Many view church history as the history of all denominations. Seeing how that a 'church' is considered to be anything that one claims it to be or that 'the church' is all of Christendom, a proper study of church history is hard to come by. From our studies, we have seen that a true church is not what is described above, but those churches that have authority from the Lord, hold to New Testament Doctrine, and practice New Testament polity, and identify themselves as such. A true church is made up of saved, properly baptized, believers organized together to fulfill the commission. There will be a sought out purity, a Theocratic/congregational government, soul liberty, with the Word of God being the absolute Authority and the church the executive and authority in all church matters.
It is more of a challenge to study true church history due to the fact that for centuries true churches were hated, murdered, and persecuted as heretics. Their records burnt and destroyed, their churches forced into secrecy, and their writings condemned as heresy by both Catholic and Protestant. Most 'church history' books today are or are based upon Catholic and Protestant historians and view points.
It is therefore, without shame, that I confess that my study is a study of true church history, one can say, Baptist history. It is my desire to remind our generation and the one to come of the men and ladies who gave their lives, gave up their vocations, saw family and relatives put to death for the same faith we so freely enjoy today.
We owe them! We owe them more than to keep making heroes in our Christian Schools out of Calvin and Luther who put our fore-fathers to death for OUR FAITH. We owe them more than to keep praising the Anglicans and Puritans who beat Obadiah Homes for refusing a false baptism and church. We don't even know who men like Shubal Stearns, Isaac Backus, John Clarke, and Jenkin Jones are. We think the Waldensians are people that look for a poor sighted boy that wears red and white stripes! We must learn our history!
The legacy of failure to have taught these things in generations past is evident in the readiness with which members of Baptist churches change their affiliation to heretical churches. -J.W. GriffithA Manual of Church History
We must, as Baptists, study our church history. A proper study of true church history will remind us of the promises of God. We will see our Lord's hand in protecting His churches and ensuring that perpetuity promised to them. A proper study will also revive us in the pursuit of purity. When we understand what it cost those before us in the faith to preserve for us what we liberally enjoy today, it should make us "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. 15:8. There is a generation following us, will they find faith?