C.S. Lewis on the Importance of History


C.s.lewis3The study of the past is either viewed as totally unnecessary or absolutely vital to the future. There are modern theological liberals who scoff at the historic testimony of the church in favor of their personal interpretations and philosophies. This kind of self-centered ignorance of history is arrogance in the highest. To totally disregard the historic witness of the church is intellectual suicide. If we ignore the failures and successes of history, we elevate ourselves above all those who came before us, solely on the basis of the time in which we live. Episcopal priest and professor Justin Holcomb writes that we must avoid the “arrogant assumption that the values and beliefs of our own time have surpassed all that came before” (Know the Heretics, 20). Famous Christian philosopher, theologian, and thinker, C.S. Lewis has offered very strong and helpful thoughts on the importance of knowing history. This passage from his work The Weight of Glory really spoke to me and I hope it opens your eyes afresh to the importance of history to all that we do theologically, ecclesiastically, politically, and socially:

“We need intimate knowledge of the past. Not that the past has any magic about it, but because we cannot study the future, and yet need something to set against the present, to remind us that the basic assumptions have been quite different in different periods and that much which seems certain to the uneducated is merely temporary fashion. A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, pp. 58-59)

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