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January 07, 2011

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This is on of my favorite perennial topics to think about as well as I prepare to teach my history courses. There are no easy answers, but you are opening up some real questions to explore. I’m really wanting to know if there is a difference between being a historian generically, and a Christian historian? Or should Christian historians just aspire to being "good" historians? I have suggested in the past that a Christian historian may have two roles: one apologetic to the outside world where he or she plays by their professional rules of evidence, the other, confessional, where the historian speaks to his or her faith community and can reference the supernatural in a more direct manner. I think that the believing historian should take both these roles seriously.

While I agree that history cannot “prove” the truth or falsehood of supernatural claims, can history be used to make those claims more or less likely or plausible? I think that it can, and that this is one of the important distinctions that sets historic Christianity off from some other more modern mystical movements, including Mormonism and Scientology. I find these latter movements have a much more difficult time defending their historical claims.

Thanks for your thoughts on this important topic.

Thanks for expanding the conversation, Nicholas. I'd also really enjoy hearing from people who don't only study Christian history and how they handle "miracles", etc, in their area.

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Memory, Meaning & Faith is a blog covering Christian history in light of contemporary issues.

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