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(Previously released as “How God Saved Civilization“)
From the early days of the church to the present, believers faithfully practiced and passed on their faith generation to generation. The courageous, the visionaries, the martyrs all contributing to a faith that endures. This thrilling panoramic account reads like a best-selling novel full of miraculous intervention, tragedy, intrigue and ultimate triumph. Dr. James L. Garlow takes a sweeping look through the past 1900 years at God and His faithfulness to His People. Every believer who reads God and His People will look with anticipation for the unfolding of God’s next chapters.
A Brief Explanation Why I Wrote the Book
In 1971, I was a student at Asbury Theological Seminary. I had no idea that a church history class taught by Dr. Kenneth Kinghorn would prove to be so life changing. From the very first day of class, I began to understand things I had never understood before. There are so many things that make sense once they are viewed historically.
How God Saved Civilization was written, in part, to help you understand why things are the way they are. As you read it, you will hopefully have numerous “a-ha” moments, understanding present day situations, simply because you now understand what occurred in previous years.
For each chapter there are time lines, occasional graphs and charts, numerous website links and study questions-all designed to help the history of Christianity become understandable, enjoyable and joyfully informative.
WHY STUDY CHURCH HISTORY?
As Bruce Shelley stated, “Surely one of the remarkable aspects of Christianity today is how few of these professed believers have ever seriously studied the history of their religion.”
The story of the history of the Church is a drama, a powerful drama. This portion of the web site has two goals:
- to inform of the past, encourage for the present and inspire for the future, and
- to make a history feel like a storybook.
Whether or not I have achieved my goals on this web site is up to the reader to decide. But the truth remains: Church history is a drama – a spectacular drama.
10 REASONS FOR STUDING CHURCH HISTORY
Why study this drama? There are at least 10 good reasons:
- It gives you understanding.
How did we get the way we are? A study of the drama answers that. The study of history can make you wise without gray hair and wrinkles (though one certainly cannot say the same about the writing of that history!)
- The study of history introduces you to new friends.
How else could you meet Augustine, John of the Cross, Martin Luther, John Wesley or Charles Finney? Only as you investigate the drama can you meet them.
- You learn the price that was paid for you!
- You avoid the pitfalls and the land mines of history.
It has been said that he who is not a student of history is condemned to repeat it. The study of history is not done to exalt tradition. In fact, tradition can be enslaving. As Richard Halverson noted, “Tradition can be dangerous. It can not only modify the truth; it can replace it altogether.” A study of history teaches us which traditions are suffocating and need to be avoided and which are so crucial that they must be preserved at all costs.
- Studying history increases your effectiveness.
You see what worked, what was effective. Mark Shaw said it all in the title of his book, Ten Great Ideas from Church History. You can and should learn from Church history.
- History enhances your endurance.
When you see what those before you endured, you will be encouraged to persevere.
- History will inspire you.
Information may guide you, but inspiration keeps you going. A study of history can inspire. Hopefully, this one will.
- History makes the dead come to life. My friend Harold Ivan Smith says “no person is dead as long as someone keeps saying their name or telling their stories.” By telling this drama, the historical figures live once again.
- The study of history humbles you by helping you to understand that there was life before you were born.
John Wesley once said to Adam Clarke, “If I were to write my own life, I should begin it before I was born.” When I asked a friend why he left a newly formed, independent church to join a church with a long heritage, he answered, “Because I wanted to belong to something that had an existence before 1900!”
- A study of history allows you to take a trip without leaving the comfort of your favorite chair.
As you browse this web site, you are going to visit dozens of nations, many homes, churches, schools and palaces – all without ever leaving your home. Have a wonderful trip.