With a few exceptions, the vast majority of you agreed with John Fea that Christian historians generally ought not to engage in providential history. For example, Omar argued that “there are certain limitations to how much we can find out about what happened to a particular individual, country, object, etc. Using Providential History is the same as saying, This is how it happened, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.” And while Mikalah was “not against someone thinking that an event was an act of God,” ultimately she concluded that “[t]here is no way one can prove either side of the argument and because of this it would be irresponsible to assert that God’s will is fact.”
However, several of you then turned to Fea’s argument (in ch. 5) that specific theological ideas could implicitly shape Christian work in the discipline of history. For example, Sarah was taken with Fea’s emphasis on depravity and incarnation: “The fallen nature of humanity obscures what historians are able to know, but the incarnational approach gives credence to how just studying the creation may be thinking both Christianly and historically. And Matt thought that the doctrine of providence itself shouldn’t be dismissed as irrelevant to our work: “To be a Christian Historian does NOT mean that you must approach history providentially, but it certainly means that you have to wrestle with what it means for God to be sovereign within your field of study.”
What’s an example of a belief that shapes how you ask and answer questions about the past? Do you think this is unique to Christian, or other religious, historians?