People sometimes groan, or stifle a groan, if I mention that my post-graduate work was in Theology AND Church History. It seems that for some, the word "history" itself defines all that can be dull and boring in life.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I would like to submit EIGHT specific values of Church History, as outlined by an old CPH junior high curriculum book. If you can think of others, please add them in the comments section at the end of this post!
1. Church History helps us see the fullness of the stature of Christ. His significance for our world is shown in 20 centuries of Christian history and in the lives of those committed to Christ.
2. By studying the proclamation and application of the Gospel in years past, we obtain a better understanding of how it can be taught and applied today.
3. Church History illustrates the indestructible character of the church. Christ Himself promised "The gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18)." Our Lord's protecting and merciful hand rests over His church through the ages until its final triumph.
4. Present-day worship and life in the church follow a pattern established in the past. The study of their development gives greater meaning to our worship and fellowship practices today.
5. The study of Church History reveals the unity that all Christians have in the Lord. It gives us a bond of fellowship with sainted Christians as well as those throughout the world today. At the same time, history explains the diversity and separation among Christians today.
6. Though history does not necessarily repeat itself, the present has many parallels with the past. A study of the past can help us prevent mistakes and solve problems. It can also help us safeguard against false beliefs and practices.
7. The trials and triumphs of dedicated Christians from the past can inspire us today and help us to be prepared for the trials we might face.
8. Church History reveals the impact of Christianity on non-Christian society. It can, therefore, help to shape our mission and our witness to the world.