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Customer Reviews for Bethany House The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today

Bethany House The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today

You've probably heard of John Calvin and Augustine, but what about Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and dozens of others? Offering biographical sketches of 40 of the most influential Christians in church history, Aaron presents them in chronological order and includes their achievements and a quote from their work. Discover how these key thinkers are still affecting your faith today! 240 pages, softcover from Bethany.
Average Customer Rating:
3.75 out of 5
3.8
 out of 
5
(8 Reviews) 8
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6 out of 875%customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Review 1 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Easy to read summaries

Date:December 15, 2013
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Wanda Costinak
Location:Alberta
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
As the author readily acknowledges in his introduction, choosing any number of Christians in the history of the Church and identifying them as “most influential” is a challenge, simply because there will be many differences of opinion about who would qualify for such a list. With this in mind, I think he has selected good candidates and provides easy-to-read summaries of each one’s historical context and the contribution he or she has made to the development of the Church.
There are two things that disappoint me, however. While I know that every writer has a slant to the topic, I think that the author has identified his doctrinal preference too firmly right from the start. In his first chapter on Clement of Rome, he takes issue with an episcopal church structure. In other words, he plainly states that a church structured with formal bishops, priests, and deacons is in error. Such a statement basically pushes every Roman Catholic and Anglican (and others) to the side and makes his book appear to be written only for low-church Evangelicals. This leads to my second disappointment, which is that he tends to editorialize in several places. While I realize that he is not writing an academic treatise and is aiming at a general audience, his editorial comments move him away from presenting a reasonable summary of what each person did in history, and reinforce the bias he already stated in the first chapter.
In all, this book is a handy resource to learn about key figures in Christian history, especially for those who do not know much about the first 1500 years of Church history. However, its obvious slant is likely to cause it to be painted negatively by those who are not of the popular Evangelical tribe.
I give this book 3 stars out of 5.
I received this book free from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Review 2 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Heavy Reading

Date:December 6, 2013
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katiespen
Location:Greer, SC
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
This book took me much longer to read than most books do. I wanted to stretch myself to read something out of my usual pick, but this book seemed to last forever! The author does a good job of keeping everything in order and moves well from one chapter to the next as far as following a timeline.
But it felt like the book was just a really long research paper. I would have enjoyed a little more personality behind each person. I felt that the chapters just gave a brief glimpse at each Christian leader.
This book may be more suited to a theology student than for the average reader.
*This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers for my personal review.
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Review 3 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Very dry, not what I expected

Date:November 9, 2013
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crtnybc
Location:British Columbia, Canada
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
This book takes you on a brief journey through the lives and influence of 40 people important to the history of the christian faith. A chapter is devoted to each person, and that is broken down to the context (the time the lived, a little about their life, etc), their contribution and a brief conclusion summing things up.
I found this book to be quite dry. I guess I expected it to be more biographical than theological. I would have liked to know more about their lives, as well as what they believed. There really wasn't enough information about the different individuals and too much of the author's opinion on what they believed and/or preached. I can see this being a good resource for Bible School students but it didn't hold my interest.
This book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
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Review 4 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Interesting Information

Date:November 8, 2013
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Irene
Location:United States
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
This book was not very interesting and it took me awhile to get through it. I gave the book 4/5 stars for a few reasons. I would say this book is more of a textbook then a sit down and read for the enjoyment book. I also thought some of the people chosen were not as influential as others. There are so many great Christians to choose from that I was surprised at some that were chosen and written about. If you are looking for a book about Christians and are willing to skim over some boring parts, you might enjoy the book more than I did.
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
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Review 5 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Good synopsis of those who shaped our faith

Date:September 3, 2013
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churchbooklady
Location:Plano, Texas
Age:Over 65
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
A synopsis of the lives and influence of 40 theologians, from second century figures such as Clement of Rome and Justin Martyr, to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth in the 20th century, this book is a well-written and interesting look at some important shapers of the faith.
Each chapter begins with a section on the context of the person, followed by a summary of his contribution, and a conclusion encapsulating the influence of the person. It is a convenient reference for information about names that may or may not be familiar. I was personally intrigued by some of the debates that occupied the leaders of the church during the second and third centuries – issues such as whether those who had succumbed to the civil authorities under threat of torture and death should be welcomed, or even allowed, back into the church once the Roman government embraced Christianity. Other discussions, particularly those on the nature of God and the Trinity, just made my head hurt.
In order to test for myself the objectivity of this book, I started with the chapter on John Wesley, one of the most important theologians for my Methodist self. Satisfied that there was no bias in that chapter, I started at the beginning. I confess that I have not finished the book – it does not lend itself to bedtime reading, which is when most of my reading gets done, but I am continuing through it and enjoying it. It is accessible to lay people who are interested in theology and church history without being overly simplified. On the whole, a satisfying read.
I received a copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review
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Review 6 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Only What's Done for Christ Will Last...

