Why you should care about church history

I know history isn’t most people’s favourite subject. In a world of twitter, Whatsapp, and Instagram, it feels hard enough to keep up with what’s new, let alone with what happened 500 years ago. News headlines grab our attention. We read them on our commute. They’re pushed at us in our news feeds. If offered a choice between something “old” and something “new”, nine times out of ten, we will pick what’s “new”. But what if we’ve been tricked? What if we’ve been conditioned to get this completely the wrong way round?  What if our obsession with the “news” isn’t a sign of our cleverness, but of our foolishness?

Think about it. Have you ever tried to read a 1-month old newspaper? It feels pretty pointless, doesn’t it? Why? Because one month later it is mostly irrelevant.

God encourages us to show respect for what’s “old”.

Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set (Proverbs 22:28)

Grey hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life (Prov 16:31)

As we run the Christian race, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses from church history, watching us (Heb 12:1 and all of chapter 11).

Of course, that doesn’t mean what’s old is automatically right. The past is full of sinners just like the present, and people got it wrong in the past as often as they do in the present, but the past is a place where God has lots to teach us.

So, maybe, rather than switching on Good Morning Britain or BBC Breakfast, or Capital FM, and drinking in what’s “new”, we will be better able to serve Jesus Christ, if we drink in what’s “old”; maybe the voices of Christians who have walked this way before us will be more useful than the voices of DJ’s and presenters sitting on breakfast couches.

Through [Abel’s] faith, though he died, he still speaks (Heb 11:4).