From Scripture we understand his ultimate purposes of redemption and his pledge to build his church. He is also a voracious reader, in particular of Reformed theology, and the Puritans. Church history helps God’s people to have a context for a biblical-theological approach to the Christian life and ministry. Yes, truth is objective, real, and knowable. The church is historically unique. Matthew 16:18 ESV / 27 helpful votes. Below are 10 facts you may not know about church history. The New Testament is also clear: Historical events are at the heart of the good news. We tell the truth about the past, give thanks for God’s grace, and repent of sin and failure. We must see Christ's scepter swaying in all the events of time. God’s people have a message to proclaim in the gospel. Church History and a Biblical-Theological Approach to the Christian Life. 1. Wherever you begin (or continue your study of Church history), I encourage you to begin (or continue) to deepen your knowledge in this critical area of Christian theology. Since Pentecost, God has been demonstrating this grand story of redemption in real places populated by real people, in the church. The reason why studying church history can help us interpret the Bible is because the Spirit has illuminated the path for understanding the Bible for centuries. Church History Demonstrates the Working of God We have listed four reasons to study church history: it helps answering questions, it presents a faith that is deep and wide, it delineates what is important, and it helps us to interpret the Bible. We should also be eager to allow historical actors to speak for themselves, rather than through mediating groups or powers. . It helps us understand the blessings we enjoy today that were not always enjoyed by our brothers and sisters in … Here are four good reasons why studying church history is important for us: 1. No matter your nationality, ethnicity, race, or socioeconomic status, if you’re in Christ church history is the story of your true community and family. Honesty compels us to speak plainly when previous generations of Christians have erred (for example, anti-Semitism, persecution of religious minorities, slavery, white supremacy, and so on). The effort to discover the natural laws which governed theuniverse led to scientific, political and social advances. This doctrine should warn us against the temptation of hagiography, calling us instead to critical truth-telling about those who have come before us. THE IMPORTANCE OF CHURCH HISTORY 1. B. Our goal with this series is to help our readers think through these issues from a biblical worldview with lots of practical gospel-application. You will often find him when he’s not busy with ministry reading a pile of the latest books from a wide variety of Christian publishers. Historians must be careful not to casually ascribe divine motive where God has not plainly revealed it. Learn how your comment data is processed. The history of the church reminds us that Christians can be culprits of foolishness as well as bold titans for truth. Singing a New Song: The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation, The Liberal Roots of the Pro-Life Movement. Throughout Scripture, rightly remembering is critical to faithfulness. The early fathers formed the foundation of the early Christian church. Church history is part of that labor of both remembering and anticipating—of living between the times. This helps us from falling into doctrinal errors which are not new, but rather old errors stated in fresh ways. It becomes a source of warning, wisdom and encouragement. Church history is one of the most helpful studies in the preparation of Christian ministers. Sometimes, church history reminds us of the failures and shortcomings of many of our forebears, even our heroes. Required fields are marked *. Church history is perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of study in contemporary evangelical theology. Church history records the teaching of men and women who held to the truth of the Word and sought to teach the Word faithfully to people. The Importance of Knowing When the Church Began A. Growing in our knowledge of God’s involvement in redemptive history helps Christians to understand patterns of how He has worked in and through His people. While the pursuit of knowledge is commendable, such a pursuit should not be divorced from the need to see that tradition in its biblical and historical place is helpful and necessary for the Christian. Christians are those whose story has been intersected by the grand narrative of redemptive history. Though separated by time, we share one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph. That God is faithful is a fact that the Bible … Many of these great men of the early church were taught directly by the Apostles themselves. The history of the Church is rich with the teaching of men and woman who have held to biblical orthodoxy and defended the faith against attacks from within and without. Your email address will not be published. And it reminds us that the perseverance of the church has never been dependent on any human being. https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/important-events-timeline The orthodox Christian is motivated by a desire to state old truths in fresh ways with a view to faithfulness to the Word of God. Many of their writings can be found by an astute researcher. This conviction is grounded in the character and nature of a self-revealing, truth-telling God. God enters into a particular covenant with this new people, through the saving work of his Son, and makes promises to them as revealed in Scripture. Thus, a study of church councils and the theological thinking of various men becomes important. Instead, they appropriated the teaching of Augustine who received his doctrine from the early church fathers. But it should also cause us to speak with charity and empathy, recognizing we are not much different from them. More A... “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 2:27; 6:31) If you’ve ever driven a go-cart, you’ll know that the buggy will only go so fast. