Archives For church history

The Importance of Studying Church History

Greg Strand – February 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Don Sweeting, President of Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando Florida, writes of the importance of church history for American Evangelicals: “Why Study Church History? Getting Beyond American-Evangelical Amnesia

Sweeting lists 11 reasons, which I highlight:

  1. It reaffirms a Biblical value of looking to the past.
  2. It  tells us the rest of the story.
  3. It frees us from faddishness.
  4. It is an antidote to arrogance.
  5. It exposes us to some of the issues faced by the church in every age.
  6. It helps us see further than we naturally can on our own.
  7. It gives us insight into our own culture.
  8. It provides warnings about what to look out for and what not to do.
  9. It can be used to spark a longing for awakening and revival.
  10. It implants hope in dark times.
  11. It offers company and help in difficult seasons of ministry.

Sweeting’s conclusion:

Church history is one of the most helpful studies in the preparation of Christian ministers. It gets us beyond our natural shortsightedness, faddishness and pride. It becomes a source of warning, wisdom and encouragement. It provides spiritual sparks to awaken us and lift our eyes so that we might have renewed hope.  And it gets us beyond our own American evangelical amnesia.

I would draw two conclusions. First, Sweeting’s reference to “amnesia” would mean that at some point in the past, something of our history was known. That is stated a bit more optimistic than may be warranted. I am not sure the history has been known, so there is not something there to forget. Second, the only thing I would add to Sweeting’s post is an exhortation to study church history!

In a future post, I will provide a reading list for those interested in heeding the exhortation.

The Value of Church History

Greg Strand – October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Evangelicals have often not done well when it comes to church history. We have often so over-reacted against the Roman Catholic church and its understanding of Tradition (please note the capital T) that we avoid it completely (even tradition with a small t). This is unwise and unhealthy, and it has adversely affected Evangelicals over the years.

Thankfully, though this is being rectified, we still have a long way to go. As a small antidote, here is a brief reminder of the important role church history plays in the lives of Christians and the life of the Church.

Church history helps us realize that people are people in any age. And some issues seem to surface in every age of the church because the universal denominator is the same: people.

It helps us to see things through the lens of church history. There are no new problems; just new versions of old ones. And there are not many new solutions. In fact, it is often the case that the best solutions are old ones; the kind that have been tested in the crucible of time. Church history helps us think clearly about the old and the new with the hope that one could repeat the best of the past while leaving behind the worst.

“Something Old or Something New? The Clarifying Value of Church History” by Mark Vroegop, The College Park Blog (September 28, 2012)

The Church and Bioethics

Greg Strand – March 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Commenting on the recent publication by John F. Kilner, ed. of Why the Church Needs Bioethics: A Guide to Wise Engagement with Life’s Challenges (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011):

The book centers around three case studies – better birth, viz. “having a baby the new-fashioned way,” better life, viz. “gaining every advantage,” and better death, viz. “a difficult death” – with an integrative response to each of the ethical questions. There are essays/responses from the Old Testament (Dick Averbeck), the New Testament (D. A. Carson), Systematic Theology (Kevin Vanhoozer), Bioethics (John Kilner), Counseling (Stephen Greggo and Miriam Stark Parent), Law (Paige Comstock Cunningham), Intercultural (Harold Netland, Bruce Fields and Elizabeth Sung), Medicine (William Cheshire), Pastoral Care (Steven Roy), Preaching (Greg Scharf). Most of the authors are from the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

This is an excellent resource I would encourage you to read and discuss with your fellow staff members and elder boards. It is important that we provide leadership and guidance to God’s people in this area and that we help them to navigate through these bioethical waters. We cannot leave this task to someone else. The church must lead the way. This resource will help you to do that well and with wisdom from above.

Information on this book was recently posted on Trinity International University’s website, where you can also watch a video clip where John Kilner addresses the book.

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–by Greg Strand, EFCA Director of Biblical Theology and Credentialing

Commenting on: Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen, ed., Four Views on The Spectrum of Evangelicalism, Counterpoints: Bible and Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011).

It is described in the following way:

Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism compares and contrasts four distinct positions on the current fundamentalist-evangelical spectrum in light of the history of American fundamentalism and evangelicalism. The contributors each state their case for one of four views on the spectrum of evangelicalism: -Kevin T. Bauder: Fundamentalism -R. Albert Mohler Jr.: Conservative/confessional evangelicalism -John G. Stackhouse Jr.: Generic evangelicalism -Roger E. Olson: Postconservative evangelicalism. Each author explains his position, which is critiqued by the other three authors. The interactive and fair-minded nature of the Counterpoints format allows the reader to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each view and draw informed, personal conclusions.

Thinking others may find this helpful–a link to a number of pieces about the work compiled by Andy Naselli, one of the editors:

Learn more about the EFCA

EFCA Statement of Faith
EFCA ReachGlobal (international mission)
EFCA ReachNational (U.S. mission)