History of the Christian Church http://www.sanctorum.us History of the Christian Church Sun, 26 Mar 2017 09:01:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 http://www.sanctorum.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/cropped-New-CS-Logo-black-32x32.png History of the Christian Church http://www.sanctorum.us 32 32 Communio Sanctorum is Latin for “The Communion of Saints.” This podcast Communion Sanctorum is a weekly podcast on the History of the Christian Church.<br /> <br /> Church History can be a complex and confusing subject with endless lists of names, dates, and issues. The podcast is an attempt to give believers a popular and non-academic review of church history in a manageable format with episodes that are under a half hour.<br /> <br /> While the Latin phrase Communio Sanctorum has been in use for centuries, the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s dissertation was titled Sanctorum Communio. Written at the age of only 21, the book is a monumental tome describing Bonhoeffer’s ideas on the work of the Spirit in the Church building a community of the redeemed.<br /> Lance Ralston clean Lance Ralston leralston@gmail.com leralston@gmail.com (Lance Ralston) Communio Sanctorum History of the Christian Church http://www.sanctorum.us/wp-content/uploads/powerpress/CS_Icon.jpg http://www.sanctorum.us TV-G Oxnard, Ca weekly The First Centuries – Part 7 – Origen http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-7-origen/ Sun, 19 Mar 2017 09:01:38 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1645 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-7-origen/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-7-origen/feed/ 0 As I record  & post this episode, a new movie’s out called Logan. It’s appears to be the last installment for the venerable X-Men character Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman. Logan was an immortal who became the subject of a secret military experiment gone wrong. His skeleton was infused with a fictional metal called adamantium […] As I record  & post this episode, a new movie’s out called Logan. It’s appears to be the last installment for the venerable X-Men character Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman. Logan was an immortal who became the subject of a secret military experiment gone wrong. His skeleton was infused with a fictional metal called adamantium that bears the hardness of a diamond.

Why, you wonder, am I sharing this. What’s this have to do with Church History? I mention it, not because I’ve seen the movie, but because of the name of the church father we’re going to take a look at today. Or I should say his nickname; it was Adamantius. Roughly meaning, “Man of Steel” or if you prefer, “Tough Guy.”

Can you guess who we’re talking about, what his more common name was? Origen, a man both honored & despised. Honored because when he was good, he was very, very good and when he was bad he was awful!

I’ve come to think of Origen as a really smart guy with a basically good heart, who went off into weirdness because of one simple error, which we’ll take a look at later.

Origen Adamantius was born at Alexandria in Egypt around AD 185, the eldest of 7. His parents were committed Christians who diligently raised their family in the Scriptures. Persecution led to his father Leonidas’ beheading in 202. Origen was 17, and saw it as his duty to follow his dad’s example. His mother hid his clothes to keep him from going out of the house. As he searched for them, she persuaded him to consider that as the eldest son, it was now his responsibility to provide for her & his siblings.

To do just that, Origen opened a school for the wealthy children of Alexandria. He made extra money copying texts, and tutoring those seeking to become church members.

It became clear to all who engaged him that he was a genius. A wealthy patron offered to assist him in further schooling. Origen wanted to parlay his emerging intellect as a tool for the defense of the Christian faith and decided the best way to do that was by making sure he understood the arguments of the major contenders. So he enrolled in a school of the pagan philosopher Ammonius Saccas. It was during this time Origen began putting together his ideas that would later come out in his work refuting the challenges of the pagan critic Celsus that we’ll get to a bit later.

As Origen’s output grew, a wealthy friend supplied him with secretaries to capture his dictation and run his affairs.

When Origen was installed by the pastor of the church at Alexandria, Bishop Demetrius, as the head of the Catechetical, or we might say, new-member school, Origen began a life of ultra strict asceticism. He slept on the floor, ate no meat, drank no wine, fasted twice a week, owned no shoes, and according to the ancient church historian Eusebius, castrated himself in mistaken obedience of what Jesus said about eunuchs in Matt 19. There’s some debate if Origen actually did this, or just chose to stay celibate.

Reflecting the safety of travel on the now Roman Lake of the Med, Origen made several trips to Rome, and one to Arabia. In 215, when he was about 30, unrest in Alexandria caused by a visit from the Emperor Caracalla, moved Origen to make a visit to Palestine. While there, he was asked by the pastors of both Caesarea and Jerusalem to preach in their churches. He did, though he was only a layman. He’d never been ordained a pastor. When he got home, his pastor, Bishop Demetrius was livid as this was regarded as a serious breach of ecclesiastical protocol.

From 218 to 230, Origen devoted himself exclusively to writing. Then in 230 again set out for Palestine, where he the same pastor-bishops as before asked him to preach again. When he declined lest it create another brueha with Demetrius, they offered to ordain him then and there. Sounded good to Origen, so the deed was done.

Yeah, Demetrius wasn’t pleased and when Origen got back, fired him & revoked his ordination, claiming the other two pastors weren’t Origen’s spiritual authority, HE was.   That was too much for Origen to bear, so he moved to Caesarea in 231 where he opened a famous school, attracting scholars from all over.

Origen then gave himself to writing & preaching. In 250, at the age of 65, he was rounded up in the persecution under Decius, endured prolonged torture, in which they hoped to get him to recant. But Origen outlasted Decius. He was released, but managed to survive just a few years.

While Origen left a lasting impact on theology and the Church, his by far largest work was called the Hexapla, which he worked 20 years on. The Hexapla is a massive work 6000 pages spread over 15 volumes. It’s 6 versions of the OT arranged in columns side by side, like what we call a parallel bible today. It compares the Hebrew text to the Greek Septuagint translation, and 4 other Greek translations, including one Origen found in a jar near Jericho – and which modern scholars wonder was an early find of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Hexapla became an important step in the development of the modern Bible and went far in advancing the science of scripture translation. Chances are there was only a single full edition of the Hexapla, housed in the church at Caesarea, but was destroyed by the Muslims in their invasion in 638.

While the Hexapla was his largest work, his most significant was On First Principles, a systematic theology, the first ever for the Christian Faith. Origen merged a distinct  Christian philosophy with Greek rhetorical techniques and assumptions based on Scripture. In 4 volumes, Origen deals with God, spirits, man, nature, free will, & Scripture. The original text has all but disappeared, but a questionable Latin translation by Rufinus, and a more reliable rendering by Jerome convey most of it.

These two works alone, to say nothing of all the other material he produced, it’s easy to see how he kept 7 secretaries busy and moved Jerome a hundred yrs later to say, “Has anyone read everything Origen wrote?”

In Against Celsus, Origen gave a stellar defense of the Christian faith against the erudite attacks of the pagan philosopher Celsus. Nothing of Celsus remains, except where Origen quotes him. It seems Celsus had had enough of the upstart Christians and their crucified God. He leveled his not insubstantial genius at clearing away what he considered the foolishness of the Gospel. But his, what he thought were ace serves into the Christian side of the court were returned by the Wimbledon champion Origen, who sent them back on fire! Really, it was clear that paganism was a dilapidated old shack that needed to come down. Christianity was the wrecking ball that did it in. Against Celsus is one of the finest defenses of Christianity produced in that era. Answering Celsus’ accusation that by refusing military service Christians were poor citizens, Origen said, “We who by our prayers destroy all demons which stir up wars, violate oaths, and disturb the peace, are of more help to the emperors than those who seem to be doing the fighting.”

Origen produced commentaries on almost all the books of the Bible, though only fragmentary evidence survives of most. His homilies are the oldest examples of Christian preaching.

History has assigned many labels to Origen. He was at heart a biblical scholar whose intellect was nurtured by Scripture. But this is where Origen also seems to go off the rails. He applied a three-fold method when interpreting the Bible. He said the Bible could be understood literally, morally, and allegorically. Nothing too-too wild there. But where Origen DID go too far was in saying the allegorical method was the main way to view Scripture.

In contrast, modern Evangelicals would say the literal, straight-forward meaning of the text prevails. You don’t have to read anything INTO the text with a literal interpretation. Your goal is to get the meaning OUT of the text, not put it in. Now, there might be some allegorical meaning to some passages, but those ought to be considered only after first getting a good grasp on the literal meaning.

Origen flipped that. He claimed the allegorical meaning was the primary purpose of the text, while the literal was SO obvious, well, clearly something as important as God’s Word had to be deeper than just what any ole’ uneducated person could get.

That brings us to another error Origen made. He divided people into 2 categories; the mass of everyday commoners with average intelligence for whom a literal interpretation of the Bible was sufficient to help them muddle through. And the intellectually elite and enlightened for whom the lofty heights of allegory opened higher spiritual realms. For commoners, the Gospel with its message of the cross and resurrection were enough, but the elite who entered into the mysteries of allegory, the very mind of God was available.

Sadly, Origen’s view of interpreting Scripture dominated the European Medieval Church.

Other problems areas with Origen are his belief that all spirits are created in the spiritual realm then find homes in either demons, humans or angels. He believed that ultimately, all spirits would be saved and restored to God, including the devil.

Most problematic was Origen’s thoughts on the Trinity. He conceived of it as a hierarchy. The Father was the absolute, supreme God, while Jesu and the Holy Spirit were also in essence God, but not equal to the Father. And though he attacked Gnostic beliefs, like them, he rejected the goodness of material creation.

While Origen produced much helpful material, his nudging the Church to adopt an allegorical method for interpreting Scripture set it on a path that ended up obscuring God’s Word and removing it from the hands of everyday believers.  Now it became the sole domain of those properly educated to parse it’s esoteric truths.

Three centuries after Origen’s death, in 553, the Council of Constantinople declared him a heretic. His works were systematically removed.

Modern apologists for Origen suggest he was only seeking to cast the Faith in the thought forms of his day. That may have been his goal, but he simply went too far and introduced ideas that were clearly anti-Biblical, ideas that a literal, straight-forward understanding of the text would have cleared up, had Origen let them.

]]>
As I record  & post this episode, a new movie’s out called Logan. It’s appears to be the last installment for the venerable X-Men character Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman. Logan was an immortal who became the subject of a secret military experiment ... Why, you wonder, am I sharing this. What’s this have to do with Church History? I mention it, not because I’ve seen the movie, but because of the name of the church father we’re going to take a look at today. Or I should say his nickname; it was Adamantius. Roughly meaning, “Man of Steel” or if you prefer, “Tough Guy.”
Can you guess who we’re talking about, what his more common name was? Origen, a man both honored & despised. Honored because when he was good, he was very, very good and when he was bad he was awful!
I’ve come to think of Origen as a really smart guy with a basically good heart, who went off into weirdness because of one simple error, which we’ll take a look at later.
Origen Adamantius was born at Alexandria in Egypt around AD 185, the eldest of 7. His parents were committed Christians who diligently raised their family in the Scriptures. Persecution led to his father Leonidas’ beheading in 202. Origen was 17, and saw it as his duty to follow his dad’s example. His mother hid his clothes to keep him from going out of the house. As he searched for them, she persuaded him to consider that as the eldest son, it was now his responsibility to provide for her & his siblings.
To do just that, Origen opened a school for the wealthy children of Alexandria. He made extra money copying texts, and tutoring those seeking to become church members.
It became clear to all who engaged him that he was a genius. A wealthy patron offered to assist him in further schooling. Origen wanted to parlay his emerging intellect as a tool for the defense of the Christian faith and decided the best way to do that was by making sure he understood the arguments of the major contenders. So he enrolled in a school of the pagan philosopher Ammonius Saccas. It was during this time Origen began putting together his ideas that would later come out in his work refuting the challenges of the pagan critic Celsus that we’ll get to a bit later.
As Origen’s output grew, a wealthy friend supplied him with secretaries to capture his dictation and run his affairs.
When Origen was installed by the pastor of the church at Alexandria, Bishop Demetrius, as the head of the Catechetical, or we might say, new-member school, Origen began a life of ultra strict asceticism. He slept on the floor, ate no meat, drank no wine, fasted twice a week, owned no shoes, and according to the ancient church historian Eusebius, castrated himself in mistaken obedience of what Jesus said about eunuchs in Matt 19. There’s some debate if Origen actually did this, or just chose to stay celibate.
Reflecting the safety of travel on the now Roman Lake of the Med, Origen made several trips to Rome, and one to Arabia. In 215, when he was about 30, unrest in Alexandria caused by a visit from the Emperor Caracalla, moved Origen to make a visit to Palestine. While there, he was asked by the pastors of both Caesarea and Jerusalem to preach in their churches. He did, though he was only a layman. He’d never been ordained a pastor. When he got home, his pastor, Bishop Demetrius was livid as this was regarded as a serious breach of ecclesiastical protocol.
From 218 to 230, Origen devoted himself exclusively to writing. Then in 230 again set out for Palestine, where he the same pastor-bishops as before asked him to preach again. When he declined lest it create another brueha with Demetrius, they offered to ordain him then and there. Sounded good to Origen, so the deed was done.
Yeah, Demetrius wasn’t pleased and when Origen got back,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 13:05
The First Centuries Part 06 / Tertullian & The Montanists http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-06-tertullian-the-montanists/ Sun, 12 Mar 2017 09:01:00 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1641 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-06-tertullian-the-montanists/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-06-tertullian-the-montanists/feed/ 0 This is part 6 of our series titled The First Centuries, in Season 2 of CS. In the last episode we took a look at the Church Father Irenaeus. This episode we’ll consider Tertullian. That may prompt some to wonder if we’re going to work our way through ALL the church fathers of the Early […] This is part 6 of our series titled The First Centuries, in Season 2 of CS. In the last episode we took a look at the Church Father Irenaeus. This episode we’ll consider Tertullian.

That may prompt some to wonder if we’re going to work our way through ALL the church fathers of the Early Church. Uh, no – we won’t. Just a few.

While he’s known to history as Tertullian, his full name was Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus.

The story of his origins is a bit confused. Born & raised in the North African city of Carthage, he’s said to be both a Berber, and the son of a Roman centurion in the legion attending the proconsul of Africa. It’s not unheard of that his father could have been BOTH a Berber & legionnaire since by that time Rome conscripted soldiers from many of the people’s they ruled.

Berbers were an African ethnic group who called themselves the Amazigh. The label “Berber” was given them by Greeks, the word is derived from their designation for all non-Greeks from which we get the word “barbarian.” So racially, it’s likely Tertullian was a black African.

Tertullian was born sometime around AD 150 & raised as a pagan. Holding a keen mind, he was given a good education in literature and rhetoric, most likely in preparation for practicing law; a favored profession for young men seeking to enter the political realm in the complex game of Roman social advancement. While the details of his conversion are missing, he came to faith in Christ around the age of 40. Tertullian may have done a brief stint as a lawyer in Rome, but returned to his hometown of Carthage where he lived and worked for the rest of his productive life. While Jerome says Tertullian became a priest, others says he remained a layman, serving the church at Carthage as one of its elders.

As soon as Tertullian converted, he turned his considerable intellectual talents to defending the faith. He was the first to write a systematic set of apologetics and theology in Latin, for which he earned the title Father of Latin Theology.

Tertullian engaged a whole host of topics. He wrote Roman officials explaining in modes they were familiar with why persecution of Christians was unwise. He wrote some of the earliest work on defining the doctrine of the Trinity, using terms later writers drew on to develop the orthodox position of 3 Persons in 1 God. And like Irenaeus before him and form whom he drew inspiration, Tertullian defended the Faith against the Gnostics.

His writing has been described by a slew of interesting adjectives; Aggressive, Sarcastic, Caustic, Harsh, but across it all is a logical brilliance deeply rooted in sacred Scripture. His harshness wasn’t only directed at opponents; he employed it toward himself as well when he shares his own struggles. Though he wrote 2 Cs later, Jerome says Tertullian was well regarded in the Church and a much sought after speaker. If his wriritng is any indication, he understood the imperative of keeping one’s audience alert. It’s clear his learning was vast as he drew form numerous & diverse sources in building his case.

Over 30 of his works are known, though most today are based on ultra-slim manuscript evidence. It’s certain he wrote much more that’s been lost.

His most important work is the Apologeticum, a defense of the Christian Faith & its adherents. Second is his theological treatise titled Against Praxeas, in which Tertullian responds to a heretic named Praxeas who was butchering what the Bible taught about the persons of the Godhead. It was here, for the first time that someone used the term trinity in describing God.  In his work, On the Prescription of Heretics, Tertullian lays out a brilliant plan for how to conduct discussions with heretics.

If that’s all Tertullian accomplished he’d still go down as one of the more important of the Church Fathers. But what sets him genuinely apart is that he decided to join a splinter group called the Montanists¸ while at the same time writing prolifically in defense of orthodox Christianity. That alone, and the fact that Tertullian stands as an exemplar advocate of the Faith, move us to re-assess the label attached by some to the Montanists as heretics.

We took a look at the Montanism back in Episode 5 of Season 1. It behooves us to review that.

Sometime around AD 160, 3 people joined forces in Phrygia, a region in central Asia Minor, present day Turkey. A man named Montanus was the leader, but he was assisted by two capable & energetic women named Maximilla & Prisca. They claimed they were directed by the Holy Spirit, via a word of prophecy, to bring much needed reform to the Church.

Most of what’s known about the Montanists comes to us through their opponents and critics. So it’s not always simple knowing what’s an accurate description of their beliefs and what was altered to make them look bad.

Reading modern labels back onto the Montanists, hyper-Pentecostals is an apt description. Montanus claimed that the Holy Spirit spoke direction though him to the Church. He announced that the city of Pepuza in Phrygia would soon be the site of the New Jerusalem and set up his HQs there.

A central message of the Montanists was the soon return of Christ & the need for believers to get ready by adopting a strict asceticism that included much fasting. When they did eat, they were supposed to eat only dry foods, because apparently moist food was too easy to chew & too enjoyable, so it must be a sinful indulgence of the flesh. They were also required to abstain from sex, including married couples. Those who joined the movement were encouraged to relish persecution; regarding it a badge of genuine faith and loyalty to God.

Now, we might assume with such rigorous requirements, the movement wouldn’t be all that appealing and only have a small number of adherents. That’s not the case. It became quite popular. Its appeal was enhanced by a revival of teaching and practice in the use of spiritual gifts. Tongues, prophecy, and other manifestations of the Spirit as described by Paul in 1 Cor 12 were encouraged. And the strict asceticism practiced by Montanists apparently wasn’t merely a way for people to one-up each other in a contest to see who was more spiritually mature & disciplined. It was encouraged by the cherished conviction Jesus was coming soon. A careful watch over one’s moral life seemed a reasonable response to the belief they were about to stand in the presence of a holy God. They needed to pursue practical holiness in their daily lives, because on any one of those days, Jesus could come. Even more, He WOULD come.

The growth & challenge of the Montanist movement presented such a challenge, Church leaders convened some of their first synods to decide how to respond. It was decided the excesses of the New Prophets were too extreme to tolerate. In fact, it was suggested that Montanus’, Maximilla’s and Prisca’s ecstatic prophetic episodes looked more like a case of demons possession than the way the gift of prophecy had been practiced in the Church up tl that time. So exorcists were sent to deal with them. When nothing came of that and the Montanists refused to back down, they were excommunicated. What’s interesting to historians is that while the fact of their excommunication is given, its reason is not. All we know is that an official split occurred between the Montanists and Apostolic Church.

While historically Montanism has gone down as one of the early heresies to threaten the church, the more you read, the more the door opens to question that conclusion. Again, let’s remember most of what we know about them comes from the records of their critics. How would your lifelong opponent describe you? And we have to remember that Tertullian, a rock & pillar of the orthodox, catholic, Apostolic Faith, was a Montanist. So a re-assessment of the Montanists is probably due. This became abundantly clear to me after studying all the various groups that sprang up in Europe during the Middle Ages & Reformation. So many of those little groups History’s plastered with the designation “Heretics” most certainly were NOT! They just refused to abide in what they considered a corrupt and corrupting religious institution. Refusing to kowtow to its demands, they were systematically erased; along with all evidence of their existence, leaving only what their enemies said about them.

So, regarding the Montanists, something I shared in Episode 5 may be helpful à

If you live in an urban or sub-urban community, as you drive around town you see numerous churches with different signs & labels. Christianity is of hundreds of groups and thousands of sects. While the services held in different local churches may be similar, in others they differ widely in style, culture, values, & doctrine. Some services are sedate & composed, putting more emphasis on rationality and the centrality of the sermon or the practice of a liturgy. Others encourage an emotional encounter with God. So the music & worship take a more active place. I’m obviously generalizing widely.

My point is that 2 churches may be packed though each is on the opposite end of the other in regard to the culture they express. Each appeals to a different group of people. It isn’t that one is right & the other is wrong. It’s just that people are different. And God in His wisdom has provided a place for them to come closer to Him.

I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some of that dynamic that occurred with the Montanists. Before coming to faith in Christ Montanus was a pagan priest of either Apollo or Cybele. Both gods were worshipped by priests & priestesses given to ecstatic trances. Whether these altered states of consciousness were induced by hallucinogenic drugs, extreme meditative rituals, or outright demonic activity – the person in ecstasy would enter a trance where  the eyes would roll up into the head, their bodies would go rigid, their voice would alter, & they’d make solemn pronouncements as though by the voice of a god.

That was Montanus’ background. And in light of some of the things he said and did, some have questioned the genuineness of his conversion. Did he really come to faith or like some of the other aberrant groups at this time, did he see the rising popularity of Christianity and simply adopt some of its terms and forms while carrying on under his old practices? Did he just rebrand his demonically-induced ecstasies?

That’s what some church historians conclude. Some of what Montanus, along with Prisca & Maximilla went on to prophecy was goofy. But a good number of the charges leveled against Montanus reflected his practices BEFORE his conversion. It was his critics who accused him of making his post-conversion prophetic announcements in the old pagan trance-like state. Others said that he did NOT operate that way after coming to faith; that he renounced his pagan past. But that he, like his supporters, was someone who yearned for a more emotionally engaged & experiential kind of faith & that the work of the Holy Spirit, so prominent in the earliest church, must not be forfeited. It was in danger of that very thing as the Faith had to contend with hostile government officials and an emerging mix of aberrant groups. All the energy by the church’s brightest leaders seemed to be going into the cerebral, the doctrinal, the apologetic – and this emphasis on the mind was numbing the heart of the Faith. The Montanists wanted to see the Holy Spirit kept active & present in the Church’s midst. Sadly, their claims to being the ESPECIALLY anointed led to excesses, and a discrediting of their movement – just as has happened in more recent times with the wild pronouncements & false prophecies of some of the hyper-charismatics.

Some of the criticisms of the ancient anti-Montanists in fact rested on the fact that the Montanists were so bold in proclaiming their faith and operating in the gifts of the Spirit, it was drawing attention to the Faith right at the time when others were telling believers to keep their heads down & their mouths shut because of persecution.

The decision to excommunicate the Montanists was anything but unanimous among Church leaders. Many believed while the New Prophets had indeed gone too far in their excessive emphasis on asceticism, their renewal of the use of spiritual gifts was a return to the primitive Christianity practiced by the Apostles & described in the Book of Acts.

But what brought Montanism into the greatest disrepute was the failure of some of its leaders’ prophecies about impending events. This and their ultra-strict asceticism earned them the label of being highly aberrant, if not outright heretical.

Though it was right for Church leaders of the late 2nd Century to censure the Montanists for their excesses, they probably went too far in labeling them “heretics.” Because the Montanists put such emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, rejecting Montanism tended to put a damper on the exercise of spiritual gifts. An unfortunate turn at a time when Christians needed every bit of help they could get.

As we read Tertullian, it appears he’d grown disillusioned with the moral state of the Church which out of a desire to avoid persecution was accommodating more and more of the ways of the world. Martyrdom, once a badge of honor, was now being avoided even to the place of denying the faith. And Tertullian thought the way the Church was handling serious public sins was way too lenient.  Since the Montanists held positions on all these things matching his own, it seemed a natural fit to join them. So join them he did.

What’s not clear is whether that meant Tertullian actually left the church at Carthage to join some local Montanist church. In fact, we’re not even sure there WAS some separate place the Montanists met. It seems most likely they merely existed as a group INSIDE the church at Carthage.

Yet even while numbering himself with the Montanists, Tertullian continued to churn out theology defining and apologetics defending the orthodox, catholic, Apostolic faith. But the anti-Montanists managed to win the day and eventually the sect was declared heretical. So Tertullian was never recognized as a saint. Though his work became foundational to later formulations of the Faith.

Tertullian’s later life remains a mystery. All Jerome has to say 200 years later is that he died of old age.

]]>
This is part 6 of our series titled The First Centuries, in Season 2 of CS. In the last episode we took a look at the Church Father Irenaeus. This episode we’ll consider Tertullian. That may prompt some to wonder if we’re going to work our way through ... That may prompt some to wonder if we’re going to work our way through ALL the church fathers of the Early Church. Uh, no – we won’t. Just a few.
While he’s known to history as Tertullian, his full name was Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus.
The story of his origins is a bit confused. Born & raised in the North African city of Carthage, he’s said to be both a Berber, and the son of a Roman centurion in the legion attending the proconsul of Africa. It’s not unheard of that his father could have been BOTH a Berber & legionnaire since by that time Rome conscripted soldiers from many of the people’s they ruled.
Berbers were an African ethnic group who called themselves the Amazigh. The label “Berber” was given them by Greeks, the word is derived from their designation for all non-Greeks from which we get the word “barbarian.” So racially, it’s likely Tertullian was a black African.
Tertullian was born sometime around AD 150 & raised as a pagan. Holding a keen mind, he was given a good education in literature and rhetoric, most likely in preparation for practicing law; a favored profession for young men seeking to enter the political realm in the complex game of Roman social advancement. While the details of his conversion are missing, he came to faith in Christ around the age of 40. Tertullian may have done a brief stint as a lawyer in Rome, but returned to his hometown of Carthage where he lived and worked for the rest of his productive life. While Jerome says Tertullian became a priest, others says he remained a layman, serving the church at Carthage as one of its elders.
As soon as Tertullian converted, he turned his considerable intellectual talents to defending the faith. He was the first to write a systematic set of apologetics and theology in Latin, for which he earned the title Father of Latin Theology.
Tertullian engaged a whole host of topics. He wrote Roman officials explaining in modes they were familiar with why persecution of Christians was unwise. He wrote some of the earliest work on defining the doctrine of the Trinity, using terms later writers drew on to develop the orthodox position of 3 Persons in 1 God. And like Irenaeus before him and form whom he drew inspiration, Tertullian defended the Faith against the Gnostics.
His writing has been described by a slew of interesting adjectives; Aggressive, Sarcastic, Caustic, Harsh, but across it all is a logical brilliance deeply rooted in sacred Scripture. His harshness wasn’t only directed at opponents; he employed it toward himself as well when he shares his own struggles. Though he wrote 2 Cs later, Jerome says Tertullian was well regarded in the Church and a much sought after speaker. If his wriritng is any indication, he understood the imperative of keeping one’s audience alert. It’s clear his learning was vast as he drew form numerous & diverse sources in building his case.
Over 30 of his works are known, though most today are based on ultra-slim manuscript evidence. It’s certain he wrote much more that’s been lost.
His most important work is the Apologeticum, a defense of the Christian Faith & its adherents. Second is his theological treatise titled Against Praxeas, in which Tertullian responds to a heretic named Praxeas who was butchering what the Bible taught about the persons of the Godhead. It was here, for the first time that someone used the term trinity in describing God.  In his work, On the Prescription of Heretics, Tertullian lays out a brilliant plan for how to conduct discussions with heretics.
If that’s all Tertullian accomplished he’d still go down as one of the more important of the Church Fathers.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 17:10
The First Centuries – Part 5 / Irenaeus http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-5-irenaeus/ Sun, 05 Mar 2017 09:01:23 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1634 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-5-irenaeus/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-5-irenaeus/feed/ 0 The historical record is pretty clear that the Apostle John spent his last years in Western Asia Minor, with the City of Ephesus acting as his headquarters. It seems that during his time there, he ppoured himself into a cadre of capable men who went on to provide outstanding leadership for the church in the […] The historical record is pretty clear that the Apostle John spent his last years in Western Asia Minor, with the City of Ephesus acting as his headquarters. It seems that during his time there, he ppoured himself into a cadre of capable men who went on to provide outstanding leadership for the church in the midst of difficult trials. Men like Polycarp of Smyrna, Papias & Apolinarius of Hierapolis, & Melito of Sardis. These and others were mentioned by Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus in a letter to Victor, a bishop at Rome in about AD 190.

These students of John are considered to be the last of what’s called The Apostolic Age. The greatest of them was Irenæus. Though he wasn’t a direct student of the Apostle, he was influenced by Polycarp, & is considered by many as one of the premier and first Church Fathers.

Not much is known of Irenæus’ origins. From what we can piece together from his writings, he was most likely born and raised in Smyrna around AD 120. He was instructed  by Smyrna’s lead pastor, Polycarp, student of John. He says he was also directly influenced by other pupils of the Apostles, though he doesn’t name them. Polycarp had the biggest impact on him, as evidenced by his comment, “What I heard from him, I didn’t write on parchment, but on my heart. By God’s grace, I bring it constantly to mind.” It’s possible Irenæus accompanied Polycarp when he travelled to Rome and engaged Bishop Anicetus in the Easter controversy we talked about last episode.

At some point while still a young man, Irenæus went to Southern Gaul as a missionary. He settled at Lugdunum where he became an elder in the church there. Lugdunum eventually became the town of Lyon, France. In 177, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the church in Lugdunum was hammered by fierce persecution. But Irenæus had been sent on a mission to Rome to deal with the Montanist controversy. While away, the church’s elderly pastor Pothinus, was martyred. By the time he returned in 178 the persecution had spent itself and he was appointed as the new pastor.

Irenæus worked tirelessly to mend the holes persecution had punched in the church in Southern Gaul. In both teaching and writing, he provided resources other church leaders  could use in faithfully discharging their pastoral duties, as well as refuting the various and sundry errors challenging the new Faith. During his term as the pastor of the church at Lyon, he was  able to see a majority of the population of the City converted to Christ. Dozens of missionaries were sent out to plant church across Gaul.

Then, about 190, Irenæus simply disappears with no clear account of his death. A 5th C tradition says he died a martyr in 202 in the persecution under Septimus Severus. The problem with that is that several church fathers like Eusebius, Hippolytus, & Tertullian uncharacteristically fail to mention Irenæus’ martyrdom. Because martyrs achieved hero status, if Irenæus had been martyred, the Church would have marked it. SO most likely, he died of natural causes. However he died, he was buried under the altar St. John’s in Lyons.

Irenæus’ influence far surpassed the importance of his location. The bishopric of Lyon was not considered an important seat. But Irenæus’ impact on the Faith was outsized to his position. His keen intellect united a Greek education with astute philosophical analysis, and a sharp understanding of the Scriptures to produce a remarkable defense of The Gospel. That was badly needed at the time due to the inroads being forged by a new threat – Gnosticism, which we spent time describing in Season 1.

Irenæus’ articulation of the Faith brought about a unanimity that united the East & Western branches of the Church that had been diverging. They’d end up reverting to that divergence later, but Irenæus managed to bring about a temporary peace through his clear defense of the faith against the Gnostics.

Irenæus admits he had a difficult time mastering the Celtic dialect spoken by the people where he served but his capacity in Greek, in which he composed his writings, was both elegant & eloquent without running to the merely flowery. His content shows he was familiar with the classics by authors like Homer, Hesiod, & Sophocles as well as philosophers like Pythagoras & Plato.

He shows a like familiarity with earlier Christian writers such as Clement, Justin Martyr, & Tatian. But Irenæus is really only 1 generation away from Jesus and the original Apostles due to a couple long life-times; that of John, and then his pupil, Polycarp. We find their influence in Irenæus’ remark impugning the appeal of Gnosticism, “The true way to God, is through love. Better to know nothing but the crucified Christ, than fall into the impiety of overly curious inquires & silly nuances.” Reading Irenæus’ work on the core doctrines of the Faith reveal his whole-hearted embrace of Pauline theology of the NT. Where Irenæus goes beyond John & Paul was in his handling of ecclesiology; that is, matters of the Church. Irenæus wrote on things like the proper handling of the sacraments, and how authority in the church ought to be passed on. A close reading of the 2nd C church fathers reveals that this issue was of major concern to them. It makes sense it would. Jesus had commissioned the Apostles to carry on His mission and to lay the foundation of the Faith & Church. The Apostles had done that, but in the 2nd C, the men the Apostles had raised up were themselves aging out. Church leaders were burdened with the question of how to properly pass on the Faith once for all delivered to the saints, to those who came next. What was the plan?

We’ll come back to that later . . .

Irenæus was a staunch advocate of what we’ll call Biblical theology, as opposed to a theology derived from philosophical musing, propped up by random Bible verses. He’s the first of the church fathers to make a liberal use of BOTH the Old & New Testaments in his writings. He uses all four Gospels and nearly all the letters of the NT in the development of his theology.

His goal in it all was to establish unity among believers. He was so zealous for it because of the rising popularity of Gnosticism, a new religious fascination attractive an increasing number of Christians.

Historians have come to understand that like many emergent faiths, Gnosticism was itself fractured into different flavors. The brand Irenæus dealt with was the one most popular in his region; Valentinian Gnosticism, or, Valentinianism.

While several writings are attributed to Irenæus, by far his most important and famopus was Against Heresies, his refutation of Gnosticism. Written sometime btwn 177 & 190, it’s 5 volumes is considered by most to be the premier theological work of the ante-Nicene era. It’s also the main source of knowledge for historians on Gnosticism and Christian doctrine in the Apostolic Age. It was composed in response to a request by a friend wanting a brief on how to deal with the errors of both Valentinus & Marcion. Both had taught in Rome 30 yrs earlier.  Their ideas then spread to France.

The 1st of the 5 volumes is a dissection of what Valentinianism taught, and more generally how it differed from other sects of Gnosticism. It shows that Irenæus had a remarkable grasp of a belief system he utterly & categorically rejected.

The 2nd book reviewed the internal inconsistencies and contradictions of Gnosticism.

The last 3 volumes give a systematic refutation of Gnosticism from Scripture & tradition which Irenæus makes clear at that time were one and the same. He shows that the Gospel which was at first only oral, was subsequently committed to writing, then was faithfully taught in churches through a succession of pastors & elders. So, Irenæus says, The Apostolic Faith & tradition is embodied in Scripture, and in the right interpretation of those scriptures by pastors (AKA as bishops). And the Church ought to have a confidence in those pastors’ interpretations of God’s Word because they’ve attained their office through a demonstrated succession. Of course, the succession Irenæus referred to was manifestly evident by virtue of the fact he wrote in the last quarter of the 2nd C & was himself, as we’ve seen, just a generation removed from the Apostle John.

Irenæus set all this over against the contradictory opinions of heretics who fundamentally deviated from this well-established Faith & simply could not be included in the catholic, that is universally agreed on, faith carved out by Scripture and it’s orthodox interpretation by a properly sanctioned teaching office.

The 5th and final volume of Against Heresies includes Irenæus’ exposition of pre-millennial eschatology; that is, the study of Last things, or in modern parlance – the End Times. No doubt he does so because it stood in stark contrast with the muddled teaching of the Gnostics on this subject. It might be noted that Irenæus’ pre-millennialism wasn’t unique. He stood squarely with the other writers of the Apostolic & post-apostolic age.

Irenæus’ view of the inspiration of Scripture is an early anticipation of what came to be called Verbal plenary inspiration. That is, both the writings and authors of Scripture were inspired, so that what God wanted expressed was, without turning the writers into automatons. God expressed His will through the varying personalities of the original authors. He even accounts for the variations in Paul’s style across his epistles to his, at times, rapid-fire dictation & the agency of the Holy Spirit’s urging at different times and in different situations.

Irenæus’ emphasis on both Scripture and the apostolic tradition of its interpretation has been seen as a boon to the idea of establishing an official teaching magisterium in the Church. Added to that is his remarks that the church at Rome held a special place in providing leadership for the Church as a whole. He based this on Rome being the location of the martyrdoms of both Peter & Paul. While Irenæus acknowledges they did not START the church there, he reasoned they most certainly were regarded as its leaders when they were there. And there was a tradition that Peter appointed the next bishop, one Linus, to lead the Church when he was executed. While it’s true Irenæus did indeed suggest Rome ought to take the lead, he said it was the CHURCH there that ought to do so; not its bishop. The point may seem minor, but it’s important to note that Irenaeus himself resisted positions taken by the Bishop at Rome. In our last episode we noted his chronicle of Polycarp’s & Anicetus’ disagreement over when to celebrated Easter. Anicetus’ successor was Bishop Victor, who took a hardline approach with the Quartodecamins and wanted to forcefully punish them. While as the bishop of the church in Lyon, Irenaeus was ready to follow the policy of the Church at Rome, he objected to Victor’s heavy-handedness and reminded him of his predecessor’s more fair-minded policy.

So while Irenaeus does indeed urge a role of first-place for the Church at Rome, we can’t go so far as to say he establishes the principle of the primacy of the bishop of Rome. He’s not an apologist for papal  primacy.

Nor does he advocate apostolic succession as it’s come to be defined today. What Irenaeus does say is that the Scriptures have to be interpreted rightly; meaning, they have to align with that which the Apostles consistently taught, and that the people who were to be trusted to that end were those linked back to the Apostles, because they’d HEARD them explain themselves.

He argued this because the Gnostics claimed a secret oral tradition given them from Jesus himself. Irenaeus maintained that the pastors & elders of the Church were well-known and linked to the Apostles and had always maintained the same message that wasn’t secret at all. Therefore, it was those pastors who provided the only safe interpretation of Scripture.

For Irenaeus, apostolic authority was only valid so long as it actually squared with apostolic teaching, which itself was codified in the Gospels and epistles of the NT – along with what the direct students of the Apostles said they’d taught. Irenæus didn’t concoct a formula for the passing of apostolic authority from one generation to the next in perpetuity.

Irenaeus became a treasured authority for men like Hippolytus and Tertullian who drew freely from him. He also became a major source for establishing the canon of the NT. He regarded the entire OT as God’s Word as well as most of the books our NT while excluding a large number of Gnostic pretenders. There’s some evidence that before Irenaeus, believers lined up under different Gospels as their preferred accounts of the Life of Jesus. The Churches of Asia Minor preferred the Gospel of John while Matthew was the most popular overall. Irenaeus made a convincing case that all 4 Gospels were God’s Word. That made him the earliest witness to the canonicity of M,M,L & J. This stood over against the accepted writings of a heretic named Marcion who only accepted portions of Luke’s Gospel.

Irenaeus cited passages of the NT about a thousand times, from 21 of the 27 books, including Revelation. Inferences to the other books can be found as well.

Irenaeus provides a perfect bridge from the Apostles to the next phase of Church History presided over by the Fathers, of which he’s considered among the first.

]]>
The historical record is pretty clear that the Apostle John spent his last years in Western Asia Minor, with the City of Ephesus acting as his headquarters. It seems that during his time there, he ppoured himself into a cadre of capable men who went on... These students of John are considered to be the last of what’s called The Apostolic Age. The greatest of them was Irenæus. Though he wasn’t a direct student of the Apostle, he was influenced by Polycarp, & is considered by many as one of the premier and first Church Fathers.
Not much is known of Irenæus’ origins. From what we can piece together from his writings, he was most likely born and raised in Smyrna around AD 120. He was instructed  by Smyrna’s lead pastor, Polycarp, student of John. He says he was also directly influenced by other pupils of the Apostles, though he doesn’t name them. Polycarp had the biggest impact on him, as evidenced by his comment, “What I heard from him, I didn’t write on parchment, but on my heart. By God’s grace, I bring it constantly to mind.” It’s possible Irenæus accompanied Polycarp when he travelled to Rome and engaged Bishop Anicetus in the Easter controversy we talked about last episode.
At some point while still a young man, Irenæus went to Southern Gaul as a missionary. He settled at Lugdunum where he became an elder in the church there. Lugdunum eventually became the town of Lyon, France. In 177, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the church in Lugdunum was hammered by fierce persecution. But Irenæus had been sent on a mission to Rome to deal with the Montanist controversy. While away, the church’s elderly pastor Pothinus, was martyred. By the time he returned in 178 the persecution had spent itself and he was appointed as the new pastor.
Irenæus worked tirelessly to mend the holes persecution had punched in the church in Southern Gaul. In both teaching and writing, he provided resources other church leaders  could use in faithfully discharging their pastoral duties, as well as refuting the various and sundry errors challenging the new Faith. During his term as the pastor of the church at Lyon, he was  able to see a majority of the population of the City converted to Christ. Dozens of missionaries were sent out to plant church across Gaul.
Then, about 190, Irenæus simply disappears with no clear account of his death. A 5th C tradition says he died a martyr in 202 in the persecution under Septimus Severus. The problem with that is that several church fathers like Eusebius, Hippolytus, & Tertullian uncharacteristically fail to mention Irenæus’ martyrdom. Because martyrs achieved hero status, if Irenæus had been martyred, the Church would have marked it. SO most likely, he died of natural causes. However he died, he was buried under the altar St. John’s in Lyons.
Irenæus’ influence far surpassed the importance of his location. The bishopric of Lyon was not considered an important seat. But Irenæus’ impact on the Faith was outsized to his position. His keen intellect united a Greek education with astute philosophical analysis, and a sharp understanding of the Scriptures to produce a remarkable defense of The Gospel. That was badly needed at the time due to the inroads being forged by a new threat – Gnosticism, which we spent time describing in Season 1.
Irenæus’ articulation of the Faith brought about a unanimity that united the East & Western branches of the Church that had been diverging. They’d end up reverting to that divergence later, but Irenæus managed to bring about a temporary peace through his clear defense of the faith against the Gnostics.
]]>
Lance Ralston clean 16:59
The First Centuries – Part 4 / An Easter Tussle http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-4-an-easter-tussle/ Sun, 26 Feb 2017 09:01:11 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1622 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-4-an-easter-tussle/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-4-an-easter-tussle/feed/ 1 Have you noticed that, generally-speaking, Christians like to argue? Maybe we get it from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews. Once while on a tour of Jerusalem at what are called the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount, our Jewish guide told us that a frequent joke among his people was that where there are 2 […] Have you noticed that, generally-speaking, Christians like to argue?

Maybe we get it from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews. Once while on a tour of Jerusalem at what are called the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount, our Jewish guide told us that a frequent joke among his people was that where there are 2 Jews, there’s 3 opinions.

Yeah; it seems controversy has been a part of the history of The Church since its inception. And maybe that’s really more a “human” tendency than something unique to, or the sole prerogative of the followers of Jesus.

In this 4th episode on the The First Centuries of the Church, we’re taking a look at an acrimonious debate that split the Church into warring camps before the end of the 2nd C. Even while facing the pressure of persecution from without, believers decided to spin up their own internal stress.

Surely: If Christians were going to draw lines and take sides while being battered by a world of hostile pagans, what they argued over must have been super-important, right? I mean, we must be dealing with some critical issue of theology; an essential of the faith!

Well, they certainly thought it was important. We, on the other hand probably DON’T find it that crucial. It all had to do with the timing of Easter. Yep: They went to town on when to commemorate the death & resurrection of Jesus.

As we examine this, I could go into the minutiae of detailed terminology and the fine nuances theological musings that under-pinned the different positions taken at that time. I’m not going to do that for this reason à It would bore the bejeebers out of nearly everyone, and, I’d be mouthing stuff I don’t understand. BUT: by saying it, some might assume I do, and that would make me appear way, way smarter than I in fact am. That would be misleading. Honestly, as I read & researched this episode, I found I had to re-read numerous passages, several times, and only then conclude, “Uhh, I’m never going to understand that. Can someone please draw a picture; an illustration so my puny noggin can grasp that?”

Ha! One of the marks of greatness as a teacher is the ability to take complex ideas and make them accessible to those of average intellectual capacity. So, it’s been interesting over the years to read & research. When I find material that’s verbose but after reading it, I find I’m no closer to grasping it than when I began, I’ve come to realize it’s less about my incapacity as it is the writer’s inability to communicate. It’s rare that I read material that isn’t pitched to what we’d call a general audience. I expect technical jargon and a bit of the opaque when reading something the author assumed would be read by a set of professional peers.

And I say all that to share that when studying the early Easter Controversies, several of the authorities write of it in such a complicated manner, it makes me wonder if they grasped the material they recorded. Other authors admit handling this subject is a challenge. While we have some names and dates, parsing the subtlety of the debate is inordinately difficult.

So, there’s no way I’m going to shed light on the real crux of this issue. What I WILL do, is simply share a brief narrative of events as best we know it, and attempt to sort through the major themes.

While the first record we have of a discussion on the issue of when to commemorate Easter dates to AD 150, that it DOES arise at that time, means it was something that was already at play in the life of the Church. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, visited Anicetus [Ah-nee-kee-tohs] the bishop of Rome. As they shared, the issue of when to celebrate Easter arose. The Church in Asia Minor, that is, all those churches Jesus sent letters to in Revelation 2&3 as well as dozens of other fellowship lcaoted across the region, commemorated the Last Supper on the 14th of Jewish month of Nisan, the same date as the Jewish Passover, & Jesus’ resurrection two days later, regardless of the day of the week. The Roman church was committed to commemorating Jesus’ Resurrection on a Sunday. While the two church leaders discussed the merits of their positions, neither persuaded the other and parted, literally, agreeing to disagree.

