Monday, November 27, 2006

History - what's that

I have been reflecting recently on the lack of church history of any kind being taught and preached about in my low brow church. Week after week, I seem to endure earnest and heart-felt talks which are a mish-mash of pop psychology and Protestant missiology - a sermon series may start out looking at Psalms but somehow ends up being self-referential and hearing far too much about the particular speaker's own battles with whatever.

I'm not asking for a whole semester's worth of church history but occasionally, it might add some spiritual MSG to the diet.

I'm sure at theological college they get taught church history but I wonder do they get taught to preach about church history and draw out valuable insights and lessions from the past that can inform Christians about all sorts of things - church life, how to deal with controversies in the secular world, how to deal with splits and schisms, how to cope with cults and atheists, etc, etc, etc.

Is that people are afraid of the uncomfortable truths which exist within Christian history? People of all denominations should be aware of the skeletons within our combined closets. The failure to deal and live with history can cause all sorts of problems.


At 12:13 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Your comments David tie in conveniently with one of today's headline articles in the Australian, "Students ignorant of our history."

This link might wither in time:,23599,20825635-2,00.html

From my POV, most Evangelicals suffer from this contemporary malaise, they are ahistorical in knowledge, practices and affections. They don't care because the horizon of their interests are so narrow.

This drives us both nuts because we both can see that being a Christian impacts everything.

My wife recently commented that she can't remember the last time she heard a good sermon, where someone made a passage of the bible easier to understand and apply. It's definitely a weak point - no "expository preaching" is available on the Sunday morning menu.

Theological colleges do generally teach expository preaching, but I think it comes down to the skill and interest of the individual preacher.

I've heard it said by someone in the leadership team that if you see a problem that needs solving, then maybe God is calling you to do that task. This was in the context of exercising one's spiritual gifts within the church fellowship.

So the obvious question then is, how do you get on the preaching roster? :-)

(The recent ministries check list didn't even have preaching and teaching as options.)

As an alternative, maybe there's scope to have a church history/issues study group or occasional seminar?

People might perceive a regular "study" to be too taxing, but might show up for a talk + QA at the church office?

Years ago I led a bible study through the book of Romans, where I also provided where I could, comments from 3 types of commentators though history, an early church father, a mediaeval theologian and a more recent commentator, so that we could see how passages from Romans affected people at different times through history. It was a crazy amount of work to do to for just a weekly bible study (I was so glad when we finished!), but something similar and less onerous might work.


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