For those who do not know, we have began a study of Baptist history on Wednesday nights at 7:00. Any time you teach history instead of Scripture you open yourself up to some of the harshest critics. “Why don’t you just stick with the Bible?” “No one cares about what happened 400 years ago!” “History is boring.” Allow me to point out a few of the benefits of historical study. We Study history:
#1 To understand how we arrived to our present position. I have always said if you properly understand the first 11 chapters of Genesis, the rest of the Bible will make perfect sense. Most of our theological issues today result from a lack of knowledge about Gen 3 alone. Likewise the modern church goer has no clue what “the faith once delivered to the saints” has endured up to this point in time.
#2 To avoid the errors of past generations. Satan is not developing new schemes or tricks to divert the paths of pilgrims. Why would he? What he has employed for the last 6000 years has worked. When we neglect to look at our forefathers we miss the lessons they learned in their time. My dad always told me “If you can learn in 20 minutes, what took someone else 20 years to learn. You’ll be 20 years ahead of your time.” Neglecting this lesson will set us back centuries.
#3 To strengthen our convictions of the doctrines we now hold. Perhaps if you see how those before you suffered to be able to pass this knowledge on to the next generation, you too will take these doctrines seriously. Kids seldom realized the sacrifices their parents made to provide what they receive. Baptist history introduces us the sacrifices of our spiritual parentage.
#4 To drive us to Scripture in defense or correction of our storied beliefs. Baptist have always been “people of the book.” In other words, they let the Bible shape their theology and practice. When we look into the past we see the proper use of Scripture as a sword, piercing and trimming the story of Baptist. We don’t do things this way because we have always done them this way. We do this because God’s Word commands it.
I could list a number of other worthy reasons for studying Baptist history but let me close with a question (or three). Why are Baptist so weak on their historical knowledge? I will have to answer that we can’t know things we haven’t been taught. Why haven’t we been taught this before? “Because history is boring and no one cares what happened 400.” Why are churches today in such a weak state? Because they are falling victim to the same old lies our forefathers fought against. History may not be popular but it’s very important. I’m not interested in teaching the popular but it is my duty to teach the important. ~HWS