Forward by G. Tyler Fischer:
(Headmaster, Veritas School, Lancaster, PA)

               Forward Henry Ford famously said, History is bunk! Modern culture responds, Yeah and Amen! For many the prospect of studying history churns up memories of brutally boring classes taught by automaton teachers whose monotone questions about arcane dates and personages tied heavy dumbbells to our already drooping eyelids (Anyone…anyone?...). This prejudice against history, sadly, lies at the root of much of the poverty of this pragmatic age. In the church, this tired sentiment echoes the declaration of Ford - History is bunk! The antipathy toward history even among those who champion the historic Christian faith deserves both pity and censure because if believers look upon the study of history as nonsense we are sawing off the branch upon which we happily perch. We implore people to accept an historic faith, while we continue to speak and live as if history is, at best, extraneous. Should we feel uneasy that the Scriptures are full to the brim with history? Why would God communicate to us in this way? Why were people in the past so addicted to history? Why does it too often make our eyes glaze over?

Some of our prejudice against history results from studying history wrongly. We are both too self-centered to study the past and - ironically - not self-centered enough in our reading. First, we must recognize that the study of history tends to wane when people engage in colossal amounts of navel gazing. You can imagine the pierced, Goth, teen and the hyper-proactive, businessman wondering why they should study history when all that matters in life happens in the world between our ears (or on our laptops) or in the objective world of wealth acquisition. All we think we need is the practical in its myriad of tasty flavors. This inwardness abandons the world or turns it into a place where only the most banal appetites clatter for attention and fulfillment. We must not fall into this dark pit of self absorption because we must love our place and our neighbors in this world.

Second, modern people tend to come to the study of history with modern atheistic and naturalistic assumptions firmly clenched between their unsuspecting teeth. Of course, one assumption deeply embedded in the modern mind is that history is accidental and meaningless, and that we should approach the study of these random accidents by steadfastly eschewing any particular point of view - or at best embracing the point of view of a Deist watchmaker deity (i.e., everything is far away and for all practical purposes meaningless). As Lewis so aptly notes in The Abolition of Man, this approach rightly makes eunuchs out of men by cutting away any reason to study or believe anything.

Finally, however, we fail to love history because we are not selfish enough when we study. The stories of history eventually should train us in how to live pleasantly and well. The life of faith is a good life. The Wisdom Literature proclaims this; the Law commands it; and the prophets thunder its truth. We have a record of the faithfulness of God to His people in history. What an incredible gift! History, in all its glory, is the passing on of accumulated wisdom and stories. These stories are passed on to us as an inheritance. They were passed along by our forefathers not so that we could have long lists of irrelevant data. History comes to help us know our place, our people, our Lord, and, eventually, ourselves better. Any history that fails to challenge us to tie the logical threads together, and that fails to inspire the love of good things and good tales is…well…bunk!

That is what I enjoy most about Bruce Gore and his writing - it works to correct these problems. It calls us outside of self and our age. It does this with solid writing and good analysis (and helpful, engaging graphics and maps), but it delves deeper unearthing the details of particular stories because it is in the details of the past where we can mine for love and wisdom. It is in the details of stories about particular people where we find the marrow of life and where we can see the hand of God at work. It is by learning this context that we can both see and enjoy the Scriptures (and by extension) our own lives most fully. The worldview of this book lands firmly within the deep and abiding orthodoxy of the Christian faith. Finally, it beckons us on to make application not by commanding practicality, but by winsomely shining the light of truth on good and interesting stories. It gives us tools with which to learn our Bible more deeply.

So read this book and read it deeply. It will help you learn about God, your forefathers, yourself, and the world around you. It should help you to more deeply and fully enjoy life and the Word of God - both in the Scriptures and, finally, in Christ Jesus.

May God bless you reading and may your reading of this book make your reading of Scripture more satisfying and richer.

G. Tyler Fischer