Saturday, April 26, 2014

When a Theologian Reviews a Book About History

Theology and history are really two different approaches to the world.  Each discipline has a different way of thinking.  While I really appreciate Jim Lee's "analytical review" of my book Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (thanks, Jim!), I worry that he may want to turn a book about history into a book about theology.  I will let you decide.  Here is a taste of the review:

I was genuinely surprised at Fea quoting Wineburg and Walter McDougall approvingly when they advance a view of history that makes history accomplish things only God can bring about (around Location 2017ff.).  Wineburg and McDougall call history “the religion of the modern curriculum” that “must do the work of theology” such that it would humble us and leave us with a sense of awe and worship directed towards the past; history here for all intent and purpose has taken the role of God.  It is idolatrous.  Space does not permit me to develop a full critique but this is where the role of theology, philosophy and apologetics intersect with history.  It is interesting that the author wishes to protect the field of history from encroachment from theology but does not notice the encroachment of history in the sphere of theology.  Theology tells us that any idol that is above God will disappoint us and does not please Him.  This of course would be against the grain of a Christian desire to pursue history.  

Read more here.

On a somewhat related note, I was thrilled to learn today that Why Study History? is being used in the junior seminar on historical methodology at the University of Dallas.