Christians believe that God acts—and has acted—in the world. In the present tense, we acknowledge that God here and now is the metaphysical first cause and sustainer of all things; in him “all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). In the past tense, we refer to Christianity’s unique claim that two thousand years ago, this same God took on human nature to enter the very world of which he is creator. In this awesome divine act of the incarnation—what C.S. Lewis calls “the Grand Miracle”—God entered history.

Christianity is an irrevocably historical religion. It tells us who we are, where we come from, our purpose, and our destiny. So Christianity would be completely undermined if, in the end, it was not rooted in the reality of a historical redeemer.

What is history? History deals with things that have already happened. More than that, it is concerned with persons as causes. Historian Robert Webb sums it all up by saying that history “concerns events in the past involving humans as agents.” And as Michael Licona wisely indicates, if we replace “humans” here with the more general term “persons,” we are suddenly well within our rights to apply the historical method to the acts of God himself in history. There is no good reason to exclude divine effects in time (e.g., miracles) from states of affairs which historians should concern themselves with as historians. 

Praise the Lord

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