“Remember the Past!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“There is nothing new under the sun” Solomon, Ecclesiastes 1:9c
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
These men reflected on the course of history and the need to know it. History is His, God’s, story. That is history belongs to God. God ordains the steps of men, Proverbs 16:9. He has progressively revealed Himself throughout history. Therefore, it seems reasonable that there is great benefit in studying history.
On September 11th, we took time to remember those who were murdered by radical Islamists. It is hard to believe that it has been fourteen years since our Nation was attacked. We grieve with those who lost loved ones. I recently had an opportunity to visit the reflecting pools at ground zero that were built on the spot where the twin towers stood. The experience brought back memories.
I didn’t have any friends or associates among the slain. But years ago, I worked in the number two tower, on the 82nd floor. Even though I no longer have direct connection with the World Trade Center, I am still deeply saddened by our loss.
It is critical that we continue to remember what happened on September 11, 2001. Our Country was attacked. From that day we have been at war with the radical adherents to the Islamic faith.
What has saddened me as much as remembering the slain is the denial that has overtaken our leaders. We now seek to negotiate with evil. We live denying history. We forget that only a few decades before, our nation stood against the evil of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. We seem to have forgotten or ignored past attempts at negotiating with those who are evil.
The church in our time is no different. We forget or ignore the past.
I recently asked our Adult Class, “Why should we study Church History?” I received an immediate response from a man in the class, “So that we don’t make the same mistakes.” We all had a great laugh, but the fact is some Christians think that the church only has a history that dates back about 150 years. But, the history of the church can be dated to the time of Abraham. The word “church” means those called out by God. This is what God did: He called a man, then a family, then a nation, then members of all nations of those who are in Christ through the gospel. Much can be gained by studying the church’s history.
For thousands of years, God has called men and women to Himself. The accumulated wisdom of those “saints” is important to study so as not to repeat their mistakes and to learn how the church dealt with error.
For example, it can be said that there are no new heresies. There are only old ones dressed up in new clothes. Essential doctrines like the Trinity, the divinity of Christ and the bodily resurrection have been under attack since the early days of the Christian Church. False teachers persist in re-dressing these heresies in new clothes and succeed in deceiving many.
Dr. James Montgomery Boice, one of the greatest Christian Pastors and Theologians, shared his reflections on the Church Growth Movement. He said, “Using Man’s methods yield Man’s results.” No matter how often we use Man’s methods with the best of intentions we still get Man’s results. We can fill churches by meeting needs or offering programs, and fail at teaching what it means to repent and believe in the gospel. Churches rarely spend time teaching members how the God who owns the gospel has revealed Himself. We refuse to teach that God will exercise wrath on all ungodliness. This revealed truth may actually drive people away!
Too often, Church Leaders take the approach of our naïve leaders in seeking to negotiate with evil. Some churches are organized and designed for non-believers to grow in numbers. God is missing in many churches. Non-believers have no time for God, nor do they have a desire to bow before Him. I’m not suggesting that I have all the answers nor am I suggesting that there is a perfect church somewhere. I am simply seeking to call Christians to wake up! Christian, invest in a church that teaches the revealed truth of the character of God.