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 requires one to reject self-reliance. As one seminary professor recently noted, John Broadus described the study of Christian history as “a subject so vast, and demanding boundless reading.” A student’s pride is weakened when he realizes at the outset of class that in a lifetime of study, much less a semester, he cannot comprehend all that has transpired in the churches since the conclusion of the New Testament. Therefore, a good church history professor will make every effort to “demand boundless reading” to serve this reminder to students and the students will grow in humility as a result.
A student’s pride is weakened when he realizes at the outset of class that in a lifetime of study, much less a semester, he cannot comprehend all that has transpired in the churches since the conclusion of the New Testament.
Likewise, finding oneself in a position where the demands outpace one’s ability gives the student (and the professor) the opportunity to learn the necessity of seeking God’s help to aid them in things like reading comprehension, attention span, and clear thinking. Daniel and his colleagues were given by God “learning and skill in all literature and wisdom” for the task he had for them (Dan. 1:17). There is hope for student and professor alike that God can and will give those same gifts again to those in whom they do not naturally reside.