Sometimes, evangelicals like me need to be reminded that the Church existed for a millennium and a half before the Protestant Reformation. The Church of antiquity had its roots in the Hebrew faith and each had meaningful forms of worship worth remembering and, at times, practicing.

As the Venerable Bede said in the eighth century:

Should history record good things about good people, the thoughtful hearer is encouraged to imitate what is good. Or if it records evil ends of wicked people, the devout and religious listener or reader is encouraged to avoid all that is sinful and perverse and to follow what he or she knows to be good and pleasing to God.

Introduction to Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Consider also, this word from Astronomus of the Carolingians in the ninth century:

When the good or bad deeds of the ancients . . . are drawn back into memory, a twofold advantage is conferred upon those who read about them: the one serves to benefit and edify them, and the other to warn them.

A CAUTION: The Hebrews, prophets, apostles, and other church leaders – both men and women – were capable of error. It is important to remember as we read their stories and literature that they, just like we, were imperfect people learning to follow a perfect Lord.

As Martin Luther said, “The fathers have written many things that are pious and useful (multa pia et salutaria), but they must be read with discrimination and judged by the Scriptures.”

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