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Why We Study History

Updated on March 17, 2019
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

A few beginning thoughts

For many people history is boring, dull and a subject to avoid in school. It may be all the dates they had to memorize that turned them off of the study of history. Or some people do not see how history applies to today’s fast moving modern world.

Whatever the reason, they are missing out on some great knowledge that will help them maintain their Christian belief and help them grow as a Christian. What follows are reasons why we Christians study history.

{I use H & A to mean History & Archaeology}

What do we learn?

There are many lessons that can be learned through the study of archaeology and following the Holy Spirit to the truth. You must remember that secular science is not looking for answers or the truth. They are, as has been told to us by many secular scientists, looking for the best explanation. But God is not about the best explanation. he is about his followers learning the truth for he is truth.

God made all humans intelligent– We learn through the study of H & A that God did not make two types of humans. Early man who was sans any cognitive functions and modern man who was mysteriously endowed with intelligence. As we study the ancient remains we find that the ancient humans were probably more intelligent than modern ones. But that conclusion depends upon the lack of distractions ancient man had in comparison to the modern man.

Ancient man knew what they were doing– By this we mean that in spite of what secular historians and archaeologists tell us, early man was not as primitive nor traumatized by the invention of fire or the wheel. They were also not knuckle-dragging cave man. While some ancient people may have lived in caves, or underground, they knew how to build, to educate, to make different metals, play music and much more.

Chronology is not as the secular archaeologist, etc., claim– Most secular historical researchers say that the oldest discovered is the first item and everything else is a copy. This includes the biblical record. As we study the past, we find that the oldest discovered may not be the original. For example, the story of the flood.The Gilgamesh Epic may pre-date the compilation of the Bible but it does not pre-date Noah.

The Israelites did not copy– We find that the accusation that the Israelites copied from the Babylonians is untrue. We find that the Israelites did not hold that reputation anywhere in the ancient world. The people who did have that reputation were the ancient old Babylonians.

We learn that the Bible is an original work– Again the accusations that the OT is made up of stories copied from other peoples, e.g. Babylonians, but the reasoning behind these accusations do not make sense. With flood stories found all over the ancient world (from South America to Asia to Europe, etc.) there is no foundation for the copying accusation levied against the Bible. How would the Mayans copy from the Babylonians or some other Semitic group? Why would they need to? The accusations just do not add up nor do the reasons for accusing the biblical writers of plagiarism.

We get answers

Another good reason why we study H & A is that we get the answers to our questions. Secular science cannot find the source for writing, language, the different peoples and much more. But a close study of H, A & the Bible we get those answers. Language came from God, the original and the multitude of languages. Writing most likely was taught to Adam and Eve by God or since he gave them intelligence, they figured out how to write long before the modern experts think writing began.

We also see that the idea that there are 4 to 5 different races in the world is a false idea.The differences in people come from genetics and the genetic information each group was given by God when he separated the people.There is only one human race. Scientists have discovered some amazing features about the genetic code and information locked up in our DNA. Genetics, not evolution, is the source of the differences. This explains why black people often have albino children. It is genetics not evolutionary progress.

Genetics is also exposing how the corruption that entered the world at Adam’s sin affects humans and all life. Mutations are not evolutionary progress but the chemical reaction of imperfect genes interacting with other imperfect genes.The results are not perfection or moving to perfection but adding to the imperfections already permeating this world. Genetics also helps us see how we contract different diseases but going further would distract from the current topic.

We get information we need

History is full of useful information. They have experienced the very same struggles as modern people do. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. People may argue that the ancient world did not have to deal with computers. But an excavation of an ancient sunken Greek ship proved that idea to be erroneous. Or the ancient parents did not have to deal with obsessive behavior over games. Well, there were ancient games that have been uncovered so we are sure the ancient parents had those issues to deal with as well.

How about drugs? We know that the ancient people had cocaine and other drugs available to them. So drug problems were a part of ancient life. We also learn that medical prescriptions, medicines, good dentistry were not new inventions. Some scholars like to say that the ancients had witch doctors and believed in superstition and did not practice proper medical procedures, etc.

