"It fills me with alarm": Stonewall Jackson on humility and my reflections on doing history

Here is a great quote from Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863). He is speaking of the almost idolatrous way people elevate fellow human beings: "The manner in which the press, the army, and the people seem to lean upon certain persons is positively frightful. They are forgetting God in the instruments He has chosen. It fills me with alarm." [Stonewall Jackson's Book of Maxims, ed. James I. Robertson, Jr. (Nashville: Cumberland House, 2002), 85].

This is one reason a Christian historian cannot do history simply the way the secular historian does history. To be sure, he must use all of the methods of historical research faithfully and as accurately as he can. But the actions of men are never simply that and nothing more. While no contemporary historian is blessed with inspired insight, nevertheless, some judgement as to God's actions in the past needs to be made, lest we forget God in the instruments he uses.