Book Review – 2000 Years of Christ’s Power

2000 Years of Christs Power

Volume 1: The Age of the Early Church Fathers, by Nick Needham (Christian Focus Publishers, 2016, 452 pages)

When Nick Needham (now a lecturer at Highland Theological College in Scotland) taught church history in Nigeria, he was very frustrated with the textbooks that he had at his disposal. Some were far too complex for students with English as a second language to fully get to grips with. At the other end of the spectrum were books that reduced church history to nothing more than a series of pious stories. This frustration led to ‘2000 Years of Christ’s Power‘, a five-volume set that covers church history from the earliest days to modern times.

Needham’s stated aim with the series is to write a serious and academically rigorous account of church history in language that is as accessible as possible. He certainly succeeded in this objective. Volume 1 (‘The Age of the Early Church Fathers’) covers the time of the early Church until the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451.

With this volume Needham offers a thorough analysis of the first 500 years of Christian history, highlighting significant figures, occasions, and theological developments during this period. I especially appreciated the way in which each chapter ended with some readings from the figures who were introduced on the preceding pages.

In line with Needham’s stated purpose the book is written in a straightforward and engaging style, while still offering a thorough analysis and well-argued insights. I also appreciated the way in which Needham did his best to present all viewpoints fairly (in terms of the disputes that occurred during this period) while still evaluating matters from an orthodox Christian standpoint.

This book is, lastly, also quite relevant to contemporary discussions and debates within the Church, as it provides a historical context for many of the issues that are still with us today. In fact, Needham sometimes makes explicit connections, as when he compares the doctrines of Arianism with the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you have ever wanted to get to know the early church better, ‘2000 Years of Christ’s Power’ is a great way to be introduced to this part of our family history as followers of Christ.