Reviewed by: Jonathan L. Cruse
A Colorful Past: A Coloring Book of Church History, by William Boekestein, illustrated by Naomi Kamphuis. Reformation Heritage, 2018. Paperback, 88 pages, $6.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Jonathan L. Cruse.
Children love to draw, just as they love to be told a great story. These two passions are combined in A Colorful Past to hopefully produce a third: love for the church. In this coloring book of church history by William Boekestein and Naomi Kamphuis, children (and their adult family and friends) are not only introduced to some of the most important figures in church history, but are immersed into their stories as well.
The book is organized to have at least one important church history figure represented from each of the last twenty centuries of the church. Young artists begin in the first century with the apostle Paul (depicted in chains under Roman guard) and by the end will have journeyed the whole way to Glenside, Pennsylvania, coloring in J. Gresham Machen lecturing at Westminster Seminary in the twentieth century. Each picture is accompanied by a few sentences that explain the important work accomplished by these various figures.
Readers will learn that John Wycliffe helped translate the Bible into English, that Tertullian articulated the doctrine of the Trinity, and that Lady Jane Grey stood for her faith even in amidst the threat of persecution. While the heroic figures of the Reformation are well attested, the book also includes lesser-known characters: Gottschalk, Vladimir of Kiev, and Saint Columba, for example. Budding artists who use this coloring book will be getting a head start on seminary!
A particular strength of A Colorful Past is that it represents the unity through diversity of the visible church. Men who would be on different sides of denominational lines still belong to the “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” of God’s church. To that end, medieval scholar Thomas Aquinas, fiery Baptist minister Charles Spurgeon, and brilliant Reformed theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper are all in the book, just as they were all used powerfully by God in and for his church.
I highly commend this informative and interactive book. It would be great for use in the home or even in Sunday school programs of the church. Hopefully it will spark further conversations about the church and how God has been faithful to her from generation to generation. And since “there are no unimportant people in God’s church,” may this book help our children see their precious place in the body.
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