We have an interesting account of the dispute from Polycarp’s pupil, Irenæus. 2

When the blessed Polycarp sojourned at Rome in the days of Anicetus, and they had some little difference of opinion likewise with regard to other points, they forthwith came to a peaceable understanding on the [observance of Easter], having no love for mutual disputes. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe inasmuch as [Polycarp] had always observed with John, the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles, with whom he had associated; nor did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe who said that he was bound to maintain the custom of the [elders] before him. These things being so, they communed together; and in the church Anicetus yielded to Polycarp, out of respect no doubt, the celebration of the eucharist, and they separated from each other in peace, all the church being at peace, both those that observed and those that did not observe [the 14th of Nisan], maintaining peace.”

Irenaeus’ account proves Christians at the time of Polycarp knew how to keep the unity of the Spirit without requiring uniformity of ritual. Later in the same letter, Irenaeus goes so far as to laud this when he writes, “The difference in our [ways of] fasting, establishes the unanimity in our faith.”

Eastern churches, followed a Jewish chronology, adhering to the authority of the Apostles John and Philip. They celebrated a Christian Passover on the same day as the Jewish Passover, the 14th of Nisan, which of course, could fall on any day of the week. They did this by keeping a fast which ended by sharing a meal & taking communion in the evening. Because we love labeling people according to all kinds of things, these Eastern, Asian Christians came to be called 14th-ers, but that doesn’t sound very sophisticated, so they picked the latin Equivalent è Quartadecimanians. A little long to put on a team jersey, so I’m sure their more popular name was something like, “Quartas” or “Decamins.” Though the church at Rome followed a different calendar for commemorating Easter, the Quartadecimanian observance was most likely the oldest and accorded with the Synoptic Gospels  account of Jesus’ last Passover, which it commemorated.

The Roman church also appealed to custom and perennially celebrated Jesus’ death on a Friday, the day of the week it was reckoned to have originally occurred, with His resurrection always on a Sunday after the March full moon.

Nearly all Western churches agreed with Rome, and laid heavy stress on commemorating Jesus’ resurrection on a Sunday. The Roman practice created an entire week of solemn fasting, ending with a feast celebrating the Resurrection while the Asiatic practice ended their fast in the evening of the 14th of Nisan, which might fall several days before Sunday.

So, in short, the Eastern Church was more concerned to line up their commemoration of Jesus’ death & resurrection with the Jewish Passover on the 14th of Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it fell on. The Western Church was all about keeping the commemoration of Jesus’ death on a Friday and His resurrection on a Sunday.

It was a controversy over a date in the month versus a day of the week.

Heavy stuff. Break out the knives!

The debate eventually settled in around the idea of how closely the Christian commemoration of Jesus’ death & resurrection ought to be tied to the Jewish Passover. That was a no-brainer to the first Christians who as Jews continued to keep the Passover, though they saw it now as prophetic of, and fulfilled by Christ, the ultimate Passover lamb who takes away the sins of the world. But The Church became primarily Gentile in make-up, then hostility grew between Jews & Gentiles, Christians had no qualms of stepping away form its Jewish connections. On the contrary, some argued against the Quartadecimanians for precisely that reason. They wanted to expunge the Faith from any and all taint of Judaism.

But the Johannean tradition dominant in Asia represented a clinging to historical precedent and had the advantage of an immovable Easter, without being Judaizing in anything but the observance of a fixed day of the month. The Roman practice seemed to stand for freedom and discretion with an independent festival schedule. Looked at another way, the Eastern practice leaned heavily toward commemorating Jesus’ death, while the West placed the emphasis on His resurrection.

As I prepare this episode, I’ve just finished the message for this coming Sunday out of Mark 7 where Jesus was challenged by His critics over questions of ritualistic tradition. So I can’t help but analyze all this from what He said there. It seems clear to me that far more than questions of doctrine, Church leaders were consumed in these Easter Controversies with the dogmatic and ritualistic; with traditions far more about man-made rules than what God’s Word said. Truth be told – where in any of Jesus’ teaching, the Book of Acts, or in the letters of the NT do we see the Church being called on to commemorate Jesus’ death & resurrection once a year? What we have is His command to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, Communion, Eucharist, or whatever other label it goes by in the various movements of the Faith. But few and far between are those who think that means ONLY a once-annual event called Easter. Considering how acrimonious the whole argument got, with some coming to outright blows, we have to conclude the whole thing grieved God.

Still, considering it purely historically, and remembering to evaluate things based not on our values, but those of the time, the controversy was fueled mostly from a profound awareness that everyone who called themselves a Christian ought to believe the same thing. That title catholic really meant something.

Remember, the word means “universal” and long before it was used to describe a major branch of the Church and was modified by the term “Roman,” it simply meant what all Christians believed and practiced – as opposed to the schismatics who’d moved into error and broken away.

Church leaders all owned the priority to maintain unity and to root out what they deemed divisive. So they regarded it as crucial to make sure everyone kept the commemoration of Jesus’ death & resurrection on the same day. Heaven forbid that some people would be fasting in honor of His death at the same time others were feasting in celebration of His resurrection!

And because of this, the Roman tradition eventually triumphed. Easter became a movable holiday whose date varies from the end of March to the latter in April.

It was the first major church council at Nicea in 325 that the date for Easter was finally fixed. The Council condemned Quartodecimans as schismatics. Not heretics mind you – just schismatics. While a heretic has rejected the Faith and so is lost, a schismatic is going to heaven, but errors on an important point of doctrine. Not essential doctrine, but important enough they have to be put out of Communion with The Church.

We’ll end this episode by briefly say while the Council of Nicea effectively ended the Easer Controversy on the Continent, the Celtic Church in Britain refused to knuckle under and kept their own counsel regarding when to celebrate the death & resurrection of Christ. While ancient church leaders would likely argue the point, modern historians tend to see the Celtic position as more about the assertion of their independence than out of some dearly held belief of when & how to keep Easter.

]]>
Have you noticed that, generally-speaking, Christians like to argue? Maybe we get it from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews. Once while on a tour of Jerusalem at what are called the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount, Maybe we get it from our spiritual ancestors, the Jews. Once while on a tour of Jerusalem at what are called the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount, our Jewish guide told us that a frequent joke among his people was that where there are 2 Jews, there’s 3 opinions.
Yeah; it seems controversy has been a part of the history of The Church since its inception. And maybe that’s really more a “human” tendency than something unique to, or the sole prerogative of the followers of Jesus.
In this 4th episode on the The First Centuries of the Church, we’re taking a look at an acrimonious debate that split the Church into warring camps before the end of the 2nd C. Even while facing the pressure of persecution from without, believers decided to spin up their own internal stress.
Surely: If Christians were going to draw lines and take sides while being battered by a world of hostile pagans, what they argued over must have been super-important, right? I mean, we must be dealing with some critical issue of theology; an essential of the faith!
Well, they certainly thought it was important. We, on the other hand probably DON’T find it that crucial. It all had to do with the timing of Easter. Yep: They went to town on when to commemorate the death & resurrection of Jesus.
As we examine this, I could go into the minutiae of detailed terminology and the fine nuances theological musings that under-pinned the different positions taken at that time. I’m not going to do that for this reason à It would bore the bejeebers out of nearly everyone, and, I’d be mouthing stuff I don’t understand. BUT: by saying it, some might assume I do, and that would make me appear way, way smarter than I in fact am. That would be misleading. Honestly, as I read & researched this episode, I found I had to re-read numerous passages, several times, and only then conclude, “Uhh, I’m never going to understand that. Can someone please draw a picture; an illustration so my puny noggin can grasp that?”
Ha! One of the marks of greatness as a teacher is the ability to take complex ideas and make them accessible to those of average intellectual capacity. So, it’s been interesting over the years to read & research. When I find material that’s verbose but after reading it, I find I’m no closer to grasping it than when I began, I’ve come to realize it’s less about my incapacity as it is the writer’s inability to communicate. It’s rare that I read material that isn’t pitched to what we’d call a general audience. I expect technical jargon and a bit of the opaque when reading something the author assumed would be read by a set of professional peers.
And I say all that to share that when studying the early Easter Controversies, several of the authorities write of it in such a complicated manner, it makes me wonder if they grasped the material they recorded. Other authors admit handling this subject is a challenge. While we have some names and dates, parsing the subtlety of the debate is inordinately difficult.
So, there’s no way I’m going to shed light on the real crux of this issue. What I WILL do, is simply share a brief narrative of events as best we know it, and attempt to sort through the major themes.
While the first record we have of a discussion on the issue of when to commemorate Easter dates to AD 150, that it DOES arise at that time, means it was something that was already at play in the life of the Church. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor, visited Anicetus [Ah-nee-kee-tohs] the bishop of Rome. As they shared, the issue of when to celebrate Easter arose. The Church in Asia Minor, that is, all those churches Jesus sent letters to in Revelation 2&3 as well as dozens of other fellowship lcaoted across the region, commemorated the Last Supper on the 14th of Jewish month of Nisan, the same date as the Jewish Passover,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 13:43
The First Centuries Part 3 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-3/ Sun, 12 Feb 2017 09:01:34 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1601 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-3/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-3/feed/ 0 The First Centuries – Part 3 In part 1 we took a look at some of the sociological reason for persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Then last time we began a narrative-chronology of the waves of persecution and ended with Antonius Pious. A new approach in dealing with Christians was adopted by Marcus […] The First Centuries – Part 3

In part 1 we took a look at some of the sociological reason for persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Then last time we began a narrative-chronology of the waves of persecution and ended with Antonius Pious.

A new approach in dealing with Christians was adopted by Marcus Aurelius who reigned form 161–180. Aurelius is known as a philosopher emperor. He authored a volume on Stoic philosophy titled Meditations. It was really more a series of notes to himself, but it became something of a classic of ancient literature. Aurelius bore not a shred of sympathy for the idea of life after death & detested as intellectually inferior anyone who carried a hope in immortality.

Reversing the Trajan policy of not going after Christians, Aurelius crafted a system of spies to gather intelligence and evidence against them. Rather than check riots that frequently called for martyr’s blood as the previous emperors had done, Aurelius encouraged them. It was during his reign Christians began to be blamed for natural catastrophes. The supposition was that the gods were upset Christians weren’t being persecuted by good Romans. With this as their moral backing, and making up for lost time, persecution under Aurelius moved to a new level of brutality. Thousands lost their heads or were tossed to beasts. It was at this time Justin Martyr became one.

But we have to note that as fierce as the Aurelian persecution was, no official edict calling for an Empire-wide extermination of Christians was issued. Nor did one come during the reigns of Septimius Severus from 193–211 or Maximinus from 235–238 when persecution of the followers of Christ was renewed. The Severian campaign sought to root out the church in Egypt and North Africa, while the Maximinian chapter aimed only at Christian leaders in specific locales.

The mid-3rd C saw a dramatic change.

As Rome celebrated its thousand-year anniversary, people cast longing eyes back to the Golden Age & Glory Days of a bygone era of power & prosperity. In comparison, Rome now seemed a tottering old-hag hobbling along on arthritic knees. She was no longer able to kick away the barbarian dogs snapping at her heels. The superstition of pagans, who of course were in the vast majority, believed the gods who favored their ancestors FOR their devotion, were now punishing them for allowing the Christians to reject them.

That being the case, wasn’t it morally right & for the public good to actively go after the followers of Jesus?

Decius only ruled from 249-51, but he was convinced maintaining Rome’s cultus was essential to political stability and a return to prosperity. As soon as he took the purple, he gave orders everyone in the empire had to swear by the Emperor’s genius; that is, practice emperor worship, as we talked about last time. This flushed out Christians who refused. They were declared traitors; enemies of the emperor, state, and public good. Their very presence was deemed a dangerous blight since the wrath of the gods was on them.

As harsh as all this sounds, the evidence indicates that at first, the goal wasn’t to kill them so much as it was to get them to recant under the threat of pain. Getting a Christian to recant was far more effective than killing them because many people are inspired by martyrdom. And of course, the martyrs were held in ultra-high esteem by The Church. So much so, a bit later, we’ll find Church Leaders telling church members to use common sense and to not run around making a big to-do about being a believer, just so they WOULD be arrested and executed!

No – most officials didn’t want to make martyrs; they preferred apostates. Think of it this way . . .

In ancient warfare, men would psych and pump themselves up in anticipation of battle. Once battle began, you wanted to present yourself like a man; tough, courageous. When you see your buddies taking blows and giving as good as they get, you stay shoulder to shoulder – a band of brothers!

But when one guy turns his back to the enemy and begins to run, it’s a fast spreading contagion of fear. Soon the entire line collapses in a rout.

Watching some Christian publicly executed for their faith often inspired as many as it freaked. But hearing of Christians recanting & returning to the paganism of their past made many wonder why THEY should remain true.

Under Decius, the 1st to be seized as treasonous were Church leaders. The hope was that a leaderless church would fall apart. In some places it did; but in others it went on as if nothing had changed.

In those places were the Church winked out, it was because by the mid 3rd C, Christianity had already produced a brand of Faith that was more image than substance. Shocking as it may seem to some, there’s been shallow Christians since the very beginning. And now, under Decius, they were flushed out into the open where they were forced to recant or die. Recant they did because their Faith was more social than sincere. But a host of others suffered martyrdom.

After a year it was clear the Decian persecution wouldn’t succeed in its goal of ending the Faith. In July of 251, Decius was killed in battle. His edict was no longer enforced.

In 253, Valerian became emperor. He was at first friendly to the Faith. But a series of calamities stirred his advisors to press him to renew the pogroms in appeasement of the gods. During this wave of persecution several great leaders of the church were killed.

The 40-some yrs from 260 to 303 were a time of relative peace for Christians. But it was the calm before the storm which arrived with the ascension of Diocletian.

While his origins are sketchy, it seems Diocletian was a slave’s son who worked himself up to supreme power. An utterly brilliant administrator, Diocletian recognized what pervious rulers ought have–that Rome was too large to be led by a single ruler. I’ll leave it to you to listen to Mike Duncan’s The History of Rome podcast to learn the details of Diocletian’s reign. Edward Gibbon calls Diocletian a 2nd Augustus because he believes he framed a new empire rather than just restore the old. And indeed, Diocletian distanced himself from his political ancestors & heritage. He very consciously adopted the ostentatiousness of an Eastern ruler, something previous Roman Emperors would have condemned as scandalous. It was he who divided the Empire into a formal E & W, each with its one major Augustus & subordinate Caesar.

In his first 2 decades, Diocletian honored the Toleration Edict Gallienus passed in 259 that restored Christians churches and burial places. His wife & daughter, along with most of his court & officials were either Christians or were favorable to them because THEIR wives & friends were. The Emperor himself was a pagan of the more superstitious flavor. But as a pragmatic politician, he believed restoring the Empire demanded a return to the old religion. Although due to family & friends he postponed the religious question, ultimately he had to take it on. There could be no peaceful co-existence between Christianity & Paganism. It was High Noon in Diocletian’s court.

The chief instigator in all this was Diocletian’s co-ruler, his son-in-law, Galerius. He prevailed on Diocletian to authorize the persecution for which his reign is so well-known.

In 303, at Gallerius’ urging, Diocletian issued a series of edicts calling for the total eradication of Christianity. Places of worship were to be torn down, sacred writings were to be burned, and clergy were to be slaughtered. The next year, all Christians had to engage in a very public display of emperor worship or face immediate execution. Although it wasn’t exactly like this, it’s close enough . . .

A raised dais was built in the center of town with a little altar where people would drop a pinch of incense and say, “Caesar is Lord.” Then they’d take a few more steps and be handed the libelli; that little scroll affirming they were good, loyal subjects. Another path led form the altar to a chopping block where an executioner stood. Those who refused to drop incense & said “Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord,” took that route where they got a haircut at the neck. Thousands died.

In the Eastern empire were Diocletian and Galerius ruled, the persecution was especially fierce. The Western Augustus Maximian, fastidiously carried out the edicts in Italy and Africa. But his subordinate, Constantius, who ruled Gaul, Britain, & Spain, refused to execute people for their faith. Persecution effectively ended in 305, when Diocletian abdicated and retired to grow cabbages at his estate.

But it was Galerius who’d put Diocletian UP to it in the first place. And Galerius stepped into the role of Eastern Augustus – so why didn’t the persecutions continue? The answer to that is because Galerius realized à It wasn’t working! He admitted that the policy of eradicating Christianity had failed miserably. In fact, he reversed himself and wrote à

“Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the republic may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes.”

It’s reported that at the end of his life, as he lay abed, ill, he asked his Christians subjects pray for him. To encourage their prayers he passed an Edict of Toleration in 311, officially ending persecution. It was followed a year later by Constantine’s famous Edict of Milan saying much the same.

Since we shared a little about the interplay of the Early Church in the Roman Empire & their enemies to the East, the Persian Sassanids, in Season 1, we won’t go into that whole chapter now, except to say that when Christians were persona non-grata in the W, the Sassanids welcomed them with open arms. Many refugees fled there, turning the E into a Christian enclave that quickly developed into a HQs and center of scholarship. The Sassanids followed the old line that the enemy of my enemy is my friend & assumed the Christians would be allies in their on-going tussle with Rome. But when Constantine revoked persecution and claimed to be a Christian, the Sassanids began to fear Christians as a dangerous 5th column in their ranks and persecution began. More of the details to that are to be had in Season 1.

Let’s end this short series on the Persecution of the Church in the First Centuries by considering the impact in had on the Church. Most of the Emperors eventually realized, as did Galerius too late, persecution didn’t really work. Killing Christians didn’t end the Faith. On the contrary, many were won to Christ by observing the gracious & courageous way so many of the martyrs died. A quote from the early church father Tertullian is oft given: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The sheer NUMBER of Christians may be less due to persecution. But one positive effect persecution yielded was that those who DID claim the name of Christ were real-deal followers of the Son of God. People didn’t join a church just so they could pad their resume or enhance their social standing. Being a Christian was risky across the board. People stood in danger socially, economically & physically. Persecution also encouraged the spread of the faith to new regions as people fled hostility.

Persecution helped to settle the challenge church leaders faced on what belonged in the canon of NT Scripture. The tests they applied to settling the canon had to be rigorous, because they knew people would not give their lives for spurious inkings.

Persecution also sharpened the thinking of church leaders as they defended the faith in the face of often erudite attacks by pagan critics. What’s interesting is that the vast majority of arguments against the Faith voice by critics & skeptics today were leveled by critics of the 1st thru 3rd Cs. These critics were learned men, skilled in philosophy and rhetoric. But each of their objections were amply answered by early Church Fathers known today as The Apologists. The answers modern day apologists use in defense of the Faith are largely built on the pioneering work of the originals. Even many of the objections raised by the New Atheists are rebutted by 2000 year old answers.

Though it’s questionable whether or not they ever read them, the Early Apologists wrote some of their defenses of Christianity to no one less than the Emperor, seeking to reason with him on why persecuting Christians was bad policy. These “Apologies” as they’re called, weren’t wild-eyed polemics threatening the Emperor with God’s wrath if they didn’t lighten up. They were most often attempts to use Roman law, Greek philosophy and the weight of tradition, which remember the Roman’s put great store by, to persuade the Emperor that Christianity ought to be tolerated along with Rome’s other faiths.

All that is persecution’s up-side. What about the down? Well, Believers ended up so busy protecting themselves there was scant opportunity for them to develop a deep theological heritage to enrich those who came after. Yes, there were a handful like the Apologists who managed to get out some material, but with the many thousands who DID in fact come to faith, we would expect a much larger body of literary work. Persecution both limited the opportunity to produce that, and what work that WAS produced, was frequently used to fuel the fires Christians were then burnt on.

Another problem that rose, and we dealt with this in Season 1, was what to do with those believers who faltered during persecution and gave in to the pressure to recant. What was to be done with those Christians who burned a pinch of incense, said “Caesar is Lord,” took a libelli, then, once the threat of persecution was passed, repented of recanting and wanted to come back to church? These were called the lapsed, because their faith had lapsed in the heat of persecution. This became an especially trying issue after Constantine officially revoked persecution once & for all, for 2 reasons . . .

1) Constantine took over right after the 10th & most virulent phase of persecution. It was also  empire wide, though it was enforced more firmly in the E. A major test used for weeding out believers was the requirement of swearing by the Emperor’s genius, which as we’ve seen, the faithful could not do. But, a bunch of the lapsed, DID! And that leads to the 2nd reason à

2) All those who’d lapsed realized that with the Edict of Milan official persecution was most likely over for good. So, instead of staying de-canted, so as to avoid upcoming persecutions, they figured it was safe to return to Church. Andà Here they came.

The Church was split over whether to allow them back or not. Some favored restoration, others, not so much. Many fellowships split over the issue. Church leaders took sides in the debate and fired off sometimes heated missives at one another. For more on this, you can listen to the episode in Season 1 called The Lapsed Dance.

Another negative effect of persecution was a warped result of a positive. The faith & courage of the martyrs not only challenged the shallowness of rank paganism, it inspired people to follow their example. But not just to live by faith in Jesus; they went further and longed to die like their heroes. The desire to suffer martyrdom became a problem church leaders had to address at a few points.

Ha! Think of that. Instead of Pastor Alexius asking for volunteers for the nursery ministry, he had to plead with his people not to go to the marketplace crying out that they’re Christians; “Please! Somebody arrest & torture me to death.” But that gives us a hint as to just how highly martyrs were regarded in the Early Church. When they were regarded that highly, it’s not difficult to see why there were many in the Church who regarded lapsed believers as scum.

What made for a major brouhaha was when it wasn’t just everyday church members who’d lapsed, but when it as a pastor.

]]>
The First Centuries – Part 3 In part 1 we took a look at some of the sociological reason for persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Then last time we began a narrative-chronology of the waves of persecution and ended with Antonius Pious. In part 1 we took a look at some of the sociological reason for persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Then last time we began a narrative-chronology of the waves of persecution and ended with Antonius Pious.
A new approach in dealing with Christians was adopted by Marcus Aurelius who reigned form 161–180. Aurelius is known as a philosopher emperor. He authored a volume on Stoic philosophy titled Meditations. It was really more a series of notes to himself, but it became something of a classic of ancient literature. Aurelius bore not a shred of sympathy for the idea of life after death & detested as intellectually inferior anyone who carried a hope in immortality.
Reversing the Trajan policy of not going after Christians, Aurelius crafted a system of spies to gather intelligence and evidence against them. Rather than check riots that frequently called for martyr’s blood as the previous emperors had done, Aurelius encouraged them. It was during his reign Christians began to be blamed for natural catastrophes. The supposition was that the gods were upset Christians weren’t being persecuted by good Romans. With this as their moral backing, and making up for lost time, persecution under Aurelius moved to a new level of brutality. Thousands lost their heads or were tossed to beasts. It was at this time Justin Martyr became one.
But we have to note that as fierce as the Aurelian persecution was, no official edict calling for an Empire-wide extermination of Christians was issued. Nor did one come during the reigns of Septimius Severus from 193–211 or Maximinus from 235–238 when persecution of the followers of Christ was renewed. The Severian campaign sought to root out the church in Egypt and North Africa, while the Maximinian chapter aimed only at Christian leaders in specific locales.
The mid-3rd C saw a dramatic change.
As Rome celebrated its thousand-year anniversary, people cast longing eyes back to the Golden Age & Glory Days of a bygone era of power & prosperity. In comparison, Rome now seemed a tottering old-hag hobbling along on arthritic knees. She was no longer able to kick away the barbarian dogs snapping at her heels. The superstition of pagans, who of course were in the vast majority, believed the gods who favored their ancestors FOR their devotion, were now punishing them for allowing the Christians to reject them.
That being the case, wasn’t it morally right & for the public good to actively go after the followers of Jesus?
Decius only ruled from 249-51, but he was convinced maintaining Rome’s cultus was essential to political stability and a return to prosperity. As soon as he took the purple, he gave orders everyone in the empire had to swear by the Emperor’s genius; that is, practice emperor worship, as we talked about last time. This flushed out Christians who refused. They were declared traitors; enemies of the emperor, state, and public good. Their very presence was deemed a dangerous blight since the wrath of the gods was on them.
As harsh as all this sounds, the evidence indicates that at first, the goal wasn’t to kill them so much as it was to get them to recant under the threat of pain. Getting a Christian to recant was far more effective than killing them because many people are inspired by martyrdom. And of course, the martyrs were held in ultra-high esteem by The Church. So much so, a bit later, we’ll find Church Leaders telling church members to use common sense and to not run around making a big to-do about being a believer, just so they WOULD be arrested and executed!
No – most officials didn’t want to make martyrs; they preferred apostates. Think of it this way . . .
In ancient warfare, men would psych and pump themselves up in anticipation of battle. Once battle began, you wanted to present yourself like a man; tough, courageous. When you see your buddies taking blows and giving a...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 19:26
The First Centuries – Part 2 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-2/ Sun, 05 Feb 2017 09:01:36 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1597 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-2/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-2/feed/ 0  The First Centuries – Part 2 This is part 2 in our follow-up series on the first centuries in Church History. We’re concentrating on the persecution Jesus’ followers endured. In part 1, we examined the social & civic reasons for persecution in the Roman Empire. The suspicion of nefarious intent by Christians, fueled by their […]  The First Centuries – Part 2

This is part 2 in our follow-up series on the first centuries in Church History. We’re concentrating on the persecution Jesus’ followers endured. In part 1, we examined the social & civic reasons for persecution in the Roman Empire.

The suspicion of nefarious intent by Christians, fueled by their withdrawal from society due to its tacit connection to paganism, morphed into a suspicion of covert actions Jesus’ followers were taking to subvert society. Why were Christians so secretive if they weren’t in fact doing something wrong? And if the rumors were true, Christians WERE doing odd things; like pretending slaves had the same dignity as freemen; that women and children were to be honored as equal to men; and they rescued exposed infants. Why, if they kept all that up, and more joined their cause, what was to become of the world? It would look very different from the one that had been.

Another concern was the reaction of the gods. What would they do if the Christians had their way and everyone came to faith in a single deity? Those gods and goddesses, responsible as they were for things like weather and fertility, might throw one of their classic hissy-fits and call up a drought, a storm, or war.

All this helps explain the 1st official wave of persecution at Roman hands. In AD 64, during Nero’s reign, fire leveled whole neighborhoods in Rome. This was neither the 1st nor last fire to devastated the City. But it was one of the most severe. For days it raged leaving a large part of the heart of Rome in ash. A rumor pointed the finger at Nero as the cause of the fire. It was well known that he planned a grand re-modelling of the City. What matter if his plans were hindered by several thousands homes. Seeing the fiction that as Emperor, he could do as he please beginning to crumble in the face of a quickly rising public rage, Nero searched for a scapegoat. He found a ready one in a group that was already under suspicion. Convenient that they held some belief in the end of the world by fire.

Large numbers of Christians were arrested. Then crucifixions began. When that got boring, they were sewn inside skins of cattle and torn apart by vicious dogs. Women were tied to bulls and dragged to death. One report says at night, Nero tied Christians to stakes in his garden, doused them with pitch, then lit them ablaze while he rode among them in his chariot.

Most likely, it’s during this persecution the apostles Paul & Peter were martyred in Rome.

This first wave of official persecution was uncommon for the 1st & 2nd Cs, but it did presage what was to come later. For long periods Christians enjoyed a measure of peace. But they knew persecution could break out at any moment. All it took was some influential person taking umbrage & the arrests started up again. Because being a Christian was technically illegal.

Things remained relatively quiet until the early 2nd C. Then a question began to rise over whether or not Rome ought to take a firmer hand in dealing with the Christians. After all, no one could ignore that fact that they were growing in numbers. Especially concerning was the number of soldiers converting to the new faith. What effect would their religion have on their fitness to serve in the legions?

As I shared in Season 1, in ad 112 Pliny, a governor in Asia Minor, wrote his friend the Emperor Trajan, asking advice in how to deal with followers of Christ. He was sure Christians were guilty of something. He just wasn’t sure what. He put no stock whatever in the wild rumors they were incestuous or cannibals.

He wrote, “I do not know just what to do with the Christians, for I have never been present at one of their trials. Is just being a Christian enough to punish, or must something bad actually have been done? What I have done, in the case of those who admitted they were Christians, was to order them sent to Rome, if citizens; if not, to have them killed. I was sure they deserved to be punished because they were so stubborn.”

What stubbornness did Pliny mean? HOW did these early Christians exhibit such stubbornness. What was it they were being required to do they couldn’t?

That arose from their failure to laud the Emperor’s genius – as it was called. The main cause of Rome’s persecution of Jesus’ followers came about from the tradition of emperor worship. The contest between Christ & Caesar didn’t happen overnight. It rose gradually because the PRACTICE of emperor worship rose gradually to attain a central place in the life of the Empire.

The roots of emperor worship lay in how Romans viewed the benefit of their hegemony. When & where they took over, a mostly impartial justice arrived. People were freed from the caprice of fickle tyrants. Roads were cleared of bandits, the seas of pirates. A superior security came to most regions. This came to be called Pax Romana, the Roman peace. But it was a peace enforced by a very sharp and deadly sword.

Many regions held a profound gratitude to Rome for disposing of their previous rulers & replacing them with, if not out-right benevolent governors, at least their avarice was restrained. Because they already believed in a host of deities, it was easy to make one more – Roma, goddess of Rome. By the 2nd C BC there were dozens of temples in Asia Minor to her. But humans like symbols, something they can see. So it wasn’t long before the spirit of Rome was regarded as imbuing the Empire’s leader – the Emperor. He was Rome. The first temple built to the godhead of the emperor was built in 29 bc at Pergamum in Asia Minor.

At first Roman emperors hesitated to accept this reverence. In the mid-1st C, Claudius refused to allow temples to be erected to him because of the ostentatiousness they suggested. But the idea grew began to grow and became attractive to later emperors.

The logic was that the Empire needed something to unite its far-flung provinces in a single, uniform practice. A kind of Pledge of Allegiance. Since nothing has the potential to unite like a common religion; Caesar-worship seemed a ready tool to forge loyalty. There was just no chance any of the disparate religions of the various regions of the Empire would be accepted by all, why not rally under the one things they’d all embraced – the political yoke of Rome. So emperor-worship became a centerpiece of imperial policy. It was officially organized in every province. Everywhere temples to the Emperor appeared.

BUT – if loyalty to Rome was announced by worshipping the Emperor, what did a refusal to worship him mean? Logic seemed to leave a single answer – Treason! So Christians who refused to offer a pinch of incense while saying “Caesar is Lord” were branded as dangerous traitors. Subversives whose presence couldn’t just be overlooked, for surely the gods were watching and required those who defied them to be punished.

During the reign of the Emperor Decius in the mid 3rd C, Caesar worship was made universal & compulsory for everyone in the Empire with the single exception of the Jews. On a set day each year everyone had to come to the Temple of Caesar & burn a pinch of incense while saying: “Caesar is Lord.” He was then given a libelli, a certificate to guarantee he’d taken the oath and sworn by the Emperor’s genius. He could then go and worship any god he liked, so long as the worship didn’t affect public decency and order.

Caesar worship was mainly a political loyalty test; a way to register someone as a “good citizen” at least as Rome defined it. But of course, it proved nothing about a person’s real loyalty. Christians, who COULDN’T participate in Caesar-worship were in fact, often better citizens than those who took the oath. Because their Holy Writings enjoined them to pray for those in authority.

Roman coins from that time have text given in adulation by Romans to the emperor remarkably similar to the praise Christians offered Christ. These coins, say things like, “Hail, Lord of the Earth, Invincible, Power, Glory, Honor, Blessed, Great, Worthy art Thou to inherit the kingdom.” That sounds an awful lot like praise directed to Jesus in Revelation.

The Worship of Christ & Caesar butted heads. No pious Christian would ever say was: “Caesar is Lord.” Jesus alone was Lord. But to most Romans, Christians seemed stupidly intolerant. Just go along to get along for goodness sake!

“For goodness sake; if there really is only 1 God as you Christians claim, then what harm is there in burning a pinch of incense & mouthing empty words. It’ll at least remove the suspicious & hostile eye of Rome from you!”

While an imminently practical idea to many Romans, it was unthinkable to most Christians. Although some in fact DID use this as justification for obtaining a libelli.

But most Christians saw it more like this: Saying Caesar is Lord was spiritual adultery; it was cheating on Jesus. Burning incense and taking the oath would be like cheating on your spouse, and justifying by saying there was no love involved; it was just sex.

è That dog’s just not gonna’ hunt!

Something for us to ponder is how this contest between Caesar and Christ which began near the start of the Church will, according to a Futurist interpretation, come round again at the end. In the Book of Revelation, John presents a major struggle between the forces of heaven and hell with Earth being the battlefield. It’s a contest of kingdoms; God’s and the devil’s, with satan’s merging with a political empire intent on wiping out believers. Historicists see that as having been fulfilled in the early centuries of the church. Futurists see it as something yet future, a recapitulation of what’s already happened but on a much wider scale.

The earliest phase of official persecution of the Church ran from about AD 64 to 100.

As already mentioned, it was touched off by the fire at Rome. The fire began July 19, 64 and lasted for 9 days. It destroyed 10 of Rome’s 14 districts and created massive suffering for the City’s million inhabitants. To divert attention from himself as the likely cause of the fire, the Emperor Nero blamed the Christians who were already suspect due to their secretiveness; and the report that they claimed the world would end in fire. If they wanted to end in fire, Nero was happy to oblige and used them as living torches in the gardens near his circus in the Vaticanus district. Both Peter and Paul were executed during this wave of persecution.

The Neronian persecution, as it’s come to be called, is notable in that it set a precedent for why the followers of Jesus were to be persecuted. Though the program of persecution didn’t really extend beyond Rome, Christians IN the City were subject to arrest and execution on the charge they were arsonists; fire being dread in Rome due to the its tendency to spread so rapidly form one house to the next.

After the first flurry of arrests and executions in the mid to late 60’s persecution diminished for some years, only to flare up again in 95, during Domitian’s reign. But this wave of hardship didn’t begin with Christians; it began with Jews, whom at that point Christians were still regarded as a reform movement of. Jews refused to pay a new tax levied to fund construction of Jupiter’s temple on the Capitoline Hill. Domitian decided to use this break with the obstinate Jews to enforce emperor worship. When they refused to take the oath, Christians were arrested for treason. Those arrested lost their property, many were banished, and others were executed; especially leaders. It was at this time the Apostle John was exiled to the prison-island of Patmos. Legend says John had been arrested by zealous officials hopeful to ingratiate themselves with the Emperor. They thought to execute John by boiling him in oil; sure to terrorize other would-be Christians leaders into submission. But God miraculously turned the experienced into a day at the spa. John came out with not hint of distress. Then fearful of whatever deity had preserved him John was bundled up and packed off to the one place he could do the least amount of damage – on a lonely prison-island in the middle of the Med. At least there his influence will be negated, right? Well, good luck with that plan you all-wise officials! It was on Patmos John received the visions that became Revelation, and which provided courage and succor to millions of persecuted believers ever since.

It wasn’t really till the early 2nd C that Rome established a policy for dealing with Christians.

A lawyer named Pliny, known to history as the Younger, because his famous uncle was known as Pliny, can you guess – yep, the Elder. The uncle was a famous author & philosopher. The Younger Pliny was as governor in northern Asia Minor from 111–13. Something of a revival must have taken place during his term as governor because there was a massive defection from paganism swelling the ranks of the Christians. Pliny was of a mind that to be a good Roman meant to hold that civic virtue we looked at last time – pietas; which meant adhering to the paganism still an official part of the Roman cultus. So many people forsaking the old gods was surely bad for the Empire. So Pliny gave anyone accused of, or who claimed to be a Christians 3 chances to recant; each time with increasing threats of punishment if they refused. If they resisted recantation after 3 warnings, they were executed.

But Pliny was unsure of this treatment accurately reflected the wishes of the one to whom he owed his office as governor – the Emperor Trajan. He wrote the Emperor asking for advice. Trajan responded that Pliny wasn’t to make it a policy to go on a search & destroy mission for Jesus’ followers. But if & when they happened to be brought to him, having been convicted of being a Christians, they were to be punished, some by torture to encourage recantation, the obstinate were executed. Trajan added that anonymous charges weren’t to be entertained; the accuser had to face the accused. This is the first real evidence we have of an official policy regarding Christians. It wasn’t long until officials across the Empire used Trajan’s guidelines in dealing with Christians. Many were martyred, including the Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who in 115 was thrown to beasts in the arena at Rome.

Trajan’s successor, Hadrian generally continued Trajan’s policy from 117 to 138. I say generally, because Hadrian didn’t send out letters telling local officials to stay on task in regard to Christians. Some governors hated the new sect and used their official cover to persecute them. Most governors didn’t really care. Christians weren’t causing any troubles – so why kick a hornet’s nest? They left believers alone. But if suddenly there was a leanness in the ranks of fighters for the arena, well, they could always crank up another round of persecution, snag some Christians as fodder for the arena. And besides, the Church was getting pretty big – time to trim the hedge.

Occasionally at heathen festivals the mob would drink too much and want some entertainment, so they’d demand the blood of Christians. This became so common, Hadrian published an edict against such riots. Christians couldn’t’; just be roused by the mob out of their homes or meeting places & carried off to some temple or arena where their heads were used to crack rocks. No, Christians were to be given the justice of the courts. They could be executed for being Christians, but only after being properly charged and tried. During Hadrian’s reign, this policy saw the ranks of Christians grow, their wealth improve, their scholarship advance & their influence spread.

From 139-161, the Emperor Antoninus Pius appears to have personally favored Jesus’ followers. But officially he continued the precedent of imperial policy. What that means is, little direction was coming from Rome about how Christians were to be handled. Persecution at this time was sporadic, regional, and temporary. It might flare up for a few months with mobs rioting and demanding Christian blood, then several years would go by with nary a whisper of threat. A student of the Apostle John, Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, was martyred in this way; when a mob rioted and demanded some Christians pay for their defiance of the old ways and gods.

Let’s call this period, the time of provincial persecution.

We’ll end this episode here, and pick it up at this point next time as we continue to track persecution in the First Centuries.

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 The First Centuries – Part 2 This is part 2 in our follow-up series on the first centuries in Church History. We’re concentrating on the persecution Jesus’ followers endured. In part 1, we examined the social & civic reasons for persecution in the Rom... This is part 2 in our follow-up series on the first centuries in Church History. We’re concentrating on the persecution Jesus’ followers endured. In part 1, we examined the social & civic reasons for persecution in the Roman Empire.
The suspicion of nefarious intent by Christians, fueled by their withdrawal from society due to its tacit connection to paganism, morphed into a suspicion of covert actions Jesus’ followers were taking to subvert society. Why were Christians so secretive if they weren’t in fact doing something wrong? And if the rumors were true, Christians WERE doing odd things; like pretending slaves had the same dignity as freemen; that women and children were to be honored as equal to men; and they rescued exposed infants. Why, if they kept all that up, and more joined their cause, what was to become of the world? It would look very different from the one that had been.
Another concern was the reaction of the gods. What would they do if the Christians had their way and everyone came to faith in a single deity? Those gods and goddesses, responsible as they were for things like weather and fertility, might throw one of their classic hissy-fits and call up a drought, a storm, or war.
All this helps explain the 1st official wave of persecution at Roman hands. In AD 64, during Nero’s reign, fire leveled whole neighborhoods in Rome. This was neither the 1st nor last fire to devastated the City. But it was one of the most severe. For days it raged leaving a large part of the heart of Rome in ash. A rumor pointed the finger at Nero as the cause of the fire. It was well known that he planned a grand re-modelling of the City. What matter if his plans were hindered by several thousands homes. Seeing the fiction that as Emperor, he could do as he please beginning to crumble in the face of a quickly rising public rage, Nero searched for a scapegoat. He found a ready one in a group that was already under suspicion. Convenient that they held some belief in the end of the world by fire.
Large numbers of Christians were arrested. Then crucifixions began. When that got boring, they were sewn inside skins of cattle and torn apart by vicious dogs. Women were tied to bulls and dragged to death. One report says at night, Nero tied Christians to stakes in his garden, doused them with pitch, then lit them ablaze while he rode among them in his chariot.
Most likely, it’s during this persecution the apostles Paul & Peter were martyred in Rome.
This first wave of official persecution was uncommon for the 1st & 2nd Cs, but it did presage what was to come later. For long periods Christians enjoyed a measure of peace. But they knew persecution could break out at any moment. All it took was some influential person taking umbrage & the arrests started up again. Because being a Christian was technically illegal.
Things remained relatively quiet until the early 2nd C. Then a question began to rise over whether or not Rome ought to take a firmer hand in dealing with the Christians. After all, no one could ignore that fact that they were growing in numbers. Especially concerning was the number of soldiers converting to the new faith. What effect would their religion have on their fitness to serve in the legions?
As I shared in Season 1, in ad 112 Pliny, a governor in Asia Minor, wrote his friend the Emperor Trajan, asking advice in how to deal with followers of Christ. He was sure Christians were guilty of something. He just wasn’t sure what. He put no stock whatever in the wild rumors they were incestuous or cannibals.
He wrote, “I do not know just what to do with the Christians, for I have never been present at one of their trials. Is just being a Christian enough to punish, or must something bad actually have been done? What I have done, in the case of those who admitted they were Christians, was to order them sent to Rome,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 19:18
The First Centuries – Part 1 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-1/ Sun, 29 Jan 2017 09:01:16 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1591 http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-1/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/the-first-centuries-part-1/feed/ 3 The First Centuries Welcome BACK to Communion Sanctorum: History of the Christian Church. We ended our summary & overview narrative of Church History after 150 episodes; took a few months break, and are back to it again with more episodes which aim to fill in the massive gaps we left before. This time, we’ll do […] The First Centuries

Welcome BACK to Communion Sanctorum: History of the Christian Church.

We ended our summary & overview narrative of Church History after 150 episodes; took a few months break, and are back to it again with more episodes which aim to fill in the massive gaps we left before.

This time, we’ll do series that go into detail on specific moments, movements, people, places, and other topics.

The title of this episode is The First Centuries – Part 1.

Ask almost anyone with at least a vague awareness of the early years of the Christianity, and they will likely tell you it was a time of intense persecution. Ask how many believers were put to death and the number will range from tens of thousands to a few million.

From stories, movies, and paintings of the era, many have the mental image of a mass of defenseless Christians dressed in white, huddled on an arena floor, surrounded by hungry lions. The stands are packed with spectators shouting for blood. But that image, common as it may be, is rather misleading. Did it happen? Undoubtedly. But it wasn’t the ubiquitous scene many assume. Before the dawn of the 3rd C, official imperial attempts to eradicate Christianity were largely unorganized and lukewarm. Roman emperors were rarely the terror to the Faith popular literature has made them. I say rarely, because there were some notable exceptions prior to the 3rd C. After that, things changed dramatically. Some emperors delighted in tormenting Jesus’ followers. Ending Christianity in the most brutal manner seems to have been a major focus for some of them.

Why did Rome persecute Christians? And why is it the popular concept of this time that it was an Era of Martyrs?

It’s best to get at this by backing up a bit to consider Rome’s attitude toward religion. And how are we to do that pray-tell? For attitudes toward religion vary from person to person, and time to time. Among the ancients; Roman, Greek, Jew, Parthian, or whatever, there were those who were devout, the profane, and a whole spread of shades of piety from one end of the religious spectrum to the other. What we’re considering here is the basic Roman civic approach to religion.

It might surprise the modern student to learn that political leaders of Rome served a religious function that was part & parcel of their political task. Their civic duties included cultic rituals. Roman religion was heavily invested in public ceremonies and sacrifices. Personally held religious beliefs weren’t as important as most modern religions regard them. What was important, pre-eminently so, was the possession of pietas. Pietas was religious duty. It meant honoring the sacred Roman traditions in the accepted way. The English word piety is derived from Pietas. But piety wasn’t an option for any Roman who desired to climb the political ranks. It was an absolute essential and something to be demonstrated publicly.

Pietas was THE distinguishing virtue of Rome’s founding hero, Aeneas, who’s given the epithet of “pius” by Virgil in the Aeneid. Cicero elevated pietas to the place Christians would later assign Agape. It was the duty a good Roman was to show to the gods and his fellow man. And by doing so, ensured the safety and prosperity of the State.

Romans of the 2nd C BC to the 4th AD saw themselves as owing a debt of gratitude to their ancestors who embodied the virtues they treasured. It seems our time isn’t the only one that looks to a past Golden Age of yesteryear when “all the women were strong and the men were good-looking.” Romans assigned themselves a custodial roll in preserving the traditions of their ancestors. And not just theirs. They expanded that custody over the traditions of those they conquered. So though they despised the Jewish religion for its seeming irreligious monotheism and refusal to cast Yahweh’s form – because it was an ancient belief, it came under their protection, as did several other Eastern faiths that were too divergent from that of the Greeks and Romans to allow for inclusion in the Roman pantheon.

