Category Archives: General History

Top Five Christians From History I Would Like to Meet

Over at my main website, I’m doing a series of top five lists to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. I thought I would do one here as well.

I am interested in church history, obviously since I write this blog and podcast. There are certain people from church history that I would have loved to have met.

I’m leaving out figures from the Bible, since I could easily fill up the five from there. Here are my top five.

  1. Augustine of Hippo
  2. Alfred the Great
  3. John Wesley
  4. William Wilberforce
  5. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Who would you have liked to have met?


The History of English Podcast

I’m always on the lookout for new quality podcasts. One that I have recently started listening to is a podcast I want to share with you. It is called the History of English Podcast.

It is not the history of the English people, although it does deal with that, but is the history of the English language. Kevin Stroud deals with the languages that led to English, and then Old, Middle and Modern English.

Why I am sharing this here? While Kevin’s podcast is not a church history podcast it often does touch on church history. The reason is that clergy and monks were often the educated members of society who were involved in writing documents. Also, religious documents have most often survived.

I have really enjoyed the History of English Podcast. So often I have walked away with an answer about some strange aspect of English that I have always wondered about. Make sure to check it out.

Is This Podcast About History or Christian Apologetics?

History of ChristianityI recently had a comment from listener who was disappointed in the podcast. The heart of the complaint was that the podcast was more about Christian apologetics than about history. He felt I wasn’t completely honest about the nature of the podcast.

His concern deserves to be addressed.

My intent is that this podcast be truly about the history of Christianity and not about Christian apologetics. What I mean is that my goal for this podcast is not to convince people that Christianity is true.

That is not to say that I’m against Christian apologetics. I have written extensively in the area of Christian apologetics. I am a Christian and a pastor and I believe that Christianity is true. I am also aware that my bias toward the truth of Christianity affects the podcast.

But that doesn’t mean that unbelievers are unbiased. Atheists and people of other faiths have their own bias. I would encourage you to listen to those perspectives as well.

My aim for this podcast is to present the history of Christianity. I intend to demonstrate where and how the church has made mistakes. I also hope to show that many of the important figures had their faults. I won’t gloss over the problems just for the sake of making Christianity look more attractive.

I understand that this podcast will not be for everyone. There will be those who will want a non-confessional take on the history of Christianity. That is fine.

But I hope that you will find something of value in this podcast and that will give you another perspective on church history.

You might find this post on the relationship between history and apologetics interesting.

The Ancient History Blog

Ancient HistoryI love history. I love it a lot. I could read about history all day long. How about you?

I blog and podcast about Christian history on this website and I enjoy doing it. But there are other areas of history that I find interesting as well. Many of them have only a small connection, if any, to what I do here.

As a result, I have started a new blog called The Ancient History Blog. There are a few posts there now and I will be continually adding to it. You will quickly discover the eras of history I’m most interested. Feel free to join me there.

Free Church History Courses

Online CoursesThere are plenty of problems with the internet but it can still be a blessing. This is especially true for the consuming of informations. Courses are often recorded and posted online for people to listen to for free.

I have compiled some courses on church history that you might find helpful. I will add more as I come across them. Enjoy!

3 Related Areas to Church History

ChurchStudy the history of the Christian church is a huge task. It includes two thousand years of history spanning the entire globe. One could spend their entire life studying the history of the church and only comprehend a fraction.

Having said that, there are some related areas of history that very much affect the history of Christianity. They may not belong fully to the area of church history but there is much overlap.

Here are three historical areas that I believe a student of church history should have some knowledge of:

  1. Roman Empire – The early church and the New Testament emerged within the context of the Roman Empire. But some knowledge of the Roman Empire, both in the west and the east, is important for understanding how the church developed. Whether the Romans were persecuting the Christians or being merged with the church, Rome left its stamp.
  2. Philosophy – Christianity has had a long and complicated relationship with philosophy. This includes the Greco-Roman philosophy that was around at the birth of the church but also ongoing philosophical development. Many later philosophers did their work either from within the church or in reaction to the church.
  3. Religion – Christianity is not the only religious game in town. Christianity appeared along side other religions. By the time of Jesus, three of the other major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism) were already around. Christianity has also had a complicated relationship with Islam. Seeing how Christianity interacts with other religions throughout the centuries can be beneficial.

