This is the eighth of a nine-part series on empowering a faith community to impact the world. Already theology, hospitality, evangelism, missions, ethics, Bible, and spirituality have been explored. These articles can be found at the Perspectives tab at Baptist New Global.
Broad swaths of Baptists look to Bill Leonard for church history. Bill always invites us into an integration of church past and present toward the church we all hope for. He accomplishes this as a serious scholar and with zeal and humor that invite all learners into the value of church history.
Perhaps he has taught in your church as he has in mine. Generating an interest in church history in the local church for a holistic approach to theological education is not easy.
Thomas Groome in his epic book, Educating for Life, writes this:
Better by far that educators and their curricula honor people’s “whole time” — past, present, and future — as a unity. If teachers and parents maintain a more integrated sense of time, they will also teach its legacy — tradition — in ways that enrich the present rather than determine it and that encourage agency rather than fatalism toward the future.
Karen Tye, reflecting on Groome’s work in her book, Basics of Christian Education, writes that education in the church “attends to (1) the activity of God in our present, (2) the story of the Christian faith community and (3) the vision of God’s kingdom.”
At this writing I have just returned from the 2015 Parliament of the World Religions in Salt Lake City. This gathering garnered respect and relationship among the people of many religions. Workshops enabled the various stories to be told — where the religion came from and where it is headed. Tradition, reason, experience, and stories abounded. The plenary sessions each night modeled the union of purpose that was taking place concerning the plight of the world and our place in addressing that plight.
The Alliance of Baptists recently commissioned Andrew Gardner to write the Alliance history. The staff and board of directors believe that remembering the past promotes the future and this became the initiative behind the soon-to-be published book, Reimagining Zion.
Church history is critical to faith formation. Every church must find ways to include this branch of learning for a holistic approach to its future.