The Benefits of Church History
Somewhere in George Orwell's book, 1984, he states the following,
"Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past.."
In this very brief few words is to be found the reason why education, particularly history education , has gone seriously South for many decades or more. George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
The attitude of 21st century Christians to the Roman Catholic Church exemplifies this ignorance of which Santayana warned. The teachings and practices of said R. C. Church during the Dark Ages are breathtakingly shocking and there is no evidence of repentance for any of its wickedness, nor any evidence of a move toward sound teaching.
Over the many years of my Christian life, men of God have taught me the importance of reading Church history. The Bible itself is mostly history.
The best church history that I have read to date is the work by Dr. P. S. Ruckman, The History of the New Testament Church. Dr. Ruckman presents his history in the framework of the seven churches in Asia in chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of the Revelation. Many other commentators, along with Ruckman, see a prophetic foretelling of Church hisory in the letters to these seven churches.
Roman Catholics love to boast that Rome never changes and that the teachings of the Reformation were new and unbiblical ideas that principally originated in the 14th century with John Wycliffe. They will say, "Where are the writings of such ideas before Wycliffe." The primary answer, of course, is that they are found in the Scriptures themselves. In addition to this, Rome has not only murdered tens of thousands of Christians since AD 500 but she has also burned and confiscated their writings.
Because of the deeply deceitful nature of Romanism, we need to be prayerful about whose so-called Church history we read. I will take a Bible believer's account any day over that of an unbeliever, Romanist or cultist. Church history should be written only with a desire to glorify God and not with any desire to promote some other cause.
I would advise believers to give a wide berth to K.S. Latourette and Philip Schaff. These are sloppy, careless, and give far too much credibility to Rome. Lady Antonia Fraser has been a prolific author and editor of English history, including books on both King James and the Gunpowder plot. She was married to her second husband by a Jesuit priest and is a Roman Catholic. I have not read enough of her work, as yet, to give a fair opinion, but her strong Roman Catholic connections do not fill me with confidence.
On a recent visit to Coughton Court, which has centiuries old R. C. roots, we were given a very different story of the Gunpowder plot to that which we learn from protestants. Jesuit Father Garnet, for example, was whitewashed as having no direct culpability in the plot. The excuse was that what the plotters had told him was in the confidentiality of the confessional. Philip Sydney, on the other hand, giving the protestant story around 1800, says that King James had found Father Garnet to be a constant and incorrigible liar and that he, Father Garnet, had also heard news of the plot outside the confessional, which he should have reported and did not.
Find some time for Church history if you can. Ruckman's work mentioned above, or Philip Sydney on the Gunpowder plot or Foxe's Book of Martyrs are all good and stirring.
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