CHRISTIAN HISTORY is launched with the prayer that it will serve to acquaint readers with significant events, personalities, movements and developments in the history of the church. Those who are unfamiliar with the subject matter will find it to be a stimulating introduction to areas covered. At the same time we hope to interest those who are students of Church history with material not easily available such as this issue’s translation of the Oldendorp work (Missionaries Against Terrible Odds) which was published in German in 1777.
An awareness of Christian History is one of the most neglected but necessary ingredients in the spiritual diet of Christians today. It is not a luxury for those with a particular interest in the field nor is it the peculiar province of those who find fulfillment amidst the musty smells of old bookstores and museums.
Christians are handicapped by a lack of knowledge of the story of those who have preceded us in generations past. The scriptures continually call us to remember God’s work in ages past and this must now also include the working of our Lord through the centuries since the scriptures were completed.
We are too easily captive to the contemporary and become unthinking assenters to our culture’s seduction by the now, the latest, the present moment. Understanding of Christian history will help us in many ways. We will uncover precedents in the past of how God has worked. We will gain perspective that will help us see our current situation in a new light. We will develop a sense of continuity and see how the unfolding of God’s purposes transcends any single generation, century, denomination, geography, or ideology.
Our intention is to publish a magazine with no sectarian ax to grind and with an openness to the magnificent diversity that the field of Christian history represents.
This first issue of Christian history emerges from the experience of Gateway Films and its commitment to provide an ongoing series of films that treat the history of the church. The first in the series, JOHN HUS, demonstrated the eagerness and receptivity of many to learn more of the workings of God’s spirit through his people in past generations.
A sixteen page resource guide prepared to accompany the HUS film did much to deepen and enhance the film experience and when the decision was made to prepare a film commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Moravian mission movement it was obvious that a treasure of support material should be gathered in print to accompany the motion picture. This magazine is the result.
The central contents of this first issue, namely the formation of the Moravian community at Herrnhut and the sending forth of the first missionaries is a story in which all Christians can rejoice. The factual data, which the Moravians were so meticulous to preserve (as they regarded it as the record of God’s dealing with them) is stronger and more captivating than any fiction writer could conceive.
The 250th anniversary of the missionaries going forth is a good time to remember and reflect on how God used this people who so fervently sought to discern and obey His will. What they did is in the record. What this experience may stimulate among a new generation of Christians today has yet to be seen and written. But, make no mistake that the village in Herrnhut (now in East Germany) has much to teach us from two and a half centuries ago.
We welcome you to this first issue and future issues and hope that some of the joy of its preparations will be experienced in its reading and use. CH