A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years - Diarmaid MacCulloch Christianity is complex. After having had read this book two years earlier, I had to reread this book in order to understand why I didn't understand it the first time I read it. The first time I had read this book I was trying to make sense of the Trinity and how it developed and caused differentiation between sects of the Christian faith. I realize now that was a mistake. Whether it be one person, one nature, and one will; or two people, one nature, and one will; or ....... doesn't make sense and never will and trying to understand that is a wasted effort and anyone who doesn't believe in my narrow interpretation is deserving of death (j/k, but historically that is what happened).

Once I got past trying to make sense of the religion qua religion, I got to concentrate on the history qua history and found the story worth understanding. The author excelled at telling the story from the reformation onward, and there is no easy way to tell the early church story in an easy to digest format without leaving out major parts in a one volume work such as this one.

The book does not really dwell on the theological thought and always tries to focus on the history. Therefore, sometimes the relevance of some of the characters are not fully understandable from this book alone. The significance of Pelagius in relation to Augustine and the importance of 'free will' and our reliance on Grace may be lost on the reader of the history alone and how this will lead to St. Thomas Aquinas' rational argument for a 'necessary' universe until reinstated by Martin Luther with his absolute certainty of a contingent universe (similar to William of Ockhem, who would say that God is all powerful so nothing is necessary to an all powerful being). The author will mention Pelagius, for example, but all the relationships and the importance of what he means gets lost with the history story telling. That's okay, because after all this is a history book most of all.