Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why Every Pastor Should Read Church History

In his book In Praise of Forgetting, David Rieff takes exception with George Santayana’s famous dictum “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Instead, Rieff proposes that historical memory is not a moral imperative. Pointing to instances of war and slavery, the author suggests that collective remembrance can even be harmful for a community.

Sometimes, says Rieff, it’s just better to forget. His thesis, while imbued with seemingly noble purposes, epitomizes the modern ethos that esteems novelty above antiquity. The result is a 21st century America that would rather forget its history than recognize a broader metanarrative aimed at uniting all things in Christ. Unfortunately, this worldview isn’t simply relegated to secular literature; it can often be found inside of the church.

In the words of J. Gresham Machen, “The modern church is impatient of history. History, we are told, is a dead thing.” Pastors can glimpse this modern attitude when congregants exercise a “whatever strikes me” hermeneutic detached from historical teaching or demonstrate an aversion to the ecumenical creeds. In many ways, the answer to this problem of modernity is a biblical theology steeped in historical theology.

Read the entire article by Obbie Todd here.

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