Podcasts are great.
I subscribe to a few channels and flick through their content throughout the week to supplement my devotional life. These podcasts are like an information gold mine waiting to be discovered and I’ve found them to be incredibly helpful.
As such, I’ve decided to dedicate a few posts to highlight some of the channels that I follow and the reasons for why I find them particularly beneficial. The first of these is ‘5 Minutes of Church History’ hosted by Dr Stephen Nichols. For those less familiar with the host, Stephen Nichols is the President of Reformation Bible College and adjunct/visiting professor at Reformed Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary. If you follow RC Sproul’s ministries, then it’d be hard to miss the increasing presence of Dr Nichols in recent conferences and publications.
Here are 3 reasons for why I think you should check it out.
i) Church History is often the neglected subject in theological studies.
I’ve found this to be true both in academic theology and lay theology, both in seminaries and in churches. Church history is often left to the tail end of sermons when a nice story about John Owen or nice quote from Jonathan Edwards is read, and rarely is it discussed in detail or with the same rigour as you would with say biblical studies or systematic theology. That’s fine to an extent, because I think preaching needs to be first and foremost the exposition of Scripture and is helpfully understood through systems and frameworks. Yet for the same reasons, church history is neglected to our own detriment.
Therefore, ‘5 minutes of church history’ is a helpful aid for those who would like to know more about our shared heritage – to know why things are the way they are, to understand key players of the past who have shaped the present, and to appreciate the richness of what we value today.
ii) Church History is a great pedagogical tool to learn the bible and theology.
When you learn church history, the bible and theology are inevitably intertwined and involved. As such, church history can be learnt in a way that informs us more about the Bible and theology. For example, I’ve come to a much more robust understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity (though I confess I am still mind boggled by it) by tracing the historical developments through the various councils. Through this, I learnt about the detailed exegetical arguments surrounding the personhood of Christ and the theological implications of various systems of understanding the Trinity.
So church history (or history in general) is not only fun (yay!), it also informs and has the potential to transform. Often we can engage in theological studies with our latest journals and books while forgetting that some of what we’re debating have been debated by giants of the past. Church history reminds us we’re not the only ones trying to understand God and that we would do good to humble ourselves and learn from the past.
For more information regarding this, check out ‘Learning Theology with the Church Fathers’.
iii) Church History is now accessible.
Church history is often seen as boring and tedious. This is probably because you had a bad experience of the discipline in year 9-10 history class. You probably associate it with boring dates, facts and figures, and dead people. Perhaps even a thick and boring textbook with no pictures at all.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Hopefully your opinion of this will change and this journey can begin with this podcast that I’ve recommended.
It only takes 5 minutes of your time and you can listen in while driving the car, riding a bike, going for a jog, or catching the train. Dr Nichols is a very informed man and has a little humor (some dad jokes, I confess) that can make for a very fun and engaging lesson. All you need to do is click, subscribe, and tune in whenever there is an update. These 5 minutes will introduce you to a world that is bigger, richer, and more beautiful than you can ever imagine.
So rid yourself of excuses and check it out! Get it here straight away.