2,000 Years of Christ’s Power. By Nick Needham. Mentor/Christian Focus, 2016.

There are many different “Church History” textbooks available to students. However, if I was to pick one set that I would recommend to the beginner student, it would be Nick Needham’s four volumes, 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power. In my experience, few teachers and students are aware of these volumes, which is why I am excited to see Mentor/Christian Focus publishing make them available in an attractive set. Needham brings the figures of the past to life and is able to explain the complexities of movements with ease. In short, these volumes make church history accessible. Needham also does a superb job of identifying the causal links between theologians of the past and their convictions. Especially helpful are the excerpts at the end of each chapter so that the student can hear historical voices for himself.

“It is a brave historian who tackles the extremely challenging task of writing the 2,000-year history of the Church. Well, Nick Needham has more than risen to the challenge. This eagerly-awaited fourth volume has been well worth the wait and, not to pressure our brother scholar, we now look forward to the concluding volume!” Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Nick Needham’s volumes on church history explain everything that someone new to the subject might not understand. At the same time, they achieve a depth of detail to interest those who already know something of the subject. We use them as standard texts at LTS and look forward eagerly to forthcoming volumes.” Robert Strivens, Principal, London Theological Seminary, London

A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. By Winston Churchill. Bloomsbury Academic, 2015.

An excellent exercise would be to read this classic history of the English by Churchill alongside Nick Needham’s church history! Together one would walk away with a robust grasp of the wider historical context in which to situate the church’s story. Churchill’s volumes are invaluable not only in light of his own leadership in the 20th century but due to his insight into why kingdoms rise and fall. In order to give you a feel for the scope of each volume, below I’m including a short description from the publisher and the table of contents.

Volume I: The Birth of Britain

The first volume – The Birth of Britain – tells the story of the formation of the British state, from the arrival of Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire through the invasions of the Vikings and the Normans, the signing of the Magna Carta and establishment of the mother of parliaments to the War of the Roses.

Maps and Genealogical Tables
Book I: The Island Race
1. Britannia
2. Subjugation
3. The Roman Province
4. The Lost Island
5. England
6. The Vikings
7. Alfred the Great
8. The Saxon Dusk
Book II: The Making of the Nation
1. The Norman Invasion
2. William the Conqueror
3. Growth and Turmoil
4. Henry Plantagenet
5. The English Common Law
6. Coeur de Lion
7. Magna Carta
8. On the Anvil
9. The Mother of Parliaments
10. King Edward I
11. Bannockburn
12. Scotland and Ireland
13. The Long-Bow
14. The Black Death
Book III: The End of the Feudal Age
1. King Richard II and the Social Revolt
2. The Usurpation of Henry Bolingbroke
3. The Empire of Henry V
4. Joan of Arc
5. York and Lancaster
6. The Wars of the Roses
7. The Adventures of Edward IV
8. Richard III

Volume II : The New World

The second volume – The New World – explores the emergence of Britain on the world stage and a turbulent period at home: from Henry VIII’s break with Rome and the English Reformation to the fending off of the Spanish Armada and the schism between parliament and crown that led to the civil war, the fall and rise of the monarchy and the rule of Oliver Cromwell. The book also covers the historic journey of the ‘Mayflower’ that saw the English-speaking peoples’ arrival in the Americas.

Maps and Genealogical Tables
Book IV: Renaissance and Reformation
1. The Round World
2. The Tudor Dynasty
3. King Henry VIII
4. Cardinal Wolsey
5. The Break with Rome
6. The End of the Monasteries
7. The Protestant Struggle
8. Good Queen Bess
9. The Spanish Armada
10. Gloriana
Book V: The Civil War
1. The United Crowns
2. The ‘Mayflower’
3. Charles I and Buckingham
4. The Personal Rule
5. The Revolt of Parliament
6. The Great Rebellion
7. Marston Moor and Naseby
8. The Axe Falls
Book VI: The Restoration
1. The English Republic
2. The Lord Protector
3. The Restoration
4. The Merry Monarch
5. The Popish Plot
6. Whig and Tory
7. The Catholic King
8. The Revolution of 1688

Volume III: The Age of Revolution

In The Age of Revolution – the third volume of Churchill’s history – Churchill charts the rise of Great Britain as a world power and the long rivalry with France, the shadow of the French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon and his defeat at Waterloo. The volume also covers the rise of the American colonies, their triumphant overthrow of British rule in the War of Independence and the first great generation of American leaders: Washington, Adams and Jefferson.

Maps and Genealogical Tables
Book VII: England’s Advance to World Power
1. William of Orange
2. Continental War
3. The Spanish Succession
4. Marlborough: Blenheim and Ramillies
5. Oudenrade and Malplaquet
6. The Treaty of Utrecht
Book VIII: The First British Empire
1. The House of Hanover
2. Sir Robert Walpole
3. The Austrian Succession and the “Forty-Five”
4. The American Colonies
5. The First World War
6. The Quarrel with America
7. The War of Independence
8. The United States
9. The Indian Empire
Book IX: Napoleon
1. The Younger Pitt
2. The American Constitution
3. The French Revolution
4. France Confronted
5. Trafalgar
6. The Emperor of the French
7. The Peninsular War and the Fall of Napoleon
8. Washington, Adams and Jefferson
9. The War of 1812
10. Elba and Waterloo

Volume IV: The Great Democracies

The Great Democracies is the fourth and final volume of Churchill’s history. Here, Churchill reaches the modern era. For Britain, this was the high Victorian era of Palmerston, Gladstone and Disraeli, an age of free trade and imperialism as the British spread to Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Meanwhile the fledgling republic in America endured the great crisis of the Civil War to take its first steps on the road to becoming the world superpower that endures to this day.

Book X: Recovery and Reform
1. The Victory Peace
2. Canning and the Duke
3. Reform and Free Trade
4. The Crimean War
5. Palmerston
6. The Migration of the Peoples I: Canada and South Africa
7. The Migration of the Peoples II: Australia and New Zealand
Book XI: The Great Republic
1. American Epic
2. Slavery and Secession
3. The Union in Danger
4. The Campaign Against Richmond
5. Lee and McClellan
6. Chancellorsville and Gettysburg
7. The Victory of the Union
Book XII: The Victorian Age
1. The Rise of Germany
2. Gladstone and Disraeli
3. American “Reconstruction”
4. America as a World Power
5. Home Rule for Ireland
6. Lord Salisbury’s Governments
7. The South African War

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Lecturer and Tutor of systematic theology and church history at Oak Hill Theological College in London, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. He is the author of several books, including God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture and Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary. Currently he is the series editor of The 5 Solas Series with Zondervan. You can read more at MatthewMBarrett.com.