There are subtle ways we functionally abandon Scripture’s authority. We’ve been looking at those in my previous two posts. Let’s consider another, m0re complicated and little known, way today…
Way #3: Unfamiliarity with historical theology
I need to define “historical theology”. I’m sure you would agree there were Christians who lived in the 1800’s and 1700’s and 1600’s and 500’s and 400’s. You get the point. Question: how did they understand Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 6? Or how did they understand Peter’s teaching in 1 Peter 3? This is historical theology. It’s looking at how the illuminating work of the Spirit operated in the lives of believers in centuries past.
We can become infatuated with modern-day writers, pastors, theologians, so much so that we ignore how various theological issues or biblical passages were handled in centuries past. We become “groupies” of modern-day writers.
This is actually a subtle form of ethnocentrism. It’s a slight of hand way of saying, “My generation possesses the ‘latest and greatest’ on biblical study and interpretation.” In it’s most crude form, it would say, “Previous generations of Christians were a bit primitive and therefore their conclusions about various Scriptures should be taken with a grain of salt.”
This is near-sighted and even blind, for in 50 years Christians of that mentality will be saying the same thing about us. Would we want them to?
We all have had the same God, the same Savior, the same Holy Spirit, the same Church, the same Bible, so why would we ignore or take less seriously Christians of previous centuries?
This is why it is good to read people like John Chrysostom (349-407); Augustine (354-430); Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274); Martin Luther (1483-1546); John Calvin, John Owen, John Wesley, John Newton, etc.