Partly historical, partly biographical, and partly anecdotal, Alton Gansky’s new book is an intriguing look at 30 events that helped make the church what it is today. In no way does it attempt to identify the 30 most important events that shaped the church, but it does look 30 event (using the term broadly) that changed the church. over the last 2000+ years. It should be noted that some events are specific events that can be identified in history (e.g. The First Council of Nicea); others are movements that occurred over decades or centuries (e.g. The Protestant Reformation). It would be easy to identify a second book in the series (“30 More Events That Shaped the Church”) that would include additional events or persons that helped make the church what it is. For example, little is said about the Wesley’s or the Wesleyan Revival in England - an event that certainly shaped the church into what it is today. Strangely, what is said focuses on their influence upon George Whitefield and the Great Awakening in America.
One of the greatest flaws in this volume is the lack of an index. More details could very well be mentioned about the Wesleys, but without an index there is no way to tell whether he or his brother or the movement that followed their conversions is discussed in detail. An electronic version of this book (e.g. Kindle, Nook, LOGOS) might help with this dilemma - alas, I was only provided a paper copy of the book. Without an index the book lacks the tools needed for the future scholar. Similarly, references are provided;l however they seem weak and incomplete. For example, the chapter on the reformation only includes four references, leaving one to wonder where much of the information was gathered.
Some of the subjects are discussed in detail as subjects, others subjects spend more time looking at the key individuals who played a part in defining the event. An example of this latter case is the discussion of the Protestant Reformation - 80% of the chapter discusses the lives of Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin.
Along with discussing historical events themselves, most chapters also spend a few moments discussing the significance of the events to the remainder of church history - as it moves into the 21st century. I might expect that there would be some devotional value to the book - how do these events influence the average Christian today. This is missing.
Though I am critical, I do think the book has value - it might serve as a ancillary text in a church history course. It might also serve as a refresher for the pastor or layman who has been out of college for a number of years and wants a refresher on church history. Though there were significant holes in the book, I found it interesting and containing sufficient content to make it worth reading.
This review is based on a free copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.