I’ve shared in this blog before that a friend of mine once dismissed my interest in church history by insisting that she cared more about the current mess in evangelical churches than about church history. The articles I wrote each Tuesday between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017 about the Protestant Reformation struck her as boring and irrelevant. She preferred, perhaps, to have me call out false teachers and erroneous trends.
Lately her remarks have come back to me in an unexpected way. Recently, John gave me a subscription to AGTV, an online streaming service that offers high quality Christian teaching and commentary. My favorite series so far is Steve and Paulette’s Place, hosted by Steve Kozar of The Messed Up Church and his wife Paulette. In this series, the Kozars examine eras of Church History as those eras influence present evangelical trends.
The Kozars encourage me to keep studying and writing about Church History, even though few people care for such articles. Many bloggers (including me) feel hesitant to write about Church History after the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. 2017 taught us the discouraging lesson that our readers don’t care about church history. About any type of history. Like my friend, they are more concerned about how to fix the problems in today’s messed up church.
I’m equally concerned about today’s messed up church. But unlike my friend, I believe that understanding Church History offers clues to how churches get messed up and how the Lord uses faithful believers to call His people back to Him.
Maybe I can’t thoroughly study every period of church history. Although I should know at least something about the Early Church Fathers, the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon, the Great Schism and the pre-Reformers, my interests lie in the Reformation and Dort. It would also be good to have a working knowledge of church history in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries.
The Kozars have produced excellent episodes, for example, on Charles Finney, a figure highly regarded by teachers and pastors I had early in my Christian walk. It turns out that he denied some very basic teachings of the Bible while distorting others Scriptures to support his doctrine of Christian perfectionism. See this brief article for an overview of Finney.
Understanding Finney helps me understand a lot of current problems plaguing evangelical culture. Looking at other people the Kozars have covered has also helped. Church history shows us that the errors in today’s church simply repackage errors throughout the past 21 centuries. Do you want help discerning the problems with Beth Moore? Looking back at various sects like the Anabaptists or the Quakers could provide insight. Learning how the Council of Nicaea derived the doctrine of the Trinity from Scripture can help us withstand arguments from Oneness Pentecostals.
Church History is an indispensable tool in developing discernment. please don’t ignore it!