Christianity was different. It was originally regarded by Rome as a Jewish reform movement; something Jewish leaders would have to deal with within their esoteric and opaque system.

What worried Rome was the rapidity by which the new faith grew. That, and it defied some of Rome’s most cherished ideas about how religion ought to be conducted. Rome was all about the PUBLIC display of ritual. Religion was a community thing. Christians, on the other hand, were secretive. They conducted their services in private and were reluctant to talk publicly about what they did behind closed doors. That reluctance owed to the wild & salacious rumors spread by critics. Calumny began early for Christians. In some places, Jewish opponents, jealous at the success of Christian evangelism, twisted aspects of the Christian message into accusations and whispered them in the ears of officials. Things like, Christians practiced cannibalism, because of the Lord’s Table. It was said they were incestuous, because they held what were called “Love Feasts” where they referred to each other as “brother and sister.” And most damning, was the pagan perception that Christians were in reality practical-atheists. That charge is incomprehensible to modern believers contending with the likes of Dawkins & Harris and their New Atheist compatriots. But in the early centuries, Christians were regarded by their pagan neighbors as atheists precisely because they believed in only ONE God, rather than a plethora.

Though believers tried to dispel these damning mis-conceptions, they lived on. As has been said; A lie travels half-way round the world before truth has put its shoes on. So Christians sequestered themselves behind closed doors and met in secret to conduct their clandestine meetings.

The popular Roman mentality toward religion was that it needed to be practiced in public as an expression of the community’s devotion to the gods, who’d reward this public piety with divine favor. It was relatively easy for them to accept the faiths of those they conquered since they already believed in a multiplicity of deities. What matter that there were now a few more?

That policy of tolerance for the religions of their conquests was sorely tried when it came to the Jews. Though many Romans despised the monotheism of Judaism, toleration was begrudgingly given simply on the basis of the antiquity of the Jewish faith. That toleration was strained to the breaking point under the reign of the mad Emperor Caligula who demanded to be worshipped as a god. Then after the First Jewish–Roman War of AD 66-73, the Jews were allowed to practice their religion only so long as they paid a new tax, the “fiscus Judaicus” ON TOP OF the exorbitant taxes that had sparked their revolt in the first place.

There’s debate among historians over whether the Roman government simply saw Christianity as a sect of Judaism prior to Emperor Nerva’s modification of the fiscus Judaicus in 96. From then on, Jews had to pay while Christians didn’t. SO that seems to suggest an official distinction was made between the 2 groups.

A measure of the Roman disdain for Christianity came from the belief that it was bad for society. In the 3rd C, the Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry labelled Jesus’ followers as impious & anti-social atheists. Their impiety was located, not in what we’d call traditional morality, but in their refusal to engage in the public religious rituals that were understood by the pagan world as a way to gain the favor of the gods.

Once Christians were distinguished from Jews, the Faith was no longer grand-fathered into reluctant acceptance. No – it became “superstitio.”

For Romans, superstition had a dangerous connotation; far more so that in today’s parlance. It meant religious practices not just different form the norm; they were corrosive to society. Superstition was a set of beliefs that if embraced, dehumanized someone. If enough embraced them and were detached from their humanitas, society would unravel; an ancient spiritual zombie apocalypse. Roman squelching of such dangerous superstitions happened in 428 BC when an unnamed group was eradicated for having caused a damaging drought. In 186 BC, the Romans moved against initiates of the cult of Bacchus when they got unruly. And of course, there’s the famous Roman campaign against the Druids.

The intensity of Christian persecution depended upon how dangerous they were deemed to be by the local official responsible for conducting such oversight. To be frank, Christian beliefs didn’t endeared them to many officials. Think about it. They . . .

1) Worshipped a convicted criminal,

2) Refused to swear by the emperor’s genius,

3) Railed against Roman depravity in their writings,

4) And conducted their suspicious services in private.

In his Apologeticus, addressed to the magistrates of Carthage in the Summer of 197 AD, the early church father Tertullian remarked, “We have the reputation of living aloof from crowds.”

One of the more frequent word used to describe Christians in the NT is hagios, translated “saints.” Literally = holy ones. Bu the root of the word means to be different, set-apart.  If something is holy, it’s different from other things. That difference lies in it’s purpose. It’s for God; dedicated exclusively to Him. So, a temple is holy because it’s different from all other buildings; the Sabbath is holy because it’s dedicated to God. Christians are saints, because they belong to God. Jesus’ followers felt this distinction keenly; they embraced it, knowing it set them at odds with their pagan neighbors.

It’s human nature to regard those who are different with suspicion. So the more seriously early Christians took their faith the more hostility they faced. Simply by living in obedience to Jesus, Christians condemned paganism. Christians didn’t run around wagging their fingers or tongues in condemnation of unbelievers. Nor did they advocate and promotes a self-righteous superiority. It just that the Christian ethic revealed the shabbiness of a pagan life.

If that’s all the Christians were guilty of though, persecution would not have broken out against them in such fury. What sparked it was their vehement rejection of the pagan gods. The ancient world had deities for everything. There was a goddess for sowing  & another for reaping. There was a god for clear skies and another for rain. Mountains had gods, as did trees & rivers & valleys. For Christians, most of who had at one time worshipped these deities, they were a fiction! And it would be one thing to go quietly about their business with that view, you know, keeping their religion to themselves. But pagans wouldn’t let them. Because every meal began by pouring out a few drops of wine as an offering to the pagan gods. Feasts & parties were held in a temple after sacrifice. The invitation was to dine at the table of some god. It was an ancient version of Chuck E Cheese. But instead of ignoring the dated mechanical rodent, you had to worship it before being allowed to eat your pizza. Christians simply couldn’t attend. When she or he turned down the invitation, they were reviled as rude & anti-social.

There were other events and gatherings Christians avoided because they considered them inherently immoral. They weren’t alone in that assessment. Many moral pagans objected to them as well. Gladiatorial contests are an example. In theaters across the empire, Romans made prisoners & slaves to fight to the death for amusement & entertainment of the crowd.

Refusal to practice idolatry led to financial difficulties. What was a mason to do if as a believer he refused to work stones for a pagan temple or a tailor balked at making a robe for a heathen priest, or a baker refused to make a cake for a . . . never mind.

Tertullian forbade Christians teaching school, because it meant using books with stories of the gods.

As I share that little piece of history, let’s be cognizant of the almost certain reality that Tertullian’s position was in all likelihood not something all believers, and not necessarily even all leaders agreed with. Truth be told, his may have been a minority opinion. The problem is we just don’t have much evidence of what the rest of the Church held regarding this. There was no tirade of tweets one February in the 3rd C over what occupations Christians could and couldn’t fill. It wasn’t a topic people blogged on. No Facebook pages were devoted to it. All we have is Tertullian’s remark. Maybe his pastoral peers disagreed and sent him pointed emails about it. Forgive the anachronism; I take it you get my point.

The larger point for us to glean is that during a time of widespread and aggressive paganism that REQUIRED Christians to go along to get along, many believers found themselves stepping away from public and civil life because in the contest with remaining faithful to Jesus, their conscience demanded it.

Everywhere Christians turned their lives and faith were on display because the Gospel introduced a revolutionary new attitude toward life. This was exhibited most clearly in the realms of Sex, Slaves, and Children.

The Church of the Modern Era has often endured scorn for its old-fashioned views on the sanctity of marriage & marital physical intimacy. That isn’t a criticism early Christians faced, at least from most moral philosophers. On the contrary, ancient Roman moral pundits lamented the abysmal sexual immorality of their times. Raising the sanctity of marriage, along with attitudes toward marital fidelity, was one of the Emperor Augustus’ pet projects. Christianity, infused as it was with a Biblical view of marriage and sex, regarded the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, withy marriage as a picture of the Church’s union with Christ. Couples who lived out the Gospel in their homes exhibited a quality of life pagans longed for. But it marked them as radically different; and we all know how the mass reacts to that!

Slavery was another matter altogether. It was here that Christianity was regarded as a dangerous force for it attributed dignity to all people regardless of status or state. It’s reported that when Christians met for their distinctive services, masters and their slaves shed the distinctions that marked their lives just before and after the service. Greco-Roman culture might regard slaves as mere living tools, as Plato described them. But Christians esteemed slaves as of equal value with the free. In a society stratified by endless causes for division, the followers of Jesus bore a shocking disregard for those differences. But with the horrors of periodic slave uprisings still fresh in the collective memory, outsiders came to regard the Christian message as dangerously subversive to the social order.

The attitude seemed to be à “Hey, look; it’s great the Christians see all people as equal yet are able to maintain the traditional roles our legal system has imposed. But we now that at some point, if more people go in for this Christian thing, the salves will reach a critical mass and will rebel again. Last time they did, I lost 2 friends and I don’t want to go through that again.”

The sanctity of human life that framed the core of the Christian attitude towards slaves & slavery applied toward children, and in particular, to infants. Unlike their neighbor-pagans, Christians refused to leave their unwanted or physically distressed children in some out of the way place to be left to die of exposure, or to be carried off by traffickers who’d invest a little food now for the pay-off of selling or using them later. In fact, not only did Christian refrain from this barbaric practice, they often rescued such exposed infants and raised them as their own, which of course put an additional financial burden on already strained incomes.

We’ll halt here and pick it up at this point in the next episode. We’ll begin by taking a look at the first systematic persecution under Nero in AD64.

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The First Centuries Welcome BACK to Communion Sanctorum: History of the Christian Church. We ended our summary & overview narrative of Church History after 150 episodes; took a few months break, and are back to it again with more episodes which aim to ... Welcome BACK to Communion Sanctorum: History of the Christian Church.
We ended our summary & overview narrative of Church History after 150 episodes; took a few months break, and are back to it again with more episodes which aim to fill in the massive gaps we left before.
This time, we’ll do series that go into detail on specific moments, movements, people, places, and other topics.
The title of this episode is The First Centuries – Part 1.
Ask almost anyone with at least a vague awareness of the early years of the Christianity, and they will likely tell you it was a time of intense persecution. Ask how many believers were put to death and the number will range from tens of thousands to a few million.
From stories, movies, and paintings of the era, many have the mental image of a mass of defenseless Christians dressed in white, huddled on an arena floor, surrounded by hungry lions. The stands are packed with spectators shouting for blood. But that image, common as it may be, is rather misleading. Did it happen? Undoubtedly. But it wasn’t the ubiquitous scene many assume. Before the dawn of the 3rd C, official imperial attempts to eradicate Christianity were largely unorganized and lukewarm. Roman emperors were rarely the terror to the Faith popular literature has made them. I say rarely, because there were some notable exceptions prior to the 3rd C. After that, things changed dramatically. Some emperors delighted in tormenting Jesus’ followers. Ending Christianity in the most brutal manner seems to have been a major focus for some of them.
Why did Rome persecute Christians? And why is it the popular concept of this time that it was an Era of Martyrs?
It’s best to get at this by backing up a bit to consider Rome’s attitude toward religion. And how are we to do that pray-tell? For attitudes toward religion vary from person to person, and time to time. Among the ancients; Roman, Greek, Jew, Parthian, or whatever, there were those who were devout, the profane, and a whole spread of shades of piety from one end of the religious spectrum to the other. What we’re considering here is the basic Roman civic approach to religion.
It might surprise the modern student to learn that political leaders of Rome served a religious function that was part & parcel of their political task. Their civic duties included cultic rituals. Roman religion was heavily invested in public ceremonies and sacrifices. Personally held religious beliefs weren’t as important as most modern religions regard them. What was important, pre-eminently so, was the possession of pietas. Pietas was religious duty. It meant honoring the sacred Roman traditions in the accepted way. The English word piety is derived from Pietas. But piety wasn’t an option for any Roman who desired to climb the political ranks. It was an absolute essential and something to be demonstrated publicly.
Pietas was THE distinguishing virtue of Rome’s founding hero, Aeneas, who’s given the epithet of “pius” by Virgil in the Aeneid. Cicero elevated pietas to the place Christians would later assign Agape. It was the duty a good Roman was to show to the gods and his fellow man. And by doing so, ensured the safety and prosperity of the State.
Romans of the 2nd C BC to the 4th AD saw themselves as owing a debt of gratitude to their ancestors who embodied the virtues they treasured. It seems our time isn’t the only one that looks to a past Golden Age of yesteryear when “all the women were strong and the men were good-looking.” Romans assigned themselves a custodial roll in preserving the traditions of their ancestors. And not just theirs. They expanded that custody over the traditions of those they conquered. So though they despised the Jewish religion for its seeming irreligious monotheism and refusal to cast Yahweh’s form – because it was an ancient belief, it came under their protection,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 19:25
150-The End http://www.sanctorum.us/150-the-end/ Sun, 04 Sep 2016 09:01:05 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1397 http://www.sanctorum.us/150-the-end/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/150-the-end/feed/ 3 The final episode of Communio Sanctorum. We look briefly at the reaction of some Protestants  to Manifest Destiny. DL Moody, The Holiness Movement, Phoebe Palmer, The Azusa Street Revival. This 150th episode of CS is titled The End. 150 episodes! And this is the rebooted v2. We had a hundred episodes in v1 before I […] American_progressThe final episode of Communio Sanctorum. We look briefly at the reaction of some Protestants  to Manifest Destiny. DL Moody, The Holiness Movement, Phoebe Palmer, The Azusa Street Revival.


This 150th episode of CS is titled The End.

150 episodes! And this is the rebooted v2. We had a hundred episodes in v1 before I started over again in an attempt to clean up the timeline and fill in some gaps.

When I first set out to do this podcast I had no idea it would become what it’s turned out to be. I’m not much of a web guy and depend on the skill of others to help me figure out how to run the website, link to iTunes, and work the tech. Stat programs for WordPress sites are difficult to sort out and figuring out how many subscribers there are to CS is a bit of a challenge. The stat plugin I use says we have over 20K unique visitors a week. I’m assuming that’s mostly people who check in to grab each episode.

When I began, I thought maybe a couple hundred would join in the journey. To have 20K subscribers & be nominated the last 2 years for the Podcast Awards is way beyond what I anticipated.

So, thanks to all of you faithful CS subscribers. You’ve made the journey a rewarding experience. And if that sounds like I’m ending the podcast, you assumed correctly. As I’ve sat down to write the scripts over the last few weeks, I’ve asked myself, “Is this the last episode?” But when I finished, I realized there’s still material to cover.

There always would be. We’ve come in our narrative to the end of the 19th C and broached the early yrs of the 20th. But we’ve neglected some important stories, such as the massive Protestant Missions outreach of the 18th and 19th Cs. As I mentioned in a recent podcast, there’s so much historical record for this era, if we start following every trail of Church history it’ll never end.

So yes, this is the last episode of this iteration of CS. 150 seems a nice round number to end on. For those who are interested, I’ll be taking a break to turn my full attention to the expanding task of leading a growing church for a while; several months at least.

Then I want to pick it up again with some series where we’ll go into a lot more depth in moments & movements in the History of Christianity.

Check back after the first of the year and see if we’ve started up again. If not, I’ll still post an update with some information on when we will start back up.

I’ll have more to say at the end of the episode . . .

High school students in the United States learn about Manifest Destiny in their US History course as Juniors. MD was a late 19th political idea that the USA was divinely appointed to occupy all of the North American continent. MD captured the imagination of many Americans and was fueled by politicians and journalists. But the “America” MD believed was ordained by God to cover the continent had a specific flavor. It was white and Protestant. That is Northern European white and Protestant! Hardcore MD advocates went so far as to say once the USA had claimed all North America, it would spread its influence over Central & South America as well, and bring the blessing of the American system to the rest of the world.

But there was trouble in America. The Civil War may have helped end slavery, but it did not bring about racial harmony. On the contrary, things got worse in the South following the War. The large numbers of European immigrants flooding US shores in the North put pressure on urban centers which saw people of various ethnic communities banding together for mutual support, exacerbating an already fragmenting American society. The melting pot was leaking, quickly. Southern European immigrants faced a hard time in discrimination and as settlement moved Westward, Hispanics also faced it.

Josiah Strong, general secretary of the conservative Evangelical Alliance announced God was about to bring forth a “final competition of races” in which the Anglo-Saxons would prevail because they had the “best form of government, the purest expression of Christianity, and the highest civilization.” So they would fulfill their God-given destiny of sweeping aside weaker races, assimilating worthy races, and shaping the rest so as to, as he said id, “Anglo-Saxonize” humanity.

If that sounds a bit like the maniacal ramblings of a failed Austrian artist with a tiny mustache and bad haircut, you know where you’ve heard those claims before. But Josiah Strong made them several decades before Hitler. And while he was what we’d call a conservative Evangelical, there were oodles of more liberal Christians who held precisely the same ideas because they were all caught up in the idea of MD.

But these ideas contrasted strongly with the reality of the United States itself, especially in the urban centers. Immigrants were exploited and lived horribly overcrowded conditions. They had virtually no contact with organized Christianity, and especially that of the Protestant form.

When Protestant leaders realized they had no presence in some of the neediest places of their own country, they went to work to remedy the situation. The Young Men’s & Women’s Christian Association was imported from England set up chapters.

Sunday schools were established and were such a hit that many churches ended up having a more vibrant Sunday School program than their other functions.

The camp meetings that had been such a boon to the frontier were imported to Eastern cities. Mass meetings and revivals became a major part of the urban religious scene. The central figure of these revivals was a shoe salesman from Chicago named Dwight Lyman Moody. Moody knew the USA considered itself a “Christian realm” but saw precious little religion in the sprawling metropolis he called home. He began bringing the unchurched to his church, but when it became clear to him the leaders there weren’t interested in ministering outside the sphere of their own members, he began an independent work. He got involved with the YMCA, where his zeal for evangelism he recognized and encouraged. While visiting the HQs of the YMCA in London in 1872, he was invited to preach for the first time. The response moved him to take up a preaching career, focusing on the masses of urbanites in England, then in the US. While Moody was innovative in his methodology for conducting mass meetings, his message was a simple presentation of the Gospel with a call to repent of sin and put one’s faith in Christ as the only Savior. He was sure the best way to improve the condition of the urban poor was conversion. So while he concentrated his efforts in large cities, he was loath to speak out against social ills. He’d rather spend his time and effort lighting candles than cursing the dark. His success spun up many imitators, and soon revivals became a part of the American religious landscape.

The challenge of addressing the plight of urban poverty generated some new movements & denominations. Some Methodists in both Great Britain & the US observed that their denomination had become quite middle-class, neglecting the poor, which they regarded as a fundamental departure from the teaching of their founder, John Wesley. Since it was among such the movement had been birthed, they sought a return to their roots. In England, this impetus gave rise to the Salvation Army, founded by Methodists William & Catherine Booth. The SA was known for its work among the poor, providing food, shelter, & employment to the needy. Because the condition of the poor in the US was similar to England, when the SA arrived there, it found a ready mission field.

Another group to emerge from the Methodists at this time were less concerned for the poor, but no less concerned for another distinctive that had been prominent in Wesley’s ministry – the Call to Sanctification. The Holiness Movement was born out of a desire to recapture and reinfuse this central fixture of primitive Methodism.

At first there were many disconnected groups that comprised the Holiness Movement. Over time, they consolidated in a few denominations. The largest was the Church of the Nazarene, began in 1908.

A leading voice in the Holiness Movement was Phoebe Palmer, who in 1835 began leading women’s prayer meetings. A few years later, men joined as well. Then she took her show on the road, preaching and teaching all over N American & Europe. Palmer advocated sinless perfection – that it wasn’t just possible; rather—it ought to be the goal of all believers to achieve absolute moral purity. Of course she was not without her critics, even from within her own denomination. She founded the Methodist Ladies’ Home Missionary Society, which brought relief to some of the most deprived urban areas of the US. Her work, along with the work of many others, contributed to what later became the American Feminist movement.

Worship in many of the independent holiness churches was filled with a new energy & vitality unseen and unheard in most of the older denominations. Meetings would occasionally see what was called an outpouring spiritual gifts; things like speaking in tongues, prophecies, miracles & healings. And while all such went by the wayside in most churches after a few years, in 1906 they re-emerged in spectacular fashion at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles.

The first glimmers of something happened among a small group at a house of one of the members on Bonnie Brae Street. Pastor William Seymour, a former slave who’d been trained by a Pentecostal minister named Charles Parham. As the little group prayed, the Holy Spirit moved and people began speaking in tongues. More wanted to attend but the house was too small so they moved to the Azusa Street mission. It was there a critical mass was reached. From there, Pentecostal fire spread to the rest of the country.

There were both whites & blacks present at Azusa Street Revival, so the work spread to both group’s churches. It quickly spread beyond its Methodist roots to include Baptists & others. In 1914, a gathering of Pentecostals, as they were called, saw the birth of the Assemblies of God denomination. Eventually, other Pentecostal groups formed. Most of them were eager to alleviate the suffering of the urban poor. When that task seemed to be largely addressed, an initiative of international missions was launched. The vitality and innovative inertia of Pentecostals fueled a new wave of world mission that saw Pentecostalism become a main feature of the World Christian Movement and Global Christianity.

Well, That’s it for CS for now.

Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of stuff we didn’t cover. That’s where all you aspiring podcasters can buy a mic, install a recording and editing program and go to town – filling in what I left out.

And I’m sure there were some who listened to these podcasts & said, “This guy’s an idiot. I could do a better podcast than that.” Well, here’s your chance. Go for it. Why not pick It up here and do a podcast on the history of your denomination, movement, or group. If you take on the task, let me know so I can give it a listen.

As I said earlier, check back early 2017 to see if there’s a fresh episode or update.

And if you’re a glutton for punishment and just miss my annoying voice each week for 15 minutes, you’re invited to subscribe to the weekly podcast of the church here I serve as lead pastor – just go to calvaryoxnard.org. If you use iTunes as your podcast portal, do a search for Calvary Chapel Oxnard in the iTunes store.

Okay, well  – That’s it. // Thanks so much for being a part of something special.

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The final episode of Communio Sanctorum. We look briefly at the reaction of some Protestants  to Manifest Destiny. DL Moody, The Holiness Movement, Phoebe Palmer, The Azusa Street Revival. This 150th episode of CS is titled The End. 150 episodes! The final episode of Communio Sanctorum. We look briefly at the reaction of some Protestants  to Manifest Destiny. DL Moody, The Holiness Movement, Phoebe Palmer, The Azusa Street Revival.

This 150th episode of CS is titled The End.
150 episodes! And this is the rebooted v2. We had a hundred episodes in v1 before I started over again in an attempt to clean up the timeline and fill in some gaps.
When I first set out to do this podcast I had no idea it would become what it’s turned out to be. I’m not much of a web guy and depend on the skill of others to help me figure out how to run the website, link to iTunes, and work the tech. Stat programs for WordPress sites are difficult to sort out and figuring out how many subscribers there are to CS is a bit of a challenge. The stat plugin I use says we have over 20K unique visitors a week. I’m assuming that’s mostly people who check in to grab each episode.
When I began, I thought maybe a couple hundred would join in the journey. To have 20K subscribers & be nominated the last 2 years for the Podcast Awards is way beyond what I anticipated.
So, thanks to all of you faithful CS subscribers. You’ve made the journey a rewarding experience. And if that sounds like I’m ending the podcast, you assumed correctly. As I’ve sat down to write the scripts over the last few weeks, I’ve asked myself, “Is this the last episode?” But when I finished, I realized there’s still material to cover.
There always would be. We’ve come in our narrative to the end of the 19th C and broached the early yrs of the 20th. But we’ve neglected some important stories, such as the massive Protestant Missions outreach of the 18th and 19th Cs. As I mentioned in a recent podcast, there’s so much historical record for this era, if we start following every trail of Church history it’ll never end.
So yes, this is the last episode of this iteration of CS. 150 seems a nice round number to end on. For those who are interested, I’ll be taking a break to turn my full attention to the expanding task of leading a growing church for a while; several months at least.
Then I want to pick it up again with some series where we’ll go into a lot more depth in moments & movements in the History of Christianity.
Check back after the first of the year and see if we’ve started up again. If not, I’ll still post an update with some information on when we will start back up.
I’ll have more to say at the end of the episode . . .
High school students in the United States learn about Manifest Destiny in their US History course as Juniors. MD was a late 19th political idea that the USA was divinely appointed to occupy all of the North American continent. MD captured the imagination of many Americans and was fueled by politicians and journalists. But the “America” MD believed was ordained by God to cover the continent had a specific flavor. It was white and Protestant. That is Northern European white and Protestant! Hardcore MD advocates went so far as to say once the USA had claimed all North America, it would spread its influence over Central & South America as well, and bring the blessing of the American system to the rest of the world.
But there was trouble in America. The Civil War may have helped end slavery, but it did not bring about racial harmony. On the contrary, things got worse in the South following the War. The large numbers of European immigrants flooding US shores in the North put pressure on urban centers which saw people of various ethnic communities banding together for mutual support, exacerbating an already fragmenting American society. The melting pot was leaking, quickly. Southern European immigrants faced a hard time in discrimination and as settlement moved Westward, Hispanics also faced it.
Josiah Strong,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:51
149-Evangementalism http://www.sanctorum.us/149-evangementalism/ Sun, 28 Aug 2016 09:01:45 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1393 http://www.sanctorum.us/149-evangementalism/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/149-evangementalism/feed/ 0   Evangelism into Fundamentalism This 149th episode is titled Evangementalism. We’ve spent a couple episodes laying out the genesis of Theological Liberalism, and concluded the last episode with a brief look at the conservative reaction to it of what’s been called Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism was one of the most important movements of the 20th C. The […]  

  • BB Warfield

    BB Warfield

    Evangelism into Fundamentalism


  • This 149th episode is titled Evangementalism.

    We’ve spent a couple episodes laying out the genesis of Theological Liberalism, and concluded the last episode with a brief look at the conservative reaction to it of what’s been called Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism was one of the most important movements of the 20th C. The label comes from that which lies at the center of the movement, a devotion to an orthodox and traditional understanding of the Evangel, that is, the Christian Gospel. The Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

    While Evangelicalism is used today mainly to describe that theological movement that came about as a reaction to Protestant theological liberalism, the terms can be applied all the way back to the 1st C believers who referred to themselves as people of the Gospel, the Evangel. The term was resurrected during the Reformation so that people at that time called themselves “evangelicals” before identifying as Protestants or any of the other labels by which we classify protestant denominations today.

    The modern flavor of Evangelicalism came about as a merging of European Pietism & THE revivals AMONG Methodists in England. Indeed, we could locate the real BIRTH of Evangelicalism in the First Great Awakening of the mid-18th C. Its midwives were people like Whitefield, Tennent, Freylinghuysen, & of course Jonathan Edwards.

    Since a major stress of all these was the need of a conversion experience and a spiritual new birth, revivalism and an emphasis on the task of evangelism has been front and center in Evangelicalism.

    As we’ve already seen in a past episode, the 1st Great Awakening was followed a century later by the 2nd Great Awakening which began in the United States and spread to Europe then the rest of the world and had a massive impact on how Christians viewed their faith and the role of faith in the world. What’s remarkable about the 2nd Great Awakening, is that it came at a time when many church leaders lamented the low state of the Church in Western Civilization and Christianity’s enemies were gleefully writing its obituary. Theological Liberalism had already helped to push the Faith toward an early grave. But the 2nd Great Awakening literally shook North American and Europe to their core. A wave of missionaries went out across the face of the earth as a result, spreading the faith to place where no church had existed for hundreds of years, and in some cases, never before.

    In the newly settled regions on the American frontier, Evangelicalism was carried out in week-long what were called “camp meetings.” Think of a modern concert with multiple bands. The camp meetings were like that, except in place of bands playing music were preachers passionately preaching the Gospel. Might not sound too appealing to our modern sensibilities, but the lonely pioneers of the frontier turned out in large crowds. They’d been too busy building their homesteads to consider constructing frontier churches. But now they returned home to do that very thing.

    One of the largest of these camp meetings took place at Cane Ridge in Kentucky in August 1801. Upwards of 20,000 gathered to listen to Protestant preachers of all stripes.

    Methodist minister Francis Asbury was just one of several circuit-riders who carried the Gospel all over the frontier. Both Baptists & Methodists worked tirelessly to bring the Gospel to blacks. But the fierce racism of the time refused to integrate congregation. Separate churches were plated for black congregations, of which there were many. In the early 19th C, Richard Allen left the Methodist Church to found the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In the US, it wasn’t long before Evangelical Baptists & Methodists outnumbered the older denominations of Episcopalians & Presbyterians, groups where theological liberalism was slowly infiltrating.

    Charles Finney was an attorney-turned-revivalist who transferred the excitement and energy of the rural camp-meetings to the urban centers of the American NE. And innovator, Finney encouraged the newly converted to share the story of how they came to the Faith – called ‘giving your testimony.’ He set what he called an “anxious bench” near the front of the rooms where he spoke as a place who wanted prayer or to make a profession of their need for Christ. That eventually morphed into the modern ‘altar-call’ that’s a standard fixture of many Evangelical churches today.

    By the start of the American Civil War in the mid-19th C, Evangelicalism was the predominant religious position of the American people. In an address delivered 1873, Rev. Theodore Woolsey, one-time president of Yale could say, without the least bit of controversy; “The vast majority of people believe in Christ and the Gospel. Christian influences are universal. Our civilization and intellectual culture are built on that foundation.”

    While there are many brands, flavors and emphases inside modern Evangelicalism, it’;s safe to characterize an evangelical as someone who holds to several core beliefs: those being à

    1) The authority and sufficiency of Scripture

    2) The uniqueness of salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ,

    3) The need for personal conversion

    4) And the urgency of evangelism

    Today, while there are specific and individual exceptions, we can say that collectively, Evangelicals are the most religiously active of Christians.

    A further refining of Evangelicalism took place when there was a debate over the first of its core doctrines – that is, the authority & sufficiency of Scripture. This is where Fundamentalism diverged from Evangelicalism. The other 3 core distinctive of Evangelicalism all rest on the authority and sufficiently of the Bible. And while Evangelicalism began as a reaction to theological liberalism, some of the ideas of that liberalism crept in to some Evangelical’s view of Scripture.

    You see, it’s one thing to say Scripture is authoritative and sufficient and another to then say the entire Bible is Scripture.  IS the Bible God’s Word, or does it just contain God’s Word? And we need scholars and those properly educated to tell us what is in fact Scripture and what’s filler? And are the actual WORDS God’s Words, or do the words need to be taken together collectively so that it’s not the words but the meaning they convey that makes for God’s authoritative message?

    Some Evangelical leaders noticed their peers were moving to a position that said the Bible wasn’t so much God’s Word as it contained God’s Message. While they weren’t as extreme as the Liberal Theologians, they effectively ended up in the same place. May I say, this debate is alive and well in the Evangelical church today and continues to be the source of much unrest.

    Conservative Evangelicals started linking the authority of Scripture to the doctrine of inerrancy; that is, belief the Bible’s original writings contained no errors, and that because of the laborious process of transmission of the texts over time, while we can’t say our modern translations are perfect or without any error, they are virtually inerrant; they are trustworthy versions of those originals.

    At the dawn of the 20th C, Princeton Theological Seminary became the epicenter of this debate as a leading defender of the authority of the Bible. It had long been an advocate for the infallibility of Scripture under such luminaries as Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, his son, AA. Hodge, named after Archibald Alexander, and BB Warfield. In a seminal essay on the doctrine of Inspiration in the Princeton Review, AA Hodge & BB Warfield defined inspiration as producing the “absolute infallibility” of Scripture. They said the autographs, the original writings of the Bible were free from error, not just in regard to theological matters, but in contradiction to what theological liberalism claimed, they were without error in regard to ALL their assertions, including those touching science & history.

    The theological liberalism coming from Europe had a mixed reception in the US at the outset of the 20th C. At first, most churches remained conservative and blissfully unaware of the slow sea-change taking place in the intellectual centers of American universities & seminaries. Battle lines were drawn between liberals and conservatives who were branded with a new label = Fundamentalists. The battle they carried out in the hallowed halls of academia soon spilled over into the pews. It was referred to as the contest between modernists and fundamentalists.

    While modernists embraced a whole host of varying ideologies, they shared two presuppositions. à

    First, they urged, Christianity must be reframed in light of new insights; that is the new beliefs of Protestant Liberalism.

    Second, the Faith had to be liberated from the cultural encrustations of traditionalism that had obscured the REAL MEANING of the Bible. What that effectively meant was that ALL and ANY traditional beliefs about what the Bible said were automatically no longer valid. It was a knee-jerk rejection of conservatism, simply because it wanted to conserve what had been.

    Though the term Fundamentalism wasn’t coined until 1920, it flowed from the 1910 publication The Fundamentals. It was a synthesis of different conservative Protestants who united to battle the Modernists who seemed to be taking over Evangelicalism. They banded together to launch a counteroffensive.

    There were 2 streams of the early Fundamentalist movement à

    One was an intellectual fundamentalism led by J. Gresham Machen [Gres’am May-chen] and his Calvinist peers at Princeton. [BTW – that IS the way to pronounce Machen’s name; the “h’ in Gresham is silent!]

    The other was a populist fundamentalism led by CI Schofield who produced the best-seller Scofield Reference Bible which contained his expansive notes and laid out a dispensationalism many found appealing.

    Other notable fundamentalist leaders were RA Torrey, DL Moody, Billy Sunday, and the Holiness Movement that moved in several denominations but most notably among the Nazarenes.

    While the intellectual and populist streams of fundamentalism attempted to unite in their opposition to modernism, there were simply too many doctrinal differences between all the various groups inside the movement to allow for a concerted strategy in dealing with Liberalism. As a result, Modernists were able to continue their infiltration & take-over of the intellectual centers of the Faith.

    In reaction to the modernists, in 1910, a group of conservative Presbyterians responded with five convictions that came to be considered the core Fundamentals from which the movement derived its name. Those 5 convictions flowed from their certainty in the inerrancy & infallibility of Scripture. They were . . .

    1) The inerrancy of the original writings.

    2) The virgin birth of Jesus.

    3) The substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the cross.

    4) His literal, bodily resurrection.

    5) A belief that Jesus’ miracles were to be understood as real events and not merely literary mythology meant to teach some ethical imperative. Jesus really fed thousands with a filet-o-fish Happy Meal, really raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, and really walked on water.

    These 5 fundamentals were elaborated and released between 1910 and 15 in a set of booklets called The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. The Stewart brothers funded their publication & ensured they were distributed to every Christian leader across the US. funded the publication of The Fundamentals, but also the wide distribution of these volumes to religious leaders all over America. 3 million copies were circulated before WWI to combat the threat Modernism.

]]>
  Evangelism into Fundamentalism This 149th episode is titled Evangementalism. We’ve spent a couple episodes laying out the genesis of Theological Liberalism, and concluded the last episode with a brief look at the conservative reaction to it of what’s...
*
Evangelism into Fundamentalism
*

This 149th episode is titled Evangementalism.
We’ve spent a couple episodes laying out the genesis of Theological Liberalism, and concluded the last episode with a brief look at the conservative reaction to it of what’s been called Evangelicalism. Evangelicalism was one of the most important movements of the 20th C. The label comes from that which lies at the center of the movement, a devotion to an orthodox and traditional understanding of the Evangel, that is, the Christian Gospel. The Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
While Evangelicalism is used today mainly to describe that theological movement that came about as a reaction to Protestant theological liberalism, the terms can be applied all the way back to the 1st C believers who referred to themselves as people of the Gospel, the Evangel. The term was resurrected during the Reformation so that people at that time called themselves “evangelicals” before identifying as Protestants or any of the other labels by which we classify protestant denominations today.
The modern flavor of Evangelicalism came about as a merging of European Pietism & THE revivals AMONG Methodists in England. Indeed, we could locate the real BIRTH of Evangelicalism in the First Great Awakening of the mid-18th C. Its midwives were people like Whitefield, Tennent, Freylinghuysen, & of course Jonathan Edwards.
Since a major stress of all these was the need of a conversion experience and a spiritual new birth, revivalism and an emphasis on the task of evangelism has been front and center in Evangelicalism.
As we’ve already seen in a past episode, the 1st Great Awakening was followed a century later by the 2nd Great Awakening which began in the United States and spread to Europe then the rest of the world and had a massive impact on how Christians viewed their faith and the role of faith in the world. What’s remarkable about the 2nd Great Awakening, is that it came at a time when many church leaders lamented the low state of the Church in Western Civilization and Christianity’s enemies were gleefully writing its obituary. Theological Liberalism had already helped to push the Faith toward an early grave. But the 2nd Great Awakening literally shook North American and Europe to their core. A wave of missionaries went out across the face of the earth as a result, spreading the faith to place where no church had existed for hundreds of years, and in some cases, never before.
In the newly settled regions on the American frontier, Evangelicalism was carried out in week-long what were called “camp meetings.” Think of a modern concert with multiple bands. The camp meetings were like that, except in place of bands playing music were preachers passionately preaching the Gospel. Might not sound too appealing to our modern sensibilities, but the lonely pioneers of the frontier turned out in large crowds. They’d been too busy building their homesteads to consider constructing frontier churches. But now they returned home to do that very thing.
One of the largest of these camp meetings took place at Cane Ridge in Kentucky in August 1801. Upwards of 20,000 gathered to listen to Protestant preachers of all stripes.
Methodist minister Francis Asbury was just one of several circuit-riders who carried the Gospel all over the frontier. Both Baptists & Methodists worked tirelessly to bring the Gospel to blacks. But the fierce racism of the time refused to integrate congregation. Separate churches were plated for black congregations, of which there were many. In the early 19th C, Richard Allen left the Methodist Church to found the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In the US, it wasn’t long before Evangelical Baptists & Methodists outnumbered the older denominations of Episcopalians & Presbyterians, groups where theological liberalism was slowly infiltrating...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:39
148-Liberal v Evangelical http://www.sanctorum.us/148-liberal-v-evangelical/ Sun, 21 Aug 2016 09:01:41 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1370 http://www.sanctorum.us/148-liberal-v-evangelical/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/148-liberal-v-evangelical/feed/ 0 The work of the Protestant Liberal theologians Schleiermacher & Ristchl. The Evangelical response. The title of this 148th episode is Liberal v Evangelical In our last episode, we considered the philosophical roots of Theological Liberalism. In this episode we’ll name names as we look at the early leaders and innovators or Liberalism. Some years ago […] Lib v Evan

The work of the Protestant Liberal theologians Schleiermacher & Ristchl. The Evangelical response.


The title of this 148th episode is Liberal v Evangelical

In our last episode, we considered the philosophical roots of Theological Liberalism. In this episode we’ll name names as we look at the early leaders and innovators or Liberalism.

Some years ago in a college Philosophy class, my professor gave his understanding of both faith and reason. After a lengthy description of both, he concluded by saying that faith and reason had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Reason dealt with the evidential, that which was perceived by the senses and what logic concluded were rationally consistent conclusions drawn form that evidence. Faith, he declaimed, was belief in spite of evidence. When I asked if he was thus saying faith was irrational, he just smiled.

The Professor was an adherent of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy. In Kant’s work Critique of Pure Reason, published in 1781, Kant argued reason is able to comprehend anything in the realm of space & time; what he called the phenomenal realm. But reason is useless in accessing the noumenal, or spiritual realm transcending time and space.

Kant didn’t argue against the existence of the spiritual realm. He simply said that it’s only something we can feel and experience. We can’t really THINK about it in the sense that it touches the rational mind.

Traditional, orthodox Christians pushed back against the Kantian view of faith as feeling and mere experience reminding themselves that Jesus had said the greatest command was to loved God with all they had, including their minds. But liberals found in Kant’s philosophy a justification for unhitching reason from faith and for allowing modern people to live in a secular world while still enjoying the benefits of religious sentiments about ultimate meaning.

A few years after the publication of Kant’s Critique, the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher said the heart of Christian Faith isn’t an historical event, like the Resurrection. It was, he argued, a feeling one one’s absolute dependence on a reality beyond one’s self. That awareness, he claimed, could be developed to the point where a person would be able to imitate Jesus’ own good deeds.

He wrote, “The true nature of religion is immediate consciousness of Deity as found in ourselves and the world.” Schleiermacher has been called the Father of theological liberalism.

Schleiermacher was born in a pious Moravian home, but as a young man, he imbibed the rationalism of the Enlightenment and became an ardent apologist for accommodating Christianity to popular society. As a professor of the newly founded University of Berlin, he insisted debates over proofs of God’s existence, the authority of Scriptures, and the possibility of miracles weren’t the issue they ought to focus on. He said that the heart of religion had always been feeling, rather than rational proofs. God is not a theory used to explain the universe. Rather, God is to be experienced as a living reality. For Schleiermacher, religion isn’t a creed to be pondered by the rational mind. It’s based more on intuition & a feeling of dependence.

Orthodox Christians who identified religion with creedal doctrines, Schleiermacher maintained, would lose the battle for the Faith in the Modern world because those creeds were no longer rationally acceptable. Religion need to find a new base. He located it in feelings.

Sin, Schleiermacher said, was the result of people living by themselves, isolated from others. To overcome that sin that makes man independent from God and others, God sent a mediator in Jesus Christ. Christ’s uniqueness, wasn’t in doctrines about his virgin birth or deity. No à What made Jesus a Mediator who can help us is the perfect example he was of one utterly dependent on God. By meditating on Christ’s example, and feeling our own inner sense of dependence on the universe around us, we too can experience God as He did.

In Schleiermacher’s theology, the center of religion shifts from Scripture to experience. So, the Biblical criticism we looked at in the last episode can’t harm Christianity, since the real message of the Bible speaks to individual’s own subjective pursuit of the divine. The Bible doesn’t need to be factual or true, as long as it effects the feeling of dependence that is the spark that leads to spiritual illumination.

While Schleiermacher is the father of modern theology, Albrecht Ritschl enlarged on his ideas, taking them mainstream.

For Ritschl, religion had to be practical. It began with the question, “What must I do to be saved?” But he eschewed the merely theoretical. So the question “What must I do to be saved?” can’t just mean, “How do I get to heaven after I die?” Ritschl said salvation meant living a new life, free from sin, selfishness, fear, & guilt.

Ritschl’s practical Christianity had to be built on fact, so he welcomed the search for the historical Jesus we talked about in the last episode. The great fact of the Christian Faith is the impact Jesus has made on history. Nature, he maintained, gives an ambiguous understanding of God while History presents us with moments and movements that convey meaning.

Well, history conveys meaning alright – but I’m not sure all that history’s meant gives us a less ambiguous understanding of God than Nature.

Ritschl asserted that religion rests on human values, not science. Science conveys facts, things as they are. Religion weighs those facts and attributes more or less value to them.

Many Christians of the late 19th C considered Ritschl’s work helpful. It freed them from the destructive impact of the increasingly secular pursuits of history and science. It allowed biblical criticism to use scientific methodology in determining things like authorship, date, and the meaning of Scripture. But it recognized religion is more than facts. Values aren’t under the purview of science; that’s religion’s turf.

Protestant Theological Liberalism accepted higher criticism’s denial of Jesus’ miracles, his Virgin Birth, & his preexistence. But that did not in any way diminish Jesus’ importance. For Liberals, His deity didn’t need to arise from His essence. It resides in what Jesus MEANS. He’s the consummate human being who shows us the path to enlightenment and nobility. He’s the embodiment of supremely high ethical ideals whose example doesn’t discourage, but inspires us to emulation of His example. For Liberal Christian, The Church didn’t come out of some actual, factual events around Jerusalem 2000 years ago, it arose from Jesus’ awe-inspiring example. The Church isn’t a community of people who believe in a literally resurrected Savior so much as a value-creating community that gives meaning & mission to life. That mission is to create a society inspired by love, the kingdom of God upon earth.

The impact of this Theological liberalism wasn’t felt in just one denomination or region. It challenged traditional groups all over Europe and North America.  It appeared in the churches of New England under the title: New Theology. Its leading advocates came out of traditional Calvinism. Its greatest early popularizer was Lyman Abbott. Then came Henry Ward Beecher, William Tucker, & Lewis Stearns.

Prior to 1880 most New England ministers & churches held to some basic orthodox doctrines . . . The sovereignty of God; the depravity of humanity in original sin; the atonement of Christ; the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s in conversion; and the eternal separation of the saved and lost in heaven & hell.

But after 1880, each of those beliefs came under withering fire from Liberals. The most publicized controversy took place at Andover Seminary. The seminary was established by Congregationalists in 1808 to counter Unitarian tendencies at Harvard. Attempting to preserve Andover’s orthodoxy, the founders required the faculty subscribe to a creed summarizing their adherence to classic Calvinism. But by 1880, under the influence of liberalism several of the faculty could no longer make the pledge. The spark that lit the flames of controversy was a series of articles in the Andover Review by a few liberal professors who argued the unsaved who die without any knowledge of the Gospel will have an opportunity at some future point to either accept or to reject the Gospel before facing judgment. Several of Andover’s faculty came out in public defense of this, what was called at the time liberal theology.

Andover’s board filed an action against one of the authors of the articles as a test case. After years of moves and counter-moves the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1892 voided the action of the Board Smyth. By then, most denominations had their own tussles with liberalism seeking to infiltrate their colleges and schools.

