Reflection on History as Doctrine

Early in the course I claimed that "Church history is salvation history." The Christian community remembers its past, interprets its present, and expects its future by telling the story of God who created and redeemed the world through Jesus Christ. The Church is both an agent telling that story, and a product of the story. Let's distinguish those by calling them "history by the Church" and "history of the Church." Both are histories of God: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

If I am right, then you should find that the history of the Church confirms history by the Church, and vice versa. To draw on these lines of the Apostles' Creed for an illustration: We should learn of the Holy Spirit not only by listening to what the Church says about God, but by examining the Church itself as a work of God the Holy Spirit. The God we see forming and inhabiting the Church should be the Holy Spirit that the Church confesses as God. (If you were a Pentecostal, you would probably want to appeal to the Pentecostal revivals and their effects to support this connection. If you were a Dispensationalist, you would not.)

Your final assignment is to test that claim.

Choose a doctrine of the Church developed in any one chapter of McKim. Test its truth by appealing to any number of episodes in the history of Christianity, drawing on any and all applicable course materials (lectures, Moynahan, Galli and Olsen, McKim, etc.).

Try not to choose doctrines and episodes that merely reinforce what you already believe or disbelieve. Also be warned that, as in the Bible, simply highlighting times of prosperity and growth does not necessarily confirm the truth of Christian teachings (e.g., Solomon), nor does pointing out times of failures and betrayals necessarily disprove them (e.g., Judas Iscariot).

Please keep your paper three pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. As always, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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