Why Study Church History?
How shall we labor with any effect to build up the church, if we have no thorough knowldege of her history, or fail to apprehend it from the proper point of observation? History is, and must ever continue to be, next to God’s Word, the righest foundation of wisdom, and the surest guide to all successful practical activity.
The pleasures of reading history are manifold; it exercises the imagination and furnishes it, discloses the nuances of the familiar with the unfamiliar, brings out the heroic in mankind side by side with the vile, tempers absolute partisanship by showing how few monsters of error there have been, and in all these ways induces a relative serenity.
Of all the means of estimating American character … the pursuit of religious history is the most complete.
There is an aphorism: He who forgets his own history is condemned to repeat it. If we don’t know our own history, we will simply have to endure all the same mistakes, sacrifices, and absurdities all over again.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the church looking ahead, but it is terribly important that it should be done in connection with the look inside, into the church’s own nature and mission, and a look behind at here own history. If the church does this, she is less likely to take her cues from the business community, the corporation, or the marketplace.
The map of God’s activity, then, is not a blank ocean between the apostolic shores and our modern day. So we need to remember—and search for our roots in—the luminaries, risk takers, and movements of the church through the centuries. To neglect them is not only to risk repeating past errors, it is to fall victim to a ...