History Department

History Department

"History is to society as memory is to the individual."


In 1953 a man known only as H.M. literally lost his memory due to an operation performed to control epileptic seizures. He could not remember a conversation held five minutes earlier, nor could he remember the people he had worked with for years five minutes after he left them. Every time he went for a bathroom break he had to re-introduce himself to his colleagues. One of the results of his condition was that he had no settled convictions or beliefs. He could not remember what he had committed himself to.

Swedish Baptist Seminary in Chicago, 1902

A society which cannot remember or chooses not to remember is similarly doomed to rootless wandering, chasing every fad and will-o'-the-wisp that comes by. A good memory encourages critical thinking. Most of the problems we face today are not new, they've been faced before.


We in the Bethel History Department seek to recover lost memories: memories of faithful Christians through the ages, Christians who have faced struggles much like those we face today, and have overcome them; memories of American, European, African, and Asian cultures; memories of all cultures shaped by human beings, who, consciously or unconsciously, reflect God's image.

We hope that those memories give great joy as we discover that which is intriguing, amusing, fascinating about our brothers and sisters through all time and throughout the whole world. We hope that those memories bring great sorrow as we witness the tragedies and share in the griefs of those brothers and sisters. We hope that those memories lead to a great welling of anger at injustice, sympathy at pain, laughter at the amusing, exhilaration at triumphs. We hope that all of our students come away with their memories deepened and enriched, and we hope that each of them comes away a changed person for having met their brothers and sisters and having met us as teachers.

 Browse this website to learn more about...

...our mission and objectives

...our faculty and what they're up to

...what you can do with a major in History -- e.g., see what some of our students and alumni are up to

...graduate studies in History

...and our current courses and programs.

TOP IMAGE: Students and faculty of the Swedish Baptist Seminary in Chicago gather during the 1902 Golden Jubilee celebration -- From the Baptist General Conference website.