Back to Course

History 2: Modernity

0% Complete
0/0 Steps
  1. Lesson 1: Orientation
    11 Steps
  2. Lesson 2: The Great Stage: Introduction to the West
    13 Steps
  3. Lesson 3: Ideas Have Consequences: The Enlightenment
    11 Steps
  4. Lesson 4: The Sacred & the Secular: Empires, Pirates, and Rulers
    11 Steps
  5. Lesson 5: Royal Science: The Scientific Revolution
    11 Steps
  6. Lesson 6: The Creators: Pascal, Vermeer, Johnson, and Bach
    11 Steps
  7. Lesson 7: The Devil Has No Stories: The French Revolution
    12 Steps
  8. Lesson 8: I Am The Revolution: Napoleon Bonaparte
    13 Steps
  9. Lesson 9: Deus Ex Machina: The Industrial Revolution
    11 Steps
  10. Lesson 10: The Antiquary & the Muse: Scott, Austen, and the Romantic Poets
    12 Steps
  11. Lesson 11: No Vision Too Large: Wilberforce & Chalmers
    10 Steps
  12. Lesson 12: Culture = State: Nationalism
    12 Steps
  13. Lesson 13: Eminent Culture: Victorianism
    11 Steps
  14. Lesson 14: The West and the Rest: Victorian Missions
    13 Steps
  15. Lesson 15: The New Priesthood: Scientism and Darwinism
    11 Steps
  16. Lesson 16: The Square Inch War: Kuyper and Wilson
    12 Steps
  17. Lesson 17: The Pity of War: World War I
    11 Steps
  18. Lesson 18: Domesticity Versus Tyranny: Versailles, Dictators, and America’s Roaring Twenties
    12 Steps
  19. Lesson 19: Modern Art and the Death of Culture: Art and Architecture
    11 Steps
  20. Lesson 20: I’ll Take My Stand: The Thirties
    11 Steps
  21. Lesson 21: The Lost Generation: Literary Converts
    12 Steps
  22. Lesson 22: The Wrath of Man: World War II
    11 Steps
  23. Lesson 23: The Cross and Perseverance: World War II, Bonhoeffer, and Churchill
    13 Steps
  24. Lesson 24: Personal Peace and Affluence: The Fifties
    11 Steps
  25. Lesson 25: The Great Divorce: The Sixties
    11 Steps
  26. Lesson 26: The West Like the Rest: The Seventies and the End of Modernity
    11 Steps
  27. Lesson 27: The Triumph of the West: The Fall of Communism and Postmodernity
    12 Steps
Lesson Progress
0% Complete


The following transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar. It is provided for assistance in note-taking and review.

Well, welcome back. In today’s lecture, we’re gonna unpack the question of why we do the whole thing called history, really just building on why we do education, why we do school, which is, of course, building on why we do life.

But, uh, as we unpack this, I wanna unpack a general, a couple general ideas before I actually give you the list of reasons why we actually study the past.

And the first thing I wanna talk about is this whole idea of progressivism, which is becoming, uh, more and more of kind of a, a catch word.

Uh, progressive is really this kind of worship, this ideal of progress, uh, that basically the man that basically mankind and the world are ever progressing towards something better, that we are ever, um, becoming better and better based upon our own efforts.

Uh, Lord Acton, one of the great commentators of the past called Progress or the religion, or the love, or the worship of progress, the religion of those who had none, in other words, another word for atheism or secular humanism, uh, that this world is all there is.

And so we must pour all of ourselves into improving it. And that, of course, is, uh, very different from the gospel, which actually causes us to want to change the world, not because this is all that there is, because there’s a God who’s over it, because there is a God who is actually, uh, done for us, uh, so much that we actually respond with thanksgiving and praise to others in terms of service.

In fact, that’s how we ended the whole pursuit of education in the first place in the previous lesson. Another thing about this whole idea of progressive, and I want to point out to you, is that when we say this whole time period of modernity, you’re going to see that there’s kind of this ideal that man is getting better and better, and he’s always moving in this kind of upward, uh, direction. In fact, we often in modernity, look at the past as something that was backwards, as something that’s inferior, as something that was unenlightened, as something that was feeble or cowardly, or bigoted. In other words, we’re often very arrogant when it comes to judging the past as being all kind of hogwash or bunk as Henry Ford called it. That’s really a, a kind of a key thing we need to kind of unpack because we live in a culture that’s obsessed with kind of the current moment. Uh, we live in a culture of, of post-modernity, you might call it, that’s obsessed with things like equality, that’s obsessed with things like being free and independent from the ancient paths and the ancient truths and the past period. We live in a culture that’s kind of obsessed with proving truth based upon things like data, based upon things like scientific studies based even sometimes upon things like surveys.

In fact, we kind of have a, a preoc preoccupation with that kind of, of knowledge. Neil Postman, uh, another great commentator from recent years, uh, so that we also live in a society that, uh, has kind of, has a messed up view of technology, kind of has a messed up view of man constantly improving himself.

