Every once in a while, I come across a book that I wish I had when I began my seminary studies. Doing Church History by Gordon Heath is one of those books.
This book is not an introduction to church history but, as the title suggests, an introduction to doing church history. This short book (I read it one sitting) helps to situate the student so they are prepared to study church history.
Heath helps to integrate theology into history. Why did the Reformation take place? Was it God or social forces in Europe? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be both. Heath helps the reader to ask the right questions.
Heath also guides us through different kinds of history. History is not one monolithic thing. There are different types of history with different types of goals. We need to know what we are doing and the nature of our sources.
Heath’s section on sources is quite helpful. He distinguishes between primary and secondary sources, but also shows that the lines can be blurry. Is Eusebius, when he is writing about the first couple of centuries of the church, a primary or a secondary source?
One of the things that I appreciated is that Heath writes with a clear and engaging style. The reader doesn’t have to wade through pages of intensely academic jargon. But at the same time, Heath presents content that emerges from his own scholarly career.
If you are just starting to learn about church history or are entering seminary/Bible college, I highly recommend Doing Church History. As someone who has studied church history for years, I also enjoyed the book.