Friday, June 22, 2012

Why study church history?

Why study the history of the Church? An important reason, Kevin White suggests, is to get to know "Our Future Contemporaries":
...[W]hy study church history? For the Christian, it is to gain an acquaintance with our future contemporaries. In the visible realm, they are our forebears in the faith. Their ways are often foreign to us, and their lives seem often remote and strange. Their virtues can seem either hollow or unreachable, and their faults glaring and incomprehensible. But in the greater reality, for now invisible, we are all immediate family. In Christ, the Church is only one generation.

And that is one reason why the doings, the customs, and the teachings of past Christians should interest us. If they are in Christ, and we are in Christ, we are not ultimately foreign to each other. We received the faith from them across time, and we will enjoy future sight together as peers. In the eternal kingdom on Earth, we will be together far longer than we were ever separated. And in the present time, that should also relativize the distinctions and divides between generations, classes, nations, and ethnicities.

So, in an odd way, we Christians should study the past so as to better understand our eschatological future.
Why Church History? Our Future Contemporaries | Mere Orthodoxy | Christianity, Politics, and Culture