In fact, he simply called it, uh, monopoly, this whole idea where we submit all forms of our culture, uh, to technology and worship it more as a God instead of actually seeing it as something that can be used as a tool.

David Hall, who comments, uh, from Neil Postman’s book, in his book, the Arrogance of the Modern, uh, talks about like this, he says, technology to turn a phrase using Neil Postman’s words. Here is a form of cultural aids, an acronym for anti Inform deficiency syndrome. That is why it’s possible to say almost anything without contradiction provided you begin your utterance with the words a study has shown, or scientists now tell us that in Tepo there can be no transcendent sense of purpose or meaning.

There can be no cultural coherence. Technolo deprives us of the social, political, historical, metaphysical, logical, or spiritual basis for knowing what is beyond belief. In other words, we live in a culture where truth is determined based upon scientific studies. There’s often nothing that goes beyond us in those actual, the actual way of thinking of things. What’s curious about this is that the scriptures look at the, the value of the past and the ancient ideas, uh, very differently. In fact, the scriptures tend to emphasize the whole idea of remembering the past. So we have the book of Jude, for example, that talks about how the faith has been handed down once and for all to the saints and something that we pass on from generation to generation.

Or for example, uh, we have Hebrews 11 that tells us that our ancestors, those who have gone, uh, before us, uh, though dead like Abel for example, they still speak, uh, because even though they’re dead to us in this world, they’re not dead in the next, they’re not dead to God himself. Their lives, their actions, their faithfulness, they still speak to us. Judge called this whole concept the democracy of the Dead. Uh, this whole idea that we think about the people who have gone before us and we actually consider what they valued and we actually consider what it is that they saw as important.

And we likewise let that val be a value that we share. We likewise let that actually shape us. And you see this anytime that you actually listen to parents or grandparents or older people that you respect, uh, when they actually pass on to what really matters.

And you listen for a moment that’s in a sense, a democracy of living people, of course, but that’s kind of hinting at the democracy of the dead, where you actually value the wisdom of the ancients because there’s something worthwhile about it that has been passed on. That’s why you need to find those mentors that you respect and actually see what is it they have gone through and what gives them confidence and what is it they have learned in a long life of faithfulness in terms of remembering is huge in the scriptures.

In fact, now the scriptures have 300 different variations of the words for remember used throughout them. Uh, they’re constantly reminding us of a God who doesn’t change, who always remembers who he is, and remembers especially his promises to us. In fact, you can find the scriptures, God talking about how he remembers Noah, how he remembers Abraham, how he remembers Rachel, or how he remembers Hannah, or how he remembers his covenant with Israel itself.

In fact, God describes himself as a God of the living. Uh, the people who once lived here and have completed, uh, the great race as Paul calls it. Uh, they’re no longer dead. They, they, they live with him in all alternative, they, they’ve achieved the goal, which is him, him, which is God himself. Zechariah at the birth of Jesus, uh, says quote in Luke, he says that God has shown mercy to our fathers and he has remembered his holy covenant.

Uh, in the Psalms, both in Psalm 30 and in Psalm 97, where commanded to give thanks at remembering God’s holy name in Psalm 1 0 2. Uh, his righteousness is described as an enduring remembrance, something that we’re supposed to remember throughout all generations, throughout Psalm 78. In fact, this is one of the, the, the biggest Psalms to talk about the value of remembering, especially remembering the past. Uh, Israel is told to remember that God is their rock. The Psalm 78, 34, uh, God remembers, uh, that we are flesh, uh, that we are a passing breeze. Psalm 78 39, uh, God gives us mercy, uh, even though we don’t always remember his power. Uh, Psalm 78 42 and throughout the scriptures, uh, we have reminders to remember that it was God who led us out of Egypt, uh, that it was God who gave us the law to remember our former rebellions and to not do them again.

You find that in Deuteronomy eight, the disciples are told to remember Jesus’ teachings. In Luke 24, uh, we are told to remember our resolve after first receiving the light of the gospel and to have confidence. That’s in Hebrews 10, we’re told to remember that we have what we have received and heard to obey it and to repent. That’s in Revelation three. In other words, this whole theme of remembering and not forgetting is pretty key throughout the scriptures, is to constantly be reminded of who we are.

And that’s necessary because we live in a world that has fallen and has messed up. We live in a world that has overwhelming with its cares and with its problems. We must remember where we came from, remember exactly who God is and what he has promised if we wish to have any hope of actually having joy in this present world or in this present darkness.

Uh, and all the same though with those kind of major points, talking about progressive and remembrance at the beginning of this lecture. I wanna talk now about specific reasons why we actually study history. Number one, we study history to show forth the glory of an infinite God. In other words, we study history for the glory of God. We study history to know who he is and what he has actually done. Number two, we also study history to show that all things do fall apart and that all flesh is grasped, is what Isaiah says. Also what the psalmist says, uh, that all things have their season and all things, uh, that are in this fall world will pass away.

