Introducing Christian history.

I encounter far too many Christians who are totally unaware of our own history. They might know the history which is found in the bible—namely Acts of the Apostles—but past that, they figure “it’s all Catholic stuff and monks and the Crusades,” and at the end of the Middle Ages there’s Protestantism, Henry VIII of England, Puritans (and for Americans, the Pilgrims), and maybe a little about their own denomination. That’s about it.

Yeah, that’s pathetic. But I’ve been there. I grew up in a church which taught little to nothing about Christian history, and of course my world history class in high school didn’t help any—the textbooks were more interested in secular history, and if an emperor or king happened to show any interest in Christianity, they tended to briefly mention it, then move on, as if the king was a hypocrite and didn’t really mean it. (To be fair, in fact they really didn’t. But sometimes they did.) So in order to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, I went to seminary.

Probably the only quote everyone knows by a philosopher about history is Jorge Santayana’s, “Aquellos que no pueden recordar el pasado están condenados a repetirlo” (“Such people who can’t recall the past are condemned to repeat it”). Christians have especially fulfilled this statement. We’ve dabbled in a lot of the same failed ideas, flawed teachings, and misbehaviors, as have Christians in the past. Had we known our history, we’d have known better. Had we followed some of the great Christians of the past, we’d have grown better.

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