Why Study Church History?

As C. S. Lewis said, “Most of all perhaps, we need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods… A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the errors of his native village: the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.”

Church History has value. First, it helps us avoid the great cataract of nonsense that issues in false teaching and bad theology. Second, it exposes us to the experiences of the early church. Imagine if Anselm or Augustine was your professor. Through historical writings you can hear their words and benefit from the greatest teachers God has given to the church. Third, church history helps set theological boundaries. We don’t always like to admit it, but we have our own traditions, and tradition is not on par with Scripture. Fourth, studying history broadens our perspective on the church. The church is in dire straits today. There is serious moral decline, and post-modernism, human secularism, and pluralism are rampant in our culture. But Church History reminds us that there has always been a struggle with the culture. This gives us a little perspective so we are not overwhelmed by the present. Our God is a powerful God. Our Lord is Lord of lords and King of kings. This is His church and He is moving history toward His goals and His ends, for His glory. Finally, church history has value as a cause for optimism. Despite wars, attacks, and the rising and falling of empires, God is sovereign over history. It is our God who ordains these things – we should not fear. Church History is more than an academic exercise. It is edification. It is a category of divine providence and thus a sub-category of theology proper.

For all these reasons taking a course in Church History at BTS, whether for credit or audit, would serve the church and be both edifying and encouraging to pastors, elders, deacons, and lay leaders. Join us to see what God has done in His church and how it speaks to your church today.


Dr. Jim Maples

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