I have been thinking recently about the place of church history in the life of the typical church congregant. It feels like the history of the church gets very little exposure outside of the lecture halls of seminaries and universities. This could be a missed opportunity.
I currently am only beginning to explore the world of church history and have already gained a lot from this study. Knowledge of some of the struggles that men such as Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa went through to protect orthodoxy is inspiring. I have also noticed that many heresies that are alive today are only small variations on those that existed thousands of years ago. This could be valuable knowledge for all believers.
My question is this: Do you feel that church history can be meaningfully incorporated into church life? I think that a class outlining some of the key moments and important individuals involved could help a believer to better appreciate how God has kept his church and truth alive throughout time. I would love to read what both pastors and church congregants think of this.
You could run them as an external bible study / class. I don’t see why you can’t incorporate them as part of a sermon series?
I agree with Craig. A sermon series covering key figured or debates would be good. Americans are taught the history of the nation in order to create a sense of unity and continuation. Why not the church?!
I am with Craig. As a history buff and patristics scholar, my heart flutters with joy when I here historical references in sermons and bible studies. True story.
@Craig: That is a great idea. I hope that I will have the opportunity to teach something of that nature in the future.
@Brian: I agree! The church could gain a lot from studying history. Building both a sense of heritage as well as a desire to avoid repeating the mistakes from the past.
@Rod: It is good to hear that there are others who get that same feeling! If the speaker can find a way to incorporate a map, then I am completely sold. 😉
I love what has been said so far, here are a couple of quick thoughts:
1. I am pretty convinced that if you are not incorporating church history into your teaching on a regular basis you are not faithfully teaching Scripture. Two options here – you either spent the hours in research determining how the church has viewed a given passage and just chose not to let your people know, or two – you did not spend the time and could very well be teaching an ancient heresy dressed up as a modern, relevant truth. I care very little about what my pastor thinks about a passage if I know he has not put it the time studying first.
2. A class dedicated to church history seems like it would be very beneficial in addition to incorporating historical theology into each series. A solid foundation in the major themes and players of history would enhance understanding when more specific people and interpretations are referenced in a sermon or teaching.
Great thoughts Joshua, glad to see you on board!
you can also highlight an event in a perosn’s life within the sermon as a sort of illustration, when applicable.
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