Actually, a REALLY short history of Christianity. Tomkins manages to squeeze the entire history of the church in 242 pages – and he does as good a job as you can. Of course he skips huge areas and does not expand on some areas I thought he should have but overall you get the sense of how the Church and christianity progressed. Also, Tomkins style is very easy, which is a bonus when it comes to history!!
The weakness with the book is largely down to its size. There are some places where to skip chunks of info is more confusing – the chapters on the reformation are a little in adequate, as are the explanations for the west and east split in the 11th century. Also you are bombarded with a LOT of information which you are likely to forget.
With regards to its use to teach church history, I still think that if you are going to do a short course on Church History Mark Noll’s book Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity is ideal and the book I would (and have, for a 12 session course) use. Noll focuses upo the ten decisive turnin points – which give you a deeper, more profound understnding of the most vital aspects of Church History, which I think is more helpful. In any event, every student and believer should have a copy of The History of Christianity and / or Justo L. Gonzalez’s two volumes The Story of Christianity (volume 2) for reference.
But otherwise I really enjoyed Tomkins book.