Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Remembering history

At Reformation 21, Carl Trueman discusses the decline of teaching and appreciating history:
At a general cultural level, the crazy consumerism of advanced Western capitalism, with its craven idolatry of the new and the novel and its contemptuous dismissal of the old and the traditional, has made sure that the utilitarian disrespect for history has continued which was first established by the rise of the industrial and scientific ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Theological training has mimiced the wider cultural trend in devaluing history, Dr. Trueman says. Closer to home, so do broad trends in evangelicalism:
To pretend . . . that we somehow stand outside of history, that we just have our Bibles and somehow manage to transcend our specific location in time and space when we read it, is thus hopelessly naïve; but until we acknowledge that this is the case, we can ironically do nothing to help us transcend our own time. A critical approach to ourselves and to the tradition in which we stand is only possible once we . . . accept that we are deeply indebted to the generations of all those who have gone before. This is bitter medicine for those who think history is all about good guys and bad guys, and who think that God”s will can be read in a simple and straightforward manner off the surface of events and actions.
How should we approach history?
Humble and critical engagement with history is thus imperative for the Christian: humble, because God has worked through history, and we would be arrogant simply to ignore the past as irrelevant; critical because history has been made by sinful, fallen, and deeply fallible human beings, and thus is no pure and straightforward revelation of God. It is this balance of humility and criticism that we must strike if we are to truly benefit from history.
Preachers and teachers in the church, let's remember the value of history.


Blogger Kim said...

I have to speak a ladies event this fall, and I'm going to be talking about what the church is. I plan on referring to the importance of history. Thanks for linking this.

7:44 AM, September 13, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

You're quite welcome, Kim, and thanks for being one of the most encouraging readers of this blog. Peace.

4:17 PM, September 13, 2005  

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