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philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 10 Reasons to read Christian History:

Reason #1

Because Christian history is everywhere in our culture. No matter what your religious background (or lack thereof), you just can't understand the modern, Western world—including its wars—unless you know your Christian history!

I was interviewing for an academic position at a small midwestern college, and the committee asked me this: How would you convince our undergraduates to take a course in Christian history? I answered: I would suggest they look around them. So many aspects of American culture come from Christian sources:

Biblical expressions embedded in our language. Christian ethical positions—though dimly remembered and now honored most often in the breach. Assumptions about who human beings are and what we're doing on this planet—although again, fragmented and unmoored from the theology that once anchored them. Musical styles—even rock'n'roll owes much to slave spirituals and gospel "shouts."

There's more. Holidays—Easter, Christmas, even Halloween may all include "pagan" elements, but their frame of reference was always thoroughly Christian. Oh, and let's not forget St. Patrick's Day! Art—stroll through almost any Western art exhibit and just try to avoid Christian references, explicit and implicit. Science—I won't repeat the list of "Christian fathers of the scientific revolution"—see the archive of articles from our issue 76, online. …

If you live in America, or anywhere in the West, your whole environment is soaked in "leftover Christianity."

from Christianity Today:
Church History Newsletter Jan 2005


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/22 3:02Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
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Reading, UK

 2/10 Reasons to read Christian History:

Reason #2

Because it liberates you from the tyranny of the present—and of the recent past. The ever-quotable C. S. Lewis put it like this:

"I don't think we need fear that the study of a day and period, however prolonged, however sympathetic, need be an indulgence in nostalgia or an enslavement to the past. In the individual life as the psychologists have taught us, it's not the remembered past, it's the forgotten past that enslaves us. And I think that's true of society. … I think no class of men are less enslaved to the past than historians. It is the unhistorical who are usually without knowing it enslaved to a very recent past." (From a radio adaptation of Lewis's inaugural lecture as Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature given at Cambridge on Nov. 29, 1954; see issue 7: C. S. Lewis.)

During wartime, Lewis sharpened the point. He compared the reader of history to the man who has lived in many places. This man "is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age." ("Learning in War-Time," in The Weight of Glory.)


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/24 9:45Profile
PreachParsly
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Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164
Arkansas

 Re: 2/10 Reasons to read Christian History:

dont stop now! you have 8 more to go :-P


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Josh Parsley

 2005/1/26 18:56Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
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 3/10 Reasons to read Christian History

OK, here's another one...

Reason #3

Because life is too short to learn by experience. To echo Lewis's words that we've just heard, "the scholar has lived in many times." What a rich way to grow in wisdom! Though experience can be the best teacher for some things, for others it does not take us far at all.

Job's friend, Bildad the Shuhite, had it right (for once): "Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding?" (Job 8:8-10).


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/27 3:59Profile
PreachParsly
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Posts: 2164
Arkansas

 Re: 3/10 Reasons to read Christian History

wow i like #3


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Josh Parsley

 2005/1/28 23:08Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
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 4/10 Reasons to read Christian History

Quote:
wow i like #3


Good, here is...

Reason #4

Because whatever question is on your mind, someone smarter than you has already seen it clearer, thought about it longer, and expressed it better. Why reinvent the wheel? Also falling under this heading: There are no new heresies—only old ones in new clothes. And again, they've all been answered with more wisdom and erudition than we'll ever be able to muster.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/1/29 3:15Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
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Reading, UK

 5/10 Reasons to read Christian History

Reason #5

Because the deeper our roots, the higher we grow. Believers are all part of a "Dead Christians Society." We have far more brothers and sisters in the faith who are no longer around than we do contemporary saints. Lets get to know them. And while we slog it out on earth as members of the Church Militant, the Church Triumphant is pulling for us from heaven.

What a shame to lose a sense of the communion of saints—the "cloud of witnesses" urging us to go on. The heroism, tears, toil, and triumphs of "Dead Christians" can inspire the living.

"Exhibit A" is surely the Martyrs. Blaise Pascal put it like this: "The example of the deaths of Christian martyrs move us, for they are our members, having a common bond with them, so that their devotion inspires us not only by their example, but because we should have the same [qualities]."


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Ron Bailey

 2005/2/9 9:12Profile
philologos
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Reading, UK

 Re: 6/10 Reasons to read Christian History

Reason #6

Because reading Christian history is a great way to meet fascinating people and hear dramatic, colorful stories. History is all about people. Memorable people. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once put it, "There is properly no history, only biography." And Thomas Carlyle added, "Biography is the most universally pleasant and profitable of all reading." Those Victorians had it right—and nothing sizzles like the stories of the saints!


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Ron Bailey

 2005/2/18 5:26Profile
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 Re:

We will never learn.


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Zeke Oosthuis

 2005/2/18 6:57Profile
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 7/10 Reasons to read Christian History

Reason #7

Because reading Christian history helps root out prejudice and foster sympathy and humility. It's so easy to think "The Church 'R' Us." It ain't. Most Christian believers look—and have looked, in past centuries—very different than we do. They've had different questions, different assumptions, different "lifestyles," different approaches to the Christian life, different strategies for evangelism, teaching, preaching, sacramental life, social action. …

From the little we may have heard about some of those differences, we've probably already put some of our brothers and sisters in a box marked: "Weird." But in the words of historian Jacques Barzun, reading history "tempers absolute partisanship by showing how few monsters of error there have been." The more we read about other Christians, the more we get to walk in their shoes and gain respect for their approaches to the faith.

That's a good thing, because the church today is a body with a wide (and sometimes wild!) variety of members. Knowing more about the past, we gain insight into the practices and problems of other Christians in the present. We may become less critical of others—and even more aware of our own shortcomings and limited perspectives.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/2/21 13:15Profile





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