I recently finished Turning Points by Mark Noll. Turning Points is a 316 page book on the 12 turning points, as Noll sees them, in church history. They are, as his subtitle states, the decisive moments in the history of Christianity. Noll takes two thousand years of Christianity and boils it down to 12 point. Just 12 points. The 12 decisive points. This is a tremendous task and he does it with such humble confidence and genuine scholarship that the reader leaves the text with great handlebars with which to start the discussion on church history.
Honestly, I loved the book. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while and it’s on James White’s list of must reads in A Mind for God. I love history, particularly church history, so I knew the book would be right up my alley. It was a fascinating read about the moments that have helped to shape the church into what she is today. I didn’t find it to be too dense or difficult to understand at really any points and always found myself wanting to move on to the next chapter to see what the next turning point would be.
In the interest of full disclosure, I found the first 9 points waaay more interested than the last three. Once we got to the French Revolution I wasn’t quite as interested in the book, but Noll had already gripped me enough to make me want to finish. Plus, there is a list at the end of potential turning points of the 20th century, which I found fascinating.
I think the book is a must read for anyone who has not taken a church history class. It explained much of what I had already learned in History of Christianity I and II at the University. Even though I had these classes, the book was still very informative for me because it’s from the evangelical point of view. Both of my, and many other, church history classes take the catholic point of view. It’s not that either one is right or wrong it’s just hat I was still able to glean a lot of things from the book.
So, I say check it out, give it a go, and let me know what you think.