It is the 2nd of August 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today our question came from a nice email sent to me by Dale in Wisconsin:
“I am curious about the distinction between Christian (church) History vs. “regular history. Can non-Christians learn or teach Christian History?
Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey "History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all—it is very tiresome.”
It can be. But it’s not just what one prof of mine likes to call “Maps and chaps.”
Christian History is history for the church. It’s an academic field but it is most useful when used in the context of the life of Christians acting as the church- it is our family tree with all the weird twisted branches. Ancestry dot com makes bank because we are naturally curious as to how we got here.
Church history is history. Same methods, same limitations, often taught in the same institutions (I studied at a secular public university). It’s a branch of the discipline that centers the life of the church.
Church history, however, is not:
- A list of doctrines and guys with names that start with A.
- (Not just comparative dogmatics)
- Not a pious apologetic for your own brand
- (See Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
- An approach to see Christianity lived out amongst saints and sinners, in slavery, in empire etc…
- A humbling look at the vastness and diversity of the people called to be disciples of Jesus throughout space and time.
The last word for today comes from the Acts of the Apostles- Paul is on trial:
At this point in Paul’s defense, Festus declared with a loud voice, “You’ve lost your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you mad!”
25 But Paul replied, “I’m not mad, most honorable Festus! I’m speaking what is sound and true. 26 King Agrippa knows about these things, and I have been speaking openly to him. I’m certain that none of these things have escaped his attention. This didn’t happen secretly or in some out-of-the-way place. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you trying to convince me that, in such a short time, you’ve made me a Christian?”
29 Paul responded, “Whether it is a short or a long time, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today will become like me, except for these chains.”
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 2nd of August 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie aka Jujubee McFunPants.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.