Reader, before you begin, there is something I would like you to understand. I want you to know what this book is not! I do not pretend that my book is a learned treatise on church history, nor have I set out to produce a volume that is the last word on the subject. My purpose is far more modest, much less ambitious than that. Yet, perhaps, for a great many, far more useful simply because it is so modest. Nor do I claim that my book is the fruit of original research. My debt to previous and better writers will be obvious to you, but often I do not acknowledge this as I go along because it would give the impression that I have tried to write an â€˜academicâ€™ book, and this is the last thing I want. I do not have the ability, in any case. But I do pay the warmest tribute to those who have laboured in this field before me. Without their efforts this volume would never have seen the light of day. In addition, I have supplied a list of my sources for those who wish to explore the subject in more detail. In this connection, it will be self-evident that I have not written with the idea of producing source material for authors. I have tried to be accurate, of course, but I respectfully ask those who wish to take the work further to consult original sources for themselves.