History and Theology

Yup… I’m a history and theology teacher. I find it nearly impossible to separate one from the other. You can’t study theology and ignore history and you can study history without seeing the theological/religious issues that have shaped our past and will shape our future. There are so many quotes floating around about history… “History repeats itself” or “If you don’t learn from history it will repeat itself.”

We don’t learn from history very well. In fact, we ignore or purposely forget it. Take this quote from President Harry S Truman that is engraved on the World War II Memorial in D.C.: “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices.” Sadly, I strongly believe that America has forgotten a great many of the sacrifices that were made. Our national monuments are nothing more than fun stops for kids… nothing more than marble playgrounds. Parents don’t teach their kids about history. Teachers are required to spend time on “character education” or “cultural education,” so they don’t have time to teach on our rich history.

The same thing is happening in our church. We have forgotten the sacrifices that so many have made for the Church. We have forgotten the heresies that have cropped up so often in the Church, thus allowing for them to reappear and thrive once again. We don’t teach the history of the church. We invent new ways to teach confirmation and toss out Luther’s Small Catechism. We have forgotten that We are “no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20 ESV). That’s history right there folks! Yet, the post-modern church is constantly looking to new inventions, new ideas, and even worse, new doctrines that will make it more marketable, fun, and exciting. While doing so they remove, degrade, and demean the memory of those who have gone on before us to rest in Christ and even worse, subvert the Gospel message of Jesus Christ crucified as given to us in his Word and Sacraments.

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One Response

  1. Hi Sam, nice blog.

    I found you through the Carnival.

    When I was in Seminary I used to grumble about all the Historical Theology classes that were required. They were taking time away from Exegetical Theology, which is what I was really all about. I used to mangle Santayana’s famous quote thus:
    Those of us who don’t give a fig about History are condemned to study it!

    Funny thing, though. Although I hated it, guess what keeps coming out in my Bible classes, my catechism classes, and even occasionally in a sermon? Yep, you got it: stories from the past, aka “history.”

    Who’d-a-thunk-it?

    ~Gr8ful

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