The response to Protestant theological liberalism was a movement which many of our listeners have heard of – Evangelicalism.

Evangelicalism began in England in the 19th C, which in many ways belonged to Great Britain. England was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. London became the largest city and financial center of the World. British trade circled the globe; her navy ruled the seas. By 1914, Great Britain ruled the most expansive empire in history.

But the rapid commercial & industrial growth wasn’t equally distributed across England’s population. The pace of change left many stunned. Every traditionally sacred institution cracked at its foundation. Some feared the horrors of the French Revolution were about to be repeated on England’s hallowed shores while others sang the praises of Lady Progress and dreamed of even greater advances. They regarded England as the vanguard of a new day of prosperity and liberty for all. Fear and hope mingled.

As the Age of Progress dawned in England, Protestants attended either the Anglican Church or one of the Nonconforming denominations of Methodist, Baptists, Congregationalists, and a handful of smaller groups. But now, for maybe the first time, Christians form different denominations also formed specialized groups with a specific aim; like distributing Bibles, redressing poverty in urban slums, teaching literacy, and supporting missionaries in the far-flung reaches of the Empire.

While liberalism grew in seminaries and colleges among professors and professional theologians, many ministers working in churches as local pastors and the people in the pews grew increasingly uncomfortable with the emerging doubt in the intellectual centers of their denominations. They may not be as sophisticated or learned in the academic pursuits of the experts, but by golly, they didn’t think a PhD was necessary to believe in or follow God. And if owning a PhD meant having to deny some of the cardinal doctrines of the Faith, then no thank YOU, very much.

Evangelicals pushed back on Liberals, saying Christians ought not just accept what Science says, just because it says it. History proves today’s so-called “science” is tomorrow’s subject of mockery. The Christian faith isn’t just about how it makes you feel and the meaning it brings you. It’s a Faith that rests on the actual, literal events of history. To deny those facts and events is to depart from Traditional, orthodox Christianity.

The Evangelical Movement began with the work of John Wesley and George Whitefield. Its main characteristics were its emphasis on personal holiness, arising from a conversion experience. It was also devoted to a practical concern for serving a need world. That holiness & service was nourished by devotion to the Bible which was regarded as inspired & inerrant. The Evangelical message went forth form a large minority of Anglican pulpits and a majority in the other denominations.

The headquarters of Evangelicalism was a small village 3 miles from London called Clapham. It was the residence of a group of wealthy Evangelicals who practiced a remarkable personal piety. The group’s spiritual leader was John Venn, a man of culture and sanctified common sense. They met for Bible study, conversation, and prayer in the library of the well to do banker, Henry Thornton.

But the most famous member of the Clapham Groups was William Wilberforce, the parliamentary statesman. Wilberforce found a universe of talented help for Evangelical causes among his Clapham friends. These included John Shore, Governor General of India; Charles Grant, Chairman of the East India Company; James Stephens, Under-Secretary for the Colonies; & Zachary Macauley, editor of the Christian Observer.

At the age of just 25, Wilberforce was dramatically converted to Christ after reading Doddridge’s Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul.  He possessed all the qualities for outstanding leadership: ample wealth, a liberal education, and outstanding talent. Prime Minister William Pitt said Wilberforce had the greatest natural eloquence he’d ever known. Several testified of his amazing capacity for close friendship and his superior moral principles. For many reasons Wilberforce seemed providentially prepared for the task and the time.

He once said, “My walk is a public one: my business is in the world, and I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the part which Providence has assigned me.”

Under Wilberforce’s leadership the Clapham friends were knit solidly together. At the Clapham mansions they held what they called “Cabinet Councils.” They discussed the wrongs and injustices of their country, and the battles they’d have to fight. Inside and outside Parliament, they moved as one, delegating to each member the work he could do best to accomplish their common purpose.

They founded . . .

  • The Church Missionary Society
  • The British and Foreign Bible Society
  • The Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor
  • The Society for the Reformation of Prison Discipline
  • And many more.

Their greatest effort though, was the campaign to end slavery. Which is a tale I’ll leave for others to follow up.

While the Clapham group accomplished much, it was their role in abolishing slavery that provides a sterling example of how an entire society can be influenced by a few people.

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The work of the Protestant Liberal theologians Schleiermacher & Ristchl. The Evangelical response. The title of this 148th episode is Liberal v Evangelical In our last episode, we considered the philosophical roots of Theological Liberalism.
The work of the Protestant Liberal theologians Schleiermacher & Ristchl. The Evangelical response.

The title of this 148th episode is Liberal v Evangelical
In our last episode, we considered the philosophical roots of Theological Liberalism. In this episode we’ll name names as we look at the early leaders and innovators or Liberalism.
Some years ago in a college Philosophy class, my professor gave his understanding of both faith and reason. After a lengthy description of both, he concluded by saying that faith and reason had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Reason dealt with the evidential, that which was perceived by the senses and what logic concluded were rationally consistent conclusions drawn form that evidence. Faith, he declaimed, was belief in spite of evidence. When I asked if he was thus saying faith was irrational, he just smiled.
The Professor was an adherent of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy. In Kant’s work Critique of Pure Reason, published in 1781, Kant argued reason is able to comprehend anything in the realm of space & time; what he called the phenomenal realm. But reason is useless in accessing the noumenal, or spiritual realm transcending time and space.
Kant didn’t argue against the existence of the spiritual realm. He simply said that it’s only something we can feel and experience. We can’t really THINK about it in the sense that it touches the rational mind.
Traditional, orthodox Christians pushed back against the Kantian view of faith as feeling and mere experience reminding themselves that Jesus had said the greatest command was to loved God with all they had, including their minds. But liberals found in Kant’s philosophy a justification for unhitching reason from faith and for allowing modern people to live in a secular world while still enjoying the benefits of religious sentiments about ultimate meaning.
A few years after the publication of Kant’s Critique, the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher said the heart of Christian Faith isn’t an historical event, like the Resurrection. It was, he argued, a feeling one one’s absolute dependence on a reality beyond one’s self. That awareness, he claimed, could be developed to the point where a person would be able to imitate Jesus’ own good deeds.
He wrote, “The true nature of religion is immediate consciousness of Deity as found in ourselves and the world.” Schleiermacher has been called the Father of theological liberalism.
Schleiermacher was born in a pious Moravian home, but as a young man, he imbibed the rationalism of the Enlightenment and became an ardent apologist for accommodating Christianity to popular society. As a professor of the newly founded University of Berlin, he insisted debates over proofs of God’s existence, the authority of Scriptures, and the possibility of miracles weren’t the issue they ought to focus on. He said that the heart of religion had always been feeling, rather than rational proofs. God is not a theory used to explain the universe. Rather, God is to be experienced as a living reality. For Schleiermacher, religion isn’t a creed to be pondered by the rational mind. It’s based more on intuition & a feeling of dependence.
Orthodox Christians who identified religion with creedal doctrines, Schleiermacher maintained, would lose the battle for the Faith in the Modern world because those creeds were no longer rationally acceptable. Religion need to find a new base. He located it in feelings.
Sin, Schleiermacher said, was the result of people living by themselves, isolated from others. To overcome that sin that makes man independent from God and others, God sent a mediator in Jesus Christ. Christ’s uniqueness, wasn’t in doctrines about his virgin birth or deity. No à What made Jesus a Mediator who can help us is the perfect example he was of one utt...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 17:56
147-Why So Critical http://www.sanctorum.us/147-why-so-critical/ Sun, 14 Aug 2016 09:01:40 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1359 http://www.sanctorum.us/147-why-so-critical/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/147-why-so-critical/feed/ 0 Part 3 in our looks at Theological Liberalism. A summary Biblical Criticism and Liberalism’s overall goal in merging reason & faith. The title of this 147th episode is Why So Critical? Two episodes back we introduced the themes that would lead eventually to what’s called by many Theological Liberalism. Last episode we talked a bit […] bc4

Part 3 in our looks at Theological Liberalism. A summary Biblical Criticism and Liberalism’s overall goal in merging reason & faith.


The title of this 147th episode is Why So Critical?

Two episodes back we introduced the themes that would lead eventually to what’s called by many Theological Liberalism. Last episode we talked a bit about how the church, mostly the Roman Catholic church, pushed back against those themes. In this episode we’ll go further into the birth of liberalism.

The 20th C has been unkind to Theological Liberalism, with its shining vision of the Universal Brotherhood of Man under the Universal Fatherhood of God. Yet, most mainline Protestant denomination still hold solidarity with Liberalism. It was Professor Sydney Ahlstrom view that liberals had provoked as much controversy in the 19th C as the Reformers did in the 16th. The reason for that controversy lay in their objective, stated by one of its premier advocates and popularizers – Harry Emerson Fosdick. In his autobiography The Living of These Days, , the influential pastor of the famous Riverside Church in New York City, said the aim of liberal theology was to make it possible “to be both an intelligent modern and a serious Christian.”

Liberals hoped to address a problem maybe as old as The Faith itself: That is, how can Christians reconcile their faith to the intellectual climate of their time without compromising the Essentials of The Gospel? By the evaluation of modern Evangelicals, Liberalism failed in that quest precisely because they DID compromise those essentials in their desire to be relevant among their unbelieving peers. Richard Niebuhr expressed the irony of theological liberalism when he said in liberalism “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

Personally, I’ve been reluctant to produce this episode because the more I’ve studied Theological liberalism, the less certain of being able to handle it competently I’ve grown. Definitions for it are no easier than for political liberalism. In fact, many deny that Protestant liberalism is a theology at all. They refer to it as an “outlook,” or “approach.” Henry Coffin of Union Seminary described liberalism as a “spirit” that honors truth so supremely and it craves the freedom to discuss, publish, and pursue what it believes to be true.

But then, it THAT is true, it must certainly lead to certain convictions that derive values & produce judgments. And THAT is precisely what we see the history of Protestant liberalism producing.

In the words of Bruce Shelley, “Liberals believed Christian theology had to come to terms with modern science if it ever hoped to claim and hold the allegiance of intelligent men.” So liberals refused to accept religious beliefs on authority alone. They insisted faith must submit to reason and experience. Following the thinking of the Enlightenment, of which they were the spiritual children, they claimed the human mind was capable of thinking God’s thoughts after Him. So, the best insight into the nature & character of God wasn’t His self-revelation in Scripture, which smacked of the old authoritarianism they eschewed; it was human intuition and reason.

By surrendering to what we’ll call “the modern mind” liberals accepted the assumption of their time that the universe was a massive but synchronized machine, like a well-made watch. The key to this machine was harmony – Unity.

I’ll come back to that in a moment, but a little editorializing seems in order. And while some of you may be rolling your eyes now – I really do think this is germane to what this podcast is – a review of History – specifically Church History. I just made reference to “the modern mind.”

Modern is another term that has multiple meanings. Historians use it to refer to the Modern Era, which they debate over the time span of, but let’s go with the common view that it runs from about 1500 to 1900-ish. So wait! IF the Modern Era ended at the beginning of the 20th C, what Era are we in now? The Atomic or Nuclear Era, the Post-Modern Era, the Information Age? Different labels get assigned to the current historical epoch. But don’t we still refer to current trends and fashions as being “modern”? Aren’t we “moderns” in the sense that we’re living NOW? Not many people would want to be considered not-modern.

It gets confusing because the word modern is plastic with a lot of different meanings and connotations. But here’s where it adds to the confusion as it relates to our discussion on theological liberalism, and some of this spills over into political liberalism. There was a desire to accommodate Christian theology to the modern mind. By which emerging liberals meant accepting the findings of “modern science” as (air-quote) fact & making theology fit into those supposed facts. But there’s a difference, a vast difference between facts and interpretations of facts. A few years after a so-called “Fact” was established by science, others came along to say, “Yeah, uh, we weren’t quite right about that. It’s actually this.” And, it wasn’t uncommon for even that revised new paradigm to be revised yet again.

Is coffee good or bad for you? Right now it’s good. But wait a month and it’ll be bad again, But not to worry, a year out, coffee will be the key to long life and amazing prosperity. Okay. I exaggerate, but not by much.

My point is this, the current moment, what we mean by at least ONE of those definitions of “modern” – has a nasty habit of thinking that just by virtue of the fact that we’ve progressed to this point, we’re now smarter, more enlightened and so better than all the moments before this. There’s a kind of arrogance that seems endemic to the fact that we’re here now – the most evolved & educated class of human beings history’s known.

But a few moments from now, the people living then will think the same thing about themselves and see us as unenlightened bores. And the modern mind will have moved on to the new so-called facts of what turns out to not be science, but is in truth scientism.

When theology is hitched to “the modern mind” as liberals aimed to do, its eternal verities are traded in for the changing whims of what the mind is now, and now, then now. And we have to unhitch eternal form those verities – because they simply aren’t true any longer.

Okay, end of the editorializing. Adopting the modern view that the universe was a vast harmonious machine, liberals aimed for Unity. They tried merging revelation with natural religion and Christianity with other religions by looking for common themes. Thus, comparative religions was born as an academic pursuit. They aimed to lower the wall between those who were saved and the lost, between God and man.

Liberals regarded the traditional & orthodox belief in a transcendent God who exists in a realm above and beyond the natural as stalling their agenda to unify & harmonize. They blurred the lines between the natural & supernatural and equated the spiritual realm with human consciousness. The spiritual realm became little more than the intellectual and emotional activity of human beings. And God was defined as the universal life force that even now is creating the Universe. One liberal said it this way, “Some call it evolution; others call it God.”

Remember, theological liberals aimed to harmonize science with faith. The newest darling on the scientific scene was Darwin and his emerging theory of everything – Evolution by Mutation & Natural Selection. Theological Liberalism had no problem accepting Darwin’s theory.

While the challenge of some of the assertions of science to orthodox Christianity were serious, they were secondary to the new views of history. Those views were adopted from the scientific method, which began a rigorous review of the assumptions that had framed classical or traditional history. If facts are based on evidence & repeatable observations, what were we to do with history, which by its very nature refers to the past? Historical criticism became the framework for a new generation of historians and academics. If a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, events regarded by traditional history as certain were now suspect until proven true. Modern sensibilities were read back into and layered over persons and events of the past.

The application of these liberal principles of historical inquiry to the Bible were called “biblical criticism.” But don’t understand the term criticism here to be pejorative. Biblical criticism simply meant a study of Scripture in order to discover it’s real meaning. But Biblical criticism discarded the dogmatics of traditional inquiry in favor of a more rationalistic approach.

Biblical criticism flowed into two streams, lower and higher criticism. The low-critic dealt with problems of the actual manual text; manuscripts and such. Their goal was to find the earliest and most reliable text of Scripture. In other words, as close as possible to the autographs; the original writings. The work of lower criticism helped produce the large number of NT manuscripts we have today and assisted translators in the work of producing modern Bible versions.

Higher criticism proved to be a very different matter. The high-critic was so much interested in the accuracy of the text. H was more concerned with the meaning of the text. To get at that meaning, he often read between the lines or went behind the text to the events that were assumed to have produced the text. This meant discovering who wrote it, when and why. Higher criticism held that we can only get at the meaning of a passage when we see it against its background. Higher critics then went to work, systematically dismantling traditional views regarding hundreds of passages of the Bible. A beloved Psalm, attributed right in the text to David, the higher critics tells us wasn’t in fact written by King D. No, because it has a word scholars says wasn’t used for a 42 years after David, it was therefore written by the Jews in exile.

No, let me be clear, the methods of Biblical higher criticism weren’t new. They’d been used for a while on other ancient texts. But during the 19th C, they were applied to the Bible. And for many liberals, all it took was some scholar with a PhD to say that a traditional view of the Bible was wrong, it was this other thing, for them to categorically throw over tradition in favor of the new view.

Higher criticism agreed generally that Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch as both Jews & Christians had universally agreed till then. Instead they’d ben penned by at least 4 authors. And passages that seemed to be prophetic of future events must have been written after the events they supposedly foretold, because well, modern scientific sensibilities don’t allow for the supernatural. High-critics said the Gospel of John, wasn’t = John’s Gospel, that is. The Apostle did NOT pen it. Besides that, it was atrocious in its recording of history.

Diverging from the discipline of Biblical Criticism was what’s known as the search for the “historical Jesus.” Liberals like the idea of Jesus, if not the actual Jesus presented in the Gospels. You know, the One Who made a whip and cleared the temple and called people white-washed tombs. A liberal reforming Jesus was someone they could get behind, but not the substitutionary-atoning Jesus of the Epistles because THAT Jesus meant a Holy God whose justice demands a sacrifice to discharge sins. And that was an archaic idea no longer acceptable to modern sensibilities. So, liberal critics assigned themselves the mission of saving Jesus from such outdated modes of thinking. They assumed the early church and writers of the Gospels embellished Scripture to that end. It as there task to sift through the text and pull out what was legit and what was to quit.

Literally dozens of so-called “lives of Jesus” were written during the 19th C, each claiming it revealed the true, historical Jesus. While most of them contradicted each other, they nearly all agreed that disavowing the miraculous was central to the genuine Jesus story. They were bound to this, since [air-quote] science proved the impossibility of miracles.

Quickly editorial comment – Let’s be clear, uh, science, that is the scientific method, can’t  prove miracles are impossible. Miracles are by their very definition outside the realm of scientific investigation because repeatability is one of the required elements of the scientific method. Miracles, by the very definition of what a miracle is, are a contravention of the laws that govern the material realm, and AREN’T typically repeatable. Miracles are –well = unexpected!

But in their quest to merge science & faith, liberal theologians allowed the so-called facts of their time to be the filter through which they re-worked the content of the Christian Faith. Jesus not only didn’t work miracles, He never claimed to be the Messiah, or that history would climax in His visible return to establish the kingdom of God.

The cumulative effect of all this was the doubt cast on the Bible as the inspired & infallible Word of God & the authority for faith and practice.

When higher critics were done, Liberals were free to sort through Scripture to pick and choose what they wished. They read the Bible through the filter of evolution and saw a progression from blood-thirsty deities requiring sacrifices, to the Jews who embraced the idea of a righteous God served by those who pursue justice, love mercy, and walks humbly. This progressive revelation of God reaches its climax in Jesus, where God is portrayed as the loving Father of all men.

So far, our review of Theological Liberalism has seemed bent toward more of a tearing down of traditionalism. That looks at just one side of the liberal coin. The other side was the concurrent movement known as Romanticism.

During the early 19th C, Romanticism was a movement that flowed mainly in the artistic and intellectual communities. It looked at life through feelings. The Industrial Age seemed to many to reduce man to a cog in some vast societal machine. Romanticism was an attempt to lift man out of the gears & set him down as the glorious creator & engineer. Why man was evolution’s apex achievement and he had every right, duty even, to exalt in his lofty place, as well as to aspire to even greater heights. Romanticism focused on the individual and his/her ambitions to attain to their ultimate potential. This was the genesis of the human potential movement.

So on one hand, liberals aimed for unity, but Romanticism exalted the individual. Liberalism broadened its agenda to unify the two by harmonizing them.

Theological liberalism saw itself as the force to do it. Biblical Criticism had rescued the historical Jesus from the muck & mire of traditional orthodoxy. Romanticism then wanted to plant the idea of Jesus in the hearts of all people so they could become all their potential made possible for them.

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Part 3 in our looks at Theological Liberalism. A summary Biblical Criticism and Liberalism’s overall goal in merging reason & faith. The title of this 147th episode is Why So Critical? Two episodes back we introduced the themes that would lead eventual...
Part 3 in our looks at Theological Liberalism. A summary Biblical Criticism and Liberalism’s overall goal in merging reason & faith.

The title of this 147th episode is Why So Critical?
Two episodes back we introduced the themes that would lead eventually to what’s called by many Theological Liberalism. Last episode we talked a bit about how the church, mostly the Roman Catholic church, pushed back against those themes. In this episode we’ll go further into the birth of liberalism.
The 20th C has been unkind to Theological Liberalism, with its shining vision of the Universal Brotherhood of Man under the Universal Fatherhood of God. Yet, most mainline Protestant denomination still hold solidarity with Liberalism. It was Professor Sydney Ahlstrom view that liberals had provoked as much controversy in the 19th C as the Reformers did in the 16th. The reason for that controversy lay in their objective, stated by one of its premier advocates and popularizers – Harry Emerson Fosdick. In his autobiography The Living of These Days, , the influential pastor of the famous Riverside Church in New York City, said the aim of liberal theology was to make it possible “to be both an intelligent modern and a serious Christian.”
Liberals hoped to address a problem maybe as old as The Faith itself: That is, how can Christians reconcile their faith to the intellectual climate of their time without compromising the Essentials of The Gospel? By the evaluation of modern Evangelicals, Liberalism failed in that quest precisely because they DID compromise those essentials in their desire to be relevant among their unbelieving peers. Richard Niebuhr expressed the irony of theological liberalism when he said in liberalism “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
Personally, I’ve been reluctant to produce this episode because the more I’ve studied Theological liberalism, the less certain of being able to handle it competently I’ve grown. Definitions for it are no easier than for political liberalism. In fact, many deny that Protestant liberalism is a theology at all. They refer to it as an “outlook,” or “approach.” Henry Coffin of Union Seminary described liberalism as a “spirit” that honors truth so supremely and it craves the freedom to discuss, publish, and pursue what it believes to be true.
But then, it THAT is true, it must certainly lead to certain convictions that derive values & produce judgments. And THAT is precisely what we see the history of Protestant liberalism producing.
In the words of Bruce Shelley, “Liberals believed Christian theology had to come to terms with modern science if it ever hoped to claim and hold the allegiance of intelligent men.” So liberals refused to accept religious beliefs on authority alone. They insisted faith must submit to reason and experience. Following the thinking of the Enlightenment, of which they were the spiritual children, they claimed the human mind was capable of thinking God’s thoughts after Him. So, the best insight into the nature & character of God wasn’t His self-revelation in Scripture, which smacked of the old authoritarianism they eschewed; it was human intuition and reason.
By surrendering to what we’ll call “the modern mind” liberals accepted the assumption of their time that the universe was a massive but synchronized machine, like a well-made watch. The key to this machine was harmony – Unity.
I’ll come back to that in a moment, but a little editorializing seems in order. And while some of you may be rolling your eyes now – I really do think this is germane to what this podcast is – a review of History – specifically Church History. I just made reference to “the modern mind.”
Modern is another term that has multiple meanings.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 19:03
146-Push Back http://www.sanctorum.us/146-push-back/ Sun, 07 Aug 2016 09:01:15 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1353 http://www.sanctorum.us/146-push-back/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/146-push-back/feed/ 0 The Roman Church’s response to Modernism in the mid to late 19th Century. Pius IX’s development of Papal Infallibility. The title of this 146th episode is Push-Back As we move to wind up this season of CS, we’ve entered into the modern era in our review of Church history and the emergence of Theological Liberalism. […] Church Tank 01The Roman Church’s response to Modernism in the mid to late 19th Century.
Pius IX’s development of Papal Infallibility.


The title of this 146th episode is Push-Back

As we move to wind up this season of CS, we’ve entered into the modern era in our review of Church history and the emergence of Theological Liberalism. Many historians view The French Revolution as a turning point in the social development of Europe and the Western Civilization. The French Revolution was in many ways, the result of the Enlightenment, and a harbinger of things to come in the Modern & Post Modern Eras.

For convenience sake, but in what is probably a gross simplifying, let’s chop up the history Western Civilization into these eras, in regards to Church History.

First is the Roman Era, when Christianity was officially opposed & persecuted. That was followed by Constantinian Era, when it was at first tolerated, then institutionalized. With the Fall of the Roman Empire, Europe entered the Middle Ages and the Church was led from Rome in the West and Constantinople in the East.

The Middle Ages ended in the Renaissance which swiftly split into two streams, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. While many Europeans broke from the hegemony of the Roman Church to launch Protestant movements, others went further & broke from religious faith altogether in an exaltation of reason. They purposefully stepped away from spirituality toward a hard-boiled materialism.

This then gave birth to the Modern Era, marked by an on-going tension between Materialistic Rationalism and Philosophical Theism that birthed an entire rainbow of intellectual & faith options.

Carrying on this over-simplified review a bit from where our CS episodes have been, the Modern Era then turned into the Post-Modern Era with its full-flowering & widespread academic acceptance of the radical skepticism birthed during the Enlightenment. The promises of the perfection of the human race through technology suggested by the Modern Era were shattered by two World Wars and the repeated cases of genocide in the 20th & 21st Cs. Post-Moderns traded in the bright Modernist expectation of an emerging Golden Age for a dystopian vision of technology run amuck, controlled by mad men and tyrants. In a classic post-modern rant, the author George Orwell said, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

In our last episode, we embarked on our foray into the roots of Theological Liberalism. The themes of the new era were found in the motto of the French Revolution: “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.”

Liberty was conceived as individual freedom in both the political & economic realms. As Al Mohler aptly identified recently in his excellent weekday The Briefing podcast, “liberalism” originally referred to this idea of personal liberty in regard to economics and politics. It’s come to mean something very different today. Libertarian connects better with the original idea of liberalism than the modern term liberalism.

In the early 19th C, liberals promoted the political rights of the middle class. They advocated suffrage and middle class influence through representative government. In economic terms, liberals agitated for a laissez faire marketplace where individual enterprise determined one’s wealth, rather than class.

Equality, 2nd term in the French Revolution’s trio, stood for individual rights regardless of legacy. If liberty was a predominantly middle class virtue, equality appealed to rural peasants, the urban working class, & the universally disenfranchised. While the middle class & hold-over nobility advocated a laissez faire economy, the working class began to agitate for equality through a rival philosophy called socialism. Workers inveighed for equality either through the long route via evolution within a democratic system or the shorter path of revolution via Marxism.

Fraternity, the 3rd idea in the trinity, was the Enlightenment reaction against all the war & turmoil that marked history till then; especially the trauma that had rocked Europe due to endless political, economic and religious struggle. Fraternity represented a strong sense of brotherhood that rolled across Europe in the 19th C. And while it held the promise of uniting people in the concept of the universal brotherhood of man under the universal Fatherhood of God, it quickly devolved into Nationalism that would opnly lead to even bloodier conflicts since they were now accompanied by modern weapons and their blood-letting devices. unleashed in the nineteenth century.

These social currents swirled around the Christian Faith during the first decades of the Age of Progress, but no one predicted the ruination they’d bring to the Church of Rome, steeped as it was in an inviolable tradition. For over a thousand years she’d presided over feudal Europe. She enthroned dozens of monarchs and ensconced countless nobles. And like them, the Church gave little thought to the power of peasants and the growing middle class. In regards to social standing, in 18th C European society, noble birth and holy calling were everything. Intelligence or achievement meant little.

Things began to heat up in Europe when Enlightenment thinkers began to question the old order. In the 1760s, several places around the world began to feel the heat of political unrest. There had always been Radicals who challenged the status quo. But it usually ended badly for them; being forced to drink hemlock or such. But in the mid & late 18th C, they became popular advocates for the middle-class & poor. Their demands were similar: The right to participate in politics, the right to vote, the right to greater freedom of expression.

The success of the American Revolution inspired European radicals. They regarded Americans as true heirs of Enlightenment ideals. They were passionate about equality; & desired peace, yet ready to fight for freedom. In gaining independence from the world’s most formidable power, Americans proved Enlightenment ideals worked.

Then, in the last decade of the 18th C, France executed its king, became a republic, formed a revolutionary regime, & crawled through a period of brutality into the Imperialism of Napoleon Bonaparte.

As we saw in an earlier episode, the Roman Catholic church was so much a part of the old order that revolutionaries often made it an object of their wrath. In the early 1790s the French National Assembly sought to reform the Church along rationalist lines. But when it eliminated the Pope’s control & required an oath of loyalty on the clergy, it split the Church. The 2 camps faced off against each other in every village. Between 30 & 40,000 priests were forced into exile or hiding. Atheists recognized that the cultural wind was at their back now and pressed for more. Why stop at reforming the Church when you could pry its grip from all society? Radicals moved to remove any and all traces of Christianity’s influence. They adopted a new calendar & elevated the cult of “Reason.” Some churches were converted to “Temples of Reason.”

But by 1794 this farce had spent itself. The following year a statute was passed affirming the free exercise of religion. & loyal Catholics, who’d kept a low profile during the silliness, returned. But Rome never forgot. For now, Liberty meant the worship of the goddess of Reason.

When Napoleon took control he struck an agreement with the pope; the 1801 Concordat. It restored Roman Catholicism as the quasi-official religion of France. But the Church had lost much of its prestige and power. Europe would never again be a society held together by an alliance of throne and altar. On the other side of things, Rome never welcomed liberalism.

But then, as Bruce Shelley aptly remarks, Jesus and the apostles spent little time talking about political freedom, personal liberty, or a person’s right to their opinions. Valuable and important as those things are, they simply do not come into view as values in the appeal of the Gospel. The freedom Christ offers comes through salvation, which places a necessary safeguard on liberty to keep it from becoming a dangerous license.

But during the 19th C, it became popular to think of liberty ITSELF as being free! Free of any and all restraint. Any restriction on freedom was met with a knee-jerk opposition. Everyone ought to be as free as possible. The question then became; just what does that mean. How far does “possible” go?

John Stuart Mill suggested this guideline, “The liberty of each, limited by the like liberty of all.” Liberty meant the right to your opinions, the freedom to express & act upon them, but not to the degree that in doing so, you impinge other’s ability to do so with theirs. Politically & civilly, this was best made possible by a constitutional government that guaranteed universal civil liberty, including the freedom to worship according to one’s choice. The Popes didn’t like that.

After Napoleon, in the political and economic vacuum that followed, several monarchs tried to re-establish the old systems of Europe. They were resisted by a new and empowered wave of liberals. The first of these liberal uprisings were quickly suppressed in Spain & Italy. But the liberals kept at it & in 1848, revolution temporarily triumphed in most European capitals.

The mid 18th C papacies of Leo XII, Pius VIII, & Gregory XVI were held by decent men. The problem is that they steadfastly refused to join the 19th C by clinging to the past. They simply failed to engage the time by ignoring what was taking place around them.

This early form of Liberalism wanted to address historic evils that have plagued humanity. But it refused to allow the Catholic Church a role in that work as it related to morality and public life. Liberals said politics ought to be independent from Christian ethics. Catholics had rights as private citizens, but their Faith wasn’t welcome in the public arena. This is part of the creeping secularism we talked about in the last episode.

One of the lingering symbols of papal ties to the Medieval world were the Papal States where the Pope was both spiritual leader & civil ruler. In the mid 19th C, a movement for Italian unity began that aimed to turn the entire peninsula into a single nation. Such a revolution wouldn’t tolerate the Papal States. Liberals welcomed Pope Pius IX, who ruled frm 1846–78, because he seemed to be a reforming Pope who’d listen to their counsel. And indeed, in 1848, he installed a new constitution for the Papal States granting moderate participation in government. This movement toward liberal ideals moved some to even suggest the Pope as leader over a unified Italy. But when Pius’ appointed Prime Minister of the Papal States was assassinated by revolutionaries, Pius rescinded the new constitution. Instead of putting the revolution out, it simply broke out in Rome itself and Pius had to flee. With French assistance, he returned & returned the Papal states to an absolutist regime. Opposition grew under the leadership of King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia. In 1859&60 large sections of the Papal States were carved away by nationalists. Then in March of 1861,  Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed King of Italy in Florence.

But the city of Rome was protected by a French garrison. When the Franco-Prussian War forced the withdrawal of French troops, Italian nationalists invaded. After a short engagement in September of 1870, Rome surrendered. After lasting for a millennium, the Papal States were no more.

Pius IX holed up in the Vatican. Then in June, 1871, King Victor Emmanuel transferred his residence to Rome, ignoring the protests and threatened excommunications by the pope. The new government offered Pius an annual salary together with the free and unhindered exercise of his religious roles. But the Pope rejected the offer and continued his protests. He forbade Italy’s Catholics to participate in political affairs. That just left the field open to more radicals. The result was an growing anticlerical course in Italian civil affairs. This condition, became known as the “Roman Question.” It had no resolution until Benito Mussolini concluded the Lateran Treaty in February 1929. The treaty stipulated that the pope must renounce all claim to the Papal States, but received full sovereignty in the tiny Vatican State. This condition exists to this day.

1870 not only marks the end of the rule of the pope of civil affairs in Italy, it also saw the declaration of his supreme authority as the Bishop of Rome in a doctrine called “Papal Infallibility.” The First Vatican Council, which hammered out the doctrine, represented the culmination of a movement called “ultramontanism.” The word means “across the mountains” meaning the Alps. Ultramontanism refers to devotion to Rome.

It came about thus . . .

Following the French Revolution (and here we are yet again, recognizing the importance of that revolution in European and world affairs) an especially storng sense of loyalty to the Pope developed there. After the nightmare of the guillotine & the cultural trauma of Napoleon’s reign, many Catholics came to regard the papacy as the only source of civil order and public morality. They believed only popes were capable of restoring society to sanity. Only the papacy had the power to guide the clergy to protect religion form political coercion.

Infallibility, was suggested as a necessary prerequisite for an effective papacy. The Church had to become a monarchy adjudicating God’s will. As Shelley says it, as sovereignty was to secular kings, infallibility would be to popes. Infallibility was Church’s version of sovereignty.

By the mid-19th C this thinking attracted a many Catholics. Popes encouraged it in every possible way. One publication said when the pope meditated, God was thinking in him. Hymns appeared that were addressed, not to God, but to Pius IX.  Some even spoke of the Pope as the vice-God of humanity.

In December 1854, Pius IX declared as dogma of The Immaculate Conception; a belief that had been traditional but not official; that Mary was conceived without original sin. Now, the subject of the decision wasn’t new. What was, was the way it was announced. This wasn’t dogma defined by a creed produced by a council.  It was an ex cathedra proclamation by the Pope. Ex Cathedra means “from the chair,” & defines an official doctrine issued by the teaching magisterium of the Holy Church.

Ten years after unilaterally announcing the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, Pius sent out an encyclical to all bishops of the Church. He attached a Syllabus of Errors, a compilation of 80 evils then in place in society. He declared war on socialism, rationalism, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, public schools, Bible societies, separation of church and state, and a host of other errors of the Modern Era. He ended by denying that “the Roman pontiff can and ought to reconcile himself and reach agreement with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.”

It was a hunker down and rally round an infallible pope mentality that aimed to enter a kind of spiritual hibernation, only emerging when Modernity had impaled itself on its own deadly horns and bled to death.

Pius saw the need for a massive council in order to address the Church’s posture toward Modernity & its philosophical partner, Liberalism. He began planning in 1865, & called the First Vatican Council to convene at the end of 1869.

The question of the definition of papal infallibility was all the buzz. Catholics had little doubt that as successor of Peter the Pope possessed a special authority. The only question was how far that authority went. Could it be exercised independently from councils or the college of bishops?

After some discussion & politicking, 55 bishops who couldn’t agree to the doctrine as stated were given permission by the Pope to leave Rome, so as not to create dissension. The final vote was 533 for the doctrine of infallibility. Only 2 voted against it. The Council asserted 2 fundamentals: 1) The primacy of the pope and 2) His infallibility.

First, as successor of Peter, vicar of Christ, & supreme head of the Church, the pope exercises full authority over the whole Church and over individual bishops. That authority extends to all matters of faith and morals as well as to discipline and church administration. Consequently, bishops owe the pope obedience.

Second, when the pope in his official capacity, that is ex cathedra, makes a final decision concerning the entire Church in a matter of faith and morals, that decision is infallible and immutable, and does not require the prior consent by a Council.

The strategy of the ultramontanists, led by Pius IX, shaped the lives of Roman Catholics for generations. Surrounded by the hostile forces of modernity; liberalism & socialism, Rome withdrew for behind the walls of an infallible papacy.  // [tour]

A New Social Frontier

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home!

Lead Thou me on!

these lines, today sung by millions, were written in 1833 by John Henry Newman, while traveling home to England from Sicily. The somber mood reminds us of the many troubled souls in nineteenth-century England. A decade later Newman fled to the Church of Rome for safety, but the same sense of impending gloom appears in the evangelical Henry Francis Lyte’s popular hymn “Abide with Me”:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see:

O Thou who changest not, abide with me!

No one in nineteenth-century England could ignore the pace of change. But two outstanding Christian movements helped literally millions of their fellow believers adjust to “life’s little day” and in the process won for themselves a respected place in Christian memory.

I speak of the Clapham Sect of evangelicals, and the Oxford movement of Anglican high-churchmen. Neither was, at first, numerically large. They remind us of Professor Gilbert Murray’s observation that “the uplifting of man has been the work of a chosen few.” Yet, to this day evangelical Christians regard the Clapham Sect as a model of Christian social concern, and “High Church” Anglicans look back to the Oxford movement as a well-spring of devout churchmanship.

A comparison of the two movements creates some interesting insights into the continuing questions about Christianity’s place in society. How, after all, are Christians to view the world?

Evangelicals in the World

We know that the church is under a twofold commission: God has sent his people into the world to proclaim salvation and to serve the needy. But he has also called his own from the world to worship and learn of him. Mission without worship can produce empty service, just as worship without mission can lead to careless religion. Thus, the church’s life in the world involves a constant conversation, a “yes” here and a “no” there. Protestants in nineteenth-century England found society changing so rapidly that they were not always sure whether they were talking to friends or to enemies.

In many ways the nineteenth century belonged to Britain. England was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. London became the largest city and the financial center of the world. British commerce circled the globe; the British navy dominated the seas. By 1914 Britannia ruled the largest empire in extent and in population ever fashioned by man.

This rapid industrial and commercial growth, however, left many Britains breathless. Every hallowed institution seemed to be cracking at the foundation. Some men, remembering the terrifying days of the French Revolution, feared the future. Other men sang the praises of change and called it progress. To them England was the vanguard of a new day of prosperity and liberty for all. Thus, fear and hope were curiously mingled.

The dawning of the Age of Progress found English Protestants either in the Established Church, Anglicanism, or in the Nonconforming denominations, Methodist, Baptists, Congregationalists, and a few smaller bodies. The striking movements of the nineteenth century, however, did not surge along traditional denominational lines. The increasing liberties of the age allowed Christians to form a host of religious societies to minister to English life in some vital way or to spread the gospel overseas. These societies were not churches in the traditional sense of sacraments, creeds, and ordained ministers. They were groups of individual Christians working for some specific objective, the distribution of Bibles, for example, or the relief of the poor.

At the opening of the Age of Progress, the greatest power in English religious life was the evangelical movement, sparked and spread by John Wesley and George Whitefield. The chief marks of the movement were its intense personal piety, usually springing from a conversion experience, and its aggressive concern for Christian service in the world. Both of these were nourished by devotion to the Bible, and both were directed by the central themes of the eighteenth-century revival: Gods love revealed in Christ, the necessity of salvation through faith, and the new birth experience wrought by the Holy Spirit. This evangelical message echoed from a significant minority of pulpits in the Church of England and from a majority in the Nonconforming denominations.

The Evangelicals of the Church of England were thoroughly loyal to their church and approved of its episcopal government. But they were willing to work with Nonconformist ministers and churches, because their chief interest was not the church and its rites. They considered the preaching of the gospel more important than the performance of sacraments or the styles of ritual. Such a position was called “Low Church.”

Impelled by the enthusiasm of the Methodist revival, the Evangelicals viewed the social ills of British society as a call to dedicated service. They threw themselves into reform causes for the neglected and the oppressed.

The Clapham Community

The general headquarters for Evangelical crusades was a hamlet then three miles from London called Clapham. The village was the country residence of a group of wealthy and ardent Evangelicals who knew what it was to practice “saintliness in daily life” and to live with eternity in view. A number of them owned their own magnificent houses in the village, while others in the group visited Clapham often and lived with their co-laborers. Historians have come to speak of them as the “Clapham Sect,” but they were no sect, they were more like a closely knit family.

The group found a spiritual guide in the minister of the parish church, John Venn, a man of culture and sanctified good sense. They often met for Bible study, conversation, and prayer in the oval library of a wealthy banker, Henry Thornton.

The unquestioned leader of the Sect was William Wilberforce (1759–1833), the parliamentary statesman. But Wilberforce found a galaxy of talent for Evangelical causes in his circle of friends: John Shore (Lord Teignmouth), the Governor General of India; Charles Grant, Chairman of the East India Company; James Stephens, Sr., Under-Secretary for the Colonies; Zachary Macauley, editor of the Christian Observer; Thomas Clarkson, an abolitionist leader; and others.

At twenty-five Wilberforce had experienced a striking conversion after reading Philip Doddridge’s Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul; but he also possessed all the natural qualities for outstanding leadership: ample wealth, a liberal education, and unusual talents. Prime Minister William Pitt once said he had the greatest natural eloquence he had ever known. Some called him “the nightingale of the House of Commons.” Many testified to his overflowing capacity for friendship and his high moral principles. For many reasons Wilberforce seemed providentially prepared for the task and the time.

“My walk,” he once said, “is a public one: my business is in the world, and I must mix in the assemblies of men or quit the part which Providence seems to have assigned me.”

Under Wilberforce’s leadership the Clapham friends were gradually knit together in intimacy and solidarity. At the Clapham mansions they held what they chose to call their “Cabinet Councils.” They discussed the wrongs and injustices of their country, and the battles they would need to fight to establish righteousness. And thereafter, in Parliament and out, they moved as one body, delegating to each man the work he could do best to accomplish their common purposes.

“It was a remarkable fraternity,” says Reginald Coupland, the biographer of Wilberforce. “There has never been anything like it since in British public life.”

Evangelicals and Social Issues

A host of evangelical causes sallied forth from quiet little Clapham: The Church Missionary Society (1799), the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804), The Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor (1796), The Society for the Reformation of Prison Discipline and many more.

The greatest labor of all, however, centered on the campaign against slavery. The first battle was for the abolition of the slave trade, that is, the capturing of Negroes in Africa, and shipping them for sale to the West Indies.

The English had entered this trade in 1562 when Sir John Hawkins took a cargo of slaves from Sierra Leone and sold them in St. Domingo. Then, after the monarchy was restored in 1660 King Charles II gave a charter to a company that took 3,000 slaves a year to the West Indies. From that time the trade grew to enormous proportions. In 1770 out of a total of 100,000 slaves a year from West Africa, British ships transported more than half. Many Englishmen considered the slave trade inseparably linked with the commerce and national security of Great Britain.

In 1789 Wilberforce made his first speech in the House of Commons on the traffic in slaves. He recognized immediately that eloquence alone would never overthrow the commercial interests in the sale of human beings. He needed reliable information, so he called upon his Clapham colleagues for assistance.

Two years later, after exhaustive preparation, Wilberforce delivered another speech to Commons seeking to introduce a bill to prevent further importing of slaves into the West Indies. “Never, never,” he said, “will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic.”

Once again oratory was inadequate, but support was growing. The workers for abolition came to see that hopes of success lay in appealing not only to Parliament but to the English people. “It is on the feeling of the nation we must rely,” said Wilberforce. “So let the flame be fanned.”

Stage by stage the Clapham Sect learned two basics of politics in a democracy: first, how to create public opinion; and, second, how to bring the pressure of that opinion on the government.

The Evangelicals secured petitions; they published quality abolitionist literature; they lectured on public platforms; they campaigned on billboards. They used all the modern means of publicity. Nonconformists rallied in support, and for the first time in history women participated in a political contest. The Evangelicals “fanned the flame,” then they carried the fire to Parliament where Wilberforce and four colleagues from Clapham—the “Saints” in Commons—tried to arouse complacent leaders to put a stop to the inhumane slave trade.

The End Of Slave Trade

Finally, victory crowned their labors. On 23 February 1807, the back of the opposition was broken. Enthusiasm in the House mounted with the impassioned speeches of supporters of abolition. When one member reached a brilliant contrast of Wilberforce and Napoleon, the staid old House cast off its traditional conventions, rose to its feet, burst into cheers, and made the roof echo to an ovation seldom heard in Parliament. Wilberforce, overcome with emotion, sat bent in his chair, his head in his hands, and the tears streaming down his face.

That halted the legal traffic in human lives, but the slaves were still in chains. Wilberforce continued the battle for complete emancipation until age and poor health forced him from Parliament. He enlisted the skills, however, of a young evangelical, Thomas Fowell Buxton, to assume leadership of the “holy enterprise.” Buxton was a wise choice. The certainty of the passage of the Emancipation Act, freeing the slaves in the sprawling British Empire, came on 25 July 1833, four days before Wilberforce died.

The significance of this action before the European colonial powers partitioned Africa is enormous. No one has described the impact better than Professor G. M. Trevelyan in his British History in the Nineteenth Century: “On the last night of slavery, the negroes in our West Indian islands went up on the hill-tops to watch the sun rise, bringing them freedom as its first rays struck the waters. But far away in the forests of Central Africa, in the heart of darkness yet unexplored, none understood or regarded the day. Yet it was the dark continent which was most deeply affected of all. Before its exploitation by Europe had well begun, the most powerful of the nations that were to control its destiny had decided that slavery should not be the relation of the black man to the white.”

