Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.
The study of the history of Christianity gives proper perspective to the relative significance of one’s trials. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his sermon on Psalm 73 that the study of church history helps us “begin to understand that some of the greatest saints that have ever adorned the life of the Church have experienced trials and troubles and tribulations which cause our little problem[s] to pale into insignificance.” When one reads of the injustices and persecutions faced by the Free-church believers in early seventeenth-century London, somehow the anxieties of life brought on by the complexities of what Neil Postman called the “all-instant society” do not seem as distressing. Seeing one’s burdens against the backdrop of what others have endured can only help bring humility.
However, this backdrop also provides a perspective of hope. The church planter in relative isolation from Christian brothers and sisters can learn that he is not alone in his calling and is, therefore, not the first to venture into the wilderness “not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). The study of Christian history provides the student with an arsenal of experiences and lessons learned from a myriad of people he will never meet.
The study of Christian history provides the student with an arsenal of experiences and lessons learned from a myriad of people he will never meet.