives up to its name: it is written in plain, very readable language. Shelley has a knack for weaving stories around people and personalities--not just dates and events--and the result is a very engaging single volume of history that is, at times, as engrossing a page-turner as any novel. Shelley's goal in writing this book is to heal the 'historical amnesia' from which many Christians today suffer (p. xv). He reminds us that throughout Scripture, from the Exodus to the Eucharist, we are commanded to remember. But what to remember? 2,000 years of church history could easily fill a library. Shelley's desire is to focus on the permanent rather than the passing fad (p. xvi). Thus, he is admittedly selective in what events to address and what to pass by.

The book is divided by epochs, that is, 'ages' of Jesus and the Apostles; Catholic Christianity; Christian Roman Empire; Christian Middle Ages; Reformation; Reason and Revival; Progress; and Ideologies. Unfortunately, due to his selection biases, as the Church goes through its schisms, Shelley tends to focus on West over East, then Protestant over Catholic. This is not to say that the other streams of tradition are never mentioned again, but the massive majority of limelight after AD 1500 (about half the book) goes to Protestantism, and once the Americas come on the scene, American and British Protestantism. Further, although he picks and chooses events to suit his narrative, there is little mention of the Pentecostal Movement and Charismatic Renewal of the 20th century that transformed the face of the world-wide church. So although this is an excellent one volume compendium of church history, it is understandably (given the fact that it is only one volume) weak in certain areas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great starter book May 24 2010
Format:Paperback
If you don't know anything about church history, then this is a great book to start with. I knew little about the history of Christianity before reading this book, and it got me studying everything I can on the subject! A fascinating read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for Personal or Educational use April 13 2009
Format:Paperback
This text was required for one of my college courses and I loved reading it. I had a different book for the second half of the course and hated that one. This book is by far the best book on Church History that I have come across. I would recommend this to college students and anyone who desires to know more about the details of the church's history. Easy to read, far from boring, and gives a more down-to-earth account of what happened throughout history in the life of the church.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Church History in Plain Language Jan. 21 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My wife and I are both reading this book and enjoy the information. We are not in a class and do not need to write a book report but the book taught us how the present church has came into this century with the truth of the gospel message. God is faithful and preserved His message and we can trust Him. It was a great experience for us. We are glad that it was in everyday language.
Chalmers Wirth
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what the title claims Dec 4 2011
By LBF
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is difficult to know how to rate this bizarre book. On the one hand, you can make the case that the author does a decent enough job until the 1700s or so, although the unstintingly male-dominated language had me scratching my head; I had to keep checking the publication date. Who writes like this in 2008? Things fall apart completely when Shelley tries to make sense of the complexities of modern-day global Christianity. While I can respect theologically conservative thinking and belief, Shelley simply caricatures more liberal theologians, and can't seem to distinguish between liberal, human-rights based social policy and orthodox theology. He ignores the fact that it is quite possible for someone to be conservative theologically and still support basic human rights (which, I would argue, is exactly what Jesus Christ did and calls us to do today). I was pressed into writing this review at the point where Shelley uncritically references Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as voices for "educating" and "mobilizing" Christians, presumably against those Christians who had succombed to the age of "self-expression" and were "intent upon emphasizing feelings and affections". Overall, I was terribly disappointed by book whose foreward claims that students find it "accessible, educational, and enjoyable."
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