The book is an introductory textbook for seminary students who take church history courses. Most seminary students do not have a history background (and many do not look forward to taking history courses at seminary), and so there is a need to provide a brief, basic, non-technical introduction to the discipline. There are other texts written for those seeking to do more rigorous research in church history (e.g., theses and dissertations), but those works are quite technical, long and dense. This book is for those in seminary who are training for ministry, need help in their church history courses, and who have no time or interest in wading through a 200+ page text. The text is intended to be short, helpful, and intelligible to a student with no history background.
The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with theoretical issues such as the need for church history, how you write about God as a cause of events, and objectivity in historical research. The second is more practical in nature, and deals with the types and use of sources, documentation, and types of historical research. The Appendices provide helpful information on terms, how to use church history in a local church, and how to write a local church history.
Dr. Gordon L. Heath is assistant professor of Christian history at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of two other books and numerous articles. He lives in Ancaster with his wife Virginia, two children Joshua and Natasha, and one rabbit ("Bunny").