Friday, May 29, 2015

The importance of church history

We start a new book today. I'd love to give a full review of it, but I don't have the time to write one up just now. But let me illustrate the need for this book—by the way it is called Why Church History Matters—with a short story.

About ten years ago now, a friend and I were discussing a matter of theology. I illustrated my point by bringing up the early church and their practices. He snorted and replied, "Those clowns! We can't trust them!" Now, I would expect that from a run of the mill evangelical, after all, they've been trained to ignore anything older than the Reformation. But this person was seminary trained! If that's the attitude we get from seminary-trained individuals, it's no wonder the average evangelical discounts church history!

This book was written to counter that attitude. And it is well done. In the words of Augustine (an early church father, by the way!), "Tolle! Lege!" Pick it up! Read it! You'll be glad you did. But at the very least, follow along with the excerpts here for the next several weeks.

By the way, thanks to IVP for the book! For the record, I don't give books good reviews just because they are given to me. I've been known to pan many books, even when they are free. And I've given good reviews to many, many books that I've had to purchase! OK, enough! Here's today's snippet. Enjoy!

We live in an era when church administration, counseling and technology dominate a pastor’s time. Topics such as theology and tradition dwell near the bottom of the priority list at best, or are viewed with suspicion at worst. Church leaders, driven by perceived needs, and genuinely hoping to deepen their congregants’ experience of the Christian life, have nonetheless inadvertently tended to steer church attention and activities away from the doctrines and teachings that are foundational to Christian experience through the centuries. This can leave us feeling shallow and unfulfilled. The problem is this: when we ignore centuries of God-loving Christians and the rich well of resources that they have passed on to us, sometimes even ignoring Scripture in the process, our perceived needs are often little more than mirrors of our fallen culture.—Why Church History Matters, pages 14-15
<idle musing>
And there you go. Without a solid foundation in church history (and theology, its handmaiden), we are doomed to a shallow faith.
</idle musing>

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