Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ten Things Every Student of History Should Know and Remember

By Dr. James McGoldrick
Professor of Church History
Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

  1. God has commanded the study of history (Deuteronomy 6), so this discipline is not an option, but an obligation for believers to pursue.
  2. Christ is a genuine historical person, and the Christian faith has its basis in facts, not in myths. This makes Christianity distinctively superior to other religions.
  3. God controls history through his providential supervision of all peoples, all things, and all events (Psalm 103:19).
  4. Only a Christian perspective on history offers hope for the future. All humanistic and naturalistic interpretations lead necessarily to despair because they have no eternal frame of reference.
  5. All theology is historical theology. God did not reveal His will in one event. He chose instead to do so through numerous events and by inspiring many writers over centuries of time. No one can understand and apply Scripture correctly who does not do so by means of a historical method of interpretation.
  6. All events have causes, primary and secondary causes. God's sovereign decrees are the primary cause, and human and material factors are secondary causes. Secondary causes have validity and significance because they accomplish God's primary cause as He has decreed.
  7. Without a believing study of history, people cannot know where they came from, why they are here, and where they are going. This knowledge is available only through God's revelation of Himself, which took place in history.
  8. The use of historical evidences requires scrupulous honesty, or the misuse of such evidences will produce propaganda.
  9. An intelligent grasp of the present requires a substantial knowledge of the past, for the best way to examine reality is in terms of its causes.
  10. It is impossible to construct and maintain a biblical world view without reference to history, which is the arena of activity in which God is at work composing the City of God, which is the goal of history.