Book Review: “The Story of Christianity, Volume II” by Justo L. Gonzalez (1985)

“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.

©2011 E.T.

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3 Responses to Book Review: “The Story of Christianity, Volume II” by Justo L. Gonzalez (1985)

  1. Rose- Amer says:

    History of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez is one of the best books that I’ve read so far on Christian History. I think it is very important to know our past if we want to understand our present Christian tradition. The Bible (both New and Old Testament) is the single most sacred Scripture that has influenced every major religion of the world and Christians and Christianity in one way or the other has shaped almost every civilization that exists today. From Asia to Africa, Australia to Americas all the countries of the world are somehow directly or indirectly touched by Christianity. This is the best book I recommend for those who are confused and lost in the sea of numerous Christian traditions and looking for answers. Gonzalez’ History of Christianity covers all that we need to know in order to trace our Christian tradition.

  2. I do agree that this book is one of the best books on “The History of Christianity.” But, although it is a very good on Christian history, I an looking for some information for two questions, and cannot find them.
    1. Discuss the two reasons Congregational sponsored education in colonial America. and
    2. Explain the effect of America’s War of Independence on the Anglican Church in colonial America.

    • Gonzalez’s book is too broad a history to answer such specific questions. You’d need to attack both these issues from the Congregational and Anglican sides. Can you access any of their own histories, specifically covering the 18th Century? Perhaps even from their websites or at one of their seminary libraries?

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