Why Church History Matters: Chp 4
In chapter four of the book, “Why Church History Matters”, Rea begins by introducing the heart of the Christian experience. As Christians we have questions and demand answers like, “Who am I?”, “Who is God?”, “How did we get here?”, “Where are we going?”, “What is God’s purpose of creation?, and “How does God relate to us?”. Rea shows that these questions are the Christian experience and what forms our theology. We do not receive the answers to these questions through our own experiences, but through the learning and teaching of others by their preaching, teaching, and study.
Rea begins the argue that we cannot begin to understand our Christian identity by our “independent, personal, felt identity. Christian identity always includes broadening circles of membership — broadening circles of community.” (Rea, 90). By broadening our perspectives and engaging in church history in others centuries, continents, and people, we begin to grasp our Christian identity. We should not be separate from our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we are the church and the body of Christ. This includes our brothers and sisters throughout every century.
Through studying church history we are able to learn who we are. We can see why the church is the way it is through the study of church history, because we will learn about the councils, hardships, reforms, and teachings that have gotten the church to where it is. How could we begin to appreciate the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the importance of not separating the Godhead if we did not know about Athanasius’s fight again Arianism on the Trinity.
Although, majority of us who grew up in a non-denominational church, are very hesitant to embrace church history and take on their teachings and traditions. We are hesitant, because we know how the church has taken advantage of their power with tradition and have put a bad taste in our mouths for anything that reminds us of church authority/tradition. This fear that a lot of Christians have is part of church history, so even when Christians try to escape church history, they have already been influenced by it. We owe so much of our Christian life to those of the faith who went before us, because in them contains radical faiths, theology, and doctrine that has shaped us without us even realizing it. We all need to be urgent to study these great men and women before us who not only shape our theology, but who love the Lord and cause us to worship Him.