Why Study Church History? John Woodbridge Gives an Answer
This question often reflects what Church historian Timothy George has called the imperialism of the present. We 21st century Christians often believe that current, modern, present ideas about God and interpretations of Scripture deserve to trump those from the past.
Thus how earlier believers have interpreted Scripture and understood the Christian faith is not only ignored, but actively overcome. And part of the resulting fallout is a belief that studying Church history is a pointless waste of time.
I've been there myself. As a young evangelical reacting to my conservative upbringing, I was quick to latch onto the latest theological morsels falling off the shelves of post-evangelicalism. Yet what I needed wasn't to reimagine the Christian faith for the present day, but to rediscover it from past days.
We need the historic Church, we need to study Church history. And John Woodbridge helps us understand why.
His answer to our question is both interesting and challenging. Because for Church leaders generally and Church historians specifically, our goal in studying the past is to advance the gospel, advance theology, and advance the mission of the Church. Which makes studying Church history vitally important, for the glory of God and good of our world.
—Jeremy Bouma, ThM (@bouma)
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