I am currently finishing up Robert McKenzie’s book, The First Thanksgiving. If you know me, then you know I enjoy history. McKenzie’s book has not only been informative about the holiday we simply call Thanksgiving. He has also taught me much about the study of History along the way. So much so that I will have to go back through and make detailed notes. As a Christian, who is also a Historian, McKenzie offers the following instruction:
The law of love requires that we take individuals from the past seriously, not that we believe everything they say. Our quest for understanding is best served when we read their words with both sympathy and skepticism. Sympathy instructs us to try to see things from their perspective; skepticism reminds us that their perspective (like ours) is marred by bias.
All Historians and novices (like me), should be guided by the law of love in the study of history, and Christians have no excuse not to be. McKenzie’s advice safeguards us from the twin dangers of idol raising and sheer disrespect in the study of history.