Any study of Church history should begin with principles that will guide the researcher. Just as a systematic theology often begins with a “Prolegomena,” so the historian must define his method and philosophy for writing on history. This is called historiography. A Christian is theo-centric in his approach to history; that is, he views the progress of time from a Christian worldview and for the benefit of Christians.
That history is important should be a universal assumption of believers. If not for any other reason, we must appreciate history because the Bible is full of it. The first half of the Old Testament is about what has been, and the next half is about what will be. The largest section of the New Testament is narrative. And the doctrine it contains is always based on the presupposition of a historic resurrection. To hate history is to be un-Christian, for it blasphemes the logic of God to fill His Scriptures with it. In fact, God commands that we remember history. Psalm 78 emphasizes very clearly that devotion to God must be based on an appreciation for God’s dealings in time and an avoidance of man’s failures.
A Christian View of Time
To have a proper appreciation for history, one must have an accurate view of time. Though most Bible-readers will take these principles for granted, we must define them to distance ourselves from pagan philosophy.
It is Real. As unbelievers theorize about time and reality, some have embraced the notion that nothing is provable except the consciousness of one’s own mind. In other words, you cannot prove that anything but your mind exists. You also cannot prove, they say, that you were not created a moment ago with all your thoughts downloaded into your memory so that your perception of reality is but an illusion. These are hardly worth mentioning since people who embrace the possibility of those worldviews could never embrace the reality of those worldviews. One should ask these philosophers if they can “prove” why those thoughts are worth pursuing. If they attempt to answer, they admit to a common standard of logic outside themselves and therefore prove the existence of objective reality that has been received by all in that it is basic to living. Subsequently, one should stab the philosopher’s leg and ask if he is really ready to admit it could all be illusory. The fact is, we function as if our thoughts and senses are perceiving reality, and this worldview works. Therefore, we need not pursue any other. A worldview that works is a worldview worth having.
It Is Divinely Organized. Time is not the sum of random events nor the inevitable passing of successive moments. Time is the sphere in which God accomplishes His eternal purposes. God does not dwell within time; rather, time dwells within God Who inhabits eternity. Thus, it cannot but correspond in its movement and outcome with everything God is and wills.
It Is Linear. The pagan model of time is cyclical. That is, it progresses in cycles and returns in upon itself over and over again. Many eastern philosophies subscribe to this. However, the Bible speaks of a beginning (Genesis 1:1) and an end (1 Corinthians 15:24), which is bracketed by eternity. Therefore, each moment, decision, and event contributes to a single reality—the only reality that could, would, should, or does exist. The past led us to the present, and the present will lead us to the future. What has happened has an effect upon us which we currently feel, and what we do now will affect what we are in the future. Consequences exist, and therefore decisions matter.
It Is Purposeful. In other words, God is not waiting to discover the result of time. He is not watching as it unfolds with the mindset, “What will be will be.” Rather, time is moving toward an end which God has foreordained. It is the tool God uses to accomplish a purpose which cannot be annulled. Neither the forces of evil nor the human will can reverse the ultimate plan of God. He dwells at both the beginning and end of time. Therefore, to change the course of time is to displace God, and that is impossible. He is God “from everlasting to everlasting.” He is the One “Who is, was, and is to come,” the “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Almighty.” Let us be thankful that we are part of His purpose and indeed have an intelligent part in it.
 This extends from the bare meaning of the word which is “the writing of history.” It is by extension the method used for research and writing.