Why Study Hisory, Part Five
The importance of studying history and archaeology
Military officers study ancient and more recent battles to learn new techniques on how to conduit warfare. Even the Indian wars of the American expansion has contributed to modern warfare. We came across the following quote from the book, Great Western Indian Fights by members of the Potomac Corral of the westerners. On page 24 it reads:
The primitive indian warrior made a contribution to the art of warfare. His swift, silent, harassing, small-scale operations were the forerunners of the commando raids in World War II. At least one description of western indian raiding tactics was used in the training of American troops for action in the Pacific. General Douglas MacArthur paid tribute to the indian as an efficient fighting man-
As a warrior, his fame is world-wide. Many successful methods of modern warfare are based upon what he evolved centuries ago. Individually he exemplified what the line fighter could do by adaption to the particular countryside in which he fought.
The study of the past is not just for military leaders though. Modern farmers could benefit from studying ancient farming techniques to help them yield a better crop. We know of one example but the reference is lost for now. (That is due to the amount of reading and researching we do). But there was one civilization who elevated their crops and placed them in smaller sections, not too small. Their harvest yield was greater than if they had farmed using the traditional flat one large group method.
The second example is for believers and answers the question why should Christians study history. This example is already well known as it involves Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. In studying archaeological discoveries we find that the wife giving her servant to her husband was a cultural act. It was not a biblically instructed method of having a child.
While the account is in the Bible, we learn that this act actually took place and that both Sarah and Abraham followed their current cultural norms. This does not mean that cultural norms are to be followed or are better than God’s ways.God allowed it to take place but he did not give permission for this chain of events.We have to be careful when reading ancient actions recorded in the Bible and not make the mistake that because it is mentioned, in the Bible, that we have permission to go and do likewise.
We must remember that God does not give permission to his followers to commit sin.
Why Should Christians Study History?
Besides the above two examples, there are plenty of reasons why believers need to study history and or archaeology. Here is a list of reasons why all believers should do some historical study:
- God wants us to study- he says so in I Timothy. He wants knowledgeable followers not ignorant ones
- We get to the truth- studying history and archaeology is but one way to get to some truth. It is not the only way and they do not hold all truth
- We learn that many cultic beliefs are not new but have ancient foundations
- We get information on how to refute cultic and other false religious beliefs
- We get respect from unbelievers- this is because we actually know something. One of the biggest complaints from atheists is that Christians do not know the Bible or their history
- We get information to refute other unbelievers and their alternative theories
- We learn that the secular experts are not telling the truth
- We protect our faith- too many unwary and unprepared young believers lose their faith when they encounter those unbelieving professors who do not believe in God, accept that he exists, or believe the Bible
- We learn that the Bible is correct and that the secular experts, professors, etc., do not know more than God
- We learn how to follow the Holy Spirit to the truth (John 16:13)
These are only ten reasons why believers need to study history and archaeology, even as a hobby. You do not have to quit your job, etc., and go do a full-time advanced degree to learn these things from history and archaeology.
How Should Believers Study History & Archaeology
The how to is as important as the study. This is for the simple reason that believers can be sidetracked by evil and go off in the wrong direction. If this happens then they would be like the evolutionist looking for the truth by going down the wrong paths and looking in the wrong places for their answers. Here are some steps in how to study history and archaeology
- Ask God for help- you will not get to the truth by excluding the one who holds all truth
- Follow biblical instructions- Psalm 1 is one big key- do not follow the unbeliever or their counsel.Another is found in Ecc.- nothing is new under the sun.
- Read good books- we wrote on this recently. You will not find all the information you need in Christian books. You will have to read good secular works to get all the evidence and information you need. You will need God to help you not stray into adopting the secular theories or ideas.
- Remember that the bible contains actual history- there has never been a historical or archaeological discovery yet that proves the Bible wrong or disagrees with the Bible. What disagrees with the Bible is the archaeologists’ theories, assumptions, leaps to conclusions, speculation and so on.
- Remember that God does not lie and the Bible is not wrong- the people who lie are those who do not believe in God or follow him
- Read the church fathers and other ancient writers- but again remember that they were human and may not have all the answers even though they lived earlier in history.
- Stick to the truth- never stray from it. Once you find the truth, adopt it, keep it and adapt your life accordingly. Even in your discussions with unbelievers, do not stray from the truth
Remember that the secular way is not God’s way- this includes the secular scientific method. Archaeologists want believers to be objective but that is impossible. Dr. WM. Dever said so in his book, Did God Have a Wife. God said it first in the Bible when he said you are either on his side or your not on his side. There is no gray middle ground. The secular scientific method only looks for the best explanation NOT the truth. There is a difference.
