Christian History

“There is no reason that it had to happen this way.” I heard this quote or something very similar in many of my history classes. If no one explicitly said this, then almost invariably throughout the semester the discussion of one topic or another would lead back to the question about why things happened the way they did, and the claim that there really was no underlying reason that events unfolded as they did. Honestly, I sat in many classes, heard this discussion, and didn’t give it a second thought. Until one professor claimed that “nothing had to happen the way it did, nothing was ordained.” Then I realized exactly what was behind this idea and what was being pushed by most historians. Current day history looks at history merely as it relates to man, his actions, his decisions, etc. Every history class I’ve been in post high school approached history as completely man centered. Instead of looking up, we spent our time looking around us; we were denying God’s Providence and His eternal will.

True history, the history only studied by Christians, and not what you get in the majority of college classrooms, looks at history as the unfolding of God’s plan. Everything did in fact have to happen in a certain manner. Not only that, but the Christian can know that it happened one way or another for his or her advantage. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Further comfort comes from the fact that the one executing this will is Christ. Revelation 5 speaks of the book of God’s plan and the only one worthy in heaven or on earth to open the book was the Lamb. God is in control of all things. Only the Christian though, through the eyes of faith, will recognize that throughout history.

Even more, if we look at history without God in the picture we miss the most important history there is: the history of the Church. All other areas in some way branch off and are centered upon the history of the Church. The travels of Columbus, for example, have to be seen as God opening up whole new continents for the Gospel to spread to. All of history reveals God’s providential caring and planning for his Church throughout the ages.

Remember this as many of us sit in current or future classrooms and learn about all the different areas of history. One of the most influential early scholars in the field of history, Leopold von Rancke (1795-1886), said that he always looked for the “holy hieroglyph” in history. By this he meant that he was always looking for the hidden hand of God behind every event in history. Let us follow that example.

 

Arend Haveman

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