Perhaps one of the most serious defects today among Bible-believing Christians is their insufficient knowledge of church history. There is much to learn from the Reformation, for instance, that would keep believers from going off on some wrong theological track. There is much to learn from the lives and deaths of the Christian martyrs of both yesterday and today that would put spine into modern preaching and Christian living. There is a great deal to learn from studying the missionary movement (in modern times largely begun by John Calvin’s mission to Brazil) that would help us to become less insular. There is very much to learn from the origins of many denominations (see previous blog about denominationalism) that would keep us pure in our beliefs. And I could go on—but, probably, you get the point.
But seldom do churches teach courses in church history. And, unless it is taught with all of the understanding and vivacity it takes to teach it interestingly, most people tend to shrug off history as a dead subject, having to do with dead people.
History is your roots! To study the struggles of reformers and the lives it took to provide a Bible in your language that you can readily purchase and read is thrilling—as well as quite instructive. To trace the way that doctrinal corruption in the early church lead to the rise of authoritarian sacerdotalism and sacramentalism can hardly do less than issue a strong warning against allowing any such defection in the future. To read how men bled and died for truth at the inception of evangelical churches can only serve to sober a lackadaisical church such as we know today.
How much church history do you know? Be honest about it—probably, very little. Right? Well, if that’s the case, why not ask your pastor to set up a course to teach some of the basics, at least? It won’t hurt him, either, to dust off his notes from the seminary church history class that he filed away and forgot years ago!