“The Reformation to the Present Day”
During my first church history course, I found my textbook, Justo Gonzalez’s Story, Vol. I, so enthralling that I actually found myself at times forgetting that it was a history book at all. Thus it thrilled me to discover that for my second course in church history, my textbook was Gonzalez’s Volume II. Gonzalez writes with such an informative yet nearly conversational style that he manages to bring what would otherwise be dry, ancient facts into a place of modern interest. It may help his case that he litters his book with pictures and paintings, but I recall many of my grade school and high school history books doing the same, and they never interested me as much as Gonzalez’s books have.
This particular book covers roughly the last five hundred years of religious history, which may sound boring to some, but really casts a whole new perspective on the same history we have all studied before. Gonzalez takes the political heroes, giants, and villains of the past and delineates their influence based on how they responded to Christianity. Much of what he covers–and truly much of what covered the majority of the last five hundred years–deals with the ever-widening chasm between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Only recently has Islam snaked its ugly head into world affairs for all to see, so while he does deal very lightly on this subject, he focuses much more on religions that are nominally “Christian” and how their influence affects the world.
At a combined 900+ pages, these two volumes by Gonzalez may seem a bit harrowing, and unless they are assigned to you for a course, you may not be interested in diving in. But if you are a reader who has always been interested in reading up on Christian history for fun’s sake, they you will not find a more readable history than Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity, Volumes I and II.