Book Review – Christianity’s Family Tree

Christianity’s Family Tree: What Other Christians Believe and Why

By Adam Hamilton 
133 pages, Abingdon Press
ISBN 9780687491162

Goodreads rating: 4.07 out of 5

One good thing that has come out of the MCO (aside from learning how much snacking you can do when you are stuck at home all day) is The Blessing Malaysia, a music video that is a collaboration among 80 churches in our nation. For one, many of us were surprised by the wide spectrum of churches and denominations that we have not even heard of in Malaysia (for me personally, I was rather disappointed the Mar Thoma Syrian Church was not featured…)

Among the many church names mentioned in the video, we saw familiar names like Methodist, Anglicans, Baptist – commonly referred to as ‘mainline churches’, but also many others we have no idea what denominations they were from. Any discussions about church denominations will inevitably always come to the question of ‘why are there so many of them?’ and more importantly, ‘what are the fundamental differences between them?’. If we look at a wide scope of church history, we see even beyond Protestants there is the ubiquitous and well-organized Roman Catholic church and the more seemingly mystical Eastern Orthodox Church.

So, in returning to the earlier questions, Adam Hamilton’s book does a quick recap on the history of our church from the time of the apostles to the near present day, starting with the original orthodox church of Peter and Paul. From there we see the first major split with the Holy Roman Catholic church, followed by the next major schism we now know as the Protestant Reformation. After that, comes the usual suspects of Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, et al (sadly, no mention of the Evangelical Free Church).

In each of the chapters, Hamilton summarizes their short history, their main beliefs and practices, why they believe they are the right way, and more importantly, their strengths and contribution to our faith.In most cases, Hamilton shares what he has personally benefited from observing and learning from these particular denominations.

Hamilton takes a commendably reconciliatory approach to each denomination, focusing on what we can learn from each group instead on concentrating on the differences. At the end of the day, it is less important to subscribe to what your church believes in, but rather it is more for you to explore the Bible for yourself and grow in your relationship with Lord Saviour. A quick and easy read if you are wondering why there is least one strange-sounding church on the first floor of almost every row of shoplots in PJ.


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