Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us

2009 Conversations

2008 Conversations

2007 Conversations

2006 Conversations

2005 Conversations

2004 Conversations

Alicia Chole: The truth about joy (12/28/03)

Cookies and Christmas: A roundtable discussion (12/21/03)

John Tesh: In pursuit of passion (12/14/03)

AGWM's L. John Bueno: Bread of life (11/23/03)

Teen Challenge's John Castellani: Christ breaks addictions (11/16/03)

Christian humorist Justin Fennell: Justifiably funny (10/19/03)

Representative Marilyn Musgrave: The role of Christians in government (10/12/03)

Dennis Gaylor: Fifty more campuses (9/28/03)

Kathy Troccoli: A message of hope (9/21/03)

Kristy Starling: Dreams come true (9/14/03)

CeCe Winans Love: Of Gospel and Grammies (8/31/03)

Gary Heavin: Faith and fitness (8/24/03)

Gracia Burnham: Grace in the jungle (8/17/03)

Seattle Mariner John Olerud: Hope when your health fails (8/10/03)

Chris Maxwell: Pastor recovering from memory loss (7/27/03)

Wayne Warner: Today’s Pentecostal Evangel: a historical view (7/20/03)

Paul Drost: Every church a parent or a partner (7/13/03)

Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger: What can be learned from history? (6/29/03)

Ron Drye: Ministering to the whole person (6/22/03)

Matt McPherson: Doing business by the Golden Rule (6/15/03)

The difference (6/8/03)

Fory VandenEinde: Fulfilling the Great Commission (5/25/03)

Tom Greene: The church's new generation (5/18/03)

Lisa Whelchel: Former sitcom star now an advocate for moms (5/11/03)

Tony Lamarque: Warden speaks about unconditional love (4/27/03)

Ann Graham Lotz: Just give her more of Jesus (4/20/03)

Lee Strobel: The case for Christ (4/13/03)

Randall K. Barton: Extravagant stewardship (3/30/03)

Bishop Gilbert Patterson: Bringing people together under Christ (3/23/03)

Pat Boone: A unique celebrity speaks out (3/16/03)

St. Clair Mitchell: God in Washington, D.C. (3/9/03)

Kay Gross: Ministry by women, ministry to women (2/23/03)

Thomas E. Trask: A historic General Council (2/16/03)

Denise Jones: Girls of Grace (2/9/03)

Doug Greengard: Beyond the NFL (1/26/03)

Three pro-life advocates call the church to action (1/19/03)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: The gospel in uniform (1/12/03)

2002 Conversations

2001 Conversations


What can be learned from history?

Dr. J. Calvin Holsinger received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in history from the University of Pittsburgh and his doctorate in history from Temple University in Philadelphia. He has served on the history faculties of state and private universities, including Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Evangel University, Vanguard University and Central Bible College. He has been honored for his classroom achievements with the [Missouri] Governor’s Award for Excellence in University Teaching, the Sears Foundation Teaching Excellence Award and the Assemblies of God Educator’s Award. Holsinger is active in state and local historical agencies. In addition to his teaching, Holsinger was instrumental in the development of the national Chi Alpha program. He resides in Springfield, Mo. He recently shared some of his thoughts on America’s history with Scott Harrup, associate editor.

PE: What lessons can this generation learn from history?

HOLSINGER: A number of years ago, on a TV series called Roots, one of the characters said, “If you don’t know from where you’ve come, you can’t know where you are going.” That is one of the most profound statements I ever heard concerning history. History doesn’t just tell us where we have been; it also alerts us to where we are headed.

Americans of this generation, especially, need to know the history of the events, ideas and people that developed the kind of life and freedom we enjoy today — levels of privilege almost unheard of in human history. Most nations have been formed around a common ethnic heritage and religion. America does not have a common ethnic and religious inheritance. Instead, what we have as a country is a common history of people, events and challenges that formed this nation of political, economic and cultural opportunity.

This generation also needs to know the history of our Christian faith through the centuries, and not just how that faith has been expressed in America, but how God has preserved the faith through thousands of years.

History can teach humility by showing the sacrifices of other generations that have made our lives better and our institutions stronger. Reading historical accounts and visits to historical monuments and parks and towns and homes make one consider what others have done on our behalf. Historical symbols teach lessons about our human and national history.

PE: To what extent and in what context would you describe America as a Christian nation? Or would you?

HOLSINGER: That is a complicated question because people have different definitions. A few years ago I was in Europe during a period when our media was full of the public debate over an American political leader who had lied to the public. A British university professor friend of mine said, “You Americans don’t have a country; you have a church!” A recent Pew survey recorded that only 11 percent of the French value religion; around 90 percent of Americans do. So, in one sense, America is a very religious and Christian nation as compared to the rest of the world.

Our cultural elites — the media, the universities, and the legal system — insist that we are a secular society; which means that religion no longer instructs our institutions. These cultural elites thought that they had won the argument with the Scopes evolution trial in 1925. However, the majority in America just went on their way, and today it is evangelical Christianity that has the membership — not liberal or secularized religion.

I am in agreement with Michael Novak’s view in his book, On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding, in which he posits that American life and institutions are carried on the wings of Christian teachings and the commonsense principles of reason.

While the elites of education and entertainment and of the media and the courts have triumphantly proclaimed America a “secular society,” most Americans continue to be profoundly religious. In the voting booth, one of the few places where ordinary Americans are listened to, Americans continue to affirm quite regularly that they really do value the religious Christian heritage of America — even if they are “wayward” children of the faith.

PE: In light of the growing religious diversity in America, what can Christians do to positively influence our culture?

HOLSINGER: First, from recent history we must learn that we cannot rely on the political arena to solve all the problems faced in society. But we do need to use this wonderful tool given to us by our ancestors. Believers should support good causes, pray daily for our leaders as the Bible enjoins, and run for office.

Second, we need to establish and support institutions that are trying to meet human needs — such as the Salvation Army, Teen Challenge or Convoy of Hope — just as American Christians did before the government took over so many of the tasks of assisting the needy. There must continue to be a Christian answer to human needs, not just a governmental and political one.

Third, we need to influence our society in the educational arena. One of the unfortunate results of the last century’s modernist-orthodox struggles has been the loss of most of the institutions of learning and culture that had been established by believers during the previous 300 years of dominant evangelical Christian faith in America. In the ’60s these lost institutions were further radicalized and today are often violently opposed to Christian values and faith. Since the 1930s, however, evangelicals have been rebuilding their lost institutions. But if we are to truly and positively influence our culture, pastors and parents will need to be certain that our schools have the necessary talented youth and the needed resources to do their task — otherwise history teaches we will lose them again.

Finally, Christians have the greatest influence on their culture when they refuse to be pressed into the world’s mold but rather obey carefully the injunctions of Scripture about behavior, spending of time and money and lifestyle choices.

PE: Any other thoughts?

HOLSINGER: When I was a graduate history student, I had a renowned professor who was not known as a believer. One day he was lecturing on the famed Battle of Dunkirk. As he waxed eloquent about the battle’s events, he remarked, “You know, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes you just have to believe there must be a God.”

A young man quickly asked, “Professor, do you think that God had something to do with Dunkirk?” Quiet and thoughtful for a moment, the professor replied, “Sir, I guess that if there is a God, He must have something to say about everything.” And the professor then went on with his lecture.

I would urge readers to enlarge their understanding of the sovereignty of God in history and to daily pray, “Oh Lord, Thy kingdom come, and Thy will be done today on earth as it is in heaven!” — and believe it will happen!

E-mail your comments to

E-mail this page to a friend.
©1999-2009 General Council of the Assemblies of God