How to Study History
All across America, students in all grades crack open their history books and sit down to read. Most of the time, textbooks are used for the learning of history. And, depending upon who writes the textbook it may or may not have a Biblical worldview. Even so, it may or may not have a Providential view. While it’s important to read history with a Biblical worldview, it’s even more so with a Providential view. The two are not synonymous. However, they are related. So, let’s get right down to the topic of how to study history.
To learn more, listen to our podcast about how Bible Principles and a Providential Worldview are related.
How to Study Universal History
There is much to be said about studying history from the beginning until present. After all, we’re talking about a rather large span of time.
When studying Universal History, we look to see:
- How civilizations built upon each other and what good came of it
- One God working, superintending, overseeing, disposing, overruling, all men and nations
- Sinful man’s response to Holy God
- What God was doing despite sinful man
- How God used pagans and Christians in His-Story
- What it was like for individuals to live under law without liberty
- When good ideas failed it was because they didn’t involve God’s principles
All of these things guide is in understanding a Providential view of Universal History.
How to Study American History
This is a rather touchy subject today, isn’t it? Well, let me ask you a question: how many primary American documents have you read? Let me ask you another question: Do you know how many there are? Okay, one more question: What do you think of being an American who has barely (if at all) learned of our history from our primary sources?
So, how important is it for Americans to read our own history from our primary documents? If we want to learn what actually takes place and without the bent of an agenda, it’s emphatically crucial. In this way, not only do we learn from eye witnesses, we also learn about the character of individuals. We can hear and feel the raw emotions of what they experienced. And, we can be assured that we’re not being emotionally manipulated by people who want political gain.
To be sure, we apply the list for studying Universal History to our studies of American History. However, we also ask:
- What else is happening in the world in context of the time period?
- In what way(s) are steps being taken in the right direction?
- How does the Gospel moving westward impact the forming of America?
- In what ways is the Bible impacting decisions?
- Who was trying to make territory apart of their nation?
- What is the national religion and form of government of those other nations?
- How would those beliefs and form of governments affect all people living on this soil?
- In what ways are individuals blessed because of law with liberty?
There are several other questions we ask as we study with a Providential view of history. But, you’ll need to read them in my book when it’s published. For now, these may help you to begin studying history in this way.
How to Study Modern Day History and Current Times
You’re probably catching on to the fact that we layer the questions as we move forward on the history timeline. Needless to say, in addition to all the other questions above, we ask:
- Who or what is in control/behind an issue?
- What is the issue?
- There are roots to an issue—what are they?
- What is the principle behind the issue? (There will be at least one.)
- How do we see internal-to-external and the cause-to-effect?
- Is war always necessary? What else was happening that shows war was not necessary?
- In what way are the counter principles of our form of government being advertised?
- Where did we stray from our first principles (beginning on the Expansion and Erosion link on the Chain of Christianity®)?
- How is God working?
- In what way(s) may we help to restore America to her first principles?
- How are God’s principles of government reaching other nations?
Of course, there are more questions we ask. Again, you’ll have to keep an eye our for my book once it’s published and released.
Remember the Word Studies
We cannot forget the Word studies! To help us master the vocabulary of our subject and to help us better understand it, we must do these. Plus, they help us to identify Biblical principles.
Here is a refresher on how to do these:
- Make your vocabulary list for your topic/subject (these may be pulled from the subject name itself and/or the body of the primary documents from which you are reading)
- Use Webster’s 1828 Dictionary to define the words
- Look up Key Words within each definition to help you gain better comprehension and to spark ideas
- Use a concordance to look up those words on your list and find an applicable principle
- Reason and relate from Scripture
- Journal your reasoning (with the help of the reason questions listed above)
- Write an emphatic conclusion
Keeping Things Real
The term “white wash” gets used often when discussing anything good about America’s history or the people God used. Of course these individuals in American history weren’t perfect; this is where those reason and relate questions are important. Why? For one example, they help us to look at the character of individuals and their response to Holy God. Additionally, they help us to look at the bigger picture. Francis A. Schaeffer pointed out how most people look at a piece here and apiece there but, they miss the bigger picture.
Also along the lines of keeping things real, one must acknowledge the sinful nature of all other people regardless of their skin tone. Of course, this does not justify the sinful actions of any person whatever skin tone they have. For instance, this land was no Garden of Eden before Europeans, Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Dutch came over. Take a close look an Indigenous peoples and you’ll have to note as well that they were sinful people and walked in the flesh as well. In addition, the tribes weren’t living in peace amongst each other.
We can acknowledge these facts and still miss the Bigger Picture. If we focus on autonomous man—his or her successes or failures–we miss it. Yes, we can acknowledge these things about them. But, the Bigger Picture isn’t about autonomous man. Rather, the Bigger Picture is about Christ for He and He alone is the Focal Point of History. This means we ultimately look to see how all those individual pieces make up the Bigger Picture of the impact of the Gospel on men and nations.
For all of His-Story
There is One God with one plan, one Savior, and one goal. It’s internal liberty and justice for all through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. But not only does He give us internal liberty. We’re also given external liberty because that internal liberty has an outer-working.
And this is the beauty of the Principle Approach® to History. Praise the Lord for the Mighty Works of God for He has done great things!