A Miscellany of British Church History
By J.P. Thackway
A Miscellany of British Church History by Roland Burrows.
Tentmaker Publications, hardcover, 629 pages, £24.
Available from the author at:
27 Beauty Bank
W. Midlands B64 7HZ
This is a splendid book! It was originally written for the benefit of Crown College students from the USA working in the UK, in order to give them an appreciation of the Christian heritage of the British Isles. This is what lies behind the interesting and accessible way the book is written. It starts from the coming of the gospel to these islands as far back as the first century AD, and traces the dealings of God with our nation chronologically. This is the book’s great strength. It means the reader can see at a glance from the detailed Contents pages the sweep of church history in Great Britain.
We go from the British Church in the First and Early Christian Centuries, to Christianity in Britain at the Time of the Fall of Rome, to The British Church in the Saxon and Danish Period, to The Coming of the Normans and the Increasing Power of the Papacy, to Men who Prepared the way for John Wycliffe, to the Dawn of the Reformation, to the Renaissance, to the Reformation in England, to Protestant Island – Elizabeth Regina, to the Reformation in Scotland – and there are nine more main sections ending with The British Church in the Twentieth Century, plus seven appendices.
As the book’s title says, it is the history of the gospel in Britain, although it touches on the work of God in other lands where relevant. It is a thrilling account of God’s unique favour to the UK – it really does bring home the astonishing degree to which our nation has been raised up from paganism to be probably the most Christianised nation in the world – and to take the gospel in turn throughout the world. There are sections and information on all this not readily found elsewhere.
The book is divided into numerous main chapter headings, as outlined above, with sub-chapters where these are enlarged upon. This outline is so detailed and clear that it shows why there is no index – none is needed. The reader can go anywhere in these Contents and “dip into” a particular period, either to refresh the memory or make wonderful discoveries. This will be particularly helpful to younger readers.
Mr. Burrows claims no originality for his work, basing it upon a wide range of standard works on church history. It would mean that we would need to consult a huge number of books to gain the information that is found in this one book. That said, this is no mere re-hashing of old volumes. The work and its interpretations and conclusions are clearly the work of the author, who himself is a great lover of books and of history.
Books on church history go from the “heavy going” to the “scintillating.” This book is very much toward the latter end of that spectrum. I heartily recommend it to our readers. To own a copy will be to have a record of “all the great works of the LORD” that have blessed Great Britain for so long, and which we pray the Lord will be pleased to restore in our day.