This book was born out of the author's deep conviction that today's Christians can benefit enormously from learning what God has done in the past. The mighty acts of Christ did not come to a halt soon after the events recorded in the book of Acts. In every century since the first, the Almighty has been at work and believers can trace his footsteps by studying the way that Christians of a previous generation faced the challenges that confronted them. It is intended that this will be the third in a series of five volumes, which will cover the history of the church from the earliest days up to modern times. Pastors and preachers will undoubtedly gain much from this series, and those who already have an interest in church history will find the five books useful additions to their library. Nevertheless, the series is written in a style that will appeal to the non-specialist and any modern Christian will find it challenging and stimulating to be introduced to men and women who loved and served the same Saviour that he loves and serves. This volume deals with the period of church history that was dominated by the Reformation. Here we encounter the Lutheran Reformation, spearheaded by figures like Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon; and the Reformed Reformation, where Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer and John Calvin led the way. We meet the Radical Reformers, in all their diversity, including Menno Simons and the Mennonites. We also examine the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and explore the very different world of Eastern Orthodoxy. In all this we see how theology, spirituality, worship and culture were affected by the events of the sixteenth century.
In volume three, Needham picks up where he left off and continues his church history masterpiece. While no historian can be exhaustive in scope, Needham nevertheless manages to cover the great men and events in more detail than one would expect, all the while keeping things in their historical context. Most importantly he writes interesting history! These books are a delight to read because they display the hand of God in the acts of history. No naturalist historians need apply!
Needham correctly believes that Christians today can learn and profit from the lessons of the past: the battles that have already been fought, issues that have already been debated, and leaders who have come before us. And he is able to present all this information in a manner that leaves Christians excited about the great work Christ has done through His church, from the first century through to our own day.
One of the most unique, useful, and enjoyable aspects of Needham's histories is the material he places at the end of each chapter. There he gives samples of the primary sources about which he has just written. These brief glimpses of the writings of the great pastors, humanists, heretics, and theologians help the history come alive to modern readers, most of whom have never interacted with these great works before.
I eagerly await volume four. These histories will be the standard for years to come, right up there with d'Aubigne, Wylie, Schaff, and the like.