When my family moved to Elgin, IL last July, we visited many congregations in search of a church home. At one small Episcopal church, the rector discovered I had come to Illinois in order to work with Christian History magazine. He was visibly excited. "That's just what the church needs!" he said.

I probed: Why was he so convinced Christians today need to know church history? The rector's response was memorable: "Because God's gift of teaching has a long shelf life."

In other words, even though the church has lived out the faith in many different cultures and faced many different challenges through its 20 centuries, God has given certain leaders words of wisdom that never seem to lose their relevance. (That's just the kind of God he is—the kind who entered history in the person of Jesus Christ, and has never left it.)

Ten days after September 11, 2001, we posted on this website a CH article by Robert L. Holmes, on Augustine's teachings about "just war."

With the conflict in Iraq now underway, many are asking whether, as Christians, we should condone this war. And the wise thoughts of Augustine—definitely one of those "long shelf life" teachers—are still available to us, though he died over 1500 years ago.

We thank Dr. Holmes for exercising his own teaching gifts to bring those ancient-but-relevant thoughts to us, and we turn to hear them again:

* * *

The fall of Rome in 410 was a calamity of staggering proportions to the citizens of the Roman Empire. Civilization itself had been shaken to its foundations.

So it was viewed by Augustine, from his vantage point on the North African coast. But he worried not so much about the empire as about the threat of a backlash to Christianity.

Hadn't critics warned for years that ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.