For this reason above all others, the Clapham Sect remains the shining example of how a society—perhaps the world itself—can be influenced by a few men of ability and devotion.

The Oxford Movement

The second Christian movement, the Oxford movement, represents a contrasting response to the social crisis of nineteenth-century England. Like its predecessor, the Evangelical movement, it was more a movement of the heart than of the head. But unlike the Clapham group the Oxford men were deeply troubled by the direction of English society. They saw the reforms of the government as attacks upon the sanctity of the Church of England, and they determined to resist the intrusions of the world.

“We live in a novel era,” John Henry Newman wrote to his mother in March 1829. “Men have hitherto depended on others, and especially on the clergy, for religious truth; now each man attempts to judge for himself.… The talent of the day is against the Church.”

For generations the strength of the Church of England had rested with landed aristocrats who were strong in Parliament. The Industrial Revolution created rapidly growing industrial towns, such as Manchester and Birmingham, but these had no representatives in Parliament. The cry for reform mounted.

The Reform Act of 1832 shifted the balance of power from the landed gentry to the middle class and signified a new sensitivity to democratic forces. This action meant that many of the new members of Parliament, though not members of the Church of England, wielded significant power over the Church. Some devout churchmen recoiled in horror. Dare profane politicians lay hands on the holy things of God?

One group of gifted and deeply religious men at Oxford University raised a cry against the thought. John Keble, Fellow of Oriel College, preached in the University Pulpit, 14 July 1833, a sermon titled “National Apostasy.” A nation stands convicted of the denial of God’s sovereignty, he said, when it shows disrespect for the successors of the apostles, the bishops of the Church, and appeals only to reasons based on popularity or expediency.

Keble found a staunch supporter in John Henry Newman (1801–1890), vicar of the University Church and a commanding figure in the academic community. Before long an older man joined them, Edward Pusey, professor of Hebrew. By their preaching and writing these three influential men turned their protest into a movement.

The Oxford men felt that the Church of England needed to affirm that its authority did not rest on authority from the state. It came from God. Bishops of the Church were not empowered by social position but by an apostolic commission. Even if the Church were completely separated from the state, the Church of England could still claim the allegiance of Englishmen because it rested on divine authority.

To spread their views the Oxford men launched, in 1833, a series of “Tracts for the Times,” a move that gave rise to the label “Tractarians.” In these writings the Oxford leaders published their convictions on a single article of the creed: belief in “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.” They emphasized the apostolic succession of bishops through history and the Church’s God-given authority to teach the truth and rule men’s lives. They magnified the place of the sacraments, ascribing to them an actual saving power. As an ideal for the Church of England, they held up the church of the first five Christian centuries. Then, they said, the Christian church was undivided and truly catholic.

While some of these historical ideas were fanciful, the Tractarians believed them enthusiastically. They called themselves Catholics, on the ground that they were in agreement with this early catholic Christianity, and they shunned the name Protestant, because it referred to a division in the church.

Public worship was vital to the Oxford men. They believed strongly in the religious value of symbolic actions in worship, such as turning toward the altar, bending the knee and elevating the cross. The worship of God, they said, demands the total response of man, so ritual should appeal to the senses: rich clerical garments, incense on the altar, music by trained voices. In short, Tractarian Christianity was a zealous version of “High Church” Christianity.

Step by step the Oxford men moved toward the Church of Rome. Then came the thunderclap. In 1841 John Henry Newman wrote Tract 90 and asserted that the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England were not necessarily Protestant. They could be interpreted in the spirit of the Catholic church. Did Newman really believe that a person could be a Roman Catholic and remain in the Church of England?

A storm of protest fell upon the Oxford movement. The Bishop of Oxford forbade Newman to publish other tracts. Newman concluded that the only way to be truly Catholic was to enter the Roman Catholic church. He converted to Rome in 1845 and during the next six years hundreds of Anglican clergymen followed him. In time Newman became rector of the new Catholic University in Dublin, and in 1877 he was made a cardinal in the Church of Rome.

The great majority of the Tractarians, however, stayed in the Church of England and saw an increasing number of clergymen adopt their “High Church” views. Religion for many focused on ritual, priests, and sacraments. The concern for beauty brought improvements in architecture, music, and art in the churches. Gradually the names “Oxford movement” and “Tractarian” gave way to “Anglo-Catholic,” which meant Anglicans who valued their unity with the catholic tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, but who refused to accept the supremacy of patriarch or pope.

The Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic views of Christianity’s role in society are alive, though not always well, in our time. Few generations can claim a Wilberforce or a Newman. Their convictions survive, however, because they are so basic to Christianity in any age: mission and worship. Early Christians believed that, amid his encircling gloom, the Lord Jesus himself prayed for his disciples: “Father,… My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–19, niv).[1]

 

[1] Shelley, B. L. (1995). Church history in plain language (Updated 2nd ed., pp. 364–372). Dallas, TX: Word Pub.

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The Roman Church’s response to Modernism in the mid to late 19th Century. Pius IX’s development of Papal Infallibility. The title of this 146th episode is Push-Back As we move to wind up this season of CS, we’ve entered into the modern era in our revie...
Pius IX’s development of Papal Infallibility.

The title of this 146th episode is Push-Back
As we move to wind up this season of CS, we’ve entered into the modern era in our review of Church history and the emergence of Theological Liberalism. Many historians view The French Revolution as a turning point in the social development of Europe and the Western Civilization. The French Revolution was in many ways, the result of the Enlightenment, and a harbinger of things to come in the Modern & Post Modern Eras.
For convenience sake, but in what is probably a gross simplifying, let’s chop up the history Western Civilization into these eras, in regards to Church History.
First is the Roman Era, when Christianity was officially opposed & persecuted. That was followed by Constantinian Era, when it was at first tolerated, then institutionalized. With the Fall of the Roman Empire, Europe entered the Middle Ages and the Church was led from Rome in the West and Constantinople in the East.
The Middle Ages ended in the Renaissance which swiftly split into two streams, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. While many Europeans broke from the hegemony of the Roman Church to launch Protestant movements, others went further & broke from religious faith altogether in an exaltation of reason. They purposefully stepped away from spirituality toward a hard-boiled materialism.
This then gave birth to the Modern Era, marked by an on-going tension between Materialistic Rationalism and Philosophical Theism that birthed an entire rainbow of intellectual & faith options.
Carrying on this over-simplified review a bit from where our CS episodes have been, the Modern Era then turned into the Post-Modern Era with its full-flowering & widespread academic acceptance of the radical skepticism birthed during the Enlightenment. The promises of the perfection of the human race through technology suggested by the Modern Era were shattered by two World Wars and the repeated cases of genocide in the 20th & 21st Cs. Post-Moderns traded in the bright Modernist expectation of an emerging Golden Age for a dystopian vision of technology run amuck, controlled by mad men and tyrants. In a classic post-modern rant, the author George Orwell said, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”
In our last episode, we embarked on our foray into the roots of Theological Liberalism. The themes of the new era were found in the motto of the French Revolution: “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.”
Liberty was conceived as individual freedom in both the political & economic realms. As Al Mohler aptly identified recently in his excellent weekday The Briefing podcast, “liberalism” originally referred to this idea of personal liberty in regard to economics and politics. It’s come to mean something very different today. Libertarian connects better with the original idea of liberalism than the modern term liberalism.
In the early 19th C, liberals promoted the political rights of the middle class. They advocated suffrage and middle class influence through representative government. In economic terms, liberals agitated for a laissez faire marketplace where individual enterprise determined one’s wealth, rather than class.
Equality, 2nd term in the French Revolution’s trio, stood for individual rights regardless of legacy. If liberty was a predominantly middle class virtue, equality appealed to rural peasants, the urban working class, & the universally disenfranchised. While the middle class & hold-over nobility advocated a laissez faire economy, the working class began to agitate for equality through a rival philosophy called socialism. Workers inveighed for equality either through the long route via evolution within a democratic system or the sh...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 21:43
145-Liberal http://www.sanctorum.us/145-liberal/ Sun, 31 Jul 2016 09:01:10 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1345 http://www.sanctorum.us/145-liberal/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/145-liberal/feed/ 0 We examine the impact of the tendency for modernization to foster a creeping secularism in the 19th C. The title of this 145th episode of CS is Liberal. The term “modern” as it relates to the story of history, has been treated differently by dozens of authors, historians and sociologists. Generally speaking, Modernization is the […] Nietzsche

We examine the impact of the tendency for modernization to foster a creeping secularism in the 19th C.


The title of this 145th episode of CS is Liberal.

The term “modern” as it relates to the story of history, has been treated differently by dozens of authors, historians and sociologists. Generally speaking, Modernization is the process by which agricultural and rural traditions morph into an industrial, technological and urban milieu that tends to be democratic, pluralistic, socialist, and/or individualistic.

In the minds of many, the process of modernization is evidence of the validity of evolution. The idea is that evolution not only applies to the increasing complexity and adaptedness of biological life, it also applies sociologically to civilization and human systems. They too are evolving. So, progress is good; a sign of societal evolution.

But the critics of modernization decry the abuses it often creates. Not all modern innovations are beneficial. The increased emphasis on individual rights can weaken a person’s sense of belonging to & identity in a family & community. It guts loyalty to worth-while traditions and customs. Modernization builds new weapons that may encourage their inventors to assume they’re thus superior, and use them to subjugate & dominate those they deem inferior, appropriating their land for resources.

Modernization is often linked to a creeping secularization, a turning away from theistic religion. Periodic revivals are viewed as but momentary blips in societal evolution; temporary distractions in progress toward the realization of the Enlightenment dream of a totally secular society.

It was during the 19th C that the rationalist ideas of the Enlightenment finally moved out of the halls of academia to settle in as the status quo for European society. Christians found themselves caught up in a world of mind-numbing change. Their cherished beliefs were assailed by hostile critics. Authors like Marx & Nietzsche attacked the Christian Faith from a base in Darwin’s popular new theory.

In an attempt to accommodate Faith & Reason, Ludwig Feuerbach, author of The Essence of Christianity, published in 1841, reduced the idea of God to that of a man. He said God is really just the projection of specific human qualities raised to the level of perfection.

In 1855, Ludwig Büchner suggested that science dispensed with the need for supernaturalism. A materialist, he was one of the first to say that the advent of modern science meant there was no longer a need to explain phenomena by appealing to the miraculous or some kind of spiritual realm. No such realm existed, except in the minds of those who refused to accept what science proved. He said, “The power of spirits and gods dissolve in the hands of science.”

During the last half of the 19th C, Frederic Nietzsche made the case for atheism. Son of a Lutheran pastor, Nietzsche received an education in theology & philology at the Universities of Bonn & Leipzig.

A musician himself, Nietzsche became friends with the composer Richard Wagner, who like Nietzsche, admired the atheist Schopenhauer.

In Nietzsche’s philosophy, we see the fruit of something we looked at in an earlier episode. The rationalist emphasis on reason divorced from faith leads ultimately to irrationality because it claims omniscience. By saying there IS no realm but the material realm, it closes itself off to even the possibility of a non-material realm. Yet the process of reason leads inevitably & inexorably to the conclusion there MUST be a realm of being, a category of existence beyond, apart from the material realm of nature.

So Nietzsche embraced what have to be called non-rational ideas as the source for creativity, what he called “true living,” and art. Giving and early indication his a fracturing mind, he identified as a follower of Dionysus, god of sexual debauchery & drunkenness. And as would be expected, he indicted Christianity as promoting all that which he despised as weak. He hated its emphasis on humility and its acceptance of the role of guilt in aiming to better people by moving them to repentance and a renouncing of self. For Nietzsche, self was the only savior. He advocated that people exalt self and unapologetically assert their quest for power. He coined the term Übermensch, the superman whose been utterly liberated from the out-dated mores of Biblical Christianity & governed by nothing but truth & reason, decides what’s right or wrong by nothing more than personal autonomy.

Nietzsche claimed “God is dead,” so no absolutes exist. There were no facts, only interpretations. Many creatives; authors, painters, & researchers were inspired by Nietzsche & used his writings as inspiration.

It was at this time that advocates for what was called comparative religions argued Christianity ought to be studied as just one of a several religions rather than from a confessional perspective that views it as TRUE. The assumption was that religion, just like everything else, had evolved from a primitive to a more complex state. A comparative study might find the core idea that united all religions, just as paleontologists were looking for the common ancestor to man and apes. There was a missing link for man & his religion they assumed.

By the 2nd half of the 19th C, derivations of the word “secular,” along with new words like agnostic, & eugenics, were part of European vocabularies. Secularization was identified with an emerging modernist separation of morality from traditional religion.

Thomas Huxley minted the word agnostic to distinguish mere skeptics from hardboiled atheists. It seems his development of the term may have actually helped many students, academics, and members of the upper classes in Victorian England shed traditional religious faith & embrace a Rationalist-styled unbelief. They did so because they could now express their growing discomfort with supernaturalism without having to go all the way and declaim any belief in a Supreme being. In other words, it gave them some philosophical wiggle room.

Francis Galton introduced the word eugenics in 1883 to designate efforts to make the human race better by “improved” breeding. Galton, an evolutionary scientist, believed eugenics would favor the fittest human beings and suppress the birth of the unfit.

In light of all this, it’s not hard to understand why Christian leaders were suspicious that “modernity” and “secularization” seemed to go hand in hand. Many materialists came right out and said they were the same; to be modern meant to be secular & hostile to religious faith.

In 1874 John Draper published the hugely influential History of the Conflict between Science and Religion, in which he said religion is the inveterate enemy of reason & science. European society in particular saw a collapse of the political, religious, & social masters that had steered it for centuries. In their place intellectuals emerged who sought for a secular substitute to traditional religion.

What made this process seemingly unstoppable was the results of modernization and the fruit of technology that was rapidly enhancing the quality of life across the continent. Many Christians felt they faced a losing battle defending the faith, “once for all delivered to the saints” against the onslaught of a science delivering such wonderful tools every other week.

They began to wonder if they could remain “orthodox” while becoming “modern” Christians.

That challenge was complicated by the work of Charles Darwin. What made it an even greater challenge was when believers heard from scientists who said they were Christians, who told them Darwin was right. Humans were descended from the apes, not Adam & Eve.

Others, like Bishop Samuel Wilberforce boldly declared Darwin’s ideas were incompatible with Scripture. In 1860, Wilberforce published a well-crafted and lengthy response to the Origin of Species. He praised Darwin’s research and engaging style, and even gave a nod to  Darwin’s  admission to being a Christian. But Wilberforce was careful to mark out many of Darwin’s claims as erroneously conceived.

Wilberforce said God is the Author of both the Books of Nature and Scripture. So it’s not possible for the 2 to contradict each other. It’s been the object of one branch of Apologetics to justify that ever since.

In October 1860, Bishop Wilberforce and Huxley engaged in a famous debate at the British Association in Oxford over Darwin’s theories. Huxley shrewdly portrayed the cleric as meddling in scientific matters beyond his competency. Wilberforce used a classic debate rhetorical device that had little to do with the substance of the debate but would prejudice the audience against his opponent. Huxley took the barb, then turned it around & used it to paint Wilberforce as HAVING to use such tactics because of the supposed weakness of his argument. If the Bishop had stuck to the content of his original article in the British Digest, he’d have fared much better.

The debate over Darwin’s theory took many turns. Some wondered if he was right that evolutionary processes were progressive in the sense that they moved toward a species perfection. Darwin had said, “As natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.” Supporters of Darwinism had a rationale for what came to be known as Social Darwinism with its advocacy for racism & eugenics.

Ernst Haeckel introduced Darwinism to Germany. A brilliant zoologist, in 1899, Haeckel published The Riddle of the Universe, in which he argued for a basic unity between organic and inorganic matter. He denied the immortality of the soul, the existence of a personal God, promoted infanticide, suicide, and the elimination of the unfit. Using a hundred lithographs drawn from nature (1904), Haeckel campaigned for the teaching of evolutionary biology in Germany as fact. This was in contrast with the many scientists who viewed Darwinism as an evolving theory.

At the dawn of the 20th C, the debate over Darwinism continued. As early as 1910, some claimed the theory of evolution was already dead. As subsequent history has shown, yeah –uh, not quite.

Under mounting pressure, Europeans who wanted to be considered “modern, scholarly” yet remain “Christian” often made accommodations in the way they expressed their faith. Early in the century, liberal theologians found new ways to describing & explain the Christian faith. Friedrich Schleiermacher proposed that Truth in Christianity was located in a personal religious experience, not in its historical events or correspondence to reality. He criticized Scholastic Protestant orthodoxy emphasizing assent to propositions about God. He said what was far more important was one’s subjective experience of the divine.

Later in the century, Catholic modernists said the Roman Catholic Church must accommodate the advances in knowledge made by higher criticism & Darwinism. They also declaimed the lack of democracy in the running of the Church. Pushing back against all this in 1910 Pope Pius X condemned modernism as the “synthesis of all heresies.”

Faced with such dramatic changes & challenges, many 19th C Christians felt the need to define and defend their faith in new ways. That wasn’t an easy task in light of some of the charges being made against it. Those who wanted to align the Faith with the modern scholarship discovered its rules tended to ensconce naturalist presuppositions that allowed no room for the supernaturalism that’s required to even consider a theism.

Anglicans and those in the Oxford Movement saw no such need to adjust their beliefs. They simply reaffirmed the authority of their faith communities, & emphasized the importance of confessions, creeds, and Scripture. In mid July, 1833, the Anglican theologian John Keble preached a famous sermon, “National Apostasy,” that triggered the beginning of the Oxford Movement. Keble warned about the repercussions of forsaking the Anglican Church.

We’ll take a closer look at the emergence of Theological Liberalism in our next episode.

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We examine the impact of the tendency for modernization to foster a creeping secularism in the 19th C. The title of this 145th episode of CS is Liberal. The term “modern” as it relates to the story of history,
We examine the impact of the tendency for modernization to foster a creeping secularism in the 19th C.

The title of this 145th episode of CS is Liberal.
The term “modern” as it relates to the story of history, has been treated differently by dozens of authors, historians and sociologists. Generally speaking, Modernization is the process by which agricultural and rural traditions morph into an industrial, technological and urban milieu that tends to be democratic, pluralistic, socialist, and/or individualistic.
In the minds of many, the process of modernization is evidence of the validity of evolution. The idea is that evolution not only applies to the increasing complexity and adaptedness of biological life, it also applies sociologically to civilization and human systems. They too are evolving. So, progress is good; a sign of societal evolution.
But the critics of modernization decry the abuses it often creates. Not all modern innovations are beneficial. The increased emphasis on individual rights can weaken a person’s sense of belonging to & identity in a family & community. It guts loyalty to worth-while traditions and customs. Modernization builds new weapons that may encourage their inventors to assume they’re thus superior, and use them to subjugate & dominate those they deem inferior, appropriating their land for resources.
Modernization is often linked to a creeping secularization, a turning away from theistic religion. Periodic revivals are viewed as but momentary blips in societal evolution; temporary distractions in progress toward the realization of the Enlightenment dream of a totally secular society.
It was during the 19th C that the rationalist ideas of the Enlightenment finally moved out of the halls of academia to settle in as the status quo for European society. Christians found themselves caught up in a world of mind-numbing change. Their cherished beliefs were assailed by hostile critics. Authors like Marx & Nietzsche attacked the Christian Faith from a base in Darwin’s popular new theory.
In an attempt to accommodate Faith & Reason, Ludwig Feuerbach, author of The Essence of Christianity, published in 1841, reduced the idea of God to that of a man. He said God is really just the projection of specific human qualities raised to the level of perfection.
In 1855, Ludwig Büchner suggested that science dispensed with the need for supernaturalism. A materialist, he was one of the first to say that the advent of modern science meant there was no longer a need to explain phenomena by appealing to the miraculous or some kind of spiritual realm. No such realm existed, except in the minds of those who refused to accept what science proved. He said, “The power of spirits and gods dissolve in the hands of science.”
During the last half of the 19th C, Frederic Nietzsche made the case for atheism. Son of a Lutheran pastor, Nietzsche received an education in theology & philology at the Universities of Bonn & Leipzig.
A musician himself, Nietzsche became friends with the composer Richard Wagner, who like Nietzsche, admired the atheist Schopenhauer.
In Nietzsche’s philosophy, we see the fruit of something we looked at in an earlier episode. The rationalist emphasis on reason divorced from faith leads ultimately to irrationality because it claims omniscience. By saying there IS no realm but the material realm, it closes itself off to even the possibility of a non-material realm. Yet the process of reason leads inevitably & inexorably to the conclusion there MUST be a realm of being, a category of existence beyond, apart from the material realm of nature.
So Nietzsche embraced what have to be called non-rational ideas as the source for creativity, what he called “true living,” and art.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 16:11
144-Coping http://www.sanctorum.us/144-coping/ Sun, 24 Jul 2016 09:01:18 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1339 http://www.sanctorum.us/144-coping/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/144-coping/feed/ 0 We take a look at what’s happening in the Eastern Church during the 17th to 20th Century. The title of this 144th episode is Coping. A quick announcement before we dive in. Go to the sanctorum.us website or the CS FB page and hit the link to the 2017 Reformation Tour we’re doing in March. […] Assyrian

We take a look at what’s happening in the Eastern Church during the 17th to 20th Century.


The title of this 144th episode is Coping.

A quick announcement before we dive in.

Go to the sanctorum.us website or the CS FB page and hit the link to the 2017 Reformation Tour we’re doing in March. We have all the info up with prices and dates. So take a look and think about joining us.

It’s time once again to lay down our focus on the Western Church to see what’s happening in the East.

With the arrival of Modernity, the Church in Europe and the New World was faced with the challenge of coping in what we’ll call the post-Constantine era. What I mean is, the social environment that was no longer favorable toward Christianity. The institutional Church could no longer count on the political support it enjoyed since the 4th C. The 18th C saw Western Christianity faced with the challenge of secular states that may not be hostile, but tended to ignore it.

In the East, Christianity faced more than just benign neglect for a long time. When Constantinople fell in 1453 to the Turks, The Faith came under a repressive regime that alternately neglected & persecuted it.

While during the Middle Ages in Europe, Popes were often more powerful than Kings, the Byzantine Emperor ruled the Church. The Greek patriarchs were functionaries under his lead. If they failed to comply, they were deposed & replaced by those who would. When the Emperor decided reuniting with Rome was required to save the empire, the reunion was accomplished against the counsel or will of the majority of Church’s leaders. Then, just a  year later, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans. Many Eastern Christians regarded this calamity as a blessing. They viewed it as liberation from a tyrannical emperor who’d forced them into a union with a heretical church based in Rome.

The new Ottoman regime initially granted the Church limited freedom. Since the patriarch had fled to Rome, the conqueror of Constantinople, Mohammed II, allowed the bishops to elect a new patriarch.  He was given both civil & ecclesiastical authority over Christians in the East. In the capital, half the churches were converted to mosques. The other half were allowed to continue worship without change.

In 1516, the Ottomans conquered the ancient seat of Middle Eastern Christianity in Syria and Palestine. The church there was put under the oversight of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Then, when Egypt fell a year later, the Patriarch of Alexandria was given authority over all Christians in Egypt. Under the Ottomans, Patriarchs had vast power over Eastern Christians, but they only served at the Sultan’s pleasure and were often deposed for resisting his policies.

In 1629, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucaris, wrote what was considered by many a Protestant treatise titled Confession of Faith. He was then deposed and executed. 50 yrs later, a synod condemned him as a “Calvinist heretic.” But by the 18th C, the Reforamtion wasn;t a concern to the Eastern Church. What was, was the arrival of Western philosophy and science. In the 19th C, when Greece gained independent from Turkey, the debate became political. Greek nationalism advocated Western methods of academics & scholarship. The Greeks also demanded that the Greek Church ought to be independent from the Patriarch of Constantinople. Conservatives wanted to subject scholarship to tradition & retain allegiance to Constantinople, even though he was still subject to the Turkish sultan.

During the 19th & early 20th Cs, the Ottoman Empire broke up, allowing national Orthodox churches to form, not only in Greece but in Serbia, Bulgaria, & Romania. Tension between nationalist & conservative Orthodoxy dominated the scene. In the period between the 2 world wars, the patriarchate of Constantinople acknowledged the autonomy of the Orthodox churches in the Balkans, Estonia, Latvia, & Czechoslovakia.

Early in the 20th C, the ancient patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria, & Antioch were ruled by Arabs. But the newly formed states existed under the shadow of Western powers. This was a time when out of a desire to identify with larger groups who could speak for them with some voice, a large number of Middle Eastern Christians became either Catholic or Protestant. But an emergent Arab nationalism reacted against Western influence. The growth of both Protestantism and Catholicism was curbed. By the 2nd half of the 20th C, the only nations where Eastern Orthodox Christianity retained its identity as a state church were in Greece and Cyprus.

The fall of Constantinople in 1453 was viewed by Russia Christians as God’s punishment for its reunion with the heretical Rome. They regarded Moscow as the “3rd Rome” & the new capital whose task was to uphold Orthodoxy. In 1547, Ivan IV took the title “czar,” drawn from the ancient “Caesar” a proper name that had come to mean “emperor.” The Russian rulers deemed themselves the spiritual heirs to the Roman Empire. 50 yrs later, the Metropolitan of Moscow took the title of Patriarch. The Russian Church then churned out a barrage of polemics against the Greek Orthodox Church, against Roman Catholics, and even Protestants. By the 17th C, the Russian Orthodox Church was so independent that when attempts were made by some to re-integrate the Church with its Orthodox brothers, it led to a schism in the Russian church & a rebellion that became quite bloody.

Okay, I just mentioned the term “metropolitan.” We mentioned this in an earlier episode, but now would be a good time for a recap on terms.

The Roman Catholic Church is presided over by a Pope whose authority is complete. The Eastern Orthodox Church is led by a Patriarch, but his authority isn’t as far-reaching as the Pope. Technically, his authority extends just to his church. But realistically, because his church is located in an important center, his influence extends to all the churches within the sphere of his city. While there is only one pope, there might be several Patriarchs who lead various branches of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

A Metropolitan equates loosely to an arch-bishop; someone who leads a church that influences the churches around it.

Peter the Great’s desire to Westernize a recalcitrant Russia led to an interest in the Russian Church in both Catholic and Protestant theology. Orthodoxy wasn’t abandoned; it was simply embellished with new methods. The Kievan school adopted a Catholic flavor while the followers of Theophanes Prokopovick leaned toward Protestantism. In the late 19th C, the Slavophile movement under the leadership of Alexis Khomiakov applied some of Hegel’s analytics to make a synthesis called sobornost; a merging of the Catholic idea of authority with the Protestant view of freedom.

Obviously, the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the 20th C put an end to all this with the arrival of a different Western Philosophy – Marxism. In 1918, the Church was officially separated from the state.. The Russian Constitution of 1936 guaranteed “freedom for religious worship” but also “freedom for anti-religious propaganda.” In the 20’s, religious instruction in schools was outlawed. Seminaries were closed. After the death Russian of Patriarch in 1925, the Church wasn’t forbidden to name a successor until 1943. The State needed all the help it could get in rallying the population in the war with Germany. The seminaries were reopened & permission was given to print of a limited inventory of religious books.

In the late 20th C, after 70 years of Communist rule, the Russian Orthodox Church still had 60 million members.

In a recent conversation I had with a woman who grew up in the Czechoslovakia during the Soviet Era, she remarked that under the Communists the Church survived, though few attended its services. Freedom of religion was the official policy under the Soviets. But in reality, those who professed faith in God were marked down and passed over for education, housing and other amenities, thin as they were under the harsh Soviet heel. You could be a Christian under the communists; but if you were, your existence was pretty lonely.

Several years ago when Russia opened to the rest of the world, I had a chance to go in with a team to teach the Inductive Study method as part of Russia’s attempt to teach it’s youth morality and ethics.

An old man attended the class, who between sessions regaled us with tales of being a believer under Communism. He looked like something straight out of an old, grimy black & white photo of a wizened old man with thinning white hair whose wrinkled face speaks volumes in the suffering he’d endured. He told us that he’d spent several stints in Russian prisons for refusing to kowtow to the Party line and steadfastly cleaving to his faith in God.

It’s remarkable the Church survived under Communism in the Soviet Bloc. Stories of the fall of the Soviets in the early 80’s are often the tale of a resurgent Church.

There are other Orthodox churches in various parts of the world. There’s the Orthodox Church of Japan, China & Korea. These communions, begun by Russian missionaries, are today, indigenous & autonomous, with a national clergy & membership, as well as a liturgy conducted in their native tongue.

Due to social strife, political upheavals, persecution, & the general longing for a better life, large numbers of Orthodox believers have moved to distant lands. But as they located in their new home, they often transported the old tensions. You see, Orthodoxy believes there can only be a single Orthodox congregation in a city. Well, what to do when there are Greek, Russian or some other flavor of Eastern Orthodox believers in a community?

Keep in mind that not all church in the Eat are part of Eastern Orthodoxy. Since the Christological controversies in the 5th C, a number of churches that disagreed with established creeds maintained their independence. In Persia, most Christians refused to refer to Mary as Theotokos = the Mother of God. They were labeled as Nestorians , and declared heretical; though as we saw way back when we were looking at this, Nestorius was not himself a heretic. Nestorians are more frequently referred to as Assyrian Christians, with a long history. During the Middle Ages the Assyrian church had many members with missions extending into China. In modern times it’s suffered severe persecution from Muslim. Early in the 20th C & again more recently, persecution has  decimated its members. The recent predations by ISIS have been aimed at these brethren.

Those churches that refused to accept the findings of the Council of Chalcedon were called Monophysites because they elevated the deity of Christ over His humanity to such a degree that it seemed to make that humanity irrelevant. The largest of these groups were the Coptics of Egypt & Ethiopia. The Ethiopian church was the last Eastern church to receive state support. That support ended with the overthrow of Haile Selassie in ‘74. The ancient Syrian Monophysite Church, known more popularly as Jacobite, continued in Syria & Iraq. Its head was the patriarch of Antioch who lived in Damascus. Technically under this patriarchate, but in reality autonomous, the Syrian Church in India has a half a million members.

As we saw in a previous episode, the Armenian Church also refused to accept the Chalcedonian Creed, because it resented the lack of support from Rome when the Persians invaded. When the Turks conquered Armenia, the fierce loyalty of the Armenians to their faith became one more spark that lit the fuse of ethnic hostility. In 1895, ’96 & again in 1914 when the world was distracted elsewhere, thousands of Armenians living under Turkish rule were massacred. A million escaped to Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Greece, France, and other Western nations.

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We take a look at what’s happening in the Eastern Church during the 17th to 20th Century. The title of this 144th episode is Coping. A quick announcement before we dive in. Go to the sanctorum.us website or the CS FB page and hit the link to the 2017 R...
We take a look at what’s happening in the Eastern Church during the 17th to 20th Century.

The title of this 144th episode is Coping.
A quick announcement before we dive in.
Go to the sanctorum.us website or the CS FB page and hit the link to the 2017 Reformation Tour we’re doing in March. We have all the info up with prices and dates. So take a look and think about joining us.
It’s time once again to lay down our focus on the Western Church to see what’s happening in the East.
With the arrival of Modernity, the Church in Europe and the New World was faced with the challenge of coping in what we’ll call the post-Constantine era. What I mean is, the social environment that was no longer favorable toward Christianity. The institutional Church could no longer count on the political support it enjoyed since the 4th C. The 18th C saw Western Christianity faced with the challenge of secular states that may not be hostile, but tended to ignore it.
In the East, Christianity faced more than just benign neglect for a long time. When Constantinople fell in 1453 to the Turks, The Faith came under a repressive regime that alternately neglected & persecuted it.
While during the Middle Ages in Europe, Popes were often more powerful than Kings, the Byzantine Emperor ruled the Church. The Greek patriarchs were functionaries under his lead. If they failed to comply, they were deposed & replaced by those who would. When the Emperor decided reuniting with Rome was required to save the empire, the reunion was accomplished against the counsel or will of the majority of Church’s leaders. Then, just a  year later, Constantinople fell to the Ottomans. Many Eastern Christians regarded this calamity as a blessing. They viewed it as liberation from a tyrannical emperor who’d forced them into a union with a heretical church based in Rome.
The new Ottoman regime initially granted the Church limited freedom. Since the patriarch had fled to Rome, the conqueror of Constantinople, Mohammed II, allowed the bishops to elect a new patriarch.  He was given both civil & ecclesiastical authority over Christians in the East. In the capital, half the churches were converted to mosques. The other half were allowed to continue worship without change.
In 1516, the Ottomans conquered the ancient seat of Middle Eastern Christianity in Syria and Palestine. The church there was put under the oversight of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Then, when Egypt fell a year later, the Patriarch of Alexandria was given authority over all Christians in Egypt. Under the Ottomans, Patriarchs had vast power over Eastern Christians, but they only served at the Sultan’s pleasure and were often deposed for resisting his policies.
In 1629, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucaris, wrote what was considered by many a Protestant treatise titled Confession of Faith. He was then deposed and executed. 50 yrs later, a synod condemned him as a “Calvinist heretic.” But by the 18th C, the Reforamtion wasn;t a concern to the Eastern Church. What was, was the arrival of Western philosophy and science. In the 19th C, when Greece gained independent from Turkey, the debate became political. Greek nationalism advocated Western methods of academics & scholarship. The Greeks also demanded that the Greek Church ought to be independent from the Patriarch of Constantinople. Conservatives wanted to subject scholarship to tradition & retain allegiance to Constantinople, even though he was still subject to the Turkish sultan.
During the 19th & early 20th Cs, the Ottoman Empire broke up, allowing national Orthodox churches to form, not only in Greece but in Serbia, Bulgaria, & Romania. Tension between nationalist & conservative Orthodoxy dominated the scene. In the period between the 2 world wars,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:42
143-Coming Apart http://www.sanctorum.us/143-coming-apart/ Sun, 17 Jul 2016 09:01:25 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1323 http://www.sanctorum.us/143-coming-apart/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/143-coming-apart/feed/ 0 Christianity as a religion becomes a diminishing factor in the political affairs of 19th Century Europe and Latin America. This 143rd episode of CS is titled Coming Apart Europe in the late 19th C was recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. War-weary, the nations longed for a prolonged period of peace in which to take a […] Kids

Christianity as a religion becomes a diminishing factor in the political affairs of 19th Century Europe and Latin America.


This 143rd episode of CS is titled Coming Apart

Europe in the late 19th C was recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. War-weary, the nations longed for a prolonged period of peace in which to take a breath, and consider HOW they were going to rebuild from the devastation recent conflicts has left. A plethora of new economic and political theories were available for them to choose from as they rebuilt. Most settled on economic and political ideas that were more liberal in terms of individual rights. The prosperity that had marked Holland became a model for a good part of Europe as they moved to a classic free-market system. With few exceptions, the governments of Europe adopted modified parliamentary systems.

This is the time when Europe moved from kingdoms to the more modern notion of nation-states. And religious affiliation keying off the Reformation and Counter-reformation often played a part in defining borders. For instance, Germany under the leadership of Prussia was fiercely Protestant while Austria was doggedly Roman Catholic. Belgium was Catholic while The Netherlands were Protestant.

But probably the most important development that occurred from the mid to late 19th C in Europe was the escalating divide between church and state. Following the Reformation, in those regions where Protestantism reigned, the church maintained a relationship with the State, much as the Catholic Church had before. But after the French Revolution, things changed. This was due to the emerging power of civil govts who no longer were beholden to clerical authority. The laisse-faire economics practiced across Europe birthed an economic boom that had a remarkable impact on the way people regarded much more than just economics. While many nations kept a State church that was subsidized by public funds, there was a boom in free churches supported solely by the offerings of their members. Being economically independent, they didn’t see themselves as needing to comply with some overarching ecclesiastical hierarchy. Freedom of thought & the freedom of the individual conscience so exalted by Enlightenment philosophy was linked solidly to the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, so that people valued their right to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. It got to the point where the free churches considered themselves as the real bastions of orthodoxy since their doctrine wasn’t tainted by economic interests and the need to endorse the State in order to keep their subsidy.

While Great Britain followed a parallel track to that of the Continent in the 19th C, the Industrial Revolution had a more marked impact there. The Industrial Revolution benefitted the middle class and those entrepreneurs who rode it’s wave, while diminishing the wealth & influence of the old nobility and pulverizing the poor. The too-rapid growth of cities led to overcrowding, slums, and increased crime. The poor lived in miserable conditions & were exploited at work. That led to a mass migration to the United States, Canada, New Zealand, & Australia. It also led to the birth of the Labor party which became a potent force in British politics. Let’s not forget that it was in England, against the back-drop of the abuses of the Industrial Revolution, that Karl Marx developed many of his economic theories.

All this influenced the church in England. During the French Revolution, the Church of England held several of the evils that had characterized the worst of the medieval church: Errors such as clerical absenteeism & holding multiple church offices for nothing more than personal gain. Then, a major renewal shook the Church of England. A reform-minded clergy managed to take control, and bolstered by laws enacted by Parliament, they were able to roll back the abuses. These reformers where of the Evangelical movement within Anglicanism, Pietists who longed to move away from the high-church magisterialism of Anglicanism to a greater solidarity with Continental Protestantism. A counter-movement responded in what came to be known as the Oxford movement. They went the other direction and came to be known as Anglo-Catholics. Heavily influenced by Romanticism & inspired by Eastern Orthodoxy, the Oxford movement emphasized the authority of tradition, apostolic succession, and Communion, rather than preaching, as the center of Christian worship.

But it was in the free churches in England that most spiritual vitality was found during the late 19th C. The growth of the middle class resulted in an upsurge in membership at the free churches. Numerous outreaches to the poor were conducted that helped alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands. Others worked politically to enact laws to curb the abuse of workers. This was also a time a massive missionary outreach from England. It was in their desire to help the poor that Sunday Schools were started. Others organized the Young Men’s Christian Association, better known by its acronym, YMCA, as well as the YW (women’s) A. New denominations were born, like the Salvation Army, whose primary focus was to help the urban poor.

It was the work of Methodists, Quakers, and others that led to the founding of labor unions, prison reform, and child labor laws. But the most important accomplishment of British Christians during the 19th C was the abolition of slavery. Quakers & Methodists had condemned slavery for yrs. But it was now, thanks to the leadership of William Wilberforce and other believers, that the British govt ended slavery. They first ended the slave trade. Then in they decreed freedom for slaves in the Caribbean. Following that slavery ended in other colonies. The British prevailed on other nations to end the slave trade. The British Navy was authorized to use force against slavers. Soon, most Western nations had abolished slavery.

In the Portuguese & Spanish colonies of Latin America in the 19th C, the tension between the peninsulares; immigrants recently arrived from Europe, & the criollos; descendants of earlier immigrants, was high. The criollos had become wealthy by exploitation of Indians and slave. They thought themselves more astute at running the affairs of the colony than the recently arrived peninsulares. The problem was, the peninsulares had been appointed to both governmental and ecclesiastical positions by officials back home. Despite the fact that the wealth of the colonies had been dug out by the sweat and toiul of the native population and imported slaves, the criollos claimed they were the casue of the wealth. So they resented the intrusion of the peninsulares. Although remaining faithful subjects, they abhorred laws that favored the hone country at the expense of the colonies. Since they had the means to travel to Europe, many of them returned home embued with the new political & economic ideologies of the Continent. The criollos were to Latin America what the bourgeoisie was to France.

In 1808, Napoleon deposed Spain’s King Ferdinand VII, & replaced him with his brother Joseph Bonaparte. Resistance to King Joe centered at Cadiz, where a board called a “junta” ruled in the name of the deposed Spanish monarch. Local juntas were also set up Latin America. The colonies began ruling themselves, in the name of the Spanish king. Then when Ferdinand was restored in 1814, instead of gratitude for those who’d preserved his territories, he reversed all that the juntas had done. When he abolished the constitution the Cadiz junta issued, the reaction was so strong he had to reinstate it. In the colonies, the criollo resentment was so strong to his iron-fisted attempt to re-assert control, they rebelled. In what is today Argentina, Paraguay, & Uruguay—the junta simply ignored the mandates from Spain & continued governing until independence was proclaimed in 1816. Then, 2 yrs later, Chile declared independence. To the N, Simón Bolívar’s army defeated the Spanish and proclaimed independence for Greater Colombia; which was eventually broken up into Colombia, Venezuela, & Panama. Ecuador, Peru, & Bolivar followed.

Brazilian independence came about as fallout from the Napoleonic Wars. In 1807, fleeing Napoleon’s armies, the Portuguese court took refuge in Brazil. In 1816, João VI was restored to rule but showed no desire to return to Portugal until he was forced to 5 yrs later. He left his son Pedro as regent of Brazil. When HE was called on to return to Portugal, Pedro refused & proclaimed Brazilian independence. He was crowned Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. But he was never really allowed to rule as his title implied. He was forced to accept a parliamentary system of government.

Events in Mexico followed a different course. The criollos planned a power-grab from the peninsulares but when the conspiracy was discovered, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, proclaimed Mexican independence on Sept 16, 1810 at the head of a motely mob of 60,000 Indians and mestizos—persons of mixed Indian and Spanish blood. When Hidalgo was captured and killed, he was succeeded by the priest José María Morelos. The criollos regained power for a time, but under the leadership of Benito Juárez, the native Mexicans re-asserted control. Central America, originally part of Mexico, declared independence in 1821, and later broke up into Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Haiti’s independence was another result of the French Revolution. As soon as the French Revolution deprived the white population on the island of military support, the majority blacks rebelled. Independence was proclaimed in 1804, acknowledged by France in 1825.

Throughout the 19th C, the overarching ideological debate in Latin America was between liberals and conservatives. Leaders of both groups belonged to the upper class. And while conservatives tended to be located in landed aristocracy, liberals found their support among the merchants and intellectuals in urban centers. Conservatives tended to fear freedom of thought and free enterprise while those were cardinal virtues for liberals, because they were modern & were suited to their interests as the merchant class. While conservatives looked to Spain, liberals looked to Great Britain, France, & the USA. But neither group was willing to alter the social order so lower classes could share the wealth. The result was a long series of both liberal & conservative dictatorships, of revolutions, & violence. By the turn of the C, many had come to agree with Bolívar that the continent was ungovernable. The Mexican Revolution seemed to make the point. It began in 1910 and led to a long period of violence and disorder that impoverished the land and moved many to emigrate.

Throughout this colonial period in Latin America, the church was under Patronato Real = Royal Patronage. That meant the govts of Spain & Portugal appointed the bishops of the colonies. Therefore, the higher offices of the church were peninsulares while criollos and mestizos formed the lower clergy. While a few bishops came to support the cause of independence, most supported the crown. After independence, most returned to Spain, leaving their seats empty.

Now, we might think, “Well, that’s not difficult to sort out. Why didn’t those local sees just appoint their own bishops?” They wanted to, but in the tussle between Spain claiming the right to appoint bishops and the locals claiming the right, the Pope wavered. He wavered because Spain was still a main & much needed ally in Europe, while the new nations of Latin America were a substantial part of the Catholic flock. Papal encyclicals tried to walk a thin line between honoring European monarchs while at the same time culling back to the Vatican the ability to name its own bishops. It was a political sticky wicket that dominated the diplomatic scene for years.

The attitude of the lower clergy, again, made up mostly of criollos and mestizos, contrasted with that of the bishops who tended toward being conservative. In Mexico, 3 out of 4 priests supported the rebellion. 16 out of the 29 signatories of Argentina’s Declaration of Independence were priests.

Many of you may remember the Liberation Theology movement popular across Latin America in the early 80’s. It was led largely by Roman Catholic priests. They were following in the footprints of earlier priests from a century before.

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Christianity as a religion becomes a diminishing factor in the political affairs of 19th Century Europe and Latin America. This 143rd episode of CS is titled Coming Apart Europe in the late 19th C was recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. War-weary,
Christianity as a religion becomes a diminishing factor in the political affairs of 19th Century Europe and Latin America.

