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boxChances are you’ve never heard of the History Lives series from husband-and-wife writing team Brandon and Mindy Withrow.

It deserves to be better known and widely used. It’s the sort of narrative writing that my kids really enjoy (written as individual stories about characters and events, rather than a typically dry history-book approach). And adults will learn an enormous amount if they join with the kids (ages 9-14) in reading them.

For one week WTS is offering the box set (of 5 paperbacks) for 50% off, and 45% off of the individual volumes (which ends up being just over $5 a copy).

First, a word about the authors. Brandon is a historian with a PhD in historical theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and currently teaches at Winebrenner Theological Seminary (Findlay, OH). Mindy is an editor and a digital strategist for a creative agency,  runs a literary website, and is currently working on short fiction and a novel.

The combination means that the stories are well researched from the best historical materials and written in a lively and engaging way.


Peril and Peace: Chronicles of the Ancient Church (Volume 1)

From the apostle Paul to Benedict you can discover how those in the early church still influence the church today. In their lives you will see the young and developing church struggling and growing in a hostile and difficult world. Watch in amazement as a varied selection of people from different countries, cultures and times merge together to form the Christian church. Learn from their mistakes and errors but more importantly learn from their amazing strengths and gifts. Marvel at the incredible things accomplished by God in such a short space of time. Written in a modern and relaxed style this is a book that will introduce you to history without the tears and with all the wonder.

[Sample chapter here.]

vol2Monks and Mystics: Chronicles of the Medieval Church (vol. 2)

Read the stories of the Medieval church and discover how the young Christian church moved on into another era of time. From Gregory I through to Wycliffe and Huss you can discover about the crusades and the spread of Islam as well as the beginnings of the Universities and the Reformation. As the church moves on through the centuries you can see its people struggling against persecution and problems from inside and out. Marvel at God’s wonderful care of his people. Extra features throughout the book look deeper into issues such as Islam; Division; The crusades; the first university; Creads and Councils and the Renaissance.

[Sample chapter here.]

vol3 Courage and Conviction: Chronicles of the Reformation Church (vol. 3)

Read the stories of the reformers in the 16th and 17th centuries who changed the face of the Christian church forever. Meet the German monk, the French scholar, and the Scottish tutor who protested corruption in the church. Get to know the queens and explorers who risked everything for the freedom to worship according to their consciences.

It was a time of war and upheaval, but also a time of promise and hope. From Erasmus and Luther to Katherine Parr and William Bradford, God used different personalities in different places to bring sweeping changes to church government and the way we worship. Learn from their mistakes and be encouraged by their amazing strengths and gifts.

Extra features throughout this book look deeper into issues such as the Scientific Revolution, wars of religion, the Puritans, and the settling of the Americas.

[Sample chapter here.]

vol4Hearts and Hands: Chronicles of the Awakening Church (vol. 4)

Read the stories of the gifted preachers and justice fighters who led the 1st & 2nd Great Awakenings in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Meet the American preacher who started a national revival in his tiny church. Spend time with the wealthy English politician and the former American slave woman who helped abolish slavery in their countries. Get to know the missionaries who built lasting Christian communities in China, India, and Africa.

For the first 1700 years of the church, God’s people had worked to define Christian teachings and secure their freedom to worship. Now they began to see, in a new way, how the power of the gospel should change their feelings both toward Jesus and their fellow human beings.

From John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards to Elizabeth Fry and Sojourner Truth, God used the tender hearts and strong hands of his people to offer mercy to the world.

Extra features look deeper into issues such as social reform, the French and American Revolutions, and the rise of Protestant Denominations

[Sample chapter here.]

vol5Rescue and Redeem: Chronicles of the Modern Church 1860 AD—Tomorrow

As the modern world exploded with rapid changes—in transportation, in communication, in manufacturing—people around the globe faced overwhelming new challenges. As Christians arrived for the first time in other countries, they realized that being a Christian was about living out the gospel in every culture. And they realized that great injustice was everywhere! So they met the challenges of modern life with new ways of communicating Christ’s ancient gospel. From Niijima Jo and Pandita Ramabai to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Janani Luwum, they set out to rescue God’s global people and redeem them to new life in Christ.

Extra features throughout this book look deeper into issues such as modern Bible translation, living the Golden Rule, new developments in missions, and big moments in modern Christianity.

[Sample chapter here.]

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5 thoughts on “The Absolute Best Way to Introduce Your Kids (and Yourself!) to Church History: 50% Off for a Week”

  1. Ben Wright says:


    Withrow is rather openly critical of Creationism and of World Vision’s retraction of their same-sex-marriage-acceptance policy. These stances, along with the general mood of his blog and twitter feed, are enough to make me wonder what his theological commitments are. Are you familiar enough with these volumes to tell us whether they reflect any sort of bias that would be unfavorable to the sort of theological convictions represented by TGC or the ESV Study Bible?

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Nothing I have seen in the series would suggest anything unfavorable to the theological convictions you see at TGC or the ESVSB.

      1. Ben Wright says:

        Thanks for the reply. That’s helpful.

  2. Byron says:

    Justin, I’m glad you’ve highlighted these. We’ve read them through with my son. They are well written and highlight aspects of the Christian life. You wouldn’t have expected a chapter on a great Reformer would have been about his marriage. The chapters are short enough that you can get through it (out loud) in one sitting. We read them as they were being released and my son was always anticipating the next one.

    I even got a set for our church’s library.

  3. Thanks Justin! Just purchased these.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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