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Nick Needham: 2000 Years of Christ’s Power

 

N. R. Needham, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power, Part I: The Age of the Early Church Fathers (London: Grace Publications, 1998), 400 pages.

When I originally saw the title and the brief description of 2000 Years of Christ’s Power in a publisher’s catalog, I thought that I had found another historical study of the miraculous and the gifts of the Spirit throughout Christian history. 2000 Years is certainly Church history, but a historical defense of the gifts of the Holy Spirit it is not.

2000 Years was written by a professor of Church history that has lamented the disparity between the two genre of Christian histories that exist: works for scholars and oversimplified works for children. Finding no happy medium that presented a popular approach to Church history, Needham has attempted to do so with this series of volumes. Written such that this series could be easily translated or at least understood by those who have a limited understanding of the English language, this series will likely find its way into foreign English-speaking Bible institutes.

As a popular Church history 2000 Years is excellent. There are no untransliterated Greek words or untranslated Latin. Names often include a pronunciation key, geographic locations are explained such that you will not need an atlas handy. Although Needham is expecting a Western reader, an Eastern-Oriental viewpoint is expressed in such a way that it can be received and appreciated. Explanations of the society of the day and contemporary events are presented so that the Church is rightly understood in its cultural setting. In this first volume, Part 1, many of the misunderstood beliefs or difficulties of the early Church are approached so that they will make sense to any reader. Was Origen a heretic or did he make a lasting contribution to the Body of Christ? What did the champion of Trinitarianism, Athanasius, mean when he spoke about believers becoming God? Was Constantine the Great really a Christian? Why did the fathers of the early Church get so worked up over terms like nature, energy, person, and will? How does the liturgy of the early Church differ from what we practice today? Did pagan philosophy, such as Neoplatonism, affect the theology of the early Church? Each chapter is broken up into readable portions with a list of important Church and political leaders at the end followed by Needham’s own translation of select works from the Church fathers themselves. These readings from the Church fathers are especially valuable to give an introduction to the thought of the early Church.

The pastor or Bible student will find 2000 Years to be an able introduction to the history of Christianity. Many will find it more thorough than any histories they have previously read. The presentation is balanced, approaching the story of the Body of Christ from an evangelical perspective. For these reasons, this will make a valuable contribution to any student’s library.

Reviewed by Raul Mock

 

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Category: Church History, Fall 1999

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996 and their Information Technology team since 1998. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Google+ LinkedIn

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