It's been a while since I threw myself into the history of Christianity, but a birthday voucher for a bookstore had me invest in the latest history publication by Lion's. Maybe it's a sign of sentimentality as I gather age, but my attitude toward history has changed in a big way ... once a subject I had to cover for marks at Bible College, now a growing interest as I seek to interpret my own time in light of the story of history.
I've just been slowly working through the work so I could get a chronological feel for the journey of the church throughout the centuries ... there's a couple of things that have really stood out to me ...
1. the people were pretty normal - those who had influence are remembered for their shortcomings as well as their contribution ... I like that ... if my contribution is ever celebrated in any way I hope it points to God's grace rather than my slick maneuvering.
2. the "right" label didn't always mean a positive influence - time and time again it seems that those who held onto a label that was associated with a positive change in history in the past were susceptible to blowing it in the present ... I like that too ... the advancement of God's kingdom does not seem to be dependent on the labels we choose to use for nuances in doctrine or seasons or leaders
3. "even catholics" could study at John Calvin's school - he saw the opportunity to influence in a much larger circle by welcoming those with whom he differed ... this intrigues me ... I wonder whether we limit the spread of God's truth by assuming He can't overcome distinctions - I wonder whether sometimes we can afford to operate with confidence in the realm that God leads us into rather than with fear over whether others might corrupt our "purity".
There's lots more I'm learning from history ... but those are a few thoughts!