Learn the different schools of thought and why they are wrong or right- Minimalist sometimes sound like the believe the Bible but they reject most of the OT.
Learn the difference between credible archaeologists and bad ones- this includes bible scholars, historians and so on. Ron Wyatt was not a good archaeologist,There are many more of them out there. Be wary of S. Jacobovici and a guy out there named Rude (he does a Rude Awakening scheme).Just like every part of society there are frauds in history and archaeology who sound good but are way off the mark.
Why is it important to study correctly
We will give an example of why you cannot rely on Christian authors only. We continue to use this example even though we lost a 30 year friendship over critiquing this author. Erwin Luzter is a prolific Christian writer with many admirers and he wrote a book one time on Hitler and the Cross. We were just beginning our historical and archaeological studies, or a little ways into them, when we came across the book. Our first thought was, great now we will get the truth behind Hitler’s use of the Cross.
We were very disappointed. Mr. Lutzer did very poor research, did not discuss the issue correctly or deep enough and did not provide any real answers to the topic. He also provided no real information that could be used to help refute unbelievers when they used Hitler’s example in their arguments against Christianity. What we got was chapter after chapter of the gospel message. Yes he sacrificed the instructing believers for a continual repeat of what they already knew.
We threw the book away or gave it to someone else. It was useless for that topic. But this is not a rare event in Christian writing. Too often, and we know Christian archaeologists who do the same thing, the believer does poor research, ignores topics that need to be discussed, follow secular ways, use the gospel message far too often, and do not know what they are talking about. We tried to correct a couple of Christian archaeologists one time on their research but the response we got was not good. You have to do good research and you have to know what you are talking about.
We can support our position here with a biblical example. While Jesus said to go out and preach the gospel, he did not say preach it to the believers all the time and keep them at square one. He did say ‘feed my sheep’, and Paul added to this by saying ‘grow up as a believer'(paraphrase). You cannot grow up and feed the sheep if you continually tell them the same gospel message over and over.
God said, as we stated earlier, to study and to study you need to do it right. Ken Ham and others state that you cannot divorce the gospel from the subject you are talking about. In feeding the sheep you are not divorcing the gospel if you do not mention it. You are building upon the gospel by giving the believer the food they need to grow up as a spiritual being. A choir leader does not keep having the choir sing ‘Jesus loves me’ and hope they will build musical talent. No he keeps giving them more music and more difficult music so that they grow as a choir
The same goes for believers. You do not keep feeding them the gospel they have already accepted and expect them to be ready to be used of God. You need to feed them more information, more difficult information, teaching them how to use it so they will not lose their faith. Sticking only to the gospel only keeps believers vulnerable to evil. You have to know something. And that means going beyond square one and learning all that you can with God’s help.
God does not want child warriors. He needs soldiers who know something, know what they are talking about, so that they can be used more effectively to win souls for him.The enemy does not have child warriors. They study and they learn but what they study and learn is through deceived eyes and are led away from the truth.
This is why we lose so many young people to the secular world. they are not prepared to face what will come their way. Parents, church leaders, pastors, youth ministers fail their charges because they do not prepare themselves and other believers correctly. They do not give their people the right information or how to use it correctly.(we are being very general here).
Some Final Words
As we stated earlier, history and archaeology are but one way to study and get to a lot of truth. There are other subjects you can study and achieve a lot of the same results. The key is to make sure you are learning from God and not a demon disguised as an angel of light. Real, correct study is not easy and takes work. We understand that most believers do not have a lot of time. But that may be due to what was known as a problem in our undergraduate days- priorities.
How good a believer, how good a spiritual warrior we become depends upon our priorities. That is a decision only you can make for yourself. It is also a change that only you can make. We just put the information out there so you can see that there is more to the Christian life than what some people think. Pleasing God is not about the number of souls who make a decision for Christ. It is about learning how to use faith correctly and obeying God. Studying is obeying God.
Growing as a believer is obeying God. Jesus said, ‘you will know the truth’, but he did not say it will always be handed to you on a silver platter. Sometimes you have to study to find it. You may also have to wrestle with conflicting ideas before you get to it. But one thing is for sure, the truth is there waiting for you to get to it.
© 2019 David Thiessen