Church History

Lately I’ve been learning church history at West Hills Community Church. Phil Starke is teaching it and using the book “The Story of Christianity’ by Justo Gonzalez. Now we are going through the Reformation period and learning about the various religious figures as they interact with political rulers and common people of the times. I often think of History as boring, but lately I find it’s really facinating to learn about a world and time that is so much different from our own. It’s something like watching an old film with all the old cars and old fashioned clothing. There’s something of a nostalgic curiosity that keeps my interest. It something like people watching. As the people walk by, your imagination is awakened to wonder what it must have been like for them. It’s also like hearing the news of some big event that has happened on the other side of the world, except it’s in another time.

And for Christians, it is valuable to learn about the people who have come before us and have understanding and a perspective on where we are today. I’ve been taking notes, and I picked one to share because it was news to me. We often think of the Jews as mainly being persecuted by the Nazi’s, but I rarely associate the Jews with being persecuted by Christians, yet I’m learning more and more that history tells exactly this story. The following talks about the acts of Queen Isabelle of Spain 1492.

200,000 Spainiards of the Jewish faith were thus condemned to exile – which many times led to death, capture by pirates, and other misfortunes. (Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity v2, 113)

In my Pastoral ministry class our pastor Mike Burchfield also echoed the reality that many Jews will think of Christians as hypocritical or at least naive of the history of the Christian church as they try to share the gospel of Jesus with Jews. During the persecution of Jews by the Nazi’s, the Lutheran Church of Germany had officially sanctioned and supported the murderous work of Hitler and his murder of the Jews. For the Jew, in the back of their mind, they may associate Christianity with acts of persecution against Jews which have been proven to be murderous evils. Consider, if Jesus Christ is Savior, then church history doesn’t give a helpful testimony of Christianity saving the Jews.

But thankfully, history has also shown that these evils come from people who have a very questionable and I would say complete lack of authentic faith in Christ. For by their fruit you will know them, and certainly these people like Hitler and Queen Isabella seemed to have more interest in their own political agenda’s and struggles for power rather than an interest in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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