Beliefs have a history. As a historian of religion, I take this for granted. I’d forgotten how foreign this notion is to many evangelicals in the United States.
Evangelicals are not alone in considering that their beliefs are eternal and unchanging. For believers of all stripes, the very notion of truth assumes an aura of timelessness, but historical knowledge has a way of complicating such certainty. By revealing not only continuity but also considerable change over time, history demonstrates that much of what passes for traditional is, in fact, of relatively recent origin. By situating historical subjects within broader contexts, history also reveals how economic, political and cultural factors influence what people believe to be true at any given time.
“Kristin Kobes Du Mez: What We Believe About History.” Big Ideas: What Do We Believe? The New York Times. May 27, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/27/special-series/kristin-kobes-du-mez-what-we-believe-about-history.html