It’s also important, as much as possible, to give our children a general idea of the whole history of the church and not only of the periods or individuals we particularly like, because God has been with his church and has preserved his gospel in every age. Church History Helps Us to Appreciate Tradition The word tradition makes some Protestants uncomfortable because of the meaning it has acquired in the Roman Catholic Church. When the Reformers talked about tradition, however, they referred to the church’s general consensus of interpreting the Bible. Much of our Protestant tradition is exemplified in our historical confessions and creeds. While it’s true that the tradition of the church has no authority independent of the Scriptures, this tradition is very valuable as a summary of biblical doctrine. We’re still exhorted to examine “the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). At the same time, the creeds and confessions our forefathers have prayerfully and carefully drafted and the church has wisely tested prevent us from being “carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14) and from reinventing a sound and proven theological wheel. Church History Helps Us to Appreciate our Church Family Learning from others and taking their ideas into serious consideration is a wonderful exercise in humility and respect. We should take our children through the pages of church history as we would take them to a foreign country, teaching them to see things from a different perspective, without superimposing our experiences and ideas. 24 | CREDO MAGAZINE | JULY 2015
Eric Ives, author of Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery, wrote, “In the West, growing secularization ensures that relatively few people even understand the issues which meant so much to [Jane].” Making an effort to understand unfamiliar issues by becoming acquainted with historical characters and their times will bring us closer to our church family of pilgrims and strangers of all ages. Biographies are especially valuable in this sense, as they help us to gain deeper insight into the convictions, dreams, fears, and concerns of others.
IN A SENSE, THEN, WE ARE TRULY STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE THEOLOGICAL GIANTS OF OUR PAST AND BENEFITING FROM THEIR TEACHINGS. BUT JUST STANDING THERE AND LOOKING FURTHER MIGHT NOT DO US MUCH GOOD. IN FACT, AS HISTORY TEACHES US, IT’S DANGEROUS TO LOOK FORWARD WITHOUT A STRONG KNOWLEDGE OF THE PAST. IT’S MUCH SAFER (AND HUMBLER) TO SIT ON THEIR SHOULDERS, WHERE WE CAN INTERACT WITH THEM, DRAW FROM THEIR WISDOM, AND BE DEEPLY TOUCHED BY THEIR DEVOTION.