Christian History (Part 2)
Obviously, this would have been more appropriate to post yesterday, since it was Reformation Day. But I had a long day and was tired. October 31 commemorates the day Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis on the church door at Wittenburg. Such a historic day is the perfect occasion to think about the value of knowing our history. What follows is the second half of the post from the other day.
A third reason to reason to study history is that it is the story and account of how our sovereign God has worked with and through humans. Our God is an amazing God who has revealed Himself to us through the Bible. The character of God can also be seen in history. While the study of history does not replace or even compete with Biblical revelation it does show us many other numerous examples that mirror what we know to be true from the Bible. Part of God’s working with and through humans is His preservation of the church whose history we study. In Turning Points, Mark Noll writes: “This realization, which historical study fairly shouts out loud, that God sustains the church despite the church’s own frequent efforts to betray its Savior and its own high calling, points to another benefit from the history of Christianity.” (pg. 14) We know that in the New Testament, Christ promised that His church would be preserved. In history, we see that promise demonstrated.
The final reason I want to focus on for the study of history is that it helps us to understand the world and people better. One of the most notable signs of the historical ignorance of our age is how most individuals in this country think that everyone, everywhere, for all of time has thought like middle-class Americans. If we want to understand the world at large, or even have an understanding of the basic differences and similarities of all human beings, we have to study our race from the broader context of history.
I understand that history is not something that everyone loves or is interested in, but it is an important subject and the effort of its study will always bear fruit. For Christians this should not even be optional. We who claim to follow Christ should always be trying to better understand the history of Bible times so that we can better understand the Scriptures, as well. In addition, we should also be continually studying the history of Christianity. This will also help us to understand the Scriptures, as well as our doctrine. To think that we have no need of this, or even worse that we can come up with something that discredits the traditional understanding of orthodoxy is dangerous and not to be taken lightly. Godly men have endeavored for thousands of years to better understand God and to ignore that legacy is one of the greatest arrogances.
How much do you know about your history? Do you agree about the value of understanding our past? What can you do to learn more of your Christian History?