Most Christians are well aware of the myriad ways our faith and the way we practice it has been shaped by Scripture. We recognize that methods of prayer, elements of our worship services, and the high value we place in preaching and teaching are inspired by fundamental components of faith we read about in our Bibles.
But no Christian, and no church, is wholly shaped by Scripture alone. We are also shaped by history – specifically, the history of those Christians and those churches who have existed before us. It doesn’t matter what denomination you belong to, or what “kind” of Christian you think you are: you have been shaped as much by the stories and experiences and actions of the multitude of believers who have gone before you as you have the holy Scriptures that precede and unfold into that history.
So, why don’t Christians talk more about Church history? Why don’t we study these amazing, mystifying, troubling, and crucial stories that make up as much of the foundation on which we stand as does the witness of Scripture? Is it because we think a Bible study in which we talk about events post-Bible is sacrilegious? Or is it because we have just never taken the time to learn what came after books like Acts, Romans, or Revelation?
On this episode of The DBC Podcast, I sat down with Allen Taliaferro, a regular co-host who also just officially became DBC’s newest full-time member of the pastoral staff. But even before he was named Outreach Pastor, Allen was known as a compelling teacher on church history, and I have always enjoyed our discussions about various moments and movements throughout the history of Christianity. So, when it came time to record a podcast on such things, he was my first and only choice as co-host.
While there is over 2000 years of Church history, Allen and I chose to cover only the first 250 or so years of it – everything leading up to the reign of Roman emperor Constantine. We plan to record more episodes examining subsequent periods in the months to come, but, for now, this episode marks the first installment of a Church history “suite” of episodes.
We cover a lot of events in this episode, but it was impossible to cover everything, or to go into clarifying detail even on some of the stories and people we mention. However, if you’re intrigued by anything you hear, check out the links at the bottom of this post for ways to learn more about this extraordinarily important component of our faith tradition.
Click on the image below to be directed to our official iTunes page, where you can download all of our episodes, as well as subscribe to receive updates or automatic downloads of every new episode. Or, you can listen to the podcast episode via the Souncloud.com media player embedded below.
For more information on the events we mentioned, as well as a thorough, interactive timeline of Church history, check out www.historytimeline.org.
Some great books to read on the subject of Church history include:
The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez (2 Volumes)
Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley
Turning Points by Mark A. Noll
Christ and Culture by H. Richard Nieburh
The Story of Christian Theology by Roger Olson