Reflections on Ancient and Medieval Church History

This week I wrap up a seminary course on Ancient and Medieval Church History at Covenant Theological Seminary.  If you follow the blog regularly, this was one of the two courses I wrote about back when I started these courses in August.

CTS-logoThe course covered the breadth of church history beginning with the apostles and carrying forward up to (but not including) the time of the Reformation.  In other words, about the first 1500 years of the church.  If you’re interested, you can listen to all of the lectures yourself (for free) by accessing them via Covenant Worldwide.

In reflecting on this course, the biggest thing I’m taking away is just a deeper, richer, and more humble perspective of the history of the church.  I tend to warp into “young punk” mode a little too naturally and immediately criticize what “I see” as shortcomings or mistakes or flat out errors in the church.  While some of these are true and real, as I have learned more fully about the context in which some specific traditions, and doctrines, and practices evolved, I’ve come to gain a more sympathetic and humble attitude toward them.

What challenged me the most in this course was studying the martyrs.  Nothing shakes me out of my 21st century, middle-class, mid-western, suburban American comfort zone like studying the lives of those who have sacrificed their life for the name of the gospel.

What I hope I take away more permanently from this course (“hope” because it will take some intentionality on my part), is a greater appreciation for some of the historic leaders in particular with respect to how they approached and handled specific situations in the history of the church.  I find it both reassuring and encouraging to study their lives, see that they were not perfect, and yet see how God worked in and through them (in spite them) to propel the Gospel message forward.  When seminary is over and I have some more time on my hands (yeah, right), I hope to be able to get serious about diving into some good biographies of these men as well as some of their original works themselves.gonzalez

If you’re a history buff, check out the Ancient and Medieval Church History page at Covenant Worldwide or else consider picking up a copy of the text we used: The Story of Christianity, by Justo L. Gonzalez.

~ by toddbumgarner on December 15, 2008 6:01 am.

2 Responses to “Reflections on Ancient and Medieval Church History”

  1. Prof Calhoun claims to be an expert on the 2nd Great Awakening, but in his “timeline of the Church” he mentions many obscure historical figures and acknowledges the “restoration movement” of the Campbellites, yet he completely neglects even mentioning Joseph Smith and the restored Church – The Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Why is that? He does himself a great disservice by not mentioning one of the key historical figures of that time. Regardless of whether or not he believe the Church needed to be restored (as did many Protestants of the day) or buy into the fact that God could actually call prophets in the “modern age”, that should not matter.

    Enough with the frightened bias. PLEASE Teach us the true historical facts without omitting one of the central players of the day.

    If the starved scholars he “teaches” want to learn about the entire 2nd Awakening, order a historical book by “Penguin Books” entitled “Joseph Smith – A Life”.

    • martinlutherfan (if that is your real name), with all due respect, the course you are referring to was a course on the history of the orthodox Christian Church. It was was not a course on Apologetics in which the religious cults of the world are addressed. Mormonism happens to be a cult. They do not believe in the Trinity and rather than teach that Jesus was God who became incarnate, they teach that Jesus was a man who became God. There are many other errors in the theology of Mormonism, which, in turn would be contrary to the teachings of Christianity. Whereas Campbell and Stone were not heretics, Joseph Smith was.

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