Reviewed by Kristin Stiles
When you pick up a book in the children’s section, you often have certain expectations. You expect bright, colorful illustrations; simple to read sentences; and a minimal time commitment to finish the book. With Linda Finlayson’s book, God’s Timeline: The Big Book of Church History, you can forget about that minimal time commitment part. I couldn’t put this book down. There is such a wealth of information included that it would take a significant amount of time to read it all, no less digest it all. It would be time well spent, though, because Finlayson has done a masterful job making church history accessible to children in upper elementary all the way through to adulthood.
Beginning with the Early Church and continuing on through the Medieval Church, the Reforming Church, the Missionary Church, right on to the Modern Church, Finlayson has clearly and painstakingly laid out the history of the Christian church. Each section is color coded and begins with a vignette to give the ethos of that era. That is followed by a full 2-page spread timeline with events and people not only associated with the church but also major historical events that help the reader to integrate church history with world history. Scattered throughout each section are boxes where key words are defined, maps, and wonderful charts. The charts provide simple and clear comparisons between topics such as doctrinal issues of Protestants vs. Roman Catholics; basic tenants of various Protestant denominations; beliefs of Islam vs. Christianity; etc. Each section also has several pages of discussion regarding the important issues that were dealt with during that era. There is a pullout section at the end of the book. One side contains all the timelines strung together and the other side contains a timeline of heroes and villains throughout church history. Finally, there is an attached bookmark, because the publisher knows your child (or you!) will not be finishing this book in one sitting and will want to know just where to resume reading later.
This book will appeal to a wide swath of people. Children who are curious about church history and how events fit together will be drawn to Finlayson’s book and will find many interesting details to peruse. Homeschooling families would want this to be part of their home library. This is the type of resource that homeschoolers would come back to again and again as they study world history, biographies, theology, and, of course, church history. Sunday School teachers and Christian school teachers would also find this to be a very valuable resource as well. As an adult preparing a lesson, you don’t always want to go to that thick scholarly tome to find answers. Sometimes, you just need to find the information presented in a clear, concise manner. You will find much here.
Linda Finlayson has done a wonderful job culling through centuries of church history and presenting the highlights in a well-illustrated, accessible fashion. This book would be an asset to any home or church library. Just be advised that if you pick it up, you’ll want to have plenty of time taking it all in.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
GOD'S TIMELINE: THE BIG BOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY, by Linda Finlayson