"Are there any GOOD books on church history...?"

As a lover of any kind of history, I was intrigued by Garry Wills "Why I am a Catholic" - at first - after reading half way through it I decided to see what reviewers had said - that led me to your website.

I will delve into it in the future, just as soon as I throw Wills into the trash.

Are there any GOOD books on church history that aren't anti-pope, yet don't skim over the real details of how the church was formed after the death of the original twelve apostles?

Thanks for being on the web on such critical issues as cloning and Hawking - both should be an interesting read

eileen shannon


Dear Eileen,

Good to hear from you - and thanks for the kind words. Have you read Triumph by H.W.Crocker? A quite readable one volume history of the Church. It does not have the depth of a multi-volume work, like Daniel-Rops' History of the Church of Christ, but is a good introduction. U of W professor Rodney Starks (not a Catholic, not even a believer as far as I know) has written a book called the Rise of Christianity. I thought it was pretty good. Check out Fr. McCloskey's review.

To give the devil his due, Garry Wills has a biography of Augustine which was well done. Not as profound as Fr. Groeschel's book on Augustine, but still a good introduction. We need to pray for people like Wills - deep down they want to be Catholic, but seem overwhelmed by the spirit of the age - and worried about what their secular colleagues will say about them.

It's been a long time since I read J.N.D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines, but it is a classic. (I believe Kelly is an Anglican). Best of all is to read the Church Fathers themselves: Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch and others go back to apostolic times.

Reading Church history can be an antidote for the discouragement that sometimes comes from focusing on our present problems. Also can be starting point for prayer since a good history can indicate something of the Holy Spirit's work.

God bless,

Fr. Bloom

P.S. Have you read Everlasting Man by Chesterton? It puts human and Church history in perspective. And, although I have not read it yet, I understand Kenneth Whitehead One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic (The Early Church Was The Catholic Church) is very good.


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