This past month many Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Yet, in the midst of the celebration, a good number of Protestants only knew in a vague sense what the Reformation stood for. They were unable to name the 5 Solas foundational to the Reformation. While they could name Martin Luther, to discuss what his problems were with the Catholic church would lead to a stiff in the conversation. Simply put, when it comes to church history, a good number of Christians remain ignorant, not informed. For this reason, I am excited about the newest addition by Simonetta Carr to the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series: Irenaeus of Lyon.
The book is composed of six brief chapters that highlight the life of Irenaeus, one of the earlier church history figures. This is encouraging because even in discussions on church history, many times the focus is on the Reformation. Yet, church history did not begin there. Carr’s addition in this series of Irenaeus, who was born only 100 years after the death of Jesus, should not be underestimated. To find out more about Irenaeus the book concludes by listing a timeline, a list of “Did You Know?” answers, and then a piece of Irenaeus’s writing.
With a book focused on the person of Irenaeus, the reader may wonder why the first couple of chapters spend a length of time on Polycarp and Justin Martyr. It is true both lived during the time of Irenaeus, especially with Polycarp as his teacher, but the space given to them is more than one would expect. To be fair, Simonetta Carr states we do not know as much about Irenaeus as other figures in church history (Carr 63), so more details needed to be added in somewhere. Therefore, a more appropriate title might say The Times and Life of Irenaeus of Lyon.
Still, in this volume, young readers (and their parents) will learn about the time and life of Irenaeus. They will be encouraged to see his commitment to the Scriptures, his willingness to engage with false teaching of the Gnostics in order to expose lies and speak the truth of the gospel, and his heart of caring for people and preparing them for times of persecution. While not targeted for smaller children, Irenaeus of Lyon: Christian Biographies for Young Readers will encourage 7-12-year-olds (and their parents) to no longer be ignorant of church history but to be informed about it and appreciative for it!
I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.