This 143rd episode of CS is titled Coming Apart
Europe in the late 19th C was recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. War-weary, the nations longed for a prolonged period of peace in which to take a breath, and consider HOW they were going to rebuild from the devastation recent conflicts has left. A plethora of new economic and political theories were available for them to choose from as they rebuilt. Most settled on economic and political ideas that were more liberal in terms of individual rights. The prosperity that had marked Holland became a model for a good part of Europe as they moved to a classic free-market system. With few exceptions, the governments of Europe adopted modified parliamentary systems.
This is the time when Europe moved from kingdoms to the more modern notion of nation-states. And religious affiliation keying off the Reformation and Counter-reformation often played a part in defining borders. For instance, Germany under the leadership of Prussia was fiercely Protestant while Austria was doggedly Roman Catholic. Belgium was Catholic while The Netherlands were Protestant.
But probably the most important development that occurred from the mid to late 19th C in Europe was the escalating divide between church and state. Following the Reformation, in those regions where Protestantism reigned, the church maintained a relationship with the State, much as the Catholic Church had before. But after the French Revolution, things changed. This was due to the emerging power of civil govts who no longer were beholden to clerical authority. The laisse-faire economics practiced across Europe birthed an economic boom that had a remarkable impact on the way people regarded much more than just economics. While many nations kept a State church that was subsidized by public funds, there was a boom in free churches supported solely by the offerings of their members. Being economically independent, they didn’t see themselves as needing to comply with some overarching ecclesiastical hierarchy. Freedom of thought & the freedom of the individual conscience so exalted by Enlightenment philosophy was linked solidly to the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, so that people valued their right to read and interpret the Bible for themselves. It got to the point where the free churches considered themselves as the real bastions of orthodoxy since their doctrine wasn’t tainted by economic interests and the need to endorse the State in order to keep their subsidy.
While Great Britain followed a parallel track to that of the Continent in the 19th C, the Industrial Revolution had a more marked impact there. The Industrial Revolution benefitted the middle class and those entrepreneurs who rode it’s wave, while diminishing the wealth & influence of the old nobility and pulverizing the poor. The too-rapid growth of cities led to overcrowding, slums, and increased crime. The poor lived in miserable conditions & were exploited at work. That led to a mass migration to the United States, Canada, New Zealand, & Australia. It also led to the birth of the Labor party which became a potent force in British politics. Let’s not forget that it was in England, against the back-drop of the abuses of the Industrial Revolution, that Karl Marx developed many of his economic theories.
All this influenced the church in England. During the French Revolution, the Church of England held several of the evils that had characterized the worst of the medieval church: Errors such as clerical absenteeism & holding multiple church offices for nothing more than personal gain. Then, a major renewal shook the Church of England. A reform-minded clergy managed to take control,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 15:10
142-Off with Their Heads http://www.sanctorum.us/142-off-with-their-heads/ Sun, 10 Jul 2016 09:01:41 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1318 http://www.sanctorum.us/142-off-with-their-heads/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/142-off-with-their-heads/feed/ 0 The impact of the French Revolution on the Church in France. The title of this 142 episode of CS is “Off with Their Heads.” In this installment of the podcast, we’re going to give a brief review of The French Revolution, which may not seem at first blush to have much to do with Church […] Guillotine

The impact of the French Revolution on the Church in France.


The title of this 142 episode of CS is “Off with Their Heads.”

In this installment of the podcast, we’re going to give a brief review of The French Revolution, which may not seem at first blush to have much to do with Church History. Ahh, but it does. It does for this reason: What we see in The French Revolution is a proto-typical example of the Church, by which the institutional church, not necessarily the Christian Gospel and Faith, colliding with Modernity.

I know there are some astute CS subscribers who’ll take exception to this, but I’ll say it anyway. In the French Revolution we see the boomerang of the Enlightenment that sprang FROM the Renaissance, come back round to give the Church a mighty slap in the face. The Renaissance opened the door to new ways of thinking, which led first to the Reformation, which cracked the Roman Church’s monopoly on religion and made it possible for people to not only believe differently, but to go even further to choose not to believe at all. Rationalism may have ended up agnostic and atheistic, but it didn’t begin there. Some of the first and greatest scientists were worked their science in the context of a Biblical worldview, as we’ve shown in previous episodes. And the earliest rationalist philosophers based their work on the evolving theology of Protestant scholastics.

It was during the French Revolution when the dog bit the hand that had fed it. Or maybe better, when the lion mauled it’s trainer.

The French monarch Louis XVI was a weak ruler & inept politician. Economic conditions grew worse, especially for the poor, while of the king & his court were profligate in spending. In a desperate need to raise funds, the king convened the French parliament, called the Estates General.

The EG was composed of 3 orders, called Estates; the clergy, the nobility and the bourgeoisie or middle-class. Louis’ advisors suggested he enlarge the Third Estate, that of the middle class, so he could coerce the other two estates of the clergy & nobility to comply with his request for more taxes – FROM THEM. The ranks of the clergy were then enlarged as well by adding many parish priests to offset the bishops who were largely drawn from the French nobility. These priests were no friend to the hierarchy.

When the assembly gathered in early May, 1789, the Third Estate had more members than the other 2 combined. And among the clergy less than a third were nobles. The Third Estate insisted the EG function as a single chamber. The Clergy & Nobility were used to operating separately so that there were 3 votes. They usually united to vote down anything the Third Estate of the Middle class came up with. A row ensued but when priests sided with the Middle class members, it was decided things would be decided by a united house and simple majority vote. The nobility balked so Priests & Bourgeoisie formed anew body they called the National Assembly, claiming they were the legal government and represented the nation. 2 days later the entire Clergy joined the National Assembly.

The economy worsened, and hunger was widespread. Fearing what the National Assembly might do, the Crown ordered it to disband and forcibly closed the doors. Its members refused to comply and continued working on a new Constitution. The king moved troops to the outskirts of Paris, and deposed a prominent & super-popular member of the opposition government named Jacques Necker. The people of Paris expressed their outrage by rioting in a save of civil unrest that reached a climax on July 14, when they took the Bastille, an fortress that served as an armory, bunker and prison for the royal enemies.

From that point on, things moved quickly in the French Revolution. Three days later the king capitulated and recognized the authority of the National Assembly as the new official government of France. They then issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, which became foundational to democratic movements in France and other nations. But when Louis reneged and refused to accept the decisions of the Assembly, Paris rioted yet again. From then on, the royal family were prisoners in the capital.

The National Assembly reorganized the government of France, not only its civil & economic policies, but also its religious life. The most important step in this was the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, put ito effect in 1790.

You’ll remember that for centuries the French church had been governed by Gallican liberties, protecting it from interference by Rome. French bishops had a buddy system with the French crown. With the crown gutted of authority, the National Assembly assumed the role in the Church the king had played. Recognizing the need for reform, they set about to reform it. The highest positions in the hierarchy of the French church were occupied by members of the aristocracy. These prelates weren’t used to the real work of shepherding God’s flock. Their seat was a matter of income and prestige. Monasteries & abbeys had become like private clubs filled with debauchery. Abbots were known, not for their simple homespun smocks and bare feet, but for their excessive luxury & crafty political intrigues.

Some members of the Assembly wanted to reform the church. Others were convinced the Church and the Faith it was supposed to stand as the eternal servant of, was nothing but a lot of hog-wash, silly superstition from times long past, and ought now to be swept away. Those voices were few at first, but their numbers grew and took the foreground later in the Revolution.

Most of the measures the Assembly proposed aimed at reform of the Church. But the deeper challenge issued by many was, did the Assembly have authority to address such issues? Since when did the civil government have a say in Church affairs? And hold on – since the Reformation had introduced this big divide between Protestants & Catholics, which church was being addressed? A suggestion was made to call a council of French bishops. But the Assembly quashed that due to the fact it would put power back in the hands of aristocratic bishops, which they were loath to do. Others suggested the Pope be invited to weigh in. But the French were reluctant to surrender their Gallicanism by giving Rome a foothold.

Pope Pius VI sent word to Louis XVI the new Constitution was something he could never accept. The king feared the Assembly’s reaction if they found out about the Pope’s resistance so he kept it a secret. Then, at the insistence of the Assembly, the king agreed to the Constitution, but announcing that his approval was contingent on the Pope’s agreement. The Assembly tired of the delay and decreed that all who held ecclesiastical office had to swear allegiance to the Constitution. Those who declined would be deposed.

The Church was divided. You see, in theory, those who refused were to suffer no more that the loss of office. On the basis of the Assembly’s declaration on rights, they couldn’t be deprived of their freedom of thought. And anyone who wanted to maintain them as their clergy were welcome to do so. But they were on their own. Those who signed on to the new Constitution would be supported by the state. à Again, all that was in theory. In practice, those who refused to swear allegiance were persecuted and branded as dangerous counterrevolutionaries.

Revolutionary movements gained strength across Europe. Such movements in the Low Countries and Switzerland failed, but monarchs and the nobility feared the French movement would spread to other lands. That inspired French radicals to more extreme measures. In 1791, the National Assembly morphed into the Legislative Assembly, with far fewer voices calling for moderation. Half a year later, France went to war with Austria and Prussia—beginning a long series of armed conflicts that continued till the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815.

The day after securing victory at the Battle of Valmy, the Legislative Assembly again reformed into the National Convention. In its first session the Convention abolished the monarchy and announced the French Republic. 4 months later, the king was accused of high treason, was convicted & executed.

But that didn’t put an end to France’s problems. The economy was in shambles in every village, city town and all social classes. Peasants revolted. Fear of foreign invasion grew. All this led to a wave of terror where everybody was suspected of counterrevolutionary conspiracies, and most of the major figures of the revolution were put to death one after another at the guillotine.

Combined with all this was a strong reaction against Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant. The new leaders of the revolution were convinced they were the prophets & engineers of a new age where science and reason would overcome superstition and religion. They claimed that as the new age was born, time had come to leave behind the silly ideas of the old.

The Revolution created its own religion, called first the Cult of Reason; later the Cult of the Supreme Being. By then the Constitution with it’s rights for individuals was forgotten. The revolution wanted nothing to do with the Church. The calendar was changed to a more “reasonable” one where a week was 10 days & months were named after nature. Elaborate spectacles were staged to celebrate the new age of reason & new holidays were established to replace the old religious ones. Temples to Reason were built to replace churches, and an list of saints was issued—among whom were Jesus, Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, and Rousseau. New rites were devised for weddings, funerals and the dedication of children, not to God but to philosophical ideals like Frredom.

As I sit here recording this, and you listen, doing whatever activity it is you’re doing, all these radical rationalist ideas may seem ridiculous, in light of their ultra-short lifespan. Like demanding everyone suddenly call red blue, and blue is from now on going to be called green. Just because we say so. And it would be ridiculous, were it not for the fact that they were deadly earnest about it and killed thousands for no more reason than being under suspicion of thinking their ideas were absurd.

“Off with their heads” became a slogan that literally saw people slipped under the guillotine’s blade. Christian worship was supposedly permitted; but any priest who refused to swear before the altar of Freedom was accused of being a counterrevolutionary and sent to the guillotine. Somewhere btwn 2 & 5 thousand priests were executed, as well as dozens of nuns and countless lay people. Many died in prison. In the end, no distinction was made between those who’d sworn allegiance to the Constitution, those who had refused to, and Protestants. Although the reign of terror ended in 1795, the government continued to oppose Christianity. Where ever French troops marched and asserted their presences, their policies followed. In 1798, they invaded Italy and captured Pope Pius VI, taking himt o France as a prisoner.

Napoleon, who’d been rising thru the ranks of the French army for a while, became the ruler of France in Nov, 1799. Pius VI died a few months before. Napoleon believed the best policy for France was to seek a reconciliation with the Catholic Church, and opened negotiations with the new pope, Pius VII. In 1801, the papacy and French govt agreed to a Concordat that allowed the Church & State to work together to appoint of bishops to the French Church. 3 yrs later, Napoleon decided he wanted to be more than just the First Consul of France, he fancied the title “Emperor” and had Pius VII officiate at his coronation. Then Napoleon decreed religious freedom for Protestants.

Then Pope and Emperor fell out and France once again invaded Italy & the Pope was taken prisoner. But even in his captivity Pius VII refused to endorse Napoleon’s actions. He was especially critical of his divorce from Josephine. Pius remained a prisoner until the fall of Napoleon, when he was restored to Rome. There he proclaimed a general amnesty for all his enemies, and interceded for Napoleon before his British conquerors.

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The impact of the French Revolution on the Church in France. The title of this 142 episode of CS is “Off with Their Heads.” In this installment of the podcast, we’re going to give a brief review of The French Revolution,
The impact of the French Revolution on the Church in France.

The title of this 142 episode of CS is “Off with Their Heads.”
In this installment of the podcast, we’re going to give a brief review of The French Revolution, which may not seem at first blush to have much to do with Church History. Ahh, but it does. It does for this reason: What we see in The French Revolution is a proto-typical example of the Church, by which the institutional church, not necessarily the Christian Gospel and Faith, colliding with Modernity.
I know there are some astute CS subscribers who’ll take exception to this, but I’ll say it anyway. In the French Revolution we see the boomerang of the Enlightenment that sprang FROM the Renaissance, come back round to give the Church a mighty slap in the face. The Renaissance opened the door to new ways of thinking, which led first to the Reformation, which cracked the Roman Church’s monopoly on religion and made it possible for people to not only believe differently, but to go even further to choose not to believe at all. Rationalism may have ended up agnostic and atheistic, but it didn’t begin there. Some of the first and greatest scientists were worked their science in the context of a Biblical worldview, as we’ve shown in previous episodes. And the earliest rationalist philosophers based their work on the evolving theology of Protestant scholastics.
It was during the French Revolution when the dog bit the hand that had fed it. Or maybe better, when the lion mauled it’s trainer.
The French monarch Louis XVI was a weak ruler & inept politician. Economic conditions grew worse, especially for the poor, while of the king & his court were profligate in spending. In a desperate need to raise funds, the king convened the French parliament, called the Estates General.
The EG was composed of 3 orders, called Estates; the clergy, the nobility and the bourgeoisie or middle-class. Louis’ advisors suggested he enlarge the Third Estate, that of the middle class, so he could coerce the other two estates of the clergy & nobility to comply with his request for more taxes – FROM THEM. The ranks of the clergy were then enlarged as well by adding many parish priests to offset the bishops who were largely drawn from the French nobility. These priests were no friend to the hierarchy.
When the assembly gathered in early May, 1789, the Third Estate had more members than the other 2 combined. And among the clergy less than a third were nobles. The Third Estate insisted the EG function as a single chamber. The Clergy & Nobility were used to operating separately so that there were 3 votes. They usually united to vote down anything the Third Estate of the Middle class came up with. A row ensued but when priests sided with the Middle class members, it was decided things would be decided by a united house and simple majority vote. The nobility balked so Priests & Bourgeoisie formed anew body they called the National Assembly, claiming they were the legal government and represented the nation. 2 days later the entire Clergy joined the National Assembly.
The economy worsened, and hunger was widespread. Fearing what the National Assembly might do, the Crown ordered it to disband and forcibly closed the doors. Its members refused to comply and continued working on a new Constitution. The king moved troops to the outskirts of Paris, and deposed a prominent & super-popular member of the opposition government named Jacques Necker. The people of Paris expressed their outrage by rioting in a save of civil unrest that reached a climax on July 14, when they took the Bastille, an fortress that served as an armory, bunker and prison for the royal enemies.
From that point on, things moved quickly in the French Revolution. Three days later the king capitulated and recognized the ...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:47
141-Behind Enemy Lines http://www.sanctorum.us/141-behind-enemy-lines/ Sun, 26 Jun 2016 09:01:33 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1310 http://www.sanctorum.us/141-behind-enemy-lines/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/141-behind-enemy-lines/feed/ 2 We look at the church under the Ottoman Turks after the Fall of Constantinople. We then look at the Ukrainian Uniate Church and the Russian Orthodox Church during the reign of the Romanovs. This 141st, episode is titled, Behind Enemy Lines. Following up their conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks conquered most of the […] We look at the church under the Ottoman Turks after the Fall of Constantinople.
We then look at the Ukrainian Uniate Church and the Russian Orthodox Church during the reign of the Romanovs.


This 141st, episode is titled, Behind Enemy Lines.

Following up their conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks conquered most of the Balkans. They now controlled the former Byzantine Empire and the substantial region of Armenia. They required the Eastern Orthodox patriarchs in Constantinople to obey their rules & policies. The Ottoman Turks employed their Christians subjects in key positions in the military & government. The bureaucrats who’d served the labrynthine Byzantine system made excellent court officials in the new realm. And thousands of young Christian boys were inducted into the Janissaries; elite fighting units renowned for their ferocity and loyalty to the Sultan. If you want to read some fascinating history, dig into the story of the Janissaries.

Throughout Turkish lands, Christians and Jews were given a measure of autonomy in running their own affairs. Note I said “a measure.” They weren’t free to live however they pleased. While there was a general, persistent low-grade animosity between Christians and their Turk-masters, there were periods of intense oppression and outright persecution.

Western European governments were indifferent to the plight of Eastern Christians. They were anxious to maintain a favorable posture toward the Ottomans so as to have access to the rich trade that flowed btwn E&W. The conspiracies and conniving that went on between the competing nations of Europe for this rich trade was a thing of legend. Sadly, it was a prime example of how the desire for wealth trumped a deeper and more pressing humanitarian directive.

Thank God we’ve moved passed that today, huh?

Keeping our historical perspective, the lack of concern on the part of Western Europeans for their Oriental brothers & sister living under the Ottoman yoke isn’t so hard to understand. After all, how many years has it been since the rift broke between E&W? it’s been almost exactly 400 years. And the LAST time W met E was in the brutality of the 4th Crusade that shattered Constantinople and ultimately left it vulnerable to the Turkish conquest.

At the end of the 16th C,  Jeremias II, patriarch of Constantinople, ordained Bishop Job as the first patriarch of Russia. This established Moscow as a patriarchate on the same footing as the much older centers of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, & Jerusalem.

In the final yrs of the 16th C, 4 bishops along with the metropolitan of Kiev, created what became known as the Uniate Church. These churches became an Eastern branch of the Catholic Church. They looked to the Roman Pope as their spiritual head and embraced Roman doctrine. But they kept the Byzantine liturgy and the right of their priests to marry. For 3 centuries, Uniate Christians were the target of fierce persecution the the Cossacks. During the Cossack-Polish War of 1648–57, many of the Uniates were slaughtered.

Eastern Orthodox or as they are sometimes called, Greek Orthodox, theologians rejected the Protestant Reformation’s emphasis on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. But when Cyril Lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople, published a work in 1629 that seemed influenced by the theology of John Calvin, it sparked a firestorm of controversy and fierce opposition from other Orthodox theologians. One chapter said Scripture was infallible and inerrant. Its authority superseded that of the Church. Another ch said sinners are justified by faith rather than works and that it’s Christ’s righteousness applied by faith to repentant sinners that alone justifies.

The Turk Sultan Murad IV conspired to assassinated Patriarch Cyril Lucaris, because he was regarded as a theological as well as political troublemaker. The Janissaries were sent to kill him on June 27, 1638; his body dumped over the side of a ship.

The years 1598-1613 we labeled the “Time of Troubles” in Russia. It was a time of transition from the Rurik Dynasty to the Romanovs. The years saw a famine that killed some 2 million Russians, one third of the populace. It also witnessed the Polish-Muscovite War when Russia was occupied by a Polish-Lithuanian Consortium and endured endless civil uprisings. The Romanov’s went on to rule Russia for the next 300 yrs. During the period from Peter the Great thru Catherine the Great, Russia emerged as a military competitor to the French, Spanish, English, Prussians, and Hapsburgs. Her army & navy  grew and she gained large tracts of land at the expense of Sweden, Poland, and Turkey.

Russia’s conquests brought many non-Orthodox Christians under her control; most notably many Roman Catholics. It also brought in a lot of Jews. East Europeans rulers were wary of the new Russian bear & how it’s aggression could unsettle the cfareful blance European diplomats had managed to secure. In 1763, King Louis XV of France declared, “Everything that may plunge Russia into chaos and make her return to obscurity is favorable to our interests.”

The impact of the reign of Peter the Great on Russian society was profound. Fascinated by all things military, Peter as ruler was ruthless with his enemies as he was charming with those he wanted to woo. Peter assumed the arduous task of transforming Russia from an agricultural backwater into a modern economic powerhouse. During a more than yr long tour of Germany, the Netherlands, England, and Austria in 1697–8, he gained a working knowledge of economics, farming, munitions, and ship-building. He visited schools, hospitals, and factories. He was warmly received by kings & queens.

Once back in Russia, Peter used forced labor to build the port city of Petersburg as a “window on the West.” In 1713, it became the capital of Russia. He finally defeated the Swedes, gaining more territory. His trip to western European countries provided him new insights in how to streamline Russia’s military, government, and schools.

His opponents came from the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as what were called the “Old Believers & Ritualists” drawn from the ancient Russian nobility and the Cossacks. The clergy said Peter was engaged in a blasphemous arrogance by moving the capital from Moscow, which they called the “Third Rome” to Petersburg.

Unlike the clergy, the Old Believers had a different beef with Peter. They were enraged by what they called his irreligious actions. He failed to support their departure form the Russian Orthodox Church due to a bruehaha over hwo to make the sign of the cross. These Old Ritualists, broke with the Russian Church in the 1650’s when the Metropolitan Nikon revised the liturgy along amore Byzantine fashion. Nikon said the sign of the cross was to be made with the first 3 fingers of the right hand, not 2 fingers as was the usual practice. THos who refused to put up 3 fingers was deemed a heretic.

So à “Off with is head.”

In 1682, a leader of the Old Believers, was burned at the stake. Some of his followers living in their own religious communities engaged in mass suicides.

Peter’s opponents among the clergy were really worked up about his requiring them to adopt more modern and Western clothes. Russian nobles were ordered to shave unless they paid a tax. Some Russian men assumed a shave would bar them from entering heaven.

Peter professed a faith in Christ, but it’s questionable if he did so for purely pragmatic reasons. He venerated icons, quoted Scripture at length, cited the Liturgy by heart, and sang on occasion in church choirs. But he had little patience with the Patriarch of Moscow who opposed his “Western” innovations.

One historian claims Peter the Great’s actions toward the Church in Moscow “led to a cultural shock from which Russia never recovered.” When Patriarch Adrian died in 1700, Peter postponed the election of a new patriarch. This dealt a major blow to the traditions and the structure of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1716 Peter declared that he alone ruled Russia, setting himself over the church.

The reigns of the next several Romanovs were marked by intrigue and palace coups.

For example, Peter III had a brief reign. He married the German-born and Lutheran-raised Catherine II, who converted to Orthodoxy so as to make entry into the marriage smoother. Peter disbanded the secret police and favored religious toleration. He despised the Orthodox Church and was accused of leaning toward “Lutheranism.” A conspiracy headed by his wife’s illicit lover, forced Peter’s abdication, then murdered him.

Catherine then became the ruler of Russia; Catherine the Great. She built on the expansionist policies of Peter the Great, adding 200,000 square miles to Russia. Her armies put down the Cossack Rebellion of 1773–5 and extended the borders of Russia in the Crimea and in Poland, Beloruss, & W’n Ukraine. She centralized & streamlined the government, which was now run by civilians with skills like those of their counterparts in Western Europe. Russia, traditionally introspective and self-congratulatory, looked for a while to be opening to the outside world, willing to embrace the cultures of its neighbors.

Catherine has sometimes been portrayed as an “Enlightened Despot.” She was steeped in the literature of the French philosophes. Diderot and Grimm spent time at her court, as did other Western thinkers. She mostly refrained from terror in dealing with her opponents in bringing reforms.

In 1773 Catherine promoted a measure of religious toleration. She defended the Jesuits in after the papacy dissolved the Society of Jesus. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants enjoyed limited religious rights.

Catherine’s openness to Enlightenment ideas had limits. She took over monasteries and turned them into state property. She was hostile to the Masons and feared the spread of subversive republican ideas by partisans of the French Revolution. She made 3 decrees that forced Jews to settle in a region called “the Pale” stretching from the Black to the Baltic Sea. It encompassed present-day Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Beloruss. Jews lived in the Pale under harsh poverty conditions & frequent pogroms.

18th C religious life in Europe & Asia is a harbinger of what lies ahead for us as we wrap up our narrative of church history over the next episodes.

The concern expressed by Roman Catholic leaders in the face of the Reformation was that if the Protestants were allowed to break away to form their own churches and movements, the fracturing would never end and Mother Church would disintegrate into a bo-zillion daughters who looked nothing like their mother. That concern has largely proven true, as is evidenced by the literally tens of thousands of different denominations, movements, groups and even independent churches that exists world-wide, all calling themselves the faithful followers of Jesus and the home of the True Gospel.

It’s during the 18th C in Europe, Asia, and to a lesser extent in the New World that we see that splintering reach an exponential rate.

And that’s why our review of the narrative of church history must necessarily come to a conclusion soon. Because now we’d need to track the growth and development of literally dozens of groups & that would be a royal pain in the boredom it would inflict. We could deprogram hardened terrorists by making them listen to that; or torture them.

That might be a good place for all you burgeoning podcasters out there to start your own podcast. I know you’re out there. You’ve been listening to CS for a while and regularly say to yourself, “I could do a better job than this.” I’ll bet you could. So why don’t you? Start your podcast where we’ll leave off. Track the origins of your group to where we end and take it from there.

To give ya’ll a heads up on what’s planned for CS . . .

I don’t know how many more episodes we’ll do in the narrative but it won’t be many.

Then, I plan to take a break of several months, and pick it up again by going back to do some in-depth episodes on specific people, events, moments, and trends in Church History.

As we end, I want to again say thanks to all you subscribers who write reviews in iTunes store, those who check in and give the CS FB page a like and leave comments there or on the sanctorum.us site.

There are some very popular podcasts out there with HUGE audiences. None of them have the amazing group CS has. I mean it when I say, You guys & gals are the best!

As most of you know, I’m a pastor at an independent Evangelical Christian church ins SoCal. If you like CS, don’t find my voice too annoying, and would like to hear something a little different, you might want to check out the church podcast. I teach twice a week; one is a general survey of the Bible, v by v, ch by ch & book by book. The other is a sermon where we go in depth in the same passage. You can find it in iTunes story by searching for Calvary Chapel Oxnard, or going to the calvaryoxnard.org website.

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We look at the church under the Ottoman Turks after the Fall of Constantinople. We then look at the Ukrainian Uniate Church and the Russian Orthodox Church during the reign of the Romanovs. This 141st, episode is titled, Behind Enemy Lines.
We then look at the Ukrainian Uniate Church and the Russian Orthodox Church during the reign of the Romanovs.

This 141st, episode is titled, Behind Enemy Lines.
Following up their conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Turks conquered most of the Balkans. They now controlled the former Byzantine Empire and the substantial region of Armenia. They required the Eastern Orthodox patriarchs in Constantinople to obey their rules & policies. The Ottoman Turks employed their Christians subjects in key positions in the military & government. The bureaucrats who’d served the labrynthine Byzantine system made excellent court officials in the new realm. And thousands of young Christian boys were inducted into the Janissaries; elite fighting units renowned for their ferocity and loyalty to the Sultan. If you want to read some fascinating history, dig into the story of the Janissaries.
Throughout Turkish lands, Christians and Jews were given a measure of autonomy in running their own affairs. Note I said “a measure.” They weren’t free to live however they pleased. While there was a general, persistent low-grade animosity between Christians and their Turk-masters, there were periods of intense oppression and outright persecution.
Western European governments were indifferent to the plight of Eastern Christians. They were anxious to maintain a favorable posture toward the Ottomans so as to have access to the rich trade that flowed btwn E&W. The conspiracies and conniving that went on between the competing nations of Europe for this rich trade was a thing of legend. Sadly, it was a prime example of how the desire for wealth trumped a deeper and more pressing humanitarian directive.
Thank God we’ve moved passed that today, huh?
Keeping our historical perspective, the lack of concern on the part of Western Europeans for their Oriental brothers & sister living under the Ottoman yoke isn’t so hard to understand. After all, how many years has it been since the rift broke between E&W? it’s been almost exactly 400 years. And the LAST time W met E was in the brutality of the 4th Crusade that shattered Constantinople and ultimately left it vulnerable to the Turkish conquest.
At the end of the 16th C,  Jeremias II, patriarch of Constantinople, ordained Bishop Job as the first patriarch of Russia. This established Moscow as a patriarchate on the same footing as the much older centers of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, & Jerusalem.
In the final yrs of the 16th C, 4 bishops along with the metropolitan of Kiev, created what became known as the Uniate Church. These churches became an Eastern branch of the Catholic Church. They looked to the Roman Pope as their spiritual head and embraced Roman doctrine. But they kept the Byzantine liturgy and the right of their priests to marry. For 3 centuries, Uniate Christians were the target of fierce persecution the the Cossacks. During the Cossack-Polish War of 1648–57, many of the Uniates were slaughtered.
Eastern Orthodox or as they are sometimes called, Greek Orthodox, theologians rejected the Protestant Reformation’s emphasis on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. But when Cyril Lucaris, patriarch of Constantinople, published a work in 1629 that seemed influenced by the theology of John Calvin, it sparked a firestorm of controversy and fierce opposition from other Orthodox theologians. One chapter said Scripture was infallible and inerrant. Its authority superseded that of the Church. Another ch said sinners are justified by faith rather than works and that it’s Christ’s righteousness applied by faith to repentant sinners that alone justifies.
The Turk Sultan Murad IV conspired to assassinated Patriarch Cyril Lucaris, because he was regarded as a theological as well as political troublemaker.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 16:26
140-Up North, Then South http://www.sanctorum.us/140-up-north-then-south/ Sun, 19 Jun 2016 09:01:33 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1290 http://www.sanctorum.us/140-up-north-then-south/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/140-up-north-then-south/feed/ 0 We wrap up our review of the Enlightenment effect on the Church in Europe by looking at Scandinavia, The Dutch United Provinces, Geneva, and Italy. This 140th episode is titled Up North, Then South. This will be the last episode where we take a look at Christianity in Europe following the Enlightenment. This narrative is […] We wrap up our review of the Enlightenment effect on the Church in Europe by looking at Scandinavia, The Dutch United Provinces, Geneva, and Italy.


This 140th episode is titled Up North, Then South.

This will be the last episode where we take a look at Christianity in Europe following the Enlightenment. This narrative is nowhere near exhaustive. It’s more an exhaustING summary of Scandinavia, The Dutch United Provinces, Austria, and Italy. We’ve already looked at Germany, France, and Spain.

The end of the 17th C proved to be a brutal time in Scandinavia. Some 60% of the population died from 1695-7 due to warfare & the disease & famine so often associated with its aftermath. As if they hadn’t had enough misery, the Great Northern War of 1700–1721 followed. In the desperation of the times, Lutheran provide devotionals offering hope & comfort, while at the same time calling on their people to pray & repent.

As in northern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, & Finland were Lutheran strongholds. Citizens were required to swear loyalty to the Lutheran state church which was in league with the king who practice absolutism.

But during the Great Northern War, the Swedish King Charles XII suffered a massive defeat at by the Russian armies of Peter the Great. Sweden lost large tracts of land and the throne lost clout with the Swedish people. A so-called “Age of Liberty” followed that lasted for the most of the rest of the 18th C. The Swedish Parliament gained power & reformers attempted to give a utilitarian and rationalist slant to Swedish education. These Enlightenment reformers battled with the clergy, who wanted to retain a theological component in the education of Sweden’s young.

Many of the returning captured Swedish soldiers who’d been imprisoned in Russia from 1722-4, had been converted to Pietism by the missionaries sent by Francke from the University at Halle we talked about last time. The now Pietist soldiers became advocates of it in Sweden. Moravians also promoted revivals in Scandinavia.

After a grab for power in 1772, Gustavus III nullified the Swedish Constitution that restrained the reach of royal power. He imposed a new Constitution designed to reinforce Lutheranism as the basis of government. He said, “Unanimity in religion, and the true divine worship, is the surest basis of a lawful, concordant, and stable government.” But in 1781 limited toleration came to Sweden when other Protestant groups were allowed. Catholicism remained outlawed.

From 1609, when the Dutch won their liberty from Spain, until Louis XIVth’s invasion in 1672, the Dutch United Provinces had its “Golden Age” and enjoyed what Simon Schama called an “embarrassment of riches.” This was due mostly to their lucrative international trade & free market economy. The Dutch eschewed the traditional monarchy that dominated Europe in favor of a far more egalitarian Parliamentary system.

Amsterdam was a thriving commercial & cultural center. Its population more than doubled from 1600 to 1800. Amsterdam’s docks were always packed. Its warehouses stuffed with goods from all over the world & the fare of the massive and powerful Dutch East India Company. From its earliest days, this trading enterprise supported Reformed missionary work at posts in the Malay Archipelago, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. In July 1625, Dutch traders established New Amsterdam, later known as New York City.

The United Provinces were intellectual & religious crossroads for Europe through its universities, publishing houses, and churches. Protestant students from Germany, Finland, and France flocked there to study at the University of Leiden and other schools.

The main task of the faculty at the University of Leiden was the study of Scriptures. Its Leiden’s professors was Joseph Scaliger whose knowledge of the classics and biblical textual criticism made him one of the premier scholars of Europe. Other scholars included Arminius & Gomarus.

As many of our listeners know, the 17th C was the Dutch golden age of art. Thousands of painters created millions of paintings with scenes ranging from battles and landscapes, to churches, still life, & portraits. Among the more famous masters were Rembrandt, Frans Hal, & Vermeer. By the 18th C, the quality of Dutch art had fallen off somewhat.

The Dutch Reformed Church affirmed the Belgic Confession of Faith of 1561. It addressed topics ranging from the Trinity, the work of Christ, and the sacraments, to Church-State relations. Although the Reformed Church was the “official” faith, the United Provinces were known for their toleration of other groups. But that didn’t mean there weren’t heated theological rows. Two parties emerged in the Dutch Reformed Church: the “precise” Calvinists who wanted the churches to possess binding doctrinal authority, and the “loose or moderate” Calvinists who desired greater freedom of religious thought.

The Dutch Provinces often served as a haven for those seeking relief from persecution in other regions of Europe. Amsterdam was home to a Jewish community. Some 70K French Huguenots took refuge there & married into the populace. An Anabaptist community flourished. Religious dissidents like Baruch Spinoza and Anthony Collins, an exile from England, weren’t much respected but they were at least not beat up.

Many Europeans admired the Dutch Republic for its successful war of liberation from the Spanish, its egalitarian government, as well as its vital free market economy. By 1675,there were 55 printing presses & 200 booksellers in Amsterdam, adding to the burgeoning base of middle class scholars.

During the 18th C, the Dutch, while continuing to be officially Reformed, saw an increase in the number of those they’d been less tolerant toward; that is-Catholics, Dissenters, and Jews. Revivals frequently passed through the more rural domains. In 1749&50, emotionally-charged revival meetings took place in the ministry of Gerard Kuypers. Other villages in the Netherlands and in nearby Germany experienced similar revivals.

In a foreshadowing of Intelligent Design and the fine-tuning of the universe arguments, a number of Dutch theologian-scientists wrote works in which they sought to demonstrate that the intricacy of designs in nature prove God’s existence. Until the 1770s, the Reformed Church played a dominant role in Dutch public life. Some 60% of the population was Reformed, 35 percent Catholic, 5% percent Anabaptists & Jews.

There really never was a Dutch brand of the Enlightenment. Most of its participants never espouse a militant atheism, but sought to accommodate their faith to educational reforms and religious toleration. They appreciated the new science and advances in technology.

Now we turn back to Geneva; adopted home of John Calvin.

During the early 1750s, Geneva was the home of both Voltaire and Rousseau, well-known Enlightenment thinkers & scoffers at Christianity.

Several of Geneva’s pastors proposed a reasonable and tolerant form of Christianity that warmed to some of the more liberal Enlightenment ideas. This was a huge turn from the position of Francis Turretin who in the mid 17th C, led the Reformed & conservative theologians of Geneva to the idea that the city was a theocracy with God as its ruler. Turretin said the government ought defend “the culture of pure religion and the pious care of nurturing the church.” Turretin’s party defended the Masoretic pointing of the Hebrew text, making this belief binding on the Swiss church. These pastors feared if Hebrew vowels were left out, the Hebrew words of the Old Testament were susceptible to interpretations that varied  form those they accepted. They also tried to force pastoral candidates to repudiate the doctrine of “universal grace” that was being championed by an emerging class of theologians.

But in 1706 Turretin’s son, Jean, repudiated his father’s work & embraced a more liberal theology that advocated the role of reason in determining truth. He denied the his father’s soteriology, that is, the doctrine of salvation, & eschewed limited atonement. By the 1720s, Arminianism had taken firm root in Geneva.

In Feb, 1670, the Hapsburg, Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and a devout Roman Catholic, ordered all Jews to leave Austrian lands. Vienna became a cultural center. After the defeat of the Turks, it’s population boomed, growing form about 100K in 1700 to twice that 80 yrs later. The construction of the Schwarzenberg & Schönberg Palaces enhanced its prestige while the music of Haydn and Mozart made the name of Vienna famous across Europe.

The Hapsburg Emperors Joseph I & Charles VI supported missionary efforts of Jesuits to convert Protestants. The Jesuits created a baroque Catholic culture in Austria and Bohemia with the construction of magnificent churches both in cities and the countryside. The architecture of these lavishly churches held few straight lines and focused attention on the eucharist placed on a central high altar so that parishioners would venerate it.

The Austrian Hapsburg emperors, though Catholic, didn’t accept the papacy’s right to intervene in Austria’s religious or political life. They believed their empire was universal and they’d defended Catholicism well. After all, hadn’t Leopold saved Christendom in 1683 by defeating the Turks? Wasn’t Austria in the “rock” upon which the Catholic Church was built?

Upon the death of her father, in Oct, 1740, Maria Theresa took the titles Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Bohemia, & Queen of Hungary. In 1745 her husband, Francis Stephen, became the Holy Roman Emperor under the name Francis I. Disturbed by the Prussian Frederick II’s seizure of Silesia, Maria Theresa attempted to reform the military and governmental structures of Austria after Enlightenment ideals. She became the proponent of what some have called “Enlightened Absolutism.” At the same time, she was ready to apply repressive measures against those who resisted her. On one occasion she warned that he is “no friend to humanity who allows everyone his own thoughts.”

Maria Theresa was a devout Catholic influenced by counselors favorable to Jansenism. With the advice of her chancellor, she tried to establish a national Catholic Church in which the pope had authority only in spiritual matters.

Maria Theresa did not allow Protestants to sell their property or leave her lands. She required those who refused to convert to Catholicism to emigrate to Transylvania, where Protestantism was permitted. Nor did Maria Theresa intercede to save the Jesuits when their society was dissolved. She allowed 2000 Protestants to live in Vienna, but she forced the city’s Jews to live in a ghetto.

Upon the death of Maria Theresa, Joseph II passed Edicts of Toleration that allowed greater freedoms for non-Catholics & continued the policy of subjugating Church power to that ofd the State. He confiscate the property of over 700 monasteries, displacing 27K monks and nuns & used the proceeds to build new churches.

Like Germany, during the 18th C Italy didn’t exist as a nation as we know it. It was a hodge-podge of various principalities; the Duchies of Savoy & Milan, the Republic of Venice, the Duchies of Parma & Modena, the Republics of Genoa & Lucca, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany; the Papal States; and in the S Naples and the islands of Sardinia, Corsica, & Sicily among several other smaller realms. They didn’t even share a common language.

The population of the peninsula grew from 11 to 15 million in the first half of the C. But in the 1760’s a severe famine struck Florence, Rome, & Naples.

Tuscany hosted a strong Jansenist party, who were also influential in Genoa and Milan.

A few Italians tried to promote rationalist views in the Catholic church, eliminating what they regarded as backward features of Italian culture, hide-bound to a long past era.

The popes of the 18th C had difficulty dealing with the now powerful rulers of Europe who no longer felt threatened by Church power or political machinations.

Even the Papal States themselves were frequently invaded by foreign powers. These conquerors only left after they’d extorted hefty ransoms. Popes were forced to make concessions that made the papacy’s weakness evident to all. Despite that, Rome continued to attract large numbers of pilgrims, students, and artists from all. Pilgrims still hoped for a a blessing from the Pope or a healing while visiting the various shrines.

Then there were the youth on the Grand Tour, as it was called. They were most often graduates of Cambridge, Oxford, The University of Paris or some other school who headed to Italy to gain knowledge in classical culture. In 1776, Samuel Johnson underscored the importance of Italy as an destination for those making the Grand Tour: “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority. The grand object of traveling is to see the shores of the Mediterranean. On those shores were the four great Empires of the world; the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman.”

Several of the popes supported the establishment of academies, colleges & universities and encouraged the general scholarship. Under their generous patronage Rome’s artistic riches in painting, sculpture, music, and monuments flourished. It was Pope Clement XI who initiated plans for the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps in the early 18th C.

But to give you an idea of how the tables has turned and now Kings often domineer popes, it was this same Clement, who became a pawn in the hands of Emperor Joseph I, and Louis XIV. Louis forced Clement to issue a papal bull dealing with the Jesuit-Jansenist controversy.

Papal prestige suffered seriously during the French Revolution. Pope Pius VI was obliged to condemn the “Declaration of the Rights of Man” as well as the “Civil Constitution of the Clergy.” This split the French between those revolutionaries who wanted to throw off the Absolutist government of the French monarchy but maintain their Catholicism, and those French who wanted to be done with religion as well.

Bottom Line: The Enlightenment witnessed serious challenges to both the papacy’s temporal and spiritual authority.

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We wrap up our review of the Enlightenment effect on the Church in Europe by looking at Scandinavia, The Dutch United Provinces, Geneva, and Italy. This 140th episode is titled Up North, Then South. This will be the last episode where we take a look at...
This 140th episode is titled Up North, Then South.
This will be the last episode where we take a look at Christianity in Europe following the Enlightenment. This narrative is nowhere near exhaustive. It’s more an exhaustING summary of Scandinavia, The Dutch United Provinces, Austria, and Italy. We’ve already looked at Germany, France, and Spain.
The end of the 17th C proved to be a brutal time in Scandinavia. Some 60% of the population died from 1695-7 due to warfare & the disease & famine so often associated with its aftermath. As if they hadn’t had enough misery, the Great Northern War of 1700–1721 followed. In the desperation of the times, Lutheran provide devotionals offering hope & comfort, while at the same time calling on their people to pray & repent.
As in northern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, & Finland were Lutheran strongholds. Citizens were required to swear loyalty to the Lutheran state church which was in league with the king who practice absolutism.
But during the Great Northern War, the Swedish King Charles XII suffered a massive defeat at by the Russian armies of Peter the Great. Sweden lost large tracts of land and the throne lost clout with the Swedish people. A so-called “Age of Liberty” followed that lasted for the most of the rest of the 18th C. The Swedish Parliament gained power & reformers attempted to give a utilitarian and rationalist slant to Swedish education. These Enlightenment reformers battled with the clergy, who wanted to retain a theological component in the education of Sweden’s young.
Many of the returning captured Swedish soldiers who’d been imprisoned in Russia from 1722-4, had been converted to Pietism by the missionaries sent by Francke from the University at Halle we talked about last time. The now Pietist soldiers became advocates of it in Sweden. Moravians also promoted revivals in Scandinavia.
After a grab for power in 1772, Gustavus III nullified the Swedish Constitution that restrained the reach of royal power. He imposed a new Constitution designed to reinforce Lutheranism as the basis of government. He said, “Unanimity in religion, and the true divine worship, is the surest basis of a lawful, concordant, and stable government.” But in 1781 limited toleration came to Sweden when other Protestant groups were allowed. Catholicism remained outlawed.
From 1609, when the Dutch won their liberty from Spain, until Louis XIVth’s invasion in 1672, the Dutch United Provinces had its “Golden Age” and enjoyed what Simon Schama called an “embarrassment of riches.” This was due mostly to their lucrative international trade & free market economy. The Dutch eschewed the traditional monarchy that dominated Europe in favor of a far more egalitarian Parliamentary system.
Amsterdam was a thriving commercial & cultural center. Its population more than doubled from 1600 to 1800. Amsterdam’s docks were always packed. Its warehouses stuffed with goods from all over the world & the fare of the massive and powerful Dutch East India Company. From its earliest days, this trading enterprise supported Reformed missionary work at posts in the Malay Archipelago, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. In July 1625, Dutch traders established New Amsterdam, later known as New York City.
The United Provinces were intellectual & religious crossroads for Europe through its universities, publishing houses, and churches. Protestant students from Germany, Finland, and France flocked there to study at the University of Leiden and other schools.
The main task of the faculty at the University of Leiden was the study of Scriptures. Its Leiden’s professors was Joseph Scaliger whose knowledge of the classics and biblical textual criticism made him one of the premier scho...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 17:45
139-Pressed http://www.sanctorum.us/139-pressed/ Sun, 12 Jun 2016 09:01:45 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1283 http://www.sanctorum.us/139-pressed/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/139-pressed/feed/ 2 In this episode we finish off our look at the French Church of the 17th to 18th Centuries, then consider the impact of the German Enlightenment on the church in Germany. This 139th episode is title “Pressed.” In our last episode, we took a look the French church of the 17th C and considered the […] In this episode we finish off our look at the French Church of the 17th to 18th Centuries, then consider the impact of the German Enlightenment on the church in Germany.


This 139th episode is title “Pressed.”

In our last episode, we took a look the French church of the 17th C and considered the contest between the Catholic Jansenists & Jesuits.

It’s interesting realizing the Jansenists began as a theological movement that looks quite similar to Calvinism. Their theology eventually spilled over into the political realm and undercut the Divine Right of Kings, a European political system that had held sway in Europe for centuries, & reached its apex in France under Louis XIV.

In this episode we’ll take a look at what happened to the French Protestants, known as the Huguenots.

By the mid 16th C, Huguenots were 10% of the French population. They hoped all France would one day adopt the Reformed Faith. But their hopes were shattered by defeat in 9 separate political & religious wars.

