London: IVP, Fourth Edition, 2020.

The Preface to this fourth edition of The Story of the Church contains a short biography of A. M. Renwick, who wrote the first edition back in 1958. Academia was not his only world, as Dr Renwick seems to have led a rather adventurous life, working in Lima in Peru, and then Chile, before becoming Professor of Church History at the Free Church College, Edinburgh. One of his Church History students was Allan Harman who also became his son-in-law. As is well-known, Dr Harman is a more than capable historian, and writes with the same sort of clarity that marks the work of Dr Renwick.

General histories tend to have a relatively short shelf life, partly because it is so difficult to master history in a general sense. There are some points in this edition that raise some issues. Zwingli is treated too favourably in my view (pp.93-94); he was rescued by his friend and successor Heinrich Bullinger. Also the German Centre Party did not dissolve itself in 1932, but in 1933, after Hitler came to power (p.192). The section on the medieval period could have been longer, but it is still most helpful.

Readers will especially appreciate Dr Harman’s treatment of the modern period, notably the twentieth century. It will provide parameters for a clear evangelical understanding of the history of the Church in our times. Over all the centuries, we are shown the hand of providence in missionary activity, church organisation, doctrine, and in affecting human life for good (see the Preface). We can be grateful that we now have a fourth edition of such a lively summary in print.

The Story of the Church

Fourth Edition (Fully Revised and Updated)

Allan M. Renwick & A. M. Renwick | Inter-Varsity Press

Available at Reformers Bookshop