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on Amazon.com. As you start or continue your studies in Church history, I encourage you to read Dr. Justo Gonzalez’s two-volume Church History text, The Story of Christianity. It is important to know and to learn from church history, as there will always be old heresies cropping up, appearing as new teachings. Humility and empathy are required. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Legacy of Carl, The Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Be a Christian in 2021, The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About QAnon, The Fantasy Ideology of the American Insurrectionists, Damn the Curse of Ham: How Genesis 9 Got Twisted into Racist Propaganda. Even the development of post-apostolic doctrine involved history. Throughout the Old Testament, God calls his people to recall and retell his gracious saving acts. Because God is sovereign and providential over all of his creation, there is no area of human or creaturely activity that is beyond his control or supervision. False teachers throughout the history of the Church think their teaching is the latest and greatest thing, but in reality, are repeating old errors already dealt with by the Church. Immanuel Kant expressed the motto of theEnlightenm… One of the main reasons for the neglect of Church history is its association with tradition. Churches met … As I study early church history, a sense of family identity begins to take on fuller meaning, and I begin to grasp a clearer picture of the grace given to me. You can follow him on Twitter. God has ordained the church, a fellowship of the flawed, to carry out his purpose and will in the world. “Church History is the record of God's gracious, wonderful and mighty deeds, showing how by his Spirit and Word he rules his Church and conquers the world.” ― Nils Forsander, Life Pictures from Swedish Church History The Importance of Studying Early Church History Most Christian believers are unaware of the history concerning the founding of America or our Constitution, and they know even less about the founding history of the Christian church. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.” Until the return of Christ, one of the realities that we must... On today’s Equipping You in Grace show Dave and Scott Christensen discuss the character of God and the problem of evil, helping people in our local churches process the problem of evil, and how it finds it’s answer in Jesus, along with his book, What about Evil? Calvin and Luther did not engage in doctrinal novelty. Christians have a long and rich intellectual and spiritual heritage that has explained, contended, and defended biblical orthodoxy for over two thousand years. Faithful men and women have sought to take what they have studied in the Word, apply it to their lives, and to instruct the people of God. Paul recorded the foundation stone of the church when he wrote, ". Throughout Scripture, rightly remembering is critical to faithfulness. He serves as the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and is the Host for the Equipping You in Grace Podcast. History: THE RECORD OF MAN’S PAST a) real events involving real people b) accurate records of the events c) researchers collect the evidence and describe it 2. The church of Jesus Christ remains, as always, a people called to faithfulness in this age as they await Christ’s return and the consummation of his rule in the age to come. Listen in for great conversations and fresh insights on the history of the Restoration. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will … If... Hebrews 12:26-27, “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been... On today’s Warriors of Grace show, Dave continues the Snapshots of Grace series, looking at Hebrews 12:4-13 and the purpose of fatherly discipline and correction, enduring discipline as sons, and an encouragement to grow in the grace of God. The Church should respond to false teaching by confronting errant doctrine with the Word of God. Much is to be gleaned from the events between the time of the apostles and the present. When we consider the biblical teaching on the church, we realize the church is vitally important for growing in Christ. Specialists and historians of Christianity in general find Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture an international publication regularly cited throughout the world and an invaluable resource. Each week the Saints podcast features interviews with historians, General Authorities, writers, researchers, and others