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Parade of Faith: A Biographical History of the Christian Church Review by April Elstrom

Ruth A. Tucker
(800) 727-3480
5300 Patterson Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Our family has fallen in love with learning history through biographies and story-telling, rather than the standard textbook model. History is more meaningful to us when we read it in this format, and that makes it easier to understand and remember. In her new book, Parade of Faith, Ruth Tucker has applied this biographical method to teaching church history. Tucker chose the title, Parade of Faith, to represent the continual march of history, and as a celebration of the Christians who have gone before us.

Parade of Faith is a hardcover textbook, with thick sturdy pages and black/white illustrations. Although it was written with the intent of being a college-level textbook, it has an engaging style that can also serve as a high school textbook, or a resource for any Christian adult desiring to learn more about church history. The book has 509 pages and is divided into two chronological parts: The Early Church through the Magisterial Reformation, and Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism to the Twenty-first Century. There are 28 chapters in the text, and it is designed to provide a full year's material for high school, or a full semester for college.

Each chapter begins with an introduction explaining that point in church history. The chapter then moves on to cover the biographies of key people, covering their life and the role they played in church history. At the end of each chapter, there are "what if" discussion questions, which could also be used as essay topics, and a list of recommended books for further study on the topic. There is not a test booklet with this book, so grades would need to be based on discussion and writing assignments. If tests are required to comply with your state's homeschool laws, you'd need to create tests for each chapter yourself.

Parade of Faith is an excellent church history textbook. The biographical nature helps bring church history to life, and provides natural divisions to break the chapter up into reading and discussion assignments. Even though it would be impossible to cover ALL the important people in the history of the Christian faith, Ruth Tucker has included a wide variety of people, including women. My 16-year-old daughter and I both enjoyed reading it, and learned so much new information.

I studied church history in college, using a standard textbook style, but Parade of Faith brought it to life through its biographies in a way that my college courses did not. One of my favorite parts of Parade of Faith is that it includes segments of diaries, letters, and books written by the actual people being studied. This allows you to "hear" the voice of the individual so you can understand them better.

Some families, who have stricter rules about the content their children read, may not like the sensitive topics that are sometimes covered in Parade of Faith. However, I think most families would be comfortable with their high school students using it as a textbook. I would not recommend that it be given to anyone younger than that, other than in parent-approved, assigned segments. Additionally, the vocabulary of the author would be too difficult for most elementary students, and many junior high students.

Parade of Faith is an excellent resource for homeschool families wanting to add a Church History course to their high school transcript, or for families looking for a church history supplement for their world history course. Likewise, anyone interested in expanding their personal understanding of the progression of the Christian faith, and the divisions of churches and theology, would benefit from reading Parade of Faith. The story-telling style of Parade of Faith will appeal to those who are bored by a list of dates, places, and events usually portrayed in textbooks.

Product Review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2012