“To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child.” – Cicero
One of the passions of The Pathway staff is our love for history. Especially the history of Christianity, but also of the world, of America, of the church, of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Missouri Baptist Convention. Our love for history is derived from Scripture, since God is the author of history, the Alpha and Omega.
I have always been interested in history. A considerable percentage of my personal library are books on history. Indeed, after the Bible, my favorite book is by the late C. Gregg Singer, titled A Theological Interpretation of American History. “Historical scholarship, if it remains true to its purpose, is characterized not only by the necessity of finding the facts of history, but also of achieving a correct interpretation of the all the data which it has in its possession,” Singer wrote. Singer was among those nearly a century ago who warned about a growing Marxist influence in the interpretation of history. That threat remains and is wreaking havoc on public and higher education. The “1619 Project” now being taught in New York and Chicago public schools is the latest example.
“So wrong in so many ways” is how Gordon Wood, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the American Revolution, described the “1619 Project.” James McPherson, dean of Civil War historians and another Pulitzer winner, said the “1619 Project” is an “unbalanced, one-sided account” that “left most of the history out.” Even more surprising than the criticism from these generally liberal historians was where the interviews appeared: on the World Socialist website, run by the Trotskyist Socialist Equality Party.
The “1619 Project” was launched in August 2019. It intends to “reframe the country’s history” by crossing out 1776 as America’s founding date and substituting 1619, the year 20 or so African slaves were brought to Jamestown, Va. The project has been celebrated up and down the liberal establishment. While Christians can’t ignore the problem of slavery in the nation’s past, the problem of the “1619 Project” is that it is factually wrong.
Something so substantially false flies in the face of the one, true God. A great example of how God expects us to handle history is detailed in Joshua 4:1-13, concerning the 12 memorial stones from the Jordan River. God told Joshua to direct the priests to build the memorial so that all “will remember” what God did that day. God expects us to remember history and handle it truthfully.
Christianity and history have always been allies. The Bible contains considerably more history than philosophy. Christianity is rooted in history and without its historical roots there would be no Christian worldview (1 Cor. 15:14).
“Christianity claims to be a historical religion not simply in the sense that all world religions are historical, that is, phenomena of human history; it asserts more than this, namely, that the living God decisively grounds divine revelation in specific external events attested in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures,” said theologian Carl F. H. Henry.
The Apostle Paul’s declaration regarding history in 1 Cor. 10:1 has been viewed by Christian scholars as a basis for a philosophy of history. Christians are certainly exhorted to learn from history. 1 Cor. 10:11 says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction on whom the end of the ages has come.” Christians believe the basis for our entire worldview appeared in human history in the form of Jesus Christ. Yes, “Christ died for our sins” and the fact that “Christ died” is history. Our doctrine is based on historical events.
Through the years The Pathway has set itself apart as a leader in Southern Baptist journalism when it comes to marking historic events. The Nov. 17th print edition is no exception, as we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. In other issues we have highlighted the 40th anniversary of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC, the 50th anniversary of men walking on the Moon, the 500th anniversary of The Protestant Reformation and the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. We have published other historical articles on the life and family of Dred Scott and most recently Missouri Baptist and outlaw, Jesse James. In all of these articles we have sought to highlight God’s providential, sovereign hand.
Christians believe history has a purpose. David Noebel, in his book, Understanding the Times, writes, “A God who directs the course of human events and sends His Son to become the central figure in human history has clearly invested our lives with meaning (see Acts 17:26-28).”
The Pathway views history as an essential component of a Christian worldview. Such is our view of reality. Our prayer is it is yours, too.