Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chris Gehrz's Students Continue to Weigh-In on "Why Study History"

I am honored that Chris Gehrz's Senior Seminar at Bethel College is reading Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past.  Chris has been posting student reflections on the Bethel's history department blog.  The latest comes from Paul Flowers.  He has written a nice reflection on my chapter on providential history.  Here is a taste:

In trying to divine the Divine, we are attempting to read and interpret the mind of God, who as the prophet Isaiah said is unknowable. When we try to say what is and what isn’t divine providence, in the flow of history, we are no longer being the mouthpieces of God, by truthfully retelling what we see in the narrative, but rather we are becoming something more insidious — we are trying to be God. This is a slippery slope to fall down. When we attempt to play God by saying what is divine providence in history, and by omission what isn’t, we are stripping the Gospel of its power. We are in essence rewriting the story of God with our finite, sinful minds; we are creating a fallacy in which to wallow and causing people to go astray.

I wonder what Steven Keillor, who occasionally teaches courses at Bethel, would think of my chapter and the class discussion in Gehrz's class.  Keillor (brother of Garrison) just published: Providence Forms a Nation in the Womb of Time: Colonial America, 1492-1775.  This is the first volume of his providential history of the United States and it is published with Bethel University Press.  I have a signed review copy on my shelf, but I have not been able to locate the book on Amazon.  I hope to read it and blog about it soon.