Editors Mark Galli and Ted Olsen have put together 131 biographical sketches from the first centuries after the New Testament period until the twentieth century. The book is subdivided into categories that help the reader understand how each person understood themselves or how they become known since their times in history. Below are the categories.
- Evangelists and Apologists
- Pastors and Preachers
- Musicians, Artists, and Writers
- Denomination Founders
- Movers and Shakers
- Inner Travelers
- Scholars and Scientists
Many of the names were familiar to me, but many of their stories were not. There were even some names that I had never heard of who were influential and even instrumental in the shaping of history itself, not just the continuation of the Christian faith. If you are interested in exploring the lives of some of these Christians, this book will serve as a handy introduction. The chapters are short, clear and concise. The reader gets a helpful picture of the historical context as well as the personal dynamics at work socially during the lifetime of the various individuals. This book is accessible to the average reader with an interest in Church History.
The first thought that comes to mind is, “Wow!” There are many aspects of these individuals lives that I did not know. The reasons for their actions and the consequences of their choices, from the vantage point of the 21st century, has been interesting. I do not think that many of these people would have guessed the effect that they have had on the way that the Church has been shaped and the world has been changed by what they did. Those that make history are never conscious of the effects their efforts may have after they are gone. These anecdotes have opened my eyes to the many different ways that people can live out their faith and become agents of change.
I was inspired, convicted, challenged and even distressed by the accounts in the book. There were highs and lows in the lives of these “famous” Christians. But, what really stood out is that all of the accolades and the all of the praises that could be offered to them, they were merely striving to be obedient to what they believed. In the end that will be my biggest take away. While history will be the judge of the value of our lives, we must be the ones, who in the present time, commit ourselves to obedience and service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to our Heavenly Father by the working of the Holy Spirit within us.
In the end, history is not something that is made, it is lived.