involved with the new history of the Church, Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days. A Brief History of the Church 1st Century Church History In the first century, the church seemed to center on the theme of grace. Despite the imperfection of man, Christ has continued to sustain His Bride. Today’s church does not exist in a vacuum We are not the first generation to read the Bible. We are often without human explanation, however, for why his plans take a particular course. Understanding the historical circumstances surrounding doctrinal formulation should make us better theologians. Church history helps God’s people understand the movements and sins that Christians have made throughout history. Yet Israel repeatedly forgets, fails, and strays. I love teaching on a wide range of historical subjects. My brothers and sisters from the 16th century, for example, compose my spiritual family. Only when we apply, in the strictest sense, this principle, will we come to a proper understanding of the history of the Church. Editor’s note: The purpose of this series is to write on “Issues in the Church” that either aren’t talked about, ignored entirely, or that we want to contribute to the discussion on. Enlightenmentthinkers examined the rational basis of all beliefs and in the process rejectedthe authority of church and state. In the New Testament, Christians can study the life and teachings of Jesus, Paul, James, John, and Peter. Church history is relevant because of the Word of God. They can be egoistic and self-serving; they can be humble and generous. A single individual can embody conflicting traits. This pursuit requires hard work, original research, and a humble spirit. A Defense of God’s Sovereign Glory, My Speed Governor (How the Father Enforces My Sabbath-Rest). A study of church history reveals that, in the first centuries of the church, the foundations of every cardinal doctrine and practice were tested and confirmed. Leaving specifically church history aside for a moment, I believe that it is vitally important that members of any society should have a firm grasp of the history of that society, so that they can see where they have come from, and how they relate to other societies round them. Along with the two volumes by Dr. Gonzalez, check out the volumes written by noted Church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette. We’re all too frail and imperfect. Church history is so much more than a collection of names, dates, and events. Take Athanasius. 2 Why is Church History Important To Know? Ultimately, I’m much more concerned that my students be skilled theologians than historians (though I think they can be both!). Church history is the story of how God has guarded, purified, chastised, and strengthened his undeserving people. He is co-editor of Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Legacy of Carl F. H. Henry (Crossway, 2015). As early as Eden, Eve... 2. It is a matter of identity so that one may be able to distinguish it from Old Testament agencies and from religious institutions of modern human origin. It provides spiritual sparks to awaken us and lift our eyes so that we might have renewed hope. This belief runs contrary to how we often understand ourselves. One-Stop Super Centers. The Gospel Coalition supports the church by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Your email address will not be published. One of the great stories of the past 50 years is the spread of Christianity throughout the Global South. Church history records the teaching of men and women who held to the truth of the Word and sought to teach the Word faithfully to people. While I bring some basic assumptions (and standards of historical research) to any historical study, studying and teaching church history is a profoundly theological enterprise. Here are 13 principles for why studying church history is crucial. In the process, the Reformers brought biblical doctrine to the masses in order to bring reform to the Church for her health and growth in the gospel. This is what is fascinating about church history: it is a … One case in point on why this is important is that the theology of the heretical cult of the Jehovah’s Witnesses could have been wiped out if the Church had taken a stand against it. Hall (PhD, University of Kentucky) is provost, senior vice president for academic administration, and associate professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Six Ways to Use Our Website, Why It Matters, and How You Can Help Us, expository preaching: an end goal more than a style, answered to important questions about expository preaching, three keys to sermon listening and note-taking, the priority of regularly communing with God, biblical doctrine: the lifeblood of the Christian life, 9 Principles for Navigating Anxiety and Depression, Scott Christensen- What about Evil? Dave loves to spend time with his wife, going to movies, eating at a nice restaurant, or going out for a round of golf with a good friend. The study of church history, therefore, preserves both orthodoxy (right doctrine) and orthopraxy (right practice). Church history is vital to our understanding of the institution of the Christian church. Christians should look back at the life and example of men in the Old Testament such as Abraham and David. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. The Church has always had an impulse to reformation around biblical doctrine. As visible outposts of the kingdom of Christ, churches are where this one great story—a metanarrative to rule them all, if you will—continually confronts and collides with the stories of this world and the present evil age. Before we too easily judge motives, prejudices, or intentions, we must ask how we would fare in others’ shoes. For two millennia, God’s people have borne witness to the truths of his power and lordship, the centrality of his saving work in Christ, and the hope offered freely in the gospel. The Role and Importance of the Church in the Community Meeting the Needs. Instead of wanting to know the old paths traveled over and over again by godly saints of previous eras, Christians today want something “deeper” and more meaningful. History serves to remind us of God’s faithfulness. The relevancy and importance of Church history cannot be stated enough. 4:5). But teaching church history is different. People need to have their spiritual, emotional and physical needs met. Today, Stephen Nichols cautions Christians that we’re missing out if we aren’t learning from our family story. Our mission is to recount that history and call the nations to repent and believe in the Christ. Defend Against Heresies and Cults. Like a branch that grows because of its connection to the tree, we thrive when we stay connected to the church. Church History: Faithfulness, Movements, and Mistakes. As early as Eden, Eve listens to the serpent, succumbing to faulty interpretations of the past and of God’s revelation in particular. Abandoning the old paths of biblical orthodoxy for doctrinal novelty leads to false teaching. Here is a short list of ten reasons of why the study of Church History remains important for the development and growth of authentic and biblical Christianity and Leadership. Church history is important to know because of Who is building the Church. Early church history is something Christians need to know, in order to understand where their faith has come from, and why it bears such great importance to the future of their faith. Not every actor or group will have the same historical significance, but we should be leery of casually dismissing those that may first appear insignificant. 13 Reasons We Need Church History 1. Specialists and historians of Christianity in general find Church History: Studies in … Matthew J. One example comes from the life and ministry of John Knox. Christians have a Word from God in the Bible. Since the time of Christ, the Church has lived a history of both glorious and deplorable moments. Understanding Getting an understanding of these disorders is half the battle. The emphasis was on a personal relationship with God, learned through the teachings of the apostles. The reason why studying church history can show us what is important to the faith is because the Spirit has been at work guiding the church into truth. A robust doctrine of divine providence reminds us that human history is a giant canvas on which we see God paint his sovereign plan. 9 Principles What are the general principles to bear in mind as you begin to work with your teen through anxiety and depression? The sovereign Creator is also the sovereign Lord.. A robust doctrine of divine providence reminds us that human... 3. Remembering is vital.. Church history will also give one a tolerance of others who do not agree with him doctrinally. The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was a time when man began touse his reason to discover the world, casting off the superstition and fear ofthe medieval world. To be obedient: We study the history of God’s people as a … History is not cyclical in any Marxian sense; rather, it is all leading to one grand summation in Christ. God’s Word from the front (Genesis) to the back (Revelation) testifies to the finished work of Jesus. Get me lecturing to undergraduate American history students on the Cold War and the emergence of political conservatism, and I’m in my scholarly happy place. Due to our finitude and fallenness, we will always need further steps toward the truth. by Dave Jenkins | May 26, 2016 | Issues in the Church, Featured. Step into my world history class and you’ll find me fired up to explain how colonization reshaped the entire world. When one studies church history it is important to keep in mind that one is studying the movement of God the Holy Spirit in history and in the lives of the people of God. Along these lines, George Marsden points out that “the most convincing histories will be those that portray their protagonists with faults as well as virtues.” Not only does a biblical doctrine of depravity give us an appropriate skepticism, it also provides needed humility to acknowledge we lack authoritative certainty about what happened in the past. The Church began with a handful of men and women recognizing and professing that Jesus Christ was God's own Son. Church History is the important history of the world. We must always be on guard against such things. Please make sure all fields are filled out. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, the apostle Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to learn from the examples of Israel's past, lest they make the same mistakes. Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. In short, false teaching promotes pride while orthodoxy honors God and brings Him glory. It allows us to understand and sympathize with the plight of those who came before us. Understanding how God has worked in biblical history and in the history of His people is critical to growing in our knowledge of His Word. Outside regularly reading and studying of Scripture, there is no greater subject for Christians to study than the history of the Church. During such times, the Church is afforded the opportunity to clarify and expound on biblical orthodoxy for the benefit and spiritual growth of the Body of Christ. Christians need to learn from those who have gone before us in the faith. Become a monthly supporter to advance gospel-centered resources. 1. Knowledge and understanding is 50 percent of your task. Dave received his MAR and M.Div through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in sunny Southern California. All other history is subservient to the Church. Church History: Why It’s Important!3 of !8 Church “history” is the chronological record of significant events in the life of the “church” along with the people involved, their sayings, writings, etc. The bond we share in Christ is more real and enduring than the connection we have with our families in the flesh. This story has marked the return of the faith to regions that had been reached with the gospel in the first millennium. Church history is so much more than a collection of names, dates, and events. My goal in this article is to help you to see the primary place of Church History for Christians in defending and contending for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Church History: Faithfulness, Movements, and Mistakes. Dave is a lover of Christ, His people, and sound theology. In addition to the above recommendations, I consider looking into the work of Jonathan Hill, an excellent church historian who’s written extensively on the history of the Christian Church and Christian thought. He fought a vigilant battle in the 4th … What can Americans—especially followers of Jesus Christ—do in a time when it seems that our very republic is more fragile than ever before? It gets us beyond our natural shortsightedness, faddishness and pride. But we understand that our knowledge is never full and always clouded. A study of church history will reveal that most “innovations” in theology (and sometimes in practice) are simply a re-packaging of old heresies that were rejected by the early church. The church of Jesus Christ is established, furthered, and guarded by the King himself. Copyright © 2021 The Gospel Coalition, INC. All Rights Reserved. Church history tells the stories of that confrontation, in all of its beauty and messiness. The Church History: THE RECORD OF THE PAST OF THE CHURCH a) real events involving: * real dates * real names * available directly or indirectly Article; Seventeen Centuries of Sin: The Christian Past in Antebellum Slavery Debates Servants of Grace is a multi-media ministry that exists to help people know the God of the Bible and to equip God’s people to grow in and serve God’s grace in the local church and beyond. The fifth reason why we should study church history is that it demonstrates the working of God. A Study in Church History Gene Taylor-3-Lesson One: The Establishment of the Church I. We must be willing to acknowledge the mysterious nature of providence and remain silent where God is silent. Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal that publishes original research articles and book reviews covering all areas of the history of Christianity and its cultural contexts in all places and times, including its non-Western expressions. “If the people of God come from every tribe and nation,” Mark Noll writes, “so then should a history of the people of God try to take in every tribe and nation.” Church history can’t be limited to Western or English-speaking peoples. Oftentimes, the circumstances and culture surrounding believers affected how the Church responded. Facing down such warts with historical honesty is not just a scholarly duty, but also brings glory to God. But we do it all through the eyes of faith and gospel hope. Biblical truth may be stated in fresh ways; however, Christians must remain faithful to the old paths of biblical orthodoxy. In addition to safeguarding us from doctrinal error, the study of church history helps protect us from repeating the foolish mistakes of others. Church history helps God’s people understand the movements and sins that Christians have made throughout history. The study of history, when done right, is always a humbling experience. The early church fathers and councils had to determine, for example, what it meant to say with historical confidence that Jesus was both God and man. What you’ll hear in this... Hebrews 12:25, “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. Latest articles. One challenge for any generation of Christians is not to whitewash or excuse these failures (for example, Southern Baptists and race; Jonathan Edwards and slavery; John Calvin’s complicity in Servetus’s death, and so on). And fresh insights on the church has never been dependent on any human being to. Serves to remind us of God ’ s church does not exist in a time when it that. 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