Christianity and History – Linear Conception of History

QUESTION: Christianity and History – Linear Conception of History

ANSWER:

This belief about the direction of history is known as a linear conception of history. That is, Christians believe that human history had a specific beginning (creation) and is being directed by God toward a specific end (restoration), and that historic events follow a non-repetitive course toward that end.

Christianity and History – Linear View of History
Most of Western society has a linear view of history, a view founded on the Judeo-Christian perspective. Prior to this Christian description of history, classical thought supported a cyclical view in which historical events were repeated over and over by consecutive societies. Thus, the directional view of history given by Christians created a unique conception of the movement of humanity through time. John Warwick Montgomery says, “The importance of the Biblical conception cannot be overstressed. Here for the first time Western man was presented with a purposive, goal-directed interpretation of history. The Classical doctrine of recurrence had been able to give a ‘substantiality’ to history, but it had not given it any aim or direction.”1 Direction, as always, comes from God.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 John Warwick Montgomery, The Shape of the Past (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship, 1975), 42.

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