Sunday, January 15, 2012

The History of the Roman Empire, etc., ala' Terry Maher

Terry Maher, aka Past Elder, is a frequent poster on this blog (frequent fliers get free miles, the best I can do here is to occasionally pass on the wisdom of frequent posters).  He has detailed a history of the Roman Empire, Eastern Empire, and the Church's life intertwined in both.  It is a quick but fairly thorough journey and I pass it on here.  You may just want to re-read it a few times because history is often confused and repetitive.

My point is simple.  Of all the problems that face us today, it may seem a slight one that we are so ignorant of our past and yet it is not insignificant at all.  It is a deep and profound hole in our wisdom that continues to affect and slant our judgment.  I appeal to all Christians not to skip a good reading of history.  It is invaluable in understanding the present or guiding the future.

For those inclined for a more detailed and relaxed journey through that period, I might recommend The Church from Age to Age by Concordia.  It is a big book and it covers a big subject.  Take a gander at it and you will not be disappointed.

Though I fancy myself a historian, the much I know is dwarfed by that which I have forgotten and that which I never learned.  Yet it is a consistently revealed truth that we lack a good perspective on our past and we suffer for it.  Most of us judge the far past by the recent past and so we fall into the gravest of errors.  We judge Lutheranism by what we were taught in catechism or what we experienced growing up and we often miss what this Church really looks like.  We judge the Middle East by what we hear on the news and forget the conflict is a feud among brothers still claiming the birthright for themselves.  We subject ourselves to the swings from mind to heart, conservative to liberal, without realizing the roots of this rhythm go back far earlier than our own lives or history.  No, we all would better understand who we are and what is going on around us if we knew more about the past.  For those who find it a dull string of dates and places, history is the richest of stories populated by the most interesting of characters.  Our scriptwriters know this and the best of cinema and TV is often the recreation of yesterday aided by some good editing and great scenery.  It would benefit us all if we learned this important truth.


Anonymous said...

The curriculum of our 2 Seminaries
at St. Louis and Fort Wayne is
divided in 4 parts. Exegetical,
Dogmatics, History, Practical.
The focus on Biblical theology,
doctrinal beliefs, and homiletics
is good. But for many seminarians
the church history courses are not
taken seriously. Often the Sem puts
little importance to the courses and
everyone suffers as a result. Outside
of Larry Rast, we have no superstars.

Terry Maher said...

Father Godfrey once told me that an institution, peoples, culture or nation that does not know its history has in fact lost its memory, and functions just like a person does who has lost his memory -- history -- due to amnesia, Alzheimer's etc.

We see that all the time, as institutions, peoples, cultures and nations behave just like Alzheimer's patients, not recognising the very things that make them who they are. Or were.

Thank you for the reference to my post.

Steve said...

Wow! We took a look at this book and really couldn't order it fast enough. We enjoy the study of history at our house and this book will be invaluable to us as we teach our kids. The sections look short and we love the way the book is organized. We'll get it from Amazon in two days; should be a hoot to read every night.

Thanks so much,
Steve and Bonnie Foxx