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 eliminates naiveté and surprise at the actions of humanity. The regular encounter with the proceedings of men and women in the past allows one to see that there truly is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). As a result, the student is warned that not only do all heroes have faults and sin, but also that those same faults and propensity to sin resides within the one seeing and learning.
My church history professor in seminary often remarked that we should never underestimate the depravity of man. Once we realize that within ourselves we are capable of any sin, humility warns us not to have our spiritual applecart overturned when we see those sins in the lives and actions of others. The study of the history of Christianity only reinforces this pointing us more and more to the One who lived without sin. We turn from history books full of imperfections to the promise of hope held out in the sinless Son of God who is the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
Once we realize that within ourselves we are capable of any sin, humility warns us not to have our spiritual applecart overturned when we see those sins in the lives and actions of others.