Like we were way back when
We've learned from history
So we're going round again.
[As sung by the good ol' Proclaimers]
The reading of church history is not the preserve of academics. It is a vital component of our Christian service. Even the New Testament urges us to remember those who told us about the gospel (Hebrews 13:7). To read Christian biography and church history is to be reminded of what God has done in the past in fulfilling his purpose to build his church in the world. The truths of the gospel are timeless, but each generation of believers has had to witness to, and contend for, the faith at specific points in the history of the world. What others did in their day, we are called to do in ours. We are not called to fossilise the past, or pay it undue homage. Nor are we to retreat into some golden age of Christian history. We are called to appreciate our heritage, in order that we may build on it, and so serve our own generation by the will of God. the Christian faith, as Mark Noll reminds us, has an 'irreducibly historical character'.
- Iain D. Campbell, Heroes & Heretics: Pivotal moments in 20 centuries of the Church, CFP, 2009