Due to limited time, all we can do is provide a taste of church history in order to whet your appetite for further study.We will be “digging in” at thirteen different fence posts in church history and “flying over” the rest. We will have some recommended reading for you at the end of class. If you have the time for this, it will greatly aid your understanding of the class material and will supplement our instruction.
Christian History introduction
veryA brief history of the church
1. Introduction 8. The Reformation (the2. The Church Fathers British Isles)3. Creeds, Councils, and 9. The Puritans Heretics 10. Colonial America4. Eastern Orthodoxy 11. 1st and 2nd Great5. Roman Catholicism Awakenings6. The Crusades and Islam 12. Missionary Movements7. The Reformation 13. To the future (Continental Europe)
Why studychurch history? Today we willexamine how a study of the past might serve to warn, exhort, and edify us in the present.
The invisible church consists of all believers throughout history. The visible church is a physical manifestation of the invisible church and is flawed. We must not evaluate the invisible church according to the actions of the visible church.
A record of God’s leading of the visible church Why is this important to keep in mind?
1. To see the great variety of people God uses to accomplish His purposes, including those who were only interested in their own glory or who openly opposed Him. Can you think of an example of how God used a villain in history to accomplish His purpose?
2. To realize that each generation was a product of its own time. We must carefully study the historical/cultural context before we pass judgment. We must not impose our time and culture on the past. Every culture has its blind spots; we must work to be aware of our own areas of weakness and failing. How does this differ from cultural relativism (a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them)?
3. To learn the lessons of the past so that we may not repeat their mistakes. No one in church history is perfect. Even the greatest heroes of the faith were badly flawed. Why does God use broken vessels?
4. To recognize our part in the flow of God’s redemptive history and its effect upon us. In Acts, we see the beginning of the church. In Revelation, we see the end—the church triumphant. We are in between these two points.
5. To recognize that even though the church went through many "dark periods" it was and still is Gods witness. God always has a remnant.
6. To realize that God has a plan for his church and that He will see it through every difficulty until Christs return. It is His church, not ours. Our responsibility is to be faithful. Martin Luther said "If I knew Jesus was coming back in 24 hours I would plant an apple seed today."Question for contemplation: to what role has God called you in the churchtoday? How can you be faithful in fulfilling that calling?
7. To learn from the many good examples and be inspired by the diverse ways in which God has used men and women throughout history.
8. To learn that controversies arent necessarily bad. How do you think controversy might help the church? The church was sharpened and shaped by controversy. Controversy makes us aware of what we believe. Controversy helps us focus on what is true. Controversy can help us learn to examine issues without making it personal.
9. We have a model for the study of church history in the Bible itself: Hebrews 11. What is the purpose of the “Heroes of the Faith” chapter of Hebrews? What does the author choose as his focus in each of the Old Testament accounts listed?
10. To realize that we are creating our own history and that we will be studied someday. What will our testimony to future generations be?