Eight Reasons to Read Church History
by Mark Rogers
I often tell people that I majored in history in college because I like stories. I still like stories, but I have pursued an ongoing study of church history because I think it makes me a better Christian and a better pastor. Here are some reasons I think you should read church history, too.
Millard Erickson is right, “History is theology’s laboratory, in which it can assess the ideas that it espouses or considers espousing.” (Christian Theology, 28). Church history shows us our theological blind spots, reminds us of crucial topics our era ignores, provides confessional guiderails, and gives us the writings of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards–among others.
If you are like me, ministry is often hard work and the fruit sometimes seems slow growing. Reading stories of God’s work in revivals and awakenings stretches my faith and rouses me to pray bigger prayers. Also, reading about the fruits of long-term, faithful preaching and prayer helps keep me steadfast.
Pragmatic approaches to “doing church” are so common today one might think that this is the way it has always been. Reading the Reformers, the Puritans, and others reveals they asked more than just, “What works?” They thought the Bible teaches what the church is and what it should do. Historical discussions of the nature and marks of a true church challenge the way we think about the church in a way the latest church growth manual simply cannot.
We tend to be locally minded and even ethnocentric. Most of us envision a ministry in a place like the one we grew up in among a people that look like us. Learning what God has done to spread the Gospel over the past 2000 years helps broaden our vision...
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