I’ve been trudging through 6 Modern Myths, by Philip Sampson, and Flesh in the Age of Reason, by Roy Porter, for my upcoming history class. In the process, I’ve come to a new realization of how arrogant we can be in our understandings of thelogy today.
Sampson describes the longtime understanding, dating back to Ancient Greece, that the earth was the center of the universe and everything revolved around us. Early in his book, Porter describes how the understanding of the human body works has developed over the years. Both of these ideas were first developed in Ancient Greece were widely accepted up until only a few hundred years ago. Today, we consider these ideas to be ridiculous.
Late last summer, I took the first half of this church history class and I soaked up what we learned. There is a lot of brilliant thinking about Christianity that has happened in the last 2000 years. Prior to that class, I kind of had an understanding that we have the best understanding of theology today, and we don’t need to spend a lot of time looking back at what those before us have believed. I figured we have just kind built on the best of what history offered and discarded the rest. Too bad for me.
It’s almost as if we assume those who lived before us were stupid. If they believed so incorrectly about the physical nature of things around them, how can we trust what they might offer theologically. How unfortunate for us. Today, there are certain understandings that we tend to focus on because they make the most sense to our rational world. How much are we missing by not revisiting what those who came before us had to offer. They weren’t stupid, but we are if we discard what they have to offer us.