You may remember from an earlier episode that the Henry IV, a Catholic convert from Protestantism, his conversion being a purely pragmatic and political maneuver, granted the Huguenots limited rights in the Edict of Nantes in 1598. 30 years later, those rights were revoked by the Peace of Alais. Then the fortified Protestant city of La Rochelle surrendered in 1628, ending any hope of France’s conversion to Protestantism.

For 24 years, Louis XIV waged a devastating anti-Protestant campaign. Nearly 700 Reformed churches were closed or torn down. And in 1685, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes altogether in the Edict of Fontainebleau.

He ordered uniformed troops known as dragoons to move in to the Huguenot homes in Protestant centers. These troops were allowed by the king’s decree to use whatever means they wanted, short of murder & rape, to intimidate Huguenots into converting to Catholicism.

Some 200,000 Huguenots fled France. They took refuge in places like Geneva, Prussia, England, & North America. Those refugees were often people of great learning and skill who enriched the intellectual and economic life of their adopted countries.

But thousands of Huguenots stayed in France. Many made a show-conversion to Catholicism. While maintaining a scret embrace of Protestantism. They formed an underground church known as the “Church of the Desert.”  From 1684 to 98, 20 Huguenot pastors were hunted & kill.

Louis XIV feared the Huguenots because he equated them to the Puritan rebels who’d executed Charles I in England in 1649. Louis was also in competition with Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, for hegemony in Europe. Allowing a large and politically powerful Protestant base in his own country did NOT commend Louis as a strong Catholic leader. Louis was already facing strong criticism for not sending troops to defend Vienna from invading Turks. Leopold had! It had been Louis’s plan to attack the Turks AFTER they’d taken Vienna! His plan fell apart when the Europeans managed to defeat the enemy before Vienna’s walls.

Louis’ suspicion of the Huguenots seemed justified by the Camisard War of 1702 to 4. They called for “freedom of conscience” and “no taxes.” Protestant prophets predicted a liberation of Protestants from their oppressors. But the prophets were proven wrong when Louis’ troops put down the revolt.

In 1726, an underground seminary for young French men was established in Lausanne, Switzerland. It received financial support from Protestants in Switzerland, England, and the Netherlands. Studies lasted from 6 months to 3 years in Lausanne. After that, graduates returned to minister to outlawed churches in France. If captured, they were executed.

During the 7 Years War, known in the US as the French & Indian War, French Protestants became the beneficiaries of an unofficial toleration. While no friend to Christianity, Voltaire assisted Huguenots by writing a book defending toleration. Finally, in the Edict of Toleration of 1787, Louis XVI gave Huguenots the right to worship.

But in the 3 years BEFORE that, 7000 Huguenots were executed, another 2000 forced to serve in the French Navy, which was a kind of living death, if you now anything about the life of a lowly sailor at that time.

Sadly, after 1760, several Reformed pastors were influenced by the thought of the Voltaire. They began to move toward theological liberalism.

From the late 17th to late 18th C, what we know as Germany today was a patchwork quilt of over 300 mostly autonomous principalities, kingdoms, electorates, duchies, bishoprics, & other political enclaves. Rarely used, the term “Germany” meant a nebulous region that included many of these regions, much like the term “Europe” refers to the content that holds many nations. And Germany was just one part of a larger entity known as the Holy Roman Empire. That realm included 1,800 territories. Places like Poland, the Hapsburg Empire, Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Transylvania, & Italy.

A Council of Electors, ranging from 7 to 9, chose the Holy Roman Emperor.

The Emperor’s ability to raise armies, collect taxes, and make laws was often hampered by the many groups in the empire that enjoyed a measure of their own sovereignty. The fiction that was the Holy Roman Empire ended under Napoleon.

In the 1740s, Frederick the Great, King of Brandenburg-Prussia from the Hohenzollern family & Calvinists since 1613, challenged the Hapsburg power. At the outset of the War of the Austrian Succession, Frederick’s troops seized Silesia. The Prussians became THE new military power in Europe.

In Germany the leading kingdoms were Brandenburg-Prussia, Saxony, the Rhineland Palatinate, Hanover, and Bavaria. Following the principle established by the Peace of Westphalia, the religion of these kingdoms was that of their prince.

While Bavaria was staunchly Catholic, Brandenburg-Prussia were Calvinists with strong pietistic leanings. During the first half of the 18th C, the population remained Lutheran, with a smattering of Pietists. The future king of England, George I, came from the electorate of Hanover è Lutherans. A unified “Germany” as a nation would not emerge until the days of the “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck in the 2nd half of the 19th C.

The emergence of Prussia as a great military power in the 18th C impressed their European neighbors. The kingdom’s army of some 83,000 ranked 4th in size among the European powers, though its landmass was 10th in area & only 13th in population. Its rulers promoted a disciplined lifestyle like that of the Pietists as a model for Prussian bureaucrats, military, & the nobles (called Junkers). The highly militaristic Frederick III ruled Brandenburg from 1688 to 1713. Being reformed in his theology, he encouraged French Huguenots who’d fled France to settle in his kingdom. In 1694 he founded the University of Halle as a Lutheran university. He welcomed Pietists like Jakob Spener and Hermann Francke. In 1698, Francke began teaching theology there. Frederick III also made the University of Konigsberg another Pietist center.

In his work Pious Desires, published in 1675, Spener, who you’ll remember was a the premier founder of Pietisim, centered his call for reform of the Church in the faithful teaching & application of Scripture. He called for daily private Bible reading & meditation and the reading of Scripture in small groups.

Spener urged that pastoral training schools should not be places for theological wrangling, but as “workshops of the Holy Spirit.” Nor should seminary professors seek glory by authoring lofty tomes filled with showy erudition. They ought instead to be examples of humble service. Spener emphasized the priesthood of ALL believers. Ministers should seek help from laypersons to ease their own pastoral burdens.

At the University of Halle, Hermann Francke insisted that those training for pastoral ministry ought to study Scripture it in Hebrew & Greek. Francke wrote: “The exegetical reading of Holy Scripture is that which concerns finding and explaining the literal sense intended by the Holy Spirit himself.”

In 1702 Francke founded the Collegium Orientale Theologicum. Advanced students could learn Aramaic, Arabic, Ethiopian, Chaldean, Syriac and Rabbinic Hebrew.

Francke established an orphanage in Halle in 1695. He created schools and businesses including a printing house where orphans could learn a trade. By 1700, Francke’s various institutions gained the support of Emperor Frederick III, who valued their contribution in fostering Christian discipline among his students, the Prussian populace, and his soldiers. Francke wanted to make Halle a center for Christian reform and world missions. In anticipation of what George Mueller would later give testimony to, Franke wrote of examples of how he prayed for specific needs and provision came to feed the poor and keep the schools open, sometimes arriving at the last moment. He wrote: “These instances I was willing here to set down so that I might give the reader some idea both of the pressing trials and happy deliverances we have met with; though I am sufficiently convinced that narratives of this kind will seem over-simple and fanciful to the great minds of our age.”

On one occasion, Frederick IV, King of Denmark, gave a direct order to his chaplain: “Find me missionaries.” That chaplain asked Francke for help. Francke proposed 2 students from the University of Halle. The Danish-Halle Mission was launched. On Nov. 29, 1705, Bartholomew Ziegenbalg and Heinrich Plütschau set sail for India. 8 Months later they arrived. They were dismayed to discover the horrid immorality of the Europeans there. Claiming to be Christians, the Indians assumed all believers in Christ were immoral. There was a great resistance to the Gospel at first, but the missionaries faithfulness eventually softened the hearts of the Hindus. Ziegenbalg translated the Bible into Tamil & set up both a school and a missionary college before he died at the age 36.

Christian Schwartz also served with as a missionary in India. Johann Steinmetz ministered in Teschen, Silesia, Moravia, and Bohemia. Others took the gospel to the Russia during the rieng of Peter the Great. Halle missionaries met the physical and spiritual needs of captured Swedish troops who, when they returned to Sweden, spread Pietism in their homeland. 60 students went forth from the University of Halle as missionaries.

The press of the Bible Institute in Halle produced more than 80,000 copies of the Bible and 100,000 copies of the New Testaments.

In 1713, the Pietitst Frederick William I became king. He not only built up the military, he funded the production of thousands of Bibles so that all his subjects could read it for themselves. He made Francke rector of the University of Halle. When he died in 1727, some 2000 students attended the school in Halle. His orphanage served as a model for George Whitefield’s in Savannah, Georgia.

In 1729 Frederick William I mandated that all students who hoped to teach theology in Prussia should attend the University of Halle for 2 years, which meant Pietists exerted a measure of control over the clergy there.

We need to do a bit of summarizing now so we can avoid that thing we’ve talked about before on CS – the reporting of history as a bunch of dates & names. I’ll do so by simply saying the Enlightenment that swept France & England, also impacted Germany. The original faculty of the University at Halle would have been shocked to see the way later professors turned away from what they considered orthodoxy.

We’ll jump ahead to the later 18th C and the work of Johann Semler, considered the Founder of German Higher Criticism.

Semler began teaching at Halle in 1751. He’d been a student of professors who merged Enlightenment philosophy with the Faith. For about 20 years, from 1757 till ‘79, Semler was the most influential of the German theologians. He called for a more liberal investigation of the Bible, one not tethered to long-held orthodox assumptions about the canon of Scripture’s or its infallibility.

Semler held forth that “religion” and “theology” ought not be regarded as linked. He also set a divide between what he called the “Word of God” & “Scripture.” He maintained that not all the books or passages of the Bible were in truth God’s Word and that God’s Word wasn;t limited to the Bible.

He taught that the authors of scripture accommodated their writings to the errant ideas of their times, especially the Jews, about the world. Sifting out the authentic Word of God from the mythological, local, fallible, and non-inspired dross in Scripture, by which he meant a belief in demons, heaven, & hell, is the task of the wise Bible student. Then, once the authentic canon within the Bible was identified, real doctrines would need to be parsed.

Astonishingly, Semler claimed his ideas were faithful to the work of Martin Luther.

The reaction to Semler was mixed. Some scholars supported him because his work opened a lot of wiggle-room that allowed them to accommodate the growing popularity of Enlightenment skepticism. But his critics pounced, accusing him of abandoning the infallibility of the Bible.

When Frederick the Great died in 1786, his nephew Frederick William II became King of Prussia. He attempted to rein in the growing volume of literature now exposing the German populace to heterodoxy; that is, ideas outside the pale of orthodoxy, by passing an edict calling for censorship of any work about God & morality. Any such work was to be submitted to a government commission of censors for approval.  Several Lutheran pastors resigned in protest, and the main publisher of such works, moved his operations out of Berlin. The government feared radical expressions of the German Enlightenment would subvert the faith of the people and their loyalty to the State.

In March 1758, Johann Hamann, was converted to Christ & became a brilliant counter to the Enlightenment. He pointed out the errors in Kant’s philosophy & said the light of the so-called “Enlightenment” was a cold thing, more like the moon, compared to that which comes from the Sun of Christian revelation in Scripture and nature.

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In this episode we finish off our look at the French Church of the 17th to 18th Centuries, then consider the impact of the German Enlightenment on the church in Germany. This 139th episode is title “Pressed.” In our last episode,
This 139th episode is title “Pressed.”
In our last episode, we took a look the French church of the 17th C and considered the contest between the Catholic Jansenists & Jesuits.
It’s interesting realizing the Jansenists began as a theological movement that looks quite similar to Calvinism. Their theology eventually spilled over into the political realm and undercut the Divine Right of Kings, a European political system that had held sway in Europe for centuries, & reached its apex in France under Louis XIV.
In this episode we’ll take a look at what happened to the French Protestants, known as the Huguenots.
By the mid 16th C, Huguenots were 10% of the French population. They hoped all France would one day adopt the Reformed Faith. But their hopes were shattered by defeat in 9 separate political & religious wars.
You may remember from an earlier episode that the Henry IV, a Catholic convert from Protestantism, his conversion being a purely pragmatic and political maneuver, granted the Huguenots limited rights in the Edict of Nantes in 1598. 30 years later, those rights were revoked by the Peace of Alais. Then the fortified Protestant city of La Rochelle surrendered in 1628, ending any hope of France’s conversion to Protestantism.
For 24 years, Louis XIV waged a devastating anti-Protestant campaign. Nearly 700 Reformed churches were closed or torn down. And in 1685, Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes altogether in the Edict of Fontainebleau.
He ordered uniformed troops known as dragoons to move in to the Huguenot homes in Protestant centers. These troops were allowed by the king’s decree to use whatever means they wanted, short of murder & rape, to intimidate Huguenots into converting to Catholicism.
Some 200,000 Huguenots fled France. They took refuge in places like Geneva, Prussia, England, & North America. Those refugees were often people of great learning and skill who enriched the intellectual and economic life of their adopted countries.
But thousands of Huguenots stayed in France. Many made a show-conversion to Catholicism. While maintaining a scret embrace of Protestantism. They formed an underground church known as the “Church of the Desert.”  From 1684 to 98, 20 Huguenot pastors were hunted & kill.
Louis XIV feared the Huguenots because he equated them to the Puritan rebels who’d executed Charles I in England in 1649. Louis was also in competition with Leopold I, the Holy Roman Emperor, for hegemony in Europe. Allowing a large and politically powerful Protestant base in his own country did NOT commend Louis as a strong Catholic leader. Louis was already facing strong criticism for not sending troops to defend Vienna from invading Turks. Leopold had! It had been Louis’s plan to attack the Turks AFTER they’d taken Vienna! His plan fell apart when the Europeans managed to defeat the enemy before Vienna’s walls.
Louis’ suspicion of the Huguenots seemed justified by the Camisard War of 1702 to 4. They called for “freedom of conscience” and “no taxes.” Protestant prophets predicted a liberation of Protestants from their oppressors. But the prophets were proven wrong when Louis’ troops put down the revolt.
In 1726, an underground seminary for young French men was established in Lausanne, Switzerland. It received financial support from Protestants in Switzerland, England, and the Netherlands. Studies lasted from 6 months to 3 years in Lausanne. After that, graduates returned to minister to outlawed churches in France. If captured, they were executed.
During the 7 Years War, known in the US as the French & Indian War, French Protestants became the beneficiaries of an unofficial toleration. While no friend to Christianity,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 20:13
138-Backing Up http://www.sanctorum.us/138-backing-up/ Sun, 05 Jun 2016 09:01:16 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1277 http://www.sanctorum.us/138-backing-up/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/138-backing-up/feed/ 0 We back up a bit in this episode to take a look at what happened in France in the 17th Century with the demise of the Divine Right of Kings. The Title of this 138th Episode is Backing Up. And its titled that because once again we’re backtracking a bit to hop into the story […] We back up a bit in this episode to take a look at what happened in France in the 17th Century with the demise of the Divine Right of Kings.


The Title of this 138th Episode is Backing Up.

And its titled that because once again we’re backtracking a bit to hop into the story of Church History earlier than where our last few episodes have taken us. We’re focusing this episode on what happened in France during the late 17th & into the 18th C.

This period saw a massive struggle between the French monarchy & 2 groups; Catholic  Jansenists & Protestant Huguenots. At stake was the throne’s claim that it alone had the power to determine the religion of the French people.

France was the most populous and wealthy country of Europe. It was also the most feared,  admired, and imitated. By the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the population was a notable 28 million.

From the late 17th C to the Revolution, the Court at Versailles, main residence of the Bourbon kings, was the center of French political life. But a mix of disparate factors led to a growing disillusionment with the Crown. Philosophes engaged each other in Parisian salons in political discussions that implemented dangerous new ideas; dangerous to the Crown anyway. And once the King found out about these discussions, they became dangerous to those who engaged in them. The power of the French courts grew. Masonic lodges popped up all over, advocating more subversive ideas. Illegal books and broadsides were printed by a clandestine press. All these challenged Versailles’s political dominance in the 2nd half of the 18th C. A powerful “court of public opinion” emerged to dare the status quo into change.

France’s monarchs wanted to protect their inheritance rights while expanding the kingdom’s economic and political power over more of Europe and overseas. Continental Wars often spilled over into the colonies. Louis XIV occasionally referred to “French Europe” and France’s on-going conflict with Spain. But after his passing, France often teamed with Spain in opposition to England & other European powers.

After the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in 1778 during the War for Independence, Louis XVI, to spite the English, supported the Americans in their quest to gain independence from the British. But this French aid took an ironic turn. Louis abetted revolutionaries who aimed to throw off a monarchy in favor of a democratic republic, while at the same time adding to France’s already massive debt.

In Late Spring of 1789, Louis was forced to call a meeting of the Estates-General to deal with the now intense fiscal crisis. After some angry debates, delegates of the French people declared they represented the “nation” and invited members of the clergy and nobility to join them. Eventually, many did. On June 17, the Assemblée Nationale formed & claimed it, rather than the King, represented the nation.

This was a severe blow to a principle that had found varying degrees of expression in Europe for hundreds of years; that is, the Divine Right of Kings.

In his work Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture, Jacques Bossuet [boo-sway], advisor to Louis XIV, sought to justify the divine right of kings by citing Scripture. He wrote, “God is the King of kings: it is for Him to instruct them and to rule them as his ministers. Listen then, Monseigneur, to the lessons which he gives them in His Scripture, and learn from the examples on which they must base their conduct.” He said, “Rulers act as the ministers of God and as his lieutenants on earth. It is through them that God exercises his empire.” Bossuet argued the king’s power was absolute.  But the king wasn’t to act like a despot issuing arbitrary & selfish decrees. He was in covenant with his subjects & was called to care for them the way a father cares for his children.

According to divine right theory, the king was a sacred position, manned by a sacred person who occupied the center of the religious sphere. Without him chaos would descend. His lineage stretched back to Adam thru a mythical figure named Pharamond, Clovis, Pepin, and Charlemagne. From the Middle Ages on, writings knowns as the Mirrors of Princes called on the French monarch to be pious, just, & good; while avoiding wanton luxury, cruelty, & moral weakness.

At the king’s coronation, the archbishop of Reims anointed him with sacred oil and blessed his gloves, scepter, and ring. The king swore an oath to uphold the Catholic faith. If his subjects rebelled against him, since he was a God-ordained sacred person in a sacred office, they deserved death. In 1757 Robert Damiens attempted to assassinate Louis XV. He was pulled apart before a cheering crowd of thousands. A subversive word against His Majesty earned the author time in the king’s grotesque prison.

Louis XIV became king at age five but due to his age, wasn;t allowed to rule till he was 22. As he waited for the throne, France was torn apart by civil war in which his agents were barely able to eke out a victory. Traumatized by what he saw during this time, Louis determined to short-circuit future revolts by establishing of an absolute monarchy. He learned well how to rule under the watchful eye of the shrewd politician Cardinal Mazarin. He came to control of France by a sophisticated system of rewards & honors that kept everyone beholden to his favor. He understood the threat of various religious factions all vying for control and set a Gallican or French form of Catholicism for the French, regardless of what they might profess to believe.

Since 1516, the year before Luther published his 95 Theses, French kings selected bishops for the French church. They filled the positions with nobles loyal to them. When Pope Innocent XI rejected Louis XIV’s naming of bishops and his appropriation of funds from vacant bishoprics, the king, with approval of the Clergy, encouraged Bossuet to draw up a Declaration of Gallican Liberties of 1682, stipulating that kings “were not subject to any ecclesiastical power in temporal affairs.”

The result was that French bishops had sweeping authority to rule both in temporal and spiritual matters. Besides ordinations and baptisms they mandated that religious books could be published only with their permission. They regularly called on censors in the National Librairie to condemn what they called “wicked books.” The bishops’ personal  privileges were extreme. They ruled over a church that owned 10% of the land. In exchange for immunities from taxation, they gave a [uh-humm] “gift” to the king.

In 1690 Pope Alexander VIII condemned the Declaration of Gallican Liberties. In 1693 Louis XIV rescinded the declaration. Then 2 years later gave his bishops authority over priests. The French throne & church both exhibit a willingness to defy the papacy in temporal and spiritual matters. There was only one realm in which The Gallican Church & Vatican united; in the contest between the Jansenists & Jesuits.

As we saw in a previous episode, Jansenists were followers of Cornelius Jansen, a professor of theology at the University of Louvain & for a time, the bishop of Ypres. Jansen proposed an interpretation of Augustine’s theology in his posthumous work Augustinus that extolled God’s sovereignty & denied any role humans have in salvation thru free will. Jansen said the elect are saved by God’s grace alone. As their lives are transformed, the elect do the will of God by performing acts of love for God and others. In seeking assurance of salvation, the elect overcome temptation by following an austere lifestyle of rigorous penance & frequent celebration of the Mass. Yep; They were Catholic Calvinists; an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Jansenists argued forcefully for the inviolability of the individual conscience of the believer; even to the point of refusing to accept a church teaching they deemed errant.

Jansenists were especially critical of Jesuits, whom they believed had succumbed to the teachings of Molinism, a theology based on the work of Luis Molina who advocated man’s free will. Molina was a Spanish Jesuit who’d argued God provides sufficient grace to move someone to repentance, but did not force it. Molina said God elects according to His foreknowledge of our choices.

Jansenists also rejected the Jesuits’ defense of a papal monarchy. Like the Gallicans, they held a conciliarist position: that the authority of the church was vested in all the members of the body of Christ, including themselves as a Catholic minority.

The Jansenists criticized the Jesuits for their rule-based ethics, their love of classical pagan culture, and their worldliness. In the Provincial Letters, the Jansenist Blaise Pascal parodied the Jesuits to the delight of most Parisians. But Louis XIV wasn’t amused and ordered the book burned.

The Jesuits fired back; accusing Jansenists of being anti-monarchial Protestants.

To clear themselves of the charge of being Protestants, leading Jansenists of the mid-17th C, became major combatants in the Eucharistic Controversy of the 1660s & 70’s. This was the debate that raged in the Reformed churches over how to understand the elements in Communion. Just as the Controversy had run in the 9th C in the Catholic Church, now it ran in the Reformation churches of Europe in the 17th. Jansenists believed in the classic Catholic position of Transubstantiation, which all reformed churches had rejected to one degree or another. The Jansenists knew by adhering to it, they could set themselves over against the label Protestant being tossed at them by the Jesuits.

Despite their best anti-Protestant efforts, the Jansenists failed to win Louis XIV’s favor. In 1678 they were forced to leave France.

On September 1, 1715, Louis XIV died, leaving the French church deeply divided. Though the Jansenists had been officially exiled, many of the French were secret, and some, not so secret Jansenists. Numerous appeals where made to Rome by high ranking clergy for a repeal of anti-Jansenist rulings.

Then, a series of reported healings took place at Jansenist leaders graveside. This seemed to mark God’s favor on the movement.  Throngs of Parisians flocked to the cemetery. In 1732 the government closed it to curb its propaganda value. Either the police or a jokester posted a sign on the cemetery’s entrance: “By order of the king: God is prohibited to do miracles in this place.”

The Jansenists may have lost the support of the religious and political hierarchy, but their popularity soared with the lower classes.  Priests were regarded as successors to Christ’s disciples. This undercut the authority of bishops. Then the law courts reasoned if priests had as much authority as bishops, THEY had as much authority as bureaucrats & nobles.  As adjudicators of the Law, they collectively even had as much authority, maybe MORE, than the king.

So, although originally a theological movement, Jansenism took on political dimensions; as all theology eventually does. Jansenists effectively used the printed page to keep a large public current regarding their struggles flowing throughout France & Europe.

Rumors swirled through Paris in December 1756 and into January of armed revolt Three-fourths of Paris backed the Jansenists. One rumor said the Jesuits would soon be slaughtered.

On the bitterly cold afternoon of Jan 5, 1757, Robert-François Damiens broke through the king’s guards and drove a knife into the side of Louis XV. He was immediately arrested. The wound proved to be superficial. His thick coat and the assassin’s use of a small knife saved his life. But Parisians were shocked & profoundly saddened. They feared another St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was upon them.

Despite torture, Damiens remained resolute in denying the existence of coconspirators. After a trial in which judges assumed his guilt, Damiens’s body was literally pulled apart at a public execution witnessed by a large & loud crowd.

Louis XV was badly shaken by the attempt on his life and the rumor his own cousin was behind it.  In September, he lost the will to enforce anti-Jansenist & Protestant restrictions.

In Nov. 1764, Jansenists scored a victory against the 3,300 Jesuits in France when the court ordered them to vacate the kingdom & its colonies, & Louis XV reluctantly agreed. The Jesuits had stumbled rather badly in some mission ventures in China and South America which badly tarnished their rep and raised public outcry against them.

Three years later, Charles III of Spain, the King of Naples and Duke of Parma, expelled the Jesuits from their lands. Eventually, in 1773, the papacy dissolved the order with its 26,000 members worldwide and its nearly 1,000 colleges and seminaries. It wasn’t till 1814 the Society of Jesus was reestablished.

Despite complaints Protestants brazenly touted their new toleration under Louis XV, the French Church affirmed Catholicism as the only legitimate religion in France. In 1765 the Assembly of Clergy declared, “There is, Sire, in your Kingdom, only one master, one single monarch whom we obey: there is only one single cult and one single faith.” They called on the king to uphold anti-Protestant legislation. Louis XV said he would, but as we stated before, he didn’t have the will to enforce it.

In 1774, Louis XV died of smallpox. Louis XVI was crowned king in the cathedral of Reims. During a magnificent coronation service, he affirmed his desire to uphold the Catholic religion and to reinvigorate the sacred character of his union with the people of France. In 1776 a resurgence of Roman Catholic devotion took place in Paris. But in 1787 Louis XVI yielded to a well-orchestrated campaign by Jansenists and the Protestant Pastor Rabaut Saint-Etienne. He issued the Edict of Toleration for Protestants.

Let’s wrap up this episode by noting that as the religious landscape opened up in France, so too did the political. New ideologies & political theories were popping out of the Enlightenment like fleas off a mongrel. John-Jacques Rousseau was popular, and his ideas began to infiltrate the minds of the French public. If the individual was free to think for him & herself, and worship according to one’s own conscience, why not extend that idea to the lesser realm of human governments? If bishops aren’t supreme, the Bishop of the bishops, that is The Pope isn’t either. And if the Pope isn’t supreme, neither is the king. The Divine right of kings was an ideology that was on the way out.

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We back up a bit in this episode to take a look at what happened in France in the 17th Century with the demise of the Divine Right of Kings. The Title of this 138th Episode is Backing Up. And its titled that because once again we’re backtracking a bit ...
The Title of this 138th Episode is Backing Up.
And its titled that because once again we’re backtracking a bit to hop into the story of Church History earlier than where our last few episodes have taken us. We’re focusing this episode on what happened in France during the late 17th & into the 18th C.
This period saw a massive struggle between the French monarchy & 2 groups; Catholic  Jansenists & Protestant Huguenots. At stake was the throne’s claim that it alone had the power to determine the religion of the French people.
France was the most populous and wealthy country of Europe. It was also the most feared,  admired, and imitated. By the time of the French Revolution in 1789, the population was a notable 28 million.
From the late 17th C to the Revolution, the Court at Versailles, main residence of the Bourbon kings, was the center of French political life. But a mix of disparate factors led to a growing disillusionment with the Crown. Philosophes engaged each other in Parisian salons in political discussions that implemented dangerous new ideas; dangerous to the Crown anyway. And once the King found out about these discussions, they became dangerous to those who engaged in them. The power of the French courts grew. Masonic lodges popped up all over, advocating more subversive ideas. Illegal books and broadsides were printed by a clandestine press. All these challenged Versailles’s political dominance in the 2nd half of the 18th C. A powerful “court of public opinion” emerged to dare the status quo into change.
France’s monarchs wanted to protect their inheritance rights while expanding the kingdom’s economic and political power over more of Europe and overseas. Continental Wars often spilled over into the colonies. Louis XIV occasionally referred to “French Europe” and France’s on-going conflict with Spain. But after his passing, France often teamed with Spain in opposition to England & other European powers.
After the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in 1778 during the War for Independence, Louis XVI, to spite the English, supported the Americans in their quest to gain independence from the British. But this French aid took an ironic turn. Louis abetted revolutionaries who aimed to throw off a monarchy in favor of a democratic republic, while at the same time adding to France’s already massive debt.
In Late Spring of 1789, Louis was forced to call a meeting of the Estates-General to deal with the now intense fiscal crisis. After some angry debates, delegates of the French people declared they represented the “nation” and invited members of the clergy and nobility to join them. Eventually, many did. On June 17, the Assemblée Nationale formed & claimed it, rather than the King, represented the nation.
This was a severe blow to a principle that had found varying degrees of expression in Europe for hundreds of years; that is, the Divine Right of Kings.
In his work Politics Drawn from the Very Words of Holy Scripture, Jacques Bossuet [boo-sway], advisor to Louis XIV, sought to justify the divine right of kings by citing Scripture. He wrote, “God is the King of kings: it is for Him to instruct them and to rule them as his ministers. Listen then, Monseigneur, to the lessons which he gives them in His Scripture, and learn from the examples on which they must base their conduct.” He said, “Rulers act as the ministers of God and as his lieutenants on earth. It is through them that God exercises his empire.” Bossuet argued the king’s power was absolute.  But the king wasn’t to act like a despot issuing arbitrary & selfish decrees. He was in covenant with his subjects & was called to care for them the way a father cares for his children.
According to divine right theory,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 19:40
137-Then Away http://www.sanctorum.us/137-then-away/ Sun, 22 May 2016 09:01:49 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1270 http://www.sanctorum.us/137-then-away/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/137-then-away/feed/ 0 We look at Theological Liberalism and the Social Gospel, as well as a brief glance at the reaction to it of Fundamentalism. In this 137th episode of CS, titled “Then Away,” we give a brief account of the rise of Theological Liberalism. In the previous episodes we charted the revivals that marked the 18th & […] We look at Theological Liberalism and the Social Gospel, as well as a brief glance at the reaction to it of Fundamentalism.


In this 137th episode of CS, titled “Then Away,” we give a brief account of the rise of Theological Liberalism.

In the previous episodes we charted the revivals that marked the 18th & 19th Cs. Social transformation is a mark of such revivals. But not all those engaged in the betterment of society were motivated by a passion to serve God by serving their fellow man. At the same time that revival swept though many churches, others stood aloof and held back from being carried away into what they deemed as religious fanaticism.

As Enlightenment ideas moved into and through the religious community, several theologians moved to accommodate what had become the darling ideas of the academic community, to the Gospel. Instead of becoming outright agnostics, they morphed rationalism to Christian Theology and arrived at an amalgam we’ll call Theological Liberalism.

Not to be outdone by the Revivalists who were transforming culture through the power of a transformed life & the conviction they were to be salt & light in a dark and decaying world, Liberalism developed what came to be called The Social Gospel; a defining of the faith that emphasized doing as much, if not more than, believing.

The name most associated with the Social Gospel is Walter Rauschenbusch. He began pastoring a Baptist church in New York in 1886. It was there that he came face to face with the desperate condition of the poor.  He joined the faculty of Colgate-Rochester Theological Seminary, where over the course of 10 years he wrote 3 books that were hugely influential in promoting the Social Gospel.

“Hold on, Lance” someone might say at this point, “You’ve used that phrase a few times now. Just what is ‘The Social Gospel’?”

I’m glad you asked. >> The Social Gospel was a movement among Protestant denominations in the early 20th C, mainly in the United States & Canada, but also had a limited flurry in Europe. It addressed social problems with Christians ethics. It’s main targets were issues of social justice like poverty, addiction, crime, racism, pollution, child labor, and war. Advocates of the Social Gospel sought to implement that line in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

They were most often post-millennialists who believed the Second Coming would not occur unless humanity rid itself of injustice & vice. The leaders of the movement were largely connected to the liberal wing of the Progressive Movement.

The Social Gospel movement peaked in the early 20th C. It began to decline due to the trauma brought about by WWI, when the Ideals of the movement were so badly abused by world events. A couple of the under-pinnings of theological liberalism are the Brotherhood of Man and the innate goodness of human beings. WWI conspired to prove the lie to both those assumptions & create doubt in the minds of millions that man was good or could be a brotherhood.

Though Rauschenbusch’s early theology included a belief in original sin and the need for personal salvation, by the time he’d written  his last tome, he regarded sin as an impersonal social ill and taught that reform would arrive with the demise of capitalism, the advance of socialism, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God by human effort. His views were accepted by such prominent spokesmen as Shailer Matthews and Shirley Jackson Case, of the University of Chicago.

Rauschenbusch’s impact has to be combined to other developments in liberalism during the 19th C. Unitarianism had made deep inroads into mainline denominations under the leadership of people like William Ellery Channing and Theodore Parker. Channing’s sermon “Unitarian Christianity” in 1819, deserves credit for launching the Unitarianism movement.

Another influential figure of the 19th C was Horace Bushnell. He published “Christian Nurture” in 1847, arguing that a child ought to grow up in covenant with God, never knowing he was anything but a Christian. This was contrary to the Pietist emphasis on having a datable conversion experience. Bushnell’s ideas of growing a child up from birth in a covenant of grace had a huge impact on Christian educators for generations.

In addition to Theodore Parker’s support of Unitarianism, he introduced German biblical criticism into American Christianity. By doing so, the way was opened for Darwinian evolution and the ideas of Julius Wellhausen. Wellhausen was one of the originators of the Documentary Hypothesis, which forms the core of much of modern liberal scholarship on the Bible to this day.

These influences led to a creeping theological liberalism based on the twin postulates of the evolution of religion and a denial of the supernatural. In their place emerged the idea of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, & the establishment of God’s Kingdom as a natural outcome of evolution.

Three German scholars were also central to the development of Theological liberalism: Schleiermacher, Ritschl, and Harnack.

Friedrich Schleiermacher adapted the ideas of Existentialism to Christianity & said that the core of faith wasn’t what one believed so much as what one FELT, what we experience. Religion, he urged, involved a feeling of absolute dependence on God. For Schleiermacher, doctrine hung on experience, not the other way around. Today, a mature Christian might tell counsel a neophyte, saying something like, “Don’t; let feelings control you.” Or, “We need to evaluate our experiences by God’s Word, not the other way around.” Schleiermacher would disagree with that. Experience VALIDATES doctrine. Feels are key. A Faith that isn’t felt is no faith at all.

Albert Ritschl claimed Christ’s death had nothing to do with the payment of a penalty for sin. He said it resulted from loyalty to His calling of bringing about the Kingdom of God on Earth, and that it was by His death that He could share his experience of Sonship with all people, who would then become the vehicle and means by which the Kingdom could be constructed. The practice of a communal religion was of vital importance to Ritschl because Christ best shared Himself through the community of the Church. Ritschl’s impact on other scholars was great.

Probably the MOST affected by Ritschl’s works was Adolf Harnack. Harnack regarded the contributions of the Apostle Paul to the Gospel as a Greek intrusion on the Christian Faith. His goal was to get back to a more primitive and Jewish emphasis that centered on ethical imperatives as opposed to doctrine. As a professor in Berlin in 1901 he published his influential What Is Christianity? This focused on Jesus’ human qualities, who preached not about Himself but about the Father; the Kingdom and the Fatherhood of God; a higher righteousness; and the command to love.

The views of these 3 German scholars came ashore in America to further the liberal ideas of already underway.

If Theological Liberalism with its Social Gospel were a reaction to the Revivals of the 18th & 19th Cs, those who’d been revived were not going to sit idly by as that liberalism grew. They responded with a movement of their own.

Charles Briggs, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, was put on trial before the Presbytery of New York and suspended from ministry in 1893 for promulgating liberal ideas. Henry Smith of Lane Seminary in Cincinnati was likewise defrocked by that same year, as was AC McGiffert for holding and teaching similar views. Other denominations had heresy trials and dismissed or disciplined offenders. The most famous conflict of the 20th C concerned Harry Emerson Fosdick, who in 1925 was removed as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of New York City to became an influential spokesman for liberalism as the pastor of Riverside Church.

Roman Catholicism wasn’t immune to the impact of theological liberalism and reacted strongly against it. Alfred Loisy, founded Roman Catholic Modernism in France, but was dismissed in 1893 from his professorship at the Institut Catholique in Paris. He was then excommunicated in 1908. The English Jesuit George Tyrrell was demoted in 1899 and died out of fellowship with the church. Liberalism invaded American Roman Catholicism. To silence the threat, Pope Pius X issued the decree Lamentabili in 1907, and in 1910 he imposed an antimodernist oath on the clergy.

In contest with Liberalism, Evangelicals had a number of able scholars during the latter part of the 19th & early part of the 20th Cs. Charles Hodge defended a supernaturally inspired Bible during his long tenure as professor of biblical literature and theology at Princeton. AA. Hodge carried on his father’s work at Princeton. In 1887, BB Warfield followed the Hodges as professor of theology. Fluent in Hebrew, Greek, modern languages, theology, and biblical criticism, Warfield staunchly defended the inerrancy of Scripture and basic evangelical doctrines in a score of books and numerous pamphlets. In 1900, the scholarly Robert Dick Wilson joined the Princeton faculty, and J. Gresham Machen arrived shortly after. In 1929, when a liberal realignment occurred at Princeton, Machen and Wilson joined Oswald Allis, Cornelius Van Til, and others in founding Westminster Theological Seminary. Of course other scholars could be mentioned, but these were some of the most prestigious.

This movement came to be known as Fundamentalism; a word with a largely negative connotation today as it conjures up the idea of wild-eyed religious fanatics who advocate violence as a means of defending and promulgating their beliefs. Christian Fundamentalism was simply a theologically conservative movement that sought to preserve and articulate classic, orthodox beliefs on the Fundamentals of the Christians Faith. They were called Fundamentals because they were regarded as those doctrines that were essential to the integrity of the Gospel message; things that had to be believed in order to be saved.

Fundamentalism was fundamentally a reaction to Theological Liberalism which appeared to many concerned Evangelicals, to be taking over the colleges and seminaries. Liberalism wasn’t popular among the populace; but it was among academics and those in charge of training the clergy. It was understood by evangelical leaders that what began in the classroom would soon be preached in the pulpits and then duplicated in the pews. So they began a counter-movement called Fundamentalism.

Since Theological Liberals had already managed to co-opt the chairs of many institutions of higher learning, they managed to cast their Fundamentalist opponents as uneducated & unsophisticated no-bodies. Knuckle-dragging Theological Neanderthals who didn’t really know or understand the complexities of higher criticism and the latest in theological research. That image has for many, become part & parcel of the connotative meaning of the word Fundamentalist. And it’s grossly unfair since those early Evangelical scholars who shaped the Fundamentalist movement were some of the brightest, best educated, & most erudite people of the day.

It hurts to hear the word Fundamentalist used as a pejorative today when you know it marks the career and work of someone like BB Warfield, Charles Hodge, & J. Gresham Machen.

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We look at Theological Liberalism and the Social Gospel, as well as a brief glance at the reaction to it of Fundamentalism. In this 137th episode of CS, titled “Then Away,” we give a brief account of the rise of Theological Liberalism.
In this 137th episode of CS, titled “Then Away,” we give a brief account of the rise of Theological Liberalism.
In the previous episodes we charted the revivals that marked the 18th & 19th Cs. Social transformation is a mark of such revivals. But not all those engaged in the betterment of society were motivated by a passion to serve God by serving their fellow man. At the same time that revival swept though many churches, others stood aloof and held back from being carried away into what they deemed as religious fanaticism.
As Enlightenment ideas moved into and through the religious community, several theologians moved to accommodate what had become the darling ideas of the academic community, to the Gospel. Instead of becoming outright agnostics, they morphed rationalism to Christian Theology and arrived at an amalgam we’ll call Theological Liberalism.
Not to be outdone by the Revivalists who were transforming culture through the power of a transformed life & the conviction they were to be salt & light in a dark and decaying world, Liberalism developed what came to be called The Social Gospel; a defining of the faith that emphasized doing as much, if not more than, believing.
The name most associated with the Social Gospel is Walter Rauschenbusch. He began pastoring a Baptist church in New York in 1886. It was there that he came face to face with the desperate condition of the poor.  He joined the faculty of Colgate-Rochester Theological Seminary, where over the course of 10 years he wrote 3 books that were hugely influential in promoting the Social Gospel.
“Hold on, Lance” someone might say at this point, “You’ve used that phrase a few times now. Just what is ‘The Social Gospel’?”
I’m glad you asked. >> The Social Gospel was a movement among Protestant denominations in the early 20th C, mainly in the United States & Canada, but also had a limited flurry in Europe. It addressed social problems with Christians ethics. It’s main targets were issues of social justice like poverty, addiction, crime, racism, pollution, child labor, and war. Advocates of the Social Gospel sought to implement that line in the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
They were most often post-millennialists who believed the Second Coming would not occur unless humanity rid itself of injustice & vice. The leaders of the movement were largely connected to the liberal wing of the Progressive Movement.
The Social Gospel movement peaked in the early 20th C. It began to decline due to the trauma brought about by WWI, when the Ideals of the movement were so badly abused by world events. A couple of the under-pinnings of theological liberalism are the Brotherhood of Man and the innate goodness of human beings. WWI conspired to prove the lie to both those assumptions & create doubt in the minds of millions that man was good or could be a brotherhood.
Though Rauschenbusch’s early theology included a belief in original sin and the need for personal salvation, by the time he’d written  his last tome, he regarded sin as an impersonal social ill and taught that reform would arrive with the demise of capitalism, the advance of socialism, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God by human effort. His views were accepted by such prominent spokesmen as Shailer Matthews and Shirley Jackson Case, of the University of Chicago.
Rauschenbusch’s impact has to be combined to other developments in liberalism during the 19th C. Unitarianism had made deep inroads into mainline denominations under the leadership of people like William Ellery Channing and Theodore Parker. Channing’s sermon “Unitarian Christianity” in 1819,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:06
136-Yet Again http://www.sanctorum.us/136-yet-again/ Sun, 15 May 2016 09:01:08 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1262 http://www.sanctorum.us/136-yet-again/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/136-yet-again/feed/ 0 This 136th episode of CS is titled, Yet Again. Before we dive in, I want to give a hearty thanks to all those of you who nominated CS for the 2016 Podcast Awards. As I record this, I’m not sure where we came in, in the nomination process & whether or not we’ll be included […] This 136th episode of CS is titled, Yet Again.

Before we dive in, I want to give a hearty thanks to all those of you who nominated CS for the 2016 Podcast Awards. As I record this, I’m not sure where we came in, in the nomination process & whether or not we’ll be included in the general voting this year. They’ve changed the rules a bit this year & I’m not certain how things will sort out. If CS makes the final cut, I’ll let you know here on the podcast, the sanctorum.us site and the FB page.

The 2nd piece of business is that we now have air costs for the Reformation Tour next year. The dates are March 6-19, 2017. The Land only portion for those who want to meet us at the start in Prague is $____________. If you want to start the journey with us in Los Angeles, CA, the total cost including airfare is $_______________. Please visit the sanctorum.us site or the CS FB page for contact information. It’s crucial if you intend to go that you sign up right away. We need to meet a minimum of 20.

In the last episode we considered the Second Great Awakening and ended with this . . .

Fast-forward 50 years & it seemed the tide had gone out again. By the 1850’s the country was thriving, largely because of the benefits brought by the SGA. The Mid-west was being developed & the economy was booming. People were making 18% interest on their investments. But as is so often the case, economic prosperity turned into a neglect of the Spirit. The pursuit of pleasure replaced the pursuit of God. The nation was politically divided over the issue of slavery.  And it wasn’t just the States that were divided. Churches & denominations split over it.

Into this national argument that ended up tearing the country in two was added a dose of religious turmoil.

A veteran & farmer named William Miller rediscovered the doctrine of the 2nd Coming. For generations most of the Church considered Bible prophecy a closed book. Miller began teaching on the Return of Christ. But he made the mistake many have & said Christ would return in 1844. About a million people followed his views.  When it didn’t happen, they were bitterly disillusioned because they’d sold their homes, businesses, & farms. Skeptics piled on the fanaticism of the Millerites & fired up a new round of mocking faith.  Then, in 1857, things began to change.

Revival began as a movement of prayer. It was leaderless, though it produced several notable leaders.

In Sept. 1857, a businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier printed up a leaflet on the importance of prayer. It announced there would be a weekly prayer meeting at Noon, in the upper room of the North Dutch Reformed Church in Manhattan. When time for the 1st meeting came, only Lanphier was there. He prayed anyway & at 12:35, 6 more businessmen on their lunch break came up the stairs. They prayed till 1. As they broke up to return to work, they agreed they’d been so moved, they’d meet the following week at the same time & place.

The next week, their number doubled to 14. This time they sensed something special was about to happen & agreed to meet every day, Monday-Saturday in that room at Noon. A few weeks later the room overflowed & they filled the basement, then the main sanctuary. A nearby Methodist Church opened its doors for noontime prayer. When it filled, Trinity Episcopal Church opened. Then church after church filled w/people praying at noon, Monday-Saturday; mostly businessmen on their lunch-break.

