Lucian, the satirist, wrote an excellent treatise, How to Write History, in the second century AD. He writes: “History has one task and one end — what is useful — and that comes from truth alone.” According to Lucian the discipline of history is not one done out of a desire for praise or profit, but a desire to “tell the tale as it happened.” For Lucian, a historian must have two traits. He must possess “political understanding and power of expression.” The task of history is more than recording but is a retelling of the past; there is a sense in which the task requires both prose and poetry. But, from the forefront, the historian must bear in mind not only his present audience, but also “those who will meet [his] work hereafter.” The historian must, as Lucian so boldly puts it, “aim for eternity.”
Just over a century after Lucian, Eusebius wrote his Ecclesiastical History. This task — recording the history of the church up to his time period — according to Eusebius, is — as far as he was aware — the first of its kind. Eusebius sees the task of history in a similar way to Lucian, his pagan counterpart. In fact, Eusebius demonstrates what Lucian argues with vivid prose.[For] nowhere can we find even the bare footsteps of men who have preceded us in the same path, unless it be those slight indications by which in divers ways they have left to us partial accounts of the times through which they have passed, raising their voices as a man holds up a torch from afar, calling to us from on high as from a distant watch-tower, and telling us how we must walk, and how to guide the course of our work without error or danger.
The historical task is one approached with both humility and vigor. The historian must possess humility, battling the esprit de corp that says: “Today is better than yesterday, and we have no need to turn back and learn from it.” Rather, historians look toward the torches held high in the past to see how they must walk today. Thus, the historian must do so with immense vigor, crying aloud and even prophetically, “Do not forget! Do not forget the past!”
What is unique to Eusebeius’s approach to history is not that he looked to the past for guidance, but he also looked up to the Lord for guidance as well. “We pray God to give us his guidance, and that we may have the help of the power of the Lord…” When a historian integrates the discipline of history with theology, he must do as Eusebius commends; he must turn to the Lord for guidance.
This means that the historical exercise is undergirded with the elements of prayer and the Word. If Lucian is right, and I think he is, historians must be statesmen. Therefore, historians must be similar to kings in all things. A king is the first and foremost statesman to his people; he is the premier politic. And according to Deuteronomy, God calls all kings to be men of the book. Likewise, the historian must be a man who is both in the Book, and as Samuel Lee corroborates to Eusebius, in his closet as well. A historian must turn to God for guidance as he pursues the discipline.
Gospel-Centered Church History
Not only must a historian be garbed in prayer and immersed in the Book, he must repeatedly apply the gospel to his discipline. In fact, Eusebius argues that the starting point for the church historian is centered upon the gospel.
For he who plans to hand on in writing the history of Christian origins is forced to begin from the first dispensation concerning the Christ himself, which is more divine than it seems to most, seeing that from him we claim to derive our very name.
Eusebius defends that all of history points to the divine Logos, who is in submission to the Father. No one knows the fullness of Christ except the Father, and no one knows any glimpse of this Christ apart from the Father revealing him. All history, as recorded in the Old and New Testament, points to the divine Logos. So studying Christian history does not begin with the Christ event per se, but Christian history extends back to the Law and the Prophets because Abraham and Moses testify to the knowledge of the Father found in Christ.
In all senses history before and after Christ points to him, hence our Gregorian calendar pivots upon the Christ event — BC indicating “before Christ” and AD indicating “the year of our Lord.” Christ is at the center of history and history, whether historians recognize this transcendent reality, centers upon Christ.
In order to properly engage in a gospel-centered approach to church history, the historian must keep four foci in mind: Advent and Easter, the great commission, heaven on earth, heresies and orthodoxy. These are suitable organizational elements to engage in the discipline of gospel-centered church history.
 Lucian, translated by K. Kilburn, Loeb Classic Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959), §9.
 Ibid, §39-40. Lucian also says: “Most of our historians today are like that, courting private whim and the profit they expect from their history” (§13).
 Ibid, §34.
 Lucian compares historians to sculptors like Phidias, Praxitiles, or Alcamenes. “What is required is arrangement and exposition. So they must look not for what to say but how to say it … The task of the historian is similar: to give fine arrangement to events and illuminate them as vividly as possible” (§50).
 Ibid, §40. Later Lucian says, “Do not write with your eye just on the present, to win praise and honour from your contemporaries; aim at eternity and prefer to write for posterity” (§61).
 Lucian lived from 120–190 AD; Eusebius lived from 260–340 AD.
 Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History, Books I–V, translated by Kirsopp Lake (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1926, reprinted 1998). “To work at this subject I consider especially necessary, because I am not aware that any Christian writer has until now paid attention to this kind of writing; and I hope that its high value will be evident to those who are convinced of the importance of a knowledge of the history” (1.5-11). Roger Olson in fact corroborates that Ecclesiastical History is in fact the first work of its kind (Roger Olson, The Story of Christian History [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999], 22).
 Ibid, 1.2-5.
 Ibid, 1.2-5.
 Especially in the context of Lucian and other early Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian resources, today’s common bifurcation of politic and religion is a false dichotomy. It is anachronistic for us to read these texts and think politic is strictly politic and religion is strictly religion. To be a statesman is to be faithful to the Imperial Cult and religion or to be faithful to Christ the King. N. T. Wright aptly argues: “In fact, what we call “politics” and what we call “religion” (and for that matter what we call “culture,” “philosophy,” “theology,” and lots of other things besides) were not experienced or thought of in the first century as separable entities. This was just as true, actually, for the Greeks and the Romans as it was for the Jews” (N. T. Wright, How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels [New York: HarperCollins, 2012], 159).
 All Scripture from the Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001). Deuteronomy 17:18-19 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them.”
 See Thomas Watson and Samuel Lee, The Bible and the Closet, (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 1992). “Precepts, promises and prayer are connected like so many golden links to excite, encourage and assist the soul in spiritual duties” (76).
 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 1.5-11 [Lake, LCL].
 Cf. Ibid, 5.1: “So then, after the necessary preliminaries to the history of the Church proposed by us, let us begin, as if starting a journey, with the appearance of our Saviour in the flesh, after invoking God, the Father of the Logos, and Jesus Christ himself, our Saviour and Lord, the heavenly Logos of God, to give us help and assistance to truth in the narrative.”
 Ibid, 2.2-5.
 Ibid, 2.6-16. Eusebius goes on to say later: “Thus we have demonstrated that the practice of piety handed down by the teacher of Christ is not new or strange, but, if one must speak truthfully, is primitive, unique, and true” (4.15).