A Few Words on the Christian and History
The real, bodily life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ as detailed in history is the foundation of faith, and the wellspring of Christian living. All biblical imperatives can find their root in the historic person of Christ. For this reason, we who claim faith in Christ, above any other system of beliefs, ought to study, learn from, treasure, and teach history. The stakes are too high for the Christian to be a lazy student of history.
It is worthy to note that while many belief systems lay foundational claims regarding character, morays, and morals, Christianity has a distinct and unique foundational claim. The foundational claims of Christianity surround historical events. These historical events then form the basis for all imperatives of the Christian religion.
In the seminal historic event of the Old Testament, the gracious action of the Lord God to redeem his covenant people out of slavery in Egypt via the Exodus is the basis for the relationship and loyalty between the divine and the mortal.
It was this historic action of the divine intervening in the daily events of mortals that imperatives were derived from during the Old Testament. The 10 commandments which were so paramount to the ordered life of the ancient Israelites began not with a list of instructions and prohibitions. The instructions and prohibitions follow after the foundational historic claim of God.
And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
—Exodus 20:1-2 (ESV)
Before any “thou shall” or “Thou shall not” comes a reference to a historic event. A receipt of activity that then lays the bedrock for all which follows. We observe something quite different about the God of the Bible than the gods of any other belief. The instructions and prohibitions flow from a position of authority mixed with active loving grace.
In a continuous thread of consistent displays, the God of the Bible instructs, informs, and prohibits only on the basis of his own character and activity towards his covenant people. In this way, in the strictest sense, we see that history and not philosophy are the pillar of Christian claims. It is conceivable that there are errors within various forms and traditions of Christian philosophy. It is inconceivable for there to be errors within the definitive Christian claims in history regarding the actions of the divine and there to be any remaining Christian religion at all. In other words, if Christian historical claims are not true, then all that flows out of those claims is subsequently inconsequential.
If there was no Exodus event, then the God of Exodus 20 is a liar. He did not bring his covenant people up out of Egypt if those events did not in fact occur. The ethical codes which then follow in Exodus 20 would have only as much a claim as any beliefs codes of conduct.
The Exodus event is the most referenced single event in all of the Old Testament.