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

Personal Testimony: Dana

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control… such profound promises of the spirit! And so incredibly powerful! When I came to know Christ personally, it was a distinct moment, which is not something I had expected would happen.

Looking back now, of course, I see clear evidence of the Spirit’s work in my life for a long time before that. I had recently experienced physical healing that brought joy and peace into my life in such a deep, real way that I knew it could not have come from anything on this earth. As I began to reason and wrestle with what my faith really meant to me, I was, again and again, patiently and lovingly guided back to the person and work of Christ. His gentleness, his love, his promises. All this, until one moment, entirely apart from any searching in the moment, it all clicked. The good news, that is. For me! Mentally, I understood, emotionally I was overwhelmed with the purest of joys, and physically I felt an embrace of assurance that can hardly be described with words. The very first thought in my head was, “I cannot wait to meet this Christ! Wow!” Quite literally, any and all dread of death was completely washed away. Gone. And with overwhelming excitement, my sole desire was to tell the world. Let us not fear going into the world to tell our story! How can we not tell???”

 

Dana Van Dyke

 

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series following the words of Psalter #175 to “Come, hear, all ye that fear the Lord, while I with grateful heart record, what God has done for me” (Psalm 66), especially as we face this time of uncertainty. Click here to read the intro to the series, and send us your testimony of how God is working in your life at youngcalvinists@gmail.com

Christianity: Nothing to Say About Coronavirus?

I recently read an online article by N.T. Wright which brazenly claimed “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.” The article may be found here: https://time.com/5808495/coronavirus-christianity/. It served as a powerful reminder to me of the importance of maintaining the truths of God’s sovereignty and providence.

N.T. Wright is a widely-known and highly influential theologian in the broader Christian world. Because he is so well-known, this article has likely been read by many Christians and non-Christians alike, people eager to understand how exactly Christianity relates to a global pandemic. Unfortunately, Wright steers his readers completely in the wrong direction. Wright argues that Christianity has no need (or even ability) to say where coronavirus came from or why the pandemic has happened. Rather, all Christians ought to do is “lament,” pouring out their “frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why” as the Psalmists do because “God also laments.” The implication both of this and what Wright goes on to say is that God too is struck with frustration and an inability to understand what’s going on right now. Coronavirus is bewildering to God; He just doesn’t seem to know what to do, except grieve over it!

This is further implied by Wright’s sarcastic remark at the beginning of his article: “No doubt the usual silly suspects will tell us why God is doing this to us. A punishment? A warning? A sign?” Such opinions, says Wright, are merely rationalism in Christian clothing. Attempting to see God’s hand behind the pandemic is not what Christians ought to be doing right now.

I wonder what Job would say to N.T. Wright. We read in the story of Job that God was completely sovereign over Job’s circumstances (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). Satan was acting, but God dictated to Satan exactly what he could and could not do to Job, and Satan was forced to comply. God providentially upheld Job through it all. This included even a horrible physical ailment in chapter 2. Clearly, God is sovereign over sickness and disease. If Wright were to tell Job, “Your faith says nothing about what is going on right now; God had nothing to do with this,” would Job not be driven to despair? God has abandoned me would be Job’s only logical conclusion!

I also wonder what Jesus would say to N.T. Wright. In Matthew 24:7, Christ lists “pestilences” among the signs of His return. Such signs “must come to pass” prior to the end (v. 6). Wright apparently groups Jesus Christ with “the usual silly suspects” who consider the coronavirus to be a sign of the end drawing nearer.

Lastly, I wonder what the rider on the fourth horse of Revelation 6 would say to N.T. Wright. That rider, verse 8 says, was Death, and he was given power “to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (ESV). As with the other horses, that power came from God Himself and from the Lamb. Contrary to what Wright would say, the coronavirus is indeed God bringing punishment on this sinful world.

Fellow believer, don’t get swept along in the thinking God is somehow powerless with respect to the spread of a pandemic. Remember that “our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3, KJV). If standing up for the sovereignty and providence of God in such times as these makes you just another one of “the usual silly suspects,” then wear that badge with honor!

 

Matt Koerner