WILDWOOD – David Stamps has a keen interest in church history. As one of the newer members of the Missouri Baptist Apologetics Network, Stamps is open to leading workshops and seminars on church history and historical theology for churches and associations.
He is retired as a data scientist from Enterprise Holdings. There, he analyzed statistics and trends to discover reasons why things occur. He said he is always trying to understand the causes and reasons things occur.
Stamps says his background has some bearing on his interest in church history.
“It (church history) provides a lot of insight into some of the ways God has used Christianity through the ages and how God has used the church,” says Stamps.
He said as we look back, we see challenges the church has faced. Those challenges can equip Christians today to respond to objections to the Bible and the advance of the gospel. Analyzing these things helps us understand better.
Stamps said, “How the the early church and the canon developed, as well as events such as the Council of Nicaea helps believers understand questions raised about Christianity. Misunderstanding what transpired at this early council, which affirmed the theology that Jesus was fully God, not less than God or only partially God can undermine a Christian’s confidence.
Stamps also pointed out Gnostic heresy during the first centuries of the church. Stamps said Gnostic thought is heresy, with a strong belief in dualism. This contrasts the spirit and the flesh, the spirit being the source of good and the flesh the source of evil.
Dualism corrupted some early Christian thinking when people began saying Jesus could not have really had a physical body—that would have been evil. So, they concluded he must have just appeared to have a body, not an actual physical body, but a spiritual one.
Another heresy that occurs, which Stamps says church history helps sort out, is “modalism.” This belief claims that Jesus was fully God, but that God operates in only one mode at a time. “It’s like He puts on a different mask in different situations,” Stamps said.
He pointed out that the St. Louis area is home to a denomination named United Pentecostal Church International, which is described as embracing “Oneness” theology—meaning they believe in the modalistic view of the godhead.
Knowing this historical background can alert Christians today of the need to be cautious to ensure that we do not import non-Christian ideas into our understanding of our faith.
Stamps pointed out that some counterfeit Christian organizations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a faulty belief that was heavily influenced by the Arian controversy in early church history. That belief holds that Jesus was a created being but not of the same substance as God the Father. The early church addressed this and declared Jesus to be the Second Person of the Trinity.
“We should examine our own world,” Stamps said, “and ask, do we come to Christ with certain pre-conceived ideas and try to make Jesus fit into our own mold?”
He adds, “We should not allow our backgrounds to make us read the Bible with our own presuppositions. Don’t impose ideas on the text.”
Stamps teaches church history classes at his home church, Fellowship of Wildwood. There, participants are encouraged to discover the value of church history by showing both good and bad examples of past Christian behavior. He says sometimes it makes people feel a little uncomfortable knowing that Christian historical figures had flaws and behaved in ungodly way.
He encourages churches to pursue teaching church history as part of their discipleship process. He is glad to come to churches and lead short seminars or weekend experiences.
People interested in having Stamps come to their church to teach a church history and historical theology workshop may view his profile at the MBC Apologetics Network webpage: www.mobaptist.org/apologetics.