In fact, history has a certain gravity to us that should remind us of the grave. In fact, gravity and grave are words that are etymologically related to each other. In fact, uh, I love the lyrics of one of Soufan Stevens songs in which he says, I know I know the nation’s past. I know the nation’s. I know that they rust at last. They tremble with a nervous thought of having been at last forgot. And in fact, it’s one of the things that we wrestle with this whole idea that we will have an end. This whole idea that there will come a time in which people no longer remember us. I still remember when I was a kid, uh, playing on the golf course that was behind my house. I remember my brother and I discovered a cemetery in the woods of that golf course. It was overgrown, just was a few, uh, tombstones, overgrown with weeds and with ivy. But there was this whole reality of, oh, somebody is buried here as somebody that was loved, somebody that had a life. And yet we know nothing about them other than what we can make out from the tombstones which were so badly weather worn. It was actually quite difficult to even make out a name. But still, history is a reminder, uh, that the world as we know it will not always exist this way, uh, that we ourselves will come to an end.

And so we have to be prepared with that. We have to be prepared with an answer to that, which of course is where the gospel comes in. And number three, uh, we study history to show the redemption of an infinite God. We study what Frederick Butner called the magnificent defeat. Uh, the fact that, uh, even though we are often shooting ourselves in the foot, even though we are often experiencing great, uh, pain and turmoil from living in a fallen world, and also from the actual sins that we commit, uh, we still find that there’s a God who is merciful. We still find a God who allows us to stumble into blessings, and also, of course, gives us the big picture of history we call integration.

Uh, the whole idea that there is redemption. And behind that redemption, there is a rational and good and personal and infinite and eternal God who is driving all of these things that should actually teach us the delight, uh, in, in history and what God has actually done.

It should teach us to have a hopeful view of history. Number four, uh, we study history to know our own past, uh, to know therefore our identity. What makes us the people that we are, uh, what makes us the way that we are. Anytime you learn about your family’s own history, it’s usually very telling and kind of explains say why you are the way you are or why your parents are the way they are, or why your grandparents are the way they are.

Those kinds of things are huge. They show us both our strengths and our weaknesses. They also kind of show us a trajectory of where we’re going in the future, uh, to help us kind of, kind of see where we’ve come from and where we’re going. But the other incredible thing about history is they show us that we have a rich past. Uh, history shows us that we have incredible people to look to in the past who are famous, not just for the great things they did, but are also famous for the fact that they learned to repent if they were true heroes.

In other words, uh, seeing history and seeing the experiences of those in the past helps us combat anxiety, helps us combat fear, helps us remember what Christ said when he says, do not fear this current world because I have overcome the world.

But you have to know what he actually did in the past to really grab onto that promise. A fifth, and this goes with kind of the point I was just making to you. We study history to know heroes, to know heroes who were fa, faithful to know heroes who were sinful and heroes, who learned to persevere and learn to actually humble themselves in repentance.

In other words, when we approach the heroes of history, we shouldn’t just say, wow, these guys were kind of amazing, and I can never be like that. We should see what made them tick. What is it that they actually love and we should pursue the same? Loves not. So we can do the same things that they did necessarily, but so that we can actually do amazing things as God works through us.

Six, we study history, uh, to know the villains, the villains who are unfaithful, the villains who were sinful, like the heroes, but the villains who had no repentance, who had no humility, who were focused upon their own pride, who were focused upon themselves and gratifying themselves, uh, the heroes, the villains that is who refuse to confess their sin.

We should understand the villains not simply as bad guys. We should understand the villains in light of the fact that we’ve been changed, not because of us, because of God himself. In other words, when we take a look at villains, we should recognize that would be us apart from the grace of God. Seventh, we study history, and this is kind of the reason it’s most often given to avoid the mistakes of the past. The past does repeat itself. We do commit the same mistakes over and over again, whether it be in our own lifetime or whether it be, uh, throughout a series of lifetimes.

We often commit the same mistakes that our parents or grandparents made, or people in the past have actually made. Uh, history teaches us to be humble. History teaches us to, uh, recognize those mistakes and to work on avoiding them. In other words, history teaches us what we call sanctification, this whole idea of becoming more and more like Christ, not by somehow getting better or becoming more and more, um, good, whatever that exactly means, but in recognizing just how deep our sin goes and recognizing just how desperately we need him as we actually pursue the right things.

Uh, finally this goes along with other things I’ve told you. We study history to know what it means to be human. Uh, God created us, uh, and the way he made us because he wanted to. And then of course, he himself became humans. The incarnation, that’s the very center and the most important part of all of history. So history teaches us, uh, the, that the fact that, uh, even though there are different technologies that existed at different times, and the people of the past may have had the access information or had the tools that we have now, uh, they still share the same hopes and fears.

Uh, they still have the same desires. Uh, they still have the same concerns and the same problems that we face now. History has a remarkable way of giving us those examples to actually encourage us as we live our lives in the present day.