Recommended Resources:

History Podcasts I Listen To

PodcastI don’t just record podcasts, I listen to them as well. Here are a list of history podcasts I listen to. This does not mean I agree with everything they say. But I don’t expect you to afgree with everything I say either.

History and the Problem of Bias

HistoryOne of the challenges for doing history in any area is that of bias. This can appear in number of ways, from the bias of our sources to the bias of our interpretation.

We should not become too discouraged by this. I strongly disagree with those who say we can’t do history because of bias.

There are ways that we can do history with integrity and comes as close to the truth as possible. I would like to share a few things that can help us as we study the past.

  • Attempt to use as wide a range of sources, in terms of perspectives, as possible. This means those who who were both friendly and hostile toward the event.
  • Try to find as many types of sources, such as documents, archaeological evidence, etc.
  • Identify the bias of the sources. Attempt to determine how much their bias affected what they produced.
  • Identify your own bias. How strongly do you hold your view? What kind of evidence would make you change your mind?
  • How does all the evidence fit together? What theory makes most sense of the available evidence?
  • Don’t give up. If we wait for completely unbiased evidence, we will never get it because it doesn’t exist.

History is one of the most interesting topics in our world. There are challenges but the presence of bias doesn’t make it impossible.

5 Reasons Why I Love History

FiveI have loved history for as long as I can remember. When my friends were reading superhero comic books, I was reading comic books about World War Two (Sgt Rock was my favourite).

My interest in military history has continued but has also expanded. There are many areas of history that I enjoy, both ancient and modern.

Even as a I did graduate work in biblical studies, I often came at the subject from a historical perspective.

I don’t know if you appreciate history like I do, but I thought I would share five reasons why I love history.

  1. We can learn from the mistakes of the past. People throughout history have made many unfortunate choices. This includes the church (the subject of this podcast). I do not intend to cover up the mistakes, but I hope we can learn from them.
  2. We can learn from the successes of the past. On occasion, people have made good choices that have helped people and changed lives for the better. We need to hear their stories.
  3. We can be inspired by the individuals and events of the past. Much of history is not just a list of events but includes story. Ancient historians expected that their writings would have some sort of positive effect on their readers.
  4. Studying history connects us to a larger story. Who we are is much more than just our personal life or even the experiences of our parents. We are connected to people and events across the globe and throughout the generations. One of my relatives pushed back our family tree to the late 1400s and even that is only a small part of the picture.
  5. History is interesting. There are some pretty strange characters throughout history. I’m always shocked when people say history is boring. If you think history is boring, you are not looking close enough. They say that truth is stranger than fiction and history demonstrates this to be true. I study history not to impress people but because it is fun.

What about you? Why do you love history?

Can Christians Do Critical Church History?

Church HistoryAs I work on this podcast about Christian history, one could challenge me on how appropriate it is for me to do this. Not only am I a Christian, but I’m a pastor as well. Doesn’t that bias disqualify me?

I have seen discussions questioning the ability of believers to do either biblical research or Christian history. A Christian will always defend what they believe and therefore cannot be impartial.

I’m not convinced that Christians are unable to do real church history. In fact, it has often been from within the church that the harshest criticism about the church has emerged.

Although I believe the Bible to be a reliable report about Jesus and the early church, I have no intention of ignoring the mistakes of the church.

Do I have a bias? Absolutely. I think that despite all its mistakes and failures that the church is something special. I wouldn’t be a pastor otherwise.

My bias will influence what I present in my podcast. But the same thing would happen if I was Jewish, Muslim, Mormon or atheist. I believe we need to own our bias.

My philosophy for historical research is to look for different perspectives. For example, when I get to the crusades, I will want to look beyond church accounts. I will want to look at modern secular treatments as well as Muslim interpretations of the events.

The presence of a bias does not disqualify something as valuable. It only means that we need to be aware of the bias and attempt to balance it with other perspectives as we are able.

My goal for this podcast is not to defend the actions of the church. Rather, I want to put the actions of the church in their historical context. Not only do I love the church, I also love history.

I hope that you will join me on this journey.

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