The History of Christianity in 25 Objects

TimChallies-5-copy-400

I ran across this noteworthy work at the website of Tim Challies who has a huge following. Please note that all of the information and links that are provided below are available directly from Tim’s website.  

Tim’s Biography is available here: https://www.challies.com/brief-biography

As Tim states on his website:

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When you became a Christian, the history of Christianity became yours. You became a citizen of Christ’s kingdom and gained its past in all its glory and shame. The early church is your early church. The Church Fathers are your church fathers. The Reformation is your Reformation. The rise of Evangelicalism is your rise of Evangelicalism. On a less positive note, the religious wars and persecutions are yours, as are the advocacy of slavery and the apathy toward abuse within the church. You are right to feel pride over the church’s accomplishments as she has stood fast in the face of trial and error, carrying out the Great Commission given to her. You are right to make these accomplishments known and to attempt to ensure there are many more like them. Likewise, you are right to feel sorrow and even shame over the church’s transgressions and to work equally hard to ensure she never succumbs to such sins again.

You, too, need to know your past so you can help the church toward a better, purer future. You have entered into something. You have become a citizen of something with a present and a future, but also a past. And your ability to glorify God in the present and future requires knowing that past.

Here, then, are some of the reasons that I believe we need to engage in the study of history:

God Tells Us To: The Bible continually exhorts believers to search out and remember the past. The Old Testament in particular is filled with references to God commanding the Israelites to remember His deeds of the past. He instituted ceremony after ceremony, festival after festival, that caused His people to look to what He had done in the past. Veiled in many of these ceremonies and festivals was a glimpse of what would happen in the future. And so, when we look to the past, we may also glimpse just a little bit of what God promises us in the future.

To Understand The Present Climate: Because so much of the history and theology of the church is defined in terms related to error and great difficulty, we should study the past to understand the present. The study of history, when done right, is always a humbling experience. It allows us to understand and sympathize with the plight of those who came before us. It helps us understand the blessings we enjoy today that were not always enjoyed by our brothers and sisters in days past. It also prevents us from developing a view of the faith that is irrationally focused on our day and ignores the long, storied history of the church.

To Understand the Future: History is not just a study of the past in an attempt to understand the present, but is also an attempt to understand the future. When we see the patterns of days gone by, we can begin to formulate ideas about where current trends will lead. By understanding the past we begin to understand the future.

To Understand Providence: As Christians we are often guilty of dwelling in the present and looking eagerly to the future while forgetting all about the past. But to do this is to lose sight of the valuable teaching of the past. In past days God revealed Himself in mighty ways, continually providing for His people through trial and persecution. When we study the past, we can see many of the ways in which God’s providence has been already displayed. This can serve as a valuable teaching tool as we prepare to face trials or persecution in our day. It can and should spur us to greater love and appreciation of God and give us greater confidence in His promises. As He has been faithful to men and women of days gone by, He will be faithful to us and to our children. This assurance gives us great stability in our faith.

To Understand Error: In many ways the history of the church is a history of action and reaction. Much of Christian theology has been developed and strengthened in reaction to error and heresy. When we visit the past we can see how error has arisen in the church and we can see which errors have already arisen and have been decided by a consensus of the church. This can be valuable as we face the inevitable error in our own day. Many Christians engage anew in battles over doctrine for which they could receive a great deal of guidance from great theologians of days past. By studying what has happened, we can avoid future errors and even the patterns that precede error.

To Understand People: We all enjoy considering who we would choose to sit for a meal with, were we able to select from all the people who are living or have lived in the past. The reality, of course, is that we cannot speak with our heroes who have lived before us. Yet by studying history we can come to know and understand them. We can come to see the parts of their lives that brought glory to God and the parts that brought Him dishonor. We can see what led to their rise to prominence within the church and perhaps the character flaws that led to their downfall. We can learn much not just from history, but from specific people who lived in a period of history.

To Understand Endurance: Since Christ left the earth, Christians have lived in anticipation of His return. Those who lived in the first century expected that this event would be imminent. And yet, two millenia later, we continue to wait. As we look to history we arm ourselves with the knowledge that Christ’s return may still be far off. As we see how men and women have persevered throughout the history of the church, we are strengthened with endurance, knowing that we, too, shall be witnesses to Christ’s return when the Father sees fit.

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I’ve always felt that it is important for Christians to be conversant with the history of Christianity and this series that Tim has produced is outstanding and readily available online.

So, without further ado, here are the links to the 24 objects he has created plus his Introduction (total 25):

  1. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Introduction
  2. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Augustus of Prima Porta
  3. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Rylands Library Papyrus P52
  4. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Alexamenos Graffito
  5. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Dogmatic Sarcophagus
  6. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Codex Amiatinus
  7. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: The Book of Kells
  8. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Wycliffe’s Pulpit
  9. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: The Gutenberg Bible
  10. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Novum Instrumentum Omne
  11. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: The Indulgence Box
  12. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Tyndale New Testament
  13. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Calvin’s Chair
  14. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Francis Xavier’s Forearm
  15. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: The Works of William Perkins
  16. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Le massacre de la Saint-Barthelemy
  17. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: King James Bible
  18. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Loughwood Meeting House
  19. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Olney Hymns
  20. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Whitefield Rock
  21. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: William Carey’s Couch
  22. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Bonnie Brae House
  23. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Riverside Church
  24. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: Billy Graham’s Prayer Wheel
  25. The History of Christianity in 25 Objects: YouVersion Bible App

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

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About

Follower of Jesus, married to Peggy, with 5 grown up children, 6 grand children, ex-military and residing in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. a.k.a. "Papa"

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Posted in Apologetics
2 comments on “The History of Christianity in 25 Objects
  1. Thank you for sharing Tim’s post/s. I’ve never heard of him before, but I was able to check out his site and see the time and effort and research he’s put in, into writing about Church history. Thanks again.

    • Bruce says:

      Glad you like it, it’s a different approach, focusing on objects and then giving the historical background. I found it enlightening also. Blessings.

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