To counter that thinking, we only need to point out that the modern world is full of people and societies that believe in voodoo for medical help, witch doctors, and use their form of faith healing over proper medical care. Does their existence mean the modern world is void of proper doctors, medical practices and dentistry? No and a good study on ancient medicine, which we have done, will prove that the ancient world had quality doctors, dentists and medicines.

We learn how to do apologetics

In studying H & A, we find that many of the modern religions have their foundations in the ancient world. the Jehovah’s Witnesses are but one example. They are merely the modern revival of Arianism.With this knowledge we can go to ancient Christian authors to see how they refuted the members of false religions. We can use their knowledge or be inspired by it.

We also learn that almost every religion that is untrue is uses the Bible as their main foundation.Even ancient religions like Mithraism who scholars have said was the foundation for the NT authors. But there is several things wrong with those claims. First, Mithraism is one of the many secret religions of the world, much like the Freemasons. No one knows what the group truly believed as their original writings are lost. Their members also keep those beliefs secret.

Second, these mystery religions also are free to edit their works. They do not have a God who forbids such work. It is not beyond human comprehension to conclude that those secret religions saw the popularity of the Christian faith and edited their holy writings.

Third, the extant religious works from these mystery religions all postdate the 1st century. Which again implies it was the mystery religions who copied from the bible not vice versa. Studying H & A helps us see that the Bible is the original work and everything else is a cheap copy.

Two false religions that have made it to the modern world that have explicitly used the Bible as their foundation is Islam and Mormonism. we can tie the rise of Islam to the prophecy given Hagar about Ishmael. It will take a lot of work to come up with more evidence though. But Mohammad did copy from the Bible when he supposedly wrote the Koran. There is an author named Spencer who has written extensively on this topic and his books are worth the read.

By studying H & A, we can see that just about every claim made by Joseph Smith is wrong. There is no evidence of any religion like Mormonism in the ancient world. None whatsoever. He was not restoring any religion, but using religion to con people. Archaeology has also shown the book of Mormon to be nothing but lies. There is a good video out called The Book of Mormon vs. the Bible and in it it details how there is not one shred of evidence for one thing Smith wrote in the book of Mormon.

Unlike the Bible, archaeology has proven Mormonism to be a false religion.

We see that the different dating systems are in error

Just a brief word on this. As we study H & A, we see that the dating systems used by secular archaeologists and other researchers are not accurate. They are very vulnerable to subjective thinking and plagued with a lack of evidence to support the claims of different dates. Even the pottery dating system is error-filled.

Some final words

This final segment and the whole series on why we study history is but a drop in the bucket from what we can learn as believers when we study H & A. We have left out a lot of details in this series. There is just not enough time to cover everything when it comes to what can be gleaned by studying H & A. The believer has a wealth of information waiting for them to shore up their faith, to show them that they are not believing the wrong holy book and much more.

They will also get a better picture of God as well. Studying the Bible is fine and it needs to be done. But it cannot be done effectively without studying H & A. To be effective Christians and protect your faith, knowledge of both history & archaeology is a must. The knowledge received through these studies helps a believer combat doubts about Jesus and the OT or the Bible in general. They will see that the demand for physical evidence by unbelievers is a distraction.

They will learn that faith is always a part of the equation because physical evidence does not exist for every account, jot and tittle recorded in the Bible. The Bible tells us that it is faith that pleases God not finding physical evidence. We are allowed to find the latter because it helps build up the former. But we also learn that we will not get so much physical evidence that faith is destroyed.

Faith is the victory not physical evidence.To have strong faith we also need to see that God and his word are true. Physical evidence helps obtain that knowledge.The study of H & A is not learning a bunch of old dates and unnecessary information. it is vital to our beliefs. We become better warriors for God because we have grown up and learned the lessons we need to learn to fight the spiritual battles that come our way.


© 2019 David Thiessen

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