Throughout the remainder of 1857 prayer meetings spread throughout the States. In Feb. 1858, NY newspaper editor Horace Greeley sent a reporter out to cover the story of the growing prayer movement. The reporter went by horse & buggy & was able to make a dozen stops during the noon hour. He estimated there were 6100 businessmen praying at those stops. Greeley was so surprised he made the story the next day’s headline. Other papers didn’t want to be outdone, so they began to report on the revival.

The publicity further fanned the flames & more began showing up. Soon every auditorium & hall in downtown NY was filled.  The theaters filled.

We might wonder what were these prayer meetings like. They were run by laymen, not professional clergy. Pastors were often present but did not conduct the meetings. They might be asked to open in pray or read a scripture, but then the meeting was turned over to 50 minutes or more of prayer.

There was a remarkable sense of unity that marked these meetings. Those who attended came from different churches but were cautious about debating doctrines. There was more a concern to focus on the things they agreed on. They were there to pray & that’s what they did.

At one prayer meeting in Michigan led by a layman, he said, “I see my pastor & the Methodist minister are here. Will one of you read a scripture & the other pray, then we’ll get started.”  They did, then the laymen said, “I’m not used to this kind of public & impromptu prayer so we’ll follow the example we’ve read about in the NY papers. We have so many here today please write your request down then pass them to the front. We’ll read them one at a time, & pray over each one.”

The first request said, “A praying wife asks the prayers of this company for the conversion of her husband who’s far from God.” (That’s certainly a common request.) But immediately a blacksmith stood up & said, “My wife prays for me. I must be that man. I need to be converted, Would you please pray for me?” A lawyer said, “ I think my wife wrote that note because I know I’m far from God.”  5 men all claimed the request was surely for them. All were converted in a few minutes.

This was common at the beginning of the revival. People were converted during the prayer meetings. They’d simply express their need for salvation then would be prayed for by the rest.

One minister stood up & said he’d stayed till 3 PM the day before answering the questions of those who wanted Christ. He announced his church would be open each evening from then on for the preaching of the Gospel. Soon, every church was holding similar meetings.

As the revival spread across the States, 10,000 were being converted each week. In Newark, NJ, of a population of 70,000; 2,785 were brought to faith in 2 mos. At Princeton University, almost half the students came to Christ & half of those entered the ministry.

The revival swept the colleges of the nation.

On Feb. 3rd, 1858 in Philadelphia, a dozen men moved their daily prayer meeting from the outskirts of the city to downtown. They met at the James Theater, the largest in Phil. A couple weeks later 60 were attending the meeting. By the end of March, 6,000 were literally crammed in.

That Summer, churches united to hold mass services. They erected big-top tents & conducted evangelistic meetings that thousands flocked to. In Ohio, 200 towns reported 12,000 converts in 2 months. In Indiana, 150 small towns saw 4,500 come to Christ.

In 2 years, of a national population of 30 million, 2 million made a profession of faith.

  1. Edwin Orr remarks that this points up the difference between Evangelism & Revival. In evangelism, the evangelist seeks the sinner. In revival, sinners come running to God.

It was during this Revival that a young shoe salesman went to the S/S Director of the Congregational Church in Chicago & said he wanted to teach a class. He was turned down because there were 16 ahead of him waiting to teach. They put him on the waiting list. He told the director, “I want to do something NOW.”

The director said, “Okay – start a class.”  He asked, “How?”

He was told to “Go get boys off the street, take them to the country & teach them how to behave, then bring them in.”

He went out to the alleys, gathered up a dozen street urchins & took them to the beach of Lake Michigan. He taught them Bible games & the Scriptures. Then brought them to the church where he was given a closet to hold his class.  That was the beginning of the ministry of DL Moody who went on to preach all over the US & England & led tens of thousands to Christ.

Today, we’re accustomed to the secular press giving a cold shoulder to the things of God. That’s not new; it’s usually that way. Even during times of revival, the world tends to stand back and wait for it to pass. They may give grudging acknowledgement of the good fruit revival brings, but they always dig up some critic who dismisses it as religious fanaticism & emotionalism.  So the Revival of 1857-8 stands out because the secular press received it w/enthusiasm. Maybe because it was a movement that began in the sophisticated urban centers of the nation & spread their first. It was called The Businessman’s Revival. These weren’t backwoods, country hicks who were “getting religion.” They were educated, literate, successful people being profoundly changed for the better. In a day when nearly everyone read the newspaper, they were familiar w/the revival because it consistently made headlines. There was near universal approval of it.

Yes, it had a few critics, but their objections were dismissed as the grousing of unreasonable skeptics & the envious. The Anglicans were at first against it, until their churches began filling w/seekers; then they approved of it as they saw its glorious effect. The same happened among the Lutherans.

The prayer meetings were marked by order. And the conversions were as frequent among the older & more mature members of a community as the younger.

It quickly spread up into Canada, then across the Atlantic to Ireland, Scotland, & England where conservative estimates say 10% of the population was brought to faith in Christ.  In London, every theater & auditorium was filled for prayer. It was during this time Charles Spurgeon built the Metropolitan Tabernacle & Hudson Taylor started the China Inland Mission.  Just a mile from where Taylor started, William Booth formed the Salvation Army.

All of these came out of the Revival of 1857-9. The revival spilled over into Europe & down into India. The Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa still celebrates the revival for the huge impact it had on them. Jamaica was covered as were numerous other cities & nations.

What I’d like to note as we end this episode is the date of this revival. It’s peak was from 1857-60. A few years later the US was torn in two by the Civil War; a bloody chapter in my nation’s history. Many of those who died in the war were saved in the Revival.

This seems to be a consistent pattern of revival; that it takes place just prior to a major war. Edwin Orr says that this has been a consistent pattern throughout our nation’s history.

The FGA occurred before the Revolutionary War. The SGA before the War of 1812. The Revival of 1857-8 before the Civil War. The Welsh Revival that so effected Great Britain, Europe & the US came right before WWI. It’s as though God pours out His Spirit to reap a harvest before evil falls & there’s a great loss of life.

]]>
This 136th episode of CS is titled, Yet Again. Before we dive in, I want to give a hearty thanks to all those of you who nominated CS for the 2016 Podcast Awards. As I record this, I’m not sure where we came in, Before we dive in, I want to give a hearty thanks to all those of you who nominated CS for the 2016 Podcast Awards. As I record this, I’m not sure where we came in, in the nomination process & whether or not we’ll be included in the general voting this year. They’ve changed the rules a bit this year & I’m not certain how things will sort out. If CS makes the final cut, I’ll let you know here on the podcast, the sanctorum.us site and the FB page.
The 2nd piece of business is that we now have air costs for the Reformation Tour next year. The dates are March 6-19, 2017. The Land only portion for those who want to meet us at the start in Prague is $____________. If you want to start the journey with us in Los Angeles, CA, the total cost including airfare is $_______________. Please visit the sanctorum.us site or the CS FB page for contact information. It’s crucial if you intend to go that you sign up right away. We need to meet a minimum of 20.
In the last episode we considered the Second Great Awakening and ended with this . . .
Fast-forward 50 years & it seemed the tide had gone out again. By the 1850’s the country was thriving, largely because of the benefits brought by the SGA. The Mid-west was being developed & the economy was booming. People were making 18% interest on their investments. But as is so often the case, economic prosperity turned into a neglect of the Spirit. The pursuit of pleasure replaced the pursuit of God. The nation was politically divided over the issue of slavery.  And it wasn’t just the States that were divided. Churches & denominations split over it.
Into this national argument that ended up tearing the country in two was added a dose of religious turmoil.
A veteran & farmer named William Miller rediscovered the doctrine of the 2nd Coming. For generations most of the Church considered Bible prophecy a closed book. Miller began teaching on the Return of Christ. But he made the mistake many have & said Christ would return in 1844. About a million people followed his views.  When it didn’t happen, they were bitterly disillusioned because they’d sold their homes, businesses, & farms. Skeptics piled on the fanaticism of the Millerites & fired up a new round of mocking faith.  Then, in 1857, things began to change.
Revival began as a movement of prayer. It was leaderless, though it produced several notable leaders.
In Sept. 1857, a businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier printed up a leaflet on the importance of prayer. It announced there would be a weekly prayer meeting at Noon, in the upper room of the North Dutch Reformed Church in Manhattan. When time for the 1st meeting came, only Lanphier was there. He prayed anyway & at 12:35, 6 more businessmen on their lunch break came up the stairs. They prayed till 1. As they broke up to return to work, they agreed they’d been so moved, they’d meet the following week at the same time & place.
The next week, their number doubled to 14. This time they sensed something special was about to happen & agreed to meet every day, Monday-Saturday in that room at Noon. A few weeks later the room overflowed & they filled the basement, then the main sanctuary. A nearby Methodist Church opened its doors for noontime prayer. When it filled, Trinity Episcopal Church opened. Then church after church filled w/people praying at noon, Monday-Saturday; mostly businessmen on their lunch-break.
Throughout the remainder of 1857 prayer meetings spread throughout the States. In Feb. 1858, NY newspaper editor Horace Greeley sent a reporter out to cover the story of the growing prayer movement. The reporter went by horse & buggy & was able to make a dozen stops during the noon hour. He estimated there were 6100 businessmen praying at those stops. Greeley was so surprised he made the story the next day’s headline.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 13:33
135-A Second Awakening http://www.sanctorum.us/135-a-second-awakening/ Sun, 08 May 2016 09:01:02 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1259 http://www.sanctorum.us/135-a-second-awakening/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/135-a-second-awakening/feed/ 2 This 135th episode of CS is titled, A Second Awakening. We ended our last episode with the dour spiritual condition of both the United States and Europe at the end of the 18th C. I mentioned Dr. J Edwin Orr a couple episodes back. He was the 20th C’s foremost expert on Revival and Spiritual […] This 135th episode of CS is titled, A Second Awakening.

We ended our last episode with the dour spiritual condition of both the United States and Europe at the end of the 18th C.

I mentioned Dr. J Edwin Orr a couple episodes back. He was the 20th C’s foremost expert on Revival and Spiritual renewal. While he could speak with eloquence on literally dozens of Revivals, one of his favorite subjects was what’s come to be known as the Second Great Awakening.

Before it began, there were many who worried if God did not intervene, Christianity might die out of Europe and the US.

Following Independence from England, many American intellectuals fell in love w/France. But France was throwing off religious faith as fast as it could. The French Revolution made a mockery of the Church & Christianity.  A well-known prostitute in Paris was crowned Goddess of Reason IN the Cathedral of Notre Dame. A majority of churches in France closed & the famous skeptic Voltaire claimed Christianity would be consigned to the dustbin of history in only 30 years. Germany, Switzerland & the Netherlands were taken over by Rationalism. England was afflicted by a sophisticated Skepticism led by the philosopher David Hume. His attacks on faith are still used on college campuses today.

French radicals contributed millions of francs to propagandize & seduce American students. In Christian colleges like Harvard, Yale, & Princeton, students welcomed the new French ideas, not because they promised justice, but because of they welcomed immorality. It was a time of great moral decline. Of a population of 5 million–300,000 were alcoholics.  They buried 15,000 of them annually.

To give you an idea of just how prolific drinking was, President Washington had to call out troops to put down an armed revolt over alcohol in what’s come to be known as the Whiskey Rebellion. There was a plague of lawlessness w/bank robberies a daily occurrence. Out of wedlock births & STD’s sky-rocketed. Public profanity soared & cheating was epidemic. The turn toward immorality was so dramatic Congress appointed a special commission to investigate what had happened & how to correct it. The Commission discovered that in Kentucky, there’d been only 1 court of law held in 5 years. They simply could not administer justice on the frontier. It became so bad, a group of vigilantes formed & fought a pitched battle w/the outlaws è & LOST!

A poll taken at Harvard found most students were atheists. At Princeton, a far more evangelical college; there were only 2 believers in the entire student body. All but 5 were members of the Filthy Speech Movement. Christians were so unpopular they had to meet in secret. Students burned down buildings & forced college presidents to resign.  A mob of students attacked a Presbyterian church, breaking windows & burning the pulpit Bible. Students often entered churches during Communion to interrupt the service by spitting on the floor.

The largest & fastest growing denomination had been Methodists. But they were now losing thousands each year. The 2nd largest were the Baptists. They described this time as their most wintry season. The Presbyterians met in Philadelphia to express their dismay at the immorality of the nation. Lutherans & Episcopalians were so far gone they held talks to consider merging.

Samuel Provost, Bishop of NY had not confirmed anyone as a new member in so long, he quit & looked for other work. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshal wrote to Bishop Madison of Virginia that the Church in the US was too far gone to ever recover. Charles Lee, a popular hero of the Revolutionary War loudly advocated pulling down all the churches claiming they were obstacles to progress.

The church historian Dr. Kenneth Scott Latourette summed it up by saying it looked as though Christianity was about to be ushered out of the affairs of man. But it wasn’t. On the contrary, a mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit was about to come.

In 1784, Pastor John Erskin of Edinburgh, Scotland published a plea for pray by all Christians in Scotland.  He sent a copy to Jonathan Edwards in America.  Edwards replied in what became a book titled A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement & Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion & the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.

Erskin published both his book & Edwards’ reply as 1 volume & sent it to Dr. John Rylands, a Baptist leader in Britain. Rylands read it, was profoundly moved & pondered what to do with it.

He gave it to 2 men of prayer who determined to spread it among church leaders. They convinced dozens of Baptist churches to set aside the 1st Mon. of each month to pray for a spiritual awakening. Other denominations found out about what the Baptists were doing & joined. Congregationalists, Evangelicals in the Churches of England & Scotland & the Methodists all held monthly prayer meetings devoted to praying for revival. Within 7 yrs Britain was covered w/a network of prayer.

Then in 1791, the first evidence of an answer to their prayers began in the churches at Yorkshire. Mockers went to the monthly prayer meetings intending to disrupt them but went home converted. Some of these meetings were quiet prayer, others noisy.

Then in the city of Leeds, the Methodist Church there saw a thousand unbelievers brought to faith in just a few months. Soon all the churches were seeing the same thing. What they saw was the renewal of believers & the conversion of the lost. And this winning of so many to Christ blew the minds of both the Baptists & Congregationalists. They didn’t believe in instantaneous conversion. They assumed it took 3 months of challenge, then another 3 months of instruction to prove someone had been converted. That an alcoholic could go to a church meeting & go away converted & changed was hard to believe à Until they saw it happening in their own services.  It revolutionized their understanding of conversion & changed it forever.

The revival strengthened Evangelicals in the Church of England like William Wilberforce who went on to lead the abolition movement in England.

The revival moved into Scotland & swept Wales. By 1796 it had covered Norway.

One of the products of real revival is the new ministries it gives rise to. A pastor named Thomas Charles was moved by the story of Mary Jones, a serving girl who ‘d saved up her pennies to by a Bible. The nearest store was 30 miles away, so on her day off she walked there, to find they were sold out. She returned home in tears. Pastor Charles was so moved he went to London & asked the publishers to print more Bibles. They refused saying the revival was a fad, a temporary emotionalism that would quickly pass & no one would want any Bibles then. So Charles formed the British & Foreign Bible Society, the first of all the Bible societies that would end up printing millions of Bibles that went all over the world.

The SGA resulted in a massive missionary outreach as well as major social reforms. It led to the abolition of slavery, thousands of schools, & a host of organizations to help the poor & needy.

In the US & Canada, the first glimmers of revival began in 1792. It started in Boston where all but a couple of the churches had gone off into the error of Unitarianism. In Lenox, Mass. not a single young person had been received into the Church in 16 years. So a couple churches agreed to hold special prayer for revival. They prayed for 2 years, then in 1794 a few pastors sent out a letter to every congregation in the US calling for a concert of prayer.  They’d heard about what was happening in England & were doing the same thing.

The Presbyterians adopted it in-mass. The Congregationalists, Baptists, & Moravians all took it up. Soon Christians across the nation were praying the 1st Mon of every month for spiritual awakening. Their prayers were desperate as they realized the urgency of their need. The momentum built over the next 4 yrs until 1798 when the SGA began in earnest in the US.

One church in NYC began w/80 members. They prayed for revival & 3 yrs later had grown to 720. This was typical for most churches during the revival.

In the Eastern States there was little to no emotional extravagance. But in the Western states of Kentucky & Ohio things were different. Remember the horrible conditions that existed on the Western frontier. People were brought under such conviction of sin they were often in an agony that once confessed & repented of, was replaced by unbound joy in salvation.  Many would go from unrestrained weeping to dancing & celebration.

James McCeady was the pastor of 3 small churches in Kentucky. McCready’s chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly he attracted attention. His voice was coarse & his style of preaching was far from elegant.  In 1799 he said ministry was “Weeping & mourning with the people of God.” But a year later, an outpouring of the HS began in Kentucky.

The churches of the frontier were all small buildings totally inadequate to house all those who wanted to attend so minister like McCready rode to campsites where thousands had gathered to hear the Word of God & take Communion.

At these camp-meetings, as they were called, as many as 20,000 would show up and stay for 3-4 days as one preacher after another would give a message.

The revival swept Kentucky, Tennessee & Ohio. Dr. George Baxter, a Presbyterian minister from Philadelphia heard about what has happening & went to investigate. He said Kentucky was the most moral place he’d ever seen in his life. He heard not a word of profanity the entire time he was there. He said a sense of religious awe hovered over the entire countryside.

There was a great movement for the further evangelization of the Western frontier. Those who were converted traveled back East to attend college & get their degree in theology so they could return & continuing the revival. So, revival broke out in those colleges of the East we talked about earlier. The Westerners returned home & started dozens of colleges in what today we call the Midwest. ¾’s of all Midwest colleges were the result of the SGA.

The Revival swept the South & was as evident among the slaves as among the white population.

The War of 1812 interrupted the revival, but historians mostly agree that the SGA marked the US as a thoroughly Christian nation.

As the Second Evangelical Awakening began to lose steam, Charles Finney came on the scene with his revival efforts. Beginning in New York State in 1824, he conducted effective meetings in several Eastern cities. The greatest took place in Rochester, New York, in the fall and winter of 1830–31, when he reported a thousand conversions in a city of 10,000. The revival affected nearby towns as well, with over 1,500 making professions of faith. At the same time there were about 100,000 conversions in other parts of the country from New England to the SW.

In 1835, Finney became president of Oberlin College in Ohio, where he continued to be an influential revivalist through personal campaigns and the wide distribution of his book Lectures on Revival. It was from the Oberlin School that the Holiness and Pentecostal churches emerged. Not only did Finney’s work make a great impact on America, but he also made two trips to Europe, where he experienced extensive success.

Finney is credited with introducing something called the anxious bench in his meetings. This was a place for people who wanted to express a desire for conversion to sit & await someone leading them to faith by walking them through an understanding of the Gospel then praying with them. The modern day altar call that’s practice in many Evangelical churches and meetings is the descendant of Finney’s anxious seat.

Fast-forward 50 years from the SGA & it seemed the tide had gone out again. By the 1850’s the country was thriving, largely because of the benefits brought by the SGA. The Mid-west was being developed & the economy was booming. People were making 18% interest on their investments. But as is so often the case, economic prosperity turned into a neglect of the Spirit. The pursuit of pleasure replaced the pursuit of God. The nation was politically divided over the issue of slavery.  And it wasn’t just the States that were divided. Churches & denominations split over it.

Into this national argument that ended up tearing the country in two was added a dose of religious turmoil.

A veteran & farmer named William Miller rediscovered the doctrine of the 2nd Coming. For generations most of the Church considered Bible prophecy a closed book. Miller began teaching on the Return of Christ. But he made the mistake many have & said Christ would return in 1844. About a million people followed his views.  When it didn’t happen, they were bitterly disillusioned because they’d sold their homes, businesses, & farms. Skeptics piled on the fanaticism of the Millerites & fired up a new round of mocking faith.  Then, in 1857, things began to change. What that change was, we’ll take a look at next time.

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This 135th episode of CS is titled, A Second Awakening. We ended our last episode with the dour spiritual condition of both the United States and Europe at the end of the 18th C. I mentioned Dr. J Edwin Orr a couple episodes back. We ended our last episode with the dour spiritual condition of both the United States and Europe at the end of the 18th C.
I mentioned Dr. J Edwin Orr a couple episodes back. He was the 20th C’s foremost expert on Revival and Spiritual renewal. While he could speak with eloquence on literally dozens of Revivals, one of his favorite subjects was what’s come to be known as the Second Great Awakening.
Before it began, there were many who worried if God did not intervene, Christianity might die out of Europe and the US.
Following Independence from England, many American intellectuals fell in love w/France. But France was throwing off religious faith as fast as it could. The French Revolution made a mockery of the Church & Christianity.  A well-known prostitute in Paris was crowned Goddess of Reason IN the Cathedral of Notre Dame. A majority of churches in France closed & the famous skeptic Voltaire claimed Christianity would be consigned to the dustbin of history in only 30 years. Germany, Switzerland & the Netherlands were taken over by Rationalism. England was afflicted by a sophisticated Skepticism led by the philosopher David Hume. His attacks on faith are still used on college campuses today.
French radicals contributed millions of francs to propagandize & seduce American students. In Christian colleges like Harvard, Yale, & Princeton, students welcomed the new French ideas, not because they promised justice, but because of they welcomed immorality. It was a time of great moral decline. Of a population of 5 million–300,000 were alcoholics.  They buried 15,000 of them annually.
To give you an idea of just how prolific drinking was, President Washington had to call out troops to put down an armed revolt over alcohol in what’s come to be known as the Whiskey Rebellion. There was a plague of lawlessness w/bank robberies a daily occurrence. Out of wedlock births & STD’s sky-rocketed. Public profanity soared & cheating was epidemic. The turn toward immorality was so dramatic Congress appointed a special commission to investigate what had happened & how to correct it. The Commission discovered that in Kentucky, there’d been only 1 court of law held in 5 years. They simply could not administer justice on the frontier. It became so bad, a group of vigilantes formed & fought a pitched battle w/the outlaws è & LOST!
A poll taken at Harvard found most students were atheists. At Princeton, a far more evangelical college; there were only 2 believers in the entire student body. All but 5 were members of the Filthy Speech Movement. Christians were so unpopular they had to meet in secret. Students burned down buildings & forced college presidents to resign.  A mob of students attacked a Presbyterian church, breaking windows & burning the pulpit Bible. Students often entered churches during Communion to interrupt the service by spitting on the floor.
The largest & fastest growing denomination had been Methodists. But they were now losing thousands each year. The 2nd largest were the Baptists. They described this time as their most wintry season. The Presbyterians met in Philadelphia to express their dismay at the immorality of the nation. Lutherans & Episcopalians were so far gone they held talks to consider merging.
Samuel Provost, Bishop of NY had not confirmed anyone as a new member in so long, he quit & looked for other work. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshal wrote to Bishop Madison of Virginia that the Church in the US was too far gone to ever recover. Charles Lee, a popular hero of the Revolutionary War loudly advocated pulling down all the churches claiming they were obstacles to progress.
The church historian Dr. Kenneth Scott Latourette summed it up by saying it looked as though Christianity was about to be ushered out of the affairs of ma...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 17:11
134-Decline http://www.sanctorum.us/134-decline/ Sun, 01 May 2016 09:01:33 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1250 http://www.sanctorum.us/134-decline/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/134-decline/feed/ 3 This is episode 134-Decline. Following the Great Awakening, which produced a deep-seated sense of Faith in so many Americans prior to the Revolutionary War, as the new nation organized itself around its new national identity, it realized something unique was taking place. A genuine religious pluralism had taken root. That was very different from the […] This is episode 134-Decline.

Following the Great Awakening, which produced a deep-seated sense of Faith in so many Americans prior to the Revolutionary War, as the new nation organized itself around its new national identity, it realized something unique was taking place. A genuine religious pluralism had taken root. That was very different from the centuries of conflict that marked the Europe they or their ancestors came from.

There are several reasons for the religious pluralism of the United States. But when we speak of pluralism at that point in history, let’s make sure what we mean is a lack of the establishment of a specific Christian denomination as the National or Federal Church. 18th C pluralism didn’t include other major world religions. There were no Buddhist or Hindu temples; no Islamic mosques nor Shinto shrines. Americans were Christians, if not of the committed stripe, at least nominally.

The first reason for the religious pluralism of the US was the immigration into the colonies after 1690. It brought a mixture of people with various faiths so that no one of them was dominant. The Quakers who settled Pennsylvania opposed a formal church structure which prevented the rise of a State church there. Please note this: While the first Amendment prohibited the FEDERAL govt from establishing a National Church, there was no ban on the States establishing a State Church. Several states in fact HAD State churches. But the Quaker dominance of Pennsylvania resisted an established church. Their presence in New Jersey contributed to the religious mixture in that colony, and Pennsylvania’s control over Delaware during most of the colonial period meant freedom of religion there as well. The French Huguenots took refuge in several colonies. Having suffered brutal persecution in Europe, they had no desire to persecute others.

A second wave of immigrants in 1700, consisted mainly of 200,000 Germans. While most were either Lutheran or Reformed, there were also several smaller sects. What most of them shared as the Pietistic emphasis on a deeply felt personal faith. They had no desire to dominate others’ religious persuasion. These Germans settled in Pennsylvania and northern New York. Last came a wave of about a quarter million Scotch-Irish from northern Ireland. They were nearly all Presbyterians, persecuted by the Anglican Church of Ireland. They spread throughout the Middle & Southern colonies. By 1760the population of the colonies was about 2½ million. A third of them were born in a foreign land.

A 2nd influence favoring religious pluralism was that many of the colonies were Proprietary, meaning it was a business venture. For the sake of the business, religious feuds needed to be tamped down lest they prove a distraction to the profitability of the colony. Even in those colonies where a specific church or denomination was favored, the large numbers of people of others faiths meant the requirement to get along for the greater good.

3rd, the revivals we looked at in the last episode proved a leveling influence throughout the colonies. They crossed denominational lines like there was no distinction whatever. Revival-preacher & promoters universally stressed the equality of all in the sight of God.

4th, the Western frontier was another leveler. Pioneers were self-reliant individualists or they didn’t survive. And in case you haven’t noticed, rugged individualism and religious institutionalism don’t mix. Frontiersmen were suspicious of & opposed to attempts by them City-folk back East asserting their will over the Frontier – in any form, including dictating what church would be built where & led by who.

5th, following the revivals of the 18th C, spiritual apathy began to grow once more. The churches that had filled during the GA, began to empty. And without new ministers in training, it meant more and more churches were left without gifted leaders. And let me be clear, while the Frontier resisted Eastern denominations reaching into their realm, they still wanted their own churches. But the rapid evolution of the Western Frontier meant churches weren’t built or manned quickly enough. The Frontier became a largely unchurch region.  In proportion to the population, probably more than anywhere else in Christendom during the first third of the 18th C, the Western frontier of the British colonies was the least churched.

6th, The philosophy natural rights that had been percolating for a couple Cs and had coalesced during the Enlightenment began to influence many. One of the rights people came to accept was the privilege of deciding what religion they’d follow. John Locke’s Letters on Toleration argued for the separation of church and state and a voluntary religious affiliation for any and all. Most leaders of the generation that saw the American Revolutionary, such as Thomas Jefferson, were enamored with this philosophy, and were active in bringing down the church establishment in Virginia soon after the new nation won its independence.

When the Revolution began, the Anglican church suffered greatly because many of its ministers remained Loyalists who supported England. When the war was over, there were few Anglican ministers left in the country and many churches had been destroyed.

In all, the disestablishment of religion seemed a foregone conclusion in the United States. With the founding of the new nation, one after another, State churches toppled. The last to go was Congregationalism in New Hampshire, Connecticut, & Massachusetts in the first half of the 19th C.

I realize the narrative I’ve just shared appears to challenge the picture some modern apologists paint of the role of Christianity in the Early American Republic. A deeper look makes it clear there’s no challenge at all. To say United States saw a disestablishment of churches doesn’t mean Americans were irreligious. On the contrary; remember what we saw in the last episode. The Great Awakening had such a huge impact on the colonies that following it for a time, to be an American meant to be a Christian. And not just as a default label derived at by process of elimination. You know, that attitude some have that says, “Well, I’m not a Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim; so I must be a Christian.” Coming out of the GA, The American identity was one that was thoroughly and sincerely Christian of the pietistic stripe; where having a personal testimony of the experience of being born again was paramount.

So, if there was so much religious diversity and agitation against an established Church during the 18th C, what were the attitudes of the different denominations toward the Revolution?

As just noted, Anglicans in the Church of England were divided, but seem to have been dominated by a loyalist majority. In the N, Anglicans leaned heavily toward the loyalist cause. In the S, many of the great planters, men like Washington, favored the Revolutionary cause. Congregationalists gave enthusiastic support to the Revolution, their ministers preached fervent sermons favoring of the patriot cause.

Presbyterians leaned toward the patriot cause in a continuation of the old conflict back home between themselves and the Anglicans. Presbyterian John Witherspoon, was a signer of the Articles of Confederation and the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. Lutherans also supported the Revolution under the leadership of the Muhlenbergs. Though divided, Roman Catholics were generally patriots.

Baptists supported the Revolution because they felt the cause of separation of church and state was at stake. They believed a British victory would bring a round of new political control and a tightening on the religious scene.

Methodists were suspect because at the beginning of the war Wesley urged neutrality. Then colonial preachers came out in support of the Revolution. Although Quakers, Mennonites, and Moravians were pacifists, most of them were in sympathy with the Revolution and some joined the army.

The Revolution dissolved the ties between many religious groups in America and their spiritual relatives in Europe. This meant the need for new organizations in America. Though the Anglican church had been handed a serious set-back, it didn’t completely evacuate the new Nation. William White & Samuel Seabury attempted to rebuild the Anglican church after the war under the new label of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Loosed from English Methodism, in 1784 Methodists organized as the Methodist Episcopal Church, under the leadership of Francis Asbury. That same year, American Roman Catholics ended their affiliation with the British Bishop. In 1789 John Carroll became the first Roman Catholic bishop, with Baltimore as his see. The Baptists formed a General Committee in 1784. And the Presbyterians in Philadelphia drew up a constitution for their church at the same time as the national Constitution was being formed in 1787.

The Revolutionary War proved to be hard on religious life in America. Because most local churches supported the Revolution, when the British took an area, they often poured out their wrath on houses of worship. Churches were destroyed when they were used as barracks, hospitals, and storehouses of munitions. Pastors and congregations were absorbed in the cause of the Revolution rather than in building up the churches. French deism and its philosophical cousin atheism became fashionable among certain elements of American society because of new alliance with France. Rationalism took control of the colleges and other intellectual centers. In some colleges, there was hardly a student who’d admit to being a Christian.

Conditions were so bad during the years when the Constitution, politicians and ministers alike virtually gave up hope for the role of religion in American society. Bishop Samuel Provost of the Episcopal Diocese of New York saw the situation as so hopeless, he ceased to function. A committee of Congress reported on the desperate state of lawlessness on the frontier. Of a population of 5 million, the United States had 300,000 drunkards and buried about 15K of them per year. In 1796, George Washington agreed with a friend that national affairs were leading to a crisis he was unable to see the outcome of.

The closing years of the 18th C were dark. But its always darkest just before the dawn.

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This is episode 134-Decline. Following the Great Awakening, which produced a deep-seated sense of Faith in so many Americans prior to the Revolutionary War, as the new nation organized itself around its new national identity, Following the Great Awakening, which produced a deep-seated sense of Faith in so many Americans prior to the Revolutionary War, as the new nation organized itself around its new national identity, it realized something unique was taking place. A genuine religious pluralism had taken root. That was very different from the centuries of conflict that marked the Europe they or their ancestors came from.
There are several reasons for the religious pluralism of the United States. But when we speak of pluralism at that point in history, let’s make sure what we mean is a lack of the establishment of a specific Christian denomination as the National or Federal Church. 18th C pluralism didn’t include other major world religions. There were no Buddhist or Hindu temples; no Islamic mosques nor Shinto shrines. Americans were Christians, if not of the committed stripe, at least nominally.
The first reason for the religious pluralism of the US was the immigration into the colonies after 1690. It brought a mixture of people with various faiths so that no one of them was dominant. The Quakers who settled Pennsylvania opposed a formal church structure which prevented the rise of a State church there. Please note this: While the first Amendment prohibited the FEDERAL govt from establishing a National Church, there was no ban on the States establishing a State Church. Several states in fact HAD State churches. But the Quaker dominance of Pennsylvania resisted an established church. Their presence in New Jersey contributed to the religious mixture in that colony, and Pennsylvania’s control over Delaware during most of the colonial period meant freedom of religion there as well. The French Huguenots took refuge in several colonies. Having suffered brutal persecution in Europe, they had no desire to persecute others.
A second wave of immigrants in 1700, consisted mainly of 200,000 Germans. While most were either Lutheran or Reformed, there were also several smaller sects. What most of them shared as the Pietistic emphasis on a deeply felt personal faith. They had no desire to dominate others’ religious persuasion. These Germans settled in Pennsylvania and northern New York. Last came a wave of about a quarter million Scotch-Irish from northern Ireland. They were nearly all Presbyterians, persecuted by the Anglican Church of Ireland. They spread throughout the Middle & Southern colonies. By 1760the population of the colonies was about 2½ million. A third of them were born in a foreign land.
A 2nd influence favoring religious pluralism was that many of the colonies were Proprietary, meaning it was a business venture. For the sake of the business, religious feuds needed to be tamped down lest they prove a distraction to the profitability of the colony. Even in those colonies where a specific church or denomination was favored, the large numbers of people of others faiths meant the requirement to get along for the greater good.
3rd, the revivals we looked at in the last episode proved a leveling influence throughout the colonies. They crossed denominational lines like there was no distinction whatever. Revival-preacher & promoters universally stressed the equality of all in the sight of God.
4th, the Western frontier was another leveler. Pioneers were self-reliant individualists or they didn’t survive. And in case you haven’t noticed, rugged individualism and religious institutionalism don’t mix. Frontiersmen were suspicious of & opposed to attempts by them City-folk back East asserting their will over the Frontier – in any form, including dictating what church would be built where & led by who.
5th, following the revivals of the 18th C, spiritual apathy began to grow once more. The churches that had filled during the GA, began to empty. And without new ministers in training, it meant more and more churches were left without gifted leaders.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 12:35
133-Awakening http://www.sanctorum.us/133-awakening/ Sun, 24 Apr 2016 20:39:42 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1245 http://www.sanctorum.us/133-awakening/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/133-awakening/feed/ 2 This 133rd episode of CS is titled Awakening. It’s time again for the Podcast Awards. Voting is only from April 15-30, 2016. The rules are a bit different this year, which I won’t bore you with. But please note if you want to nominate CS, you have to do so no later than April 30th. […] This 133rd episode of CS is titled Awakening.

It’s time again for the Podcast Awards. Voting is only from April 15-30, 2016. The rules are a bit different this year, which I won’t bore you with. But please note if you want to nominate CS, you have to do so no later than April 30th. You can only nominate once and one show per category. CS will be in the Society & Culture category. The only podcasts that will make it to the finals are those who receive enough nominations. Then, once that list is made, regular voting will begin. We did well at year & want to see how we’ll do this year.

So if you want, head over to podcastawards.com and nominate CS in the Society & Culture category. Thanks.

The tide of Pietism that swept portions of Europe in the 17th C, arrived in N America in the 18th. Like the Charismatic Movement of the 1960’s, Protestant denominations were split over how to respond to Pietism. Presbyterians were divided between those who insisted on strict adherence to the teachings of Westminster and those whose emphasis was on having an experience of saving grace. The 2 sides eventually re-united, but not before the contention became so sharp, it led to a rift. That rift reached its zenith, or nadir, might be a better descriptive, during The Great Awakening.

As we saw in our last episode, the Half-Way Covenant of New England churches was the result of the collision of the Pietistic requirement of having a conversion event in the believer’s experience with the Reformed commitment to being a Covenant Community. It came over the tension between the necessity to baptize infants so they could be members of the covenant community, but the recognition that baptism was supposed to mark personal faith subsequent to a believer’s profession of faith in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, something infants can’t do. The Half-Way Covenant allowed people to be members of the Church, without being saved. And that was a formula for disaster!

The Half-Way Covenant, along with the assault of pseudo-intellectualism infiltrating N America from the European Enlightenment, resulted in a growing spiritual lethargy among the churches of the English colonies. Jonathan Edwards, who became one of the main luminaries of The Great Awakening, remarked before it began that the spiritual condition of New England was abysmal.

The first stirrings of revival began as movements in local churches 5 to 10 years before the Great Awakening. There’d even been some minor revivals in Northampton, during the time of Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather, Solomon Stoddard in the 1720’s.

Theodore Frelinghuysen was a Dutch Reformed pastor who’d come to N America to pastor 4 churches in New Jersey. Frelinghuysen was what’s called a Precisionist. That term is the Dutch equivalent of the English Puritan. Puritanism had been exported to Holland by a minister named William Ames where it was referred to as Precisionism.

Pastor Frelinghuysen discerned a general spiritual malaise in all 4 of his congregations there in NJ; an appalling lack of piety & convictions. So he decided to embark on a program of reform. He started visiting people in their homes. He enforced church discipline and he preached fervent evangelistic sermons. A few opposed these innovations, but he persevered and the churches began to grow with genuine conversions that resulted in a warming up of the entire congregation in their fervency for the things of God. It was the first stirrings of revival, which spread to other Dutch Reformed churches. By 1726, Frelinghuysen was recognized as a leader of revival.

The Presbyterians of NJ saw what was happening among their Dutch neighbors & soon joined the revival under the work of the William & his son Gilbert Tennent.

But when it comes to The Great Awakening, the name most closely associate with it is Jonathan Edwards.

Edwards is considered by many to be one of the most brilliant minds in American history. He wasn’t just a great theologian. He was a top-rank philosopher and scientist. Edwards is sometimes presented as a fiery preacher in the Puritan vein. The popular notion of him is that he was a revivalist-preacher of a mien similar to George Whitefield. His most famous sermon was titled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. The title alone gives one the impression of a wild-eyed & crazy-haired pulpit-pounder. But that image is very far from what Jonathan Edwards was really like. He was reserved and tended toward shyness. He was more at home in his study among his books than in the pulpit. Edwards spent 10 hours a day studying. His messages will filled with theology & their delivery was not the kind of fire & brimstone preaching many assume. His style was to virtually read his messages. This is not to say his delivery was wooden; but descriptions of it remarked on the lack of gestures or inflection. Flamboyance was nowhere in sight when Edwards spoke. Edwards trusted in the eloquence & logic of his message to persuade, rather than by affecting a dramatic persona. If there was grandeur in his message, it was due to WHAT he said, rather than in HOW he said it.

Edwards was a PK; a pastor’s kid. His father Timothy was a minister in the town of East Windsor, Connecticut. By the age of 13 he’d master Greek, Hebrew & Latin. He wrote essays on scientific matters and penned one on the behavior of insects that became famous. As a teen, he read and consumed the ideas of Sir Isaac Newton. He graduated from Yale at 17.

It was during his college years that his relationship with God deepened into a rich intimacy. All of that grew out of the time he spent studying the nature & character of God.

Edwards added 2 more years of post-graduate studies then took a pastorate at a small church in New York for only a couple months. That was followed by a stint as a tutor at Yale for 2 years. In 1727, he became an assistant pastor to his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard at Northampton, Mass. It was also at that time that he married Sarah Pierpont.

When Edwards took up his ministry at Northampton in 1727, he found the church to be spiritually dull, even though it had been the scene of some earlier stirrings of the Spirit under Stoddard’s leadership. When Stoddard died in 1729, Edwards stepped into role as senior pastor.

Edwards decided to address the spiritual apathy of the congregation by preaching a series of 5 sermons on justification by faith. He rightly diagnosed the real problem at Northampton wasn’t laziness or moral sloppiness; it was an absence of good theology. Instead of preaching the need of repentance and obedience, he focused on the glory of God in the Gospel of Christ. Sure enough, a season of renewal came as people recommitted themselves to follow Jesus in 1734-5. The messages weren’t calculated to elicit an emotional response, but they did. People responded with a remarkable moral & spiritual change, often with intense emotion.

After several months, the movement spread out thru Mass & swept Connecticut. After 3 years it began to diminish. But the memory of revival endured so strongly, many hoped to see it renewed.

In 1737, Edwards decided to pen a chronicle of what had happened over the previous 3 years. It was titled, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundreds of Souls in Northampton. That’s the title; not the actual text of the whole thing. The Narrative as it’s more conveniently referred to, is what established Jonathan Edwards as the main person associated with Revival.

In 1739, George Whitefield visited New England. Though Edwards & Whitefield represented different flavors of the Faith, they were both deeply committed to the Preaching of the Gospel. Edwards helped arrange Whitefield’s campaign through the area of Boston then on to Northampton where Edwards turned his pulpit over to the great preacher. The winds of renewal that had waned a few years before strengthened once more.

Then Edwards was invited to speak at the church in Enfield, Conn in 1741. His message was titled, Sinners in the Hands of nan Angry God. Reading the text of the sermon today one might assume it was delivered in the ham-fisted, “fire & brimstone” manner of a fanatic. But as we’ve seen, that was not Edward’s style. Nor did he deliver it in the monotone some later reporters suggest. He spoke as a man convinced of his topic; urging his listeners to make sure they’d embraced the Grace of God. The sermon pains a terrifying picture of eternal damnation; something Edwards calculated to make clear. Because as historian George Marsden says, Edwards didn’t preach anything new to his hearers. They well knew the Gospel remedy. The problem was getting them to seek it.

While revival was already building, Edwards’ sermon at that church in Enfield was a crystalizing moment in The Great Awakening. If the coals had been getting hot they now burst into flames that spread all over New England and to the other colonies, and across the Atlantic to settle in England & several other nations of Europe.

As welcome as The Great Awakening might have seemed, some ministers opposed it. Their opposition stemmed from their resistance to the emotionalism that became a mark of the Revival. People wept in repentance then shouted for joy at being saved. Some were so emotionally wrought over the process of their conversion, they fainted. A few who were psychologically fragile exhibited what can only be called bizarre behavior.

Such reactions led the enemies of the Great Awakening to accuse its leaders of undermining the solemnity of worship, and of substituting emotion for scholarship. Since it’s the tendency to stick labels on movements, supporters of the Awakening were called New Lights, while those who opposed it were called Old Lights.

Edwards made clear in his writings that he believed emotion was important. But emotion, including the intense experience of conversion, should never eclipse doctrine and orderly worship.

At first, Baptists opposed the Awakening, labelling it frivolous and superficial. But so many of the new converts were inclined to agree with Baptist positions that they ended up becoming Baptists. When the Baptist saw all these new members, their opinion of the Revival changed. Most notable was the conviction among the new converts that baptism ought to be of those who profess faith in Christ, not infants. Entire Congregationalists & Presbyterian congregations became Baptists.

The Great Awakening sent Baptists & Methodists to the Western frontier. Settlers continually pushed the Frontier westward. It was Methodist and Baptist missionaries who took up the task of preaching to them & planting frontier churches. So those 2 groups became the most numerous out West.

It’s difficult to estimate how many conversions took place during the GA, but gauging by pretty accurate church records taken over that time indicate a conservative number of 10% across the board, and in some communities much higher than that. Keep in mind that that was in the midst of a society that already considered itself thoroughly Christian.

Besides the obvious spiritual effects of the Great Awakening, it had a notable political impact in the British colonies of N America. It was the first movement to include all 13 colonies. A new sense of commonality developed in which the emerging unique identity as Americans, as opposed to British, took root alongside the idea that to be an American meant to be a Christian of Protestant stripe.

The GA propelled a wave of missionary activity. David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, and others preached to the Indians, and some effort was made to reach blacks with the gospel. Among the colleges birthed at that time were Princeton, Rutgers, Brown, & Dartmouth. Dartmouth was a trained Indians to serve as missionaries to their own people.

Edwards continued in his role as pastor till 1750 when a controversy saw him removed.

Edwards believed Communion ought to be given only to those church members who’d demonstrated a genuine conversion experience, as per the Pietistic belief. His grand-father, who’d been the previous pastor, had relaxed the traditional Puritan practice and allowed what we’ll call ‘unconverted church members’ to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Stoddard regarded Communion as a “converting experience.” He thought regular attendance at the Lord’s Table would be something the HS could use to bring conviction & salvation to a needy soul. Edwards differed and viewed Communion to be open only to those who were converted; and that of course, meaning they’d known a conversion experience.

Well, by 1750, Edwards had come to a position on all this that departed from the practice of the church at Northampton. When he tried to implement a change in practice, they released him. Yep, they canned him. It was then that he embarked on his mission of taking the Gospel to the Indians at Stockbridge, Mass. It was while engaged in that work that he wrote his most famous work – Freedom of the Will.

I want to share a little story from the life of Jonathan Edwards that may give us some insight into the man. After 14 years of marriage, in Jan, 1742, something happened to his wife Sarah. She had an intense religious experience. Some historians go so far as to call it a nervous breakdown. Edward was away on a preaching tour. His pulpit was being filled by Samuel Buell who gave a series of sermons that had a profound impact on Sarah Edwards. She was overwhelmed to the point of fainting. Her condition was such that she was unable to take care of her children, who were sent to stay