The Author’s Corner with Robert F. Rea

Robert Rea is Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Christian Lincoln University. This interview is based on his new book, Why Church History Matters: An Invitation to Love and Learn from Our Past (InterVarsity Press, July 2014).
JF: What led you to write Why Church History Matters?
RR: For many years I needed an accessible textbook to help inspire inquiring, Bible-focused students to value and to study the Christian tradition—to introduce students to the meaning of tradition, to explain of Christians understand tradition, to draw contemporary Christians to participate in the life of the whole Church throughout the centuries, and to make the crucial connection between historic Christians and current life and ministry.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of Why Church History Matters?

RR: We need the entire Christian family—across cultures, continents, and centuries—to know who we are and are becoming, to live in community with the whole Church, and to practice accountability with the whole Church, expanding our horizons and filling gaps in our theology. This happens only by knowing Christian history, which enhances Bible study and every other Christian ministry—preaching and teaching, systematic theology, spirituality, worship, mission, ethics, compassion, ecumenism, cultural engagement, and more.

JF: Why do we need to read Why Church History Matters?
RR: “This book is a call to Christians who love the Bible to study historic Christians and their wisdom and experiences…to understand the Bible and theology better and to experience a fuller Christian life.” Multiple illustrations help the reader on this journey, with recommendations for further investigation.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

RR: Actually, I am a church historian—an historical theologian—covering Christianity throughout the centuries. This includes the history of American Christianity.

JF: What is your next project?

RR: I will work in the life and spirituality of John Cassian, an important fifth century church father. His passing along the tradition of the desert fathers in two works, Institutes and Conferences, became foundational for Christian spirituality. He also relayed the desert understanding of grace theology, often overlooked in the West, but formational for Eastern Orthodox grace theology.
JF: Can’t wait to read about it. Thanks Bob!
Thanks to Megan Piette for organizing and facilitating The Author’s Corner

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