Sometimes we speak of world history as though it belongs to people. It doesn't—it belongs to God, and though people play prominently within the historical narrative, it always remains under God's auspices and control. The problem with losing the right perspective isn't that we'll get the facts wrong, it's that we'll fail to understand what they mean, what the purpose of past events is, and what we can look forward to.
Human history began all at once in the same place: the Garden of Eden, where Godmade Adam and Eve as the crown of all Creation. He told them to fill the earth and take dominion of it, and He also told them not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They ate the fruit anyway, and mankind was removed from paradise and introduced to tension, pain, and resistance.
The story of the world is in many ways simply the story of adversity. For the enemies of God, it's adversity in the form of the failure and futility of purely human endeavor; for God's people, it's the story of fighting for the truth against secular philsophies, fighting for holiness despite the pervasiveness of sin, and fighting for the Gospel in the face of persecution and death.
Jesus Christ is our only hope. He is the Prince of Peace, the defeater of Death, and the King of the Universe, the saver of souls and the punisher of wickedness. His kingdom is the restoration and glorious fulfillment of the paradise from which Adam and Eve were removed, and we work, wait, hope and pray for the quick fulfillment of His will in all things.
This is our framework for history. While it's important to study things like the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the ancient Near East, it's only important when investigated through the lens of God's ultimate sovereignty and plan. The story of mankind is the story of redemption, and only when we analyze battles, kings, treaties, and catastrophes from God's perspective can we truly make sense of them.
Otherwise, it's all fairly irrelevant and useless. Sure, there's Napoleon's dictum that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, but a quick survey of the past will show that each successive generation does repeat the sins of their fathers, and that without Christ's real physical life on Earth as a centering point, there's no real cause for optimism or hope of any kind.
Christ's love not only makes the trajectory of history cause for hope; it reveals the truly great moments of the past, events that to the secular eye seem insignificant or even pernicious. We're speaking of the progress of the true Church, of course, and of each soul that God calls and makes His own through the agency of His Holy Spirit. These are the milestones we look for and celebrate.
We carry a lot of world history products. Because it's the story of God's work in the world and our human responses, we believe it's important to know and understand. Not everything we carry is Christian; there are plenty of secular resources here. We encourage you to use whichever ones work best for your situation, but that you do so with a view to understanding the will and work of the One who made history in the first place.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.