I started my first church history class with absolutely no understanding of church history. I was still trying to grasp the very basics of Christianity, nevermind the various expressions of Christianity over hundreds and hundreds of years. The only thing I remember from the lectures was finally grasping the differences between Protestantism and Catholicism. When it came time to write my paper, I cried and agonized over it so much that I went to the school counsellor to ask if my frustrations were normal.
In highschool, Sundays were my favorite days. If I had to miss school or a hangout with friends, I would be disappointed, but if I had to miss church, I felt off for the whole week. I loved hearing the message, singing our songs, eating a big lunch, and laying around in someone’s living room talking about anything. And when Sunday was over, I couldn’t wait until the next one.
Years later in university, Sundays became my least favorite day. I started taking medication that made me sick from Saturday to Monday, and going to church became the time I had to pretend to be happy when all I felt was depressed. On Saturday nights I dreaded the next morning, and on Sunday nights I fell asleep happy. Of course, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to get back to where I was.
When my husband suggested we watch Smallville, a TV series on Superman, I was not excited. I like true stories about ordinary people, not made up ones about imaginary people. But to my surprise the first few episodes were fairly normal: a teenage boy living in a small town meets a young billionaire and they become best friends. As one would expect, these two (Clark Kent/Superman and Lex Luthor) would become arch-enemies by the end of the series. However, it takes several seasons to get there; it is only over the span of many years that Clark becomes a hero and Lex becomes a villain.
It turns out that there are more true-story aspects to Superman than I thought. Continue reading “Sin Deceives, Mortification Frees: John Owen on Killing Sin”
Something about the celebrations, sentimentality, and resolution-making of Christmas and New Years often leads us to reflect on the general trajectory of our lives. Most of us are aware that those who have recently lost a loved one will have a particularly difficult December, but I think that many of us tend to deal with feelings of sadness and loss during this season, especially about that one life problem that doesn’t seem to go away. We ask questions like, “why can’t I fix this problem when everyone else around me seems to be able to fix the same problem in their lives?” “why do I even have this problem in the first place?” and “how am going to get through another year with this problem?” Continue reading “When That Big Life Problem Won’t Go Away: Thomas Boston’s Advice for Dealing with the Crook in Your Lot”
This may be not only the most unglamorous topic to write about, but perhaps even a bit insensitive at this time of year, when eating and drinking a lot are part of everyone’s weekly plans. Perhaps seeing a Puritan name in the same sentence as the “g” word raises even more hairs on the back of your neck. But just as the stereotype of the Puritans as killjoys is incorrect, so is nervousness surrounding the topic of gluttony. God doesn’t give us instructions about how to live in order to do away with our celebrations, but to help us celebrate in the best way—with concern for others above concern for ourselves. Continue reading “Baxter on Gluttony: Choosing Selflessness Over Selfishness this Christmas”
When we talk about church history we often focus on the good parts, and when we talk about key historical figures in the faith we often paint them as hero-like. And rightfully so. As we hope to show you on this site, there are countless heroic stories of Christians overcoming great obstacles of physical persecution, public opposition, and personal demons. But because we celebrate the good and don’t often consider the bad, we can set ourselves up to be unpleasantly surprised when someone brings the skeletons out of the church history closet. Continue reading “What To Do When You Find Out Your Historical Hero Did Something Sinful”
What do you get when you put five PhD students together at a taco shop on the last day of a historical theology seminar and have them talk about their hopes and dreams? This website. The exhaustion and joy from finishing another class together mixed with the sweet taste of guacamole to create an atmosphere of openness and encouragement, so that when Geoff suggested we start a project together, we all nodded with enthusiasm and full mouths. This website comes from our shared desire to elucidate issues surrounding church history in such a way that is both practical for your Christian walk and academically accurate. Continue reading “Yesterday, Today, and Forever”