Why Academics Hit the ‘God Delete’ Button
Writing about Christians from the past does not make you a Christian historian. Writing the history of Christians is not Christian history writing. If you want to practice Christian historiography, you have to draw your methods, your rubric, and your explanations from revelation, not the secular historians of the age.
But too many Christians who are historians do just that. They make the Devil’s deal: “If you promise to call me a scholar, I promise not to mention God.”
You can tell who does and does not operate with a Christian methodology by seeing how they explain two things: the resurrection and the Great Awakening. If they say merely that the apostles thought that Jesus appeared to them after death, then they are not taking the apostle’s testimony seriously, which is the testimony of eyewitnesses, of which there were more than 500 concerning this event. Nor are they taking seriously the fact of the empty tomb. All anyone ever had to do, all anyone still has to do, is to produce the body. We’re still waiting. Those facts have no impact upon postmodern historians. Their secular, anti-supernaturalistic biases won’t permit the evidence to be what it is or to say what it says.
Further, they won’t permit the explanation that God caused the Great Awakening, even though virtually everyone converted during that era says that’s exactly what happened to them — God did it. Rather, the secularist bigots posit bogus explanations that no one in the 18th century proffered: For example, the Great Awakening was caused by the New England landbank crisis. One may offer that explanation only if personal testimony is ignored wholesale. Not one person actually involved explained the phenomenon that way, not one. To secularist historians, if the evidence doesn’t fit your worldview, just invent some that does.
Sadly, that is precisely how so many allegedly Christian historians do their work as well. The first thing they do when writing their history is to hit the “God delete” button.
Dr. Michael Bauman is Professor of Theology and Culture and is Director of Christian Studies at Hillsdale College, where he has been since 1988. He also is Scholar in Residence for the Summit Semester program of Summit Ministries. He is a former inner city pastor in Chicago, an honorably discharged Marine, and a former cycling world champion.