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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

AGTV Video
Connections: Charles Self

Sacred History

Dr. Charles Self is an associate professor of church history at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Mo. He recently spoke about his own life’s spiritual history with Editor Ken Horn.

evangel: How did you come to know the Lord?
By the time I was 15 years old, I had gotten involved in Transcendental Meditation. TM is really an Eastern religion, but at the time it was being marketed as a scientific breakthrough. So I was being told you can do Hindu meditation, but you can do it scientifically, which appealed to my empirical rational mind.

In the fall of my sophomore year in high school, I had some friends who earnestly began witnessing to me. By the following February, in 1974, I went to an Assemblies of God church in town that was experiencing tremendous renewal and revival. I’ll never forget the experience of seeing people who enjoyed being in church, the experience of worship, the experience of the presence of God.

That February, at an evening service, I gave my heart to Jesus Christ, and 30 days later I had the privilege of being baptized in the Holy Spirit and praising God in a new language. So now, for 36 years I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving the Lord.

evangel: How did you become interested in church history?
I grew up with a love of history — both my father and grandfather had history degrees from Harvard — and then I discovered I could bring that passion for history to God. When I came to Christ, one of the first things I did was read Philip Schaff’s eight-volume History of the Christian Church when I was 16 because I wanted to know what I’d gotten myself into. I soon discovered what I’d gotten myself into — the story of God’s activity through real people, just like myself, changing the world. So I’ve been in love with that since the time I was 16.

History is a way to bring together the Bible, theology, philosophy and different disciplines. I see history as this great organizer. It serves as a unifier of different ways of thinking. It has been a real honor to be able to focus on what I love the most academically, but then integrate it with ministry as well.

evangel: What makes church history interesting?
In every generation, we see the same triune God at work, reviving and renewing His people. I can take you through any century and demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit, demonstrate missions, demonstrate compassion, demonstrate the work of God in building His Church.

When teaching, I like to talk about the future and then go to the past to learn from both the mistakes and the wisdom of our sisters and brothers of the past. The real key is to extract the best from the past but to also learn about the spiritual battle we’re in now and then hear from the Lord on how we’re to proceed into the future.

As you study church history, you begin to see the connections and the wonderful contributions of people we almost never hear about. Our own Movement, the Assemblies of God, was born in revival, born from multiple streams of God’s people seeking Him passionately. Now, around the world, we hear story after story that connect with each other and, frankly, continue to create church history.


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