Date:August 11, 2013
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Sufficient in Jesus
Age:18-24
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Daryl Aaron's new book The 40 Most Influential Christians deals with a vast sweep of time- two millennia- and his book points a novice of Christian Theology such as myself to some of the main players.
(I have read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas as well as his Amazing Grace, which features William Wilberforce. Wilberforce did not make this list of the 40 most influential Christians, but he could have. Space only permits so many...and it must have been terribly hard to decide who to include. The author did a great job compiling this selection of people who have influenced Christian thought!)
What Daryl Aaron's book has done for me is pique my interest in several men whose works I haven't been blessed by yet, like Karl Barth, who lived in Germany the same time as Bonhoeffer did under the rein of Adolf Hitler. Now I'll search for something to read about Karl Barth.
As Daryl Aaron points out, lots of people throughout time have paved the way before us. Some were great thinkers, who handled the Truth in a such a way that their words make the Gospel more clear to us as we read their insights- hundreds of years after they first put pen to paper.
Some of these people influenced us in a different way: they muddied the water with additives like feminism or human-centered theology.
Some of them bled and died for their faith, martyrs and saints.
Some were almost unknown until after they died.
All of their lives are still being felt today.
The old hymn is right:
Only One Life, It Soon Will Pass. Only What's Done for Christ Will Last.
+2points
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Review 7 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Review: The 40 Most Influential Christians

Date:August 2, 2013
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GiniB
Location:Dallas, PA
Age:55-65
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
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Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Review: The 40 Most Influential Christians Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Daryl Aaron
Bethany House Publishers
2013
Read the title of this book again. The niche that this author has found isn’t the top 40 Christians, but the 40 he believes have had the most impact on current Christian belief---from a conservative position. As he states early on those included in this book are not a definitive list but the ones he chose, some of which do not reflect his particular views (13). This is a selling point for this book, I think, in that he is willing to engage a more diverse range of opinion than I originally expected to find.
This book covers an immense timeline from first century AD to the mid-20th century, from Clement of Rome to Carl F.H. Henry. Each of his choices receives a treatment that covers Context, Contribution, and Conclusion. The chapters are short but contain enough information to serve as a good starting point for further investigation. And the best part as far as I am concerned is that they are interesting to read. This could have been an arid walk through the halls of theological thought, but it isn’t and for that I am grateful to this author. And the publishers for their part in this.
What didn’t I like? Not much, since going in I knew his perspective would be conservative and evangelical. His conclusion or last chapter is decidedly so, but not unaware of the contributions made by those with whom he does not agree fully. “…Just because these theologians are not perfect is no reason to dismiss their ideas.”(294). He believes that the consistency of thought present throughout history illustrates that “we should have great confidence that divinely revealed truth has not and will not be lost in the shuffle.”(295). And so, he looks forward to what theology will discover in the future citing Isaiah 55:8-9.
I do recommend this book as an excellent starting point in following the evolution of Christian thought.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.
+1point
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Review 8 for The 40 Most Influential Christians . . . Who Shaped What We Believe Today
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

good overview

Date:July 22, 2013
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mojo
Location:Texas
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Daryl Aaron spent fourteen years in pastoral ministry before coming to the University of Northwestern and he has been a member of the Biblical and Theological Studies faculty since 1996.
Daryl's recent book is The 40 Most Influential Christians Who Shaped What We Believe Today. I know even when I was in seminary, some of my favorite classes were that of church history. And I think the average lay person might get a lot of "bible history" from church, but to get any real "church history" one needs to look elsewhere.
Everything we teach in church today and even the right and the freedom to teach what we do today - comes from our church's forefathers (and foremothers) who have carved that path before us. Daryl has gathered these forty influential names and placed them in chronological order for you so that you can see first hand the impact that they had on Christian culture.
Each one of the chapters is dedicated to one of these pioneers of the faith and Daryl has even graciously allowed each person to speak in their own voice so that the reader can get a sample of their contribution.
At over 300 pages, this is not a quick read, but each chapter is short and contained, so one could easily read this book alongside another one and not have to worry about plowing through it. Daryl is a university professor, so at times you are reminded of that with his prose and grammar, but I don't think that makes this book unapproachable or "scholarly" I think the typical church-goer would enjoy such a book and as such.
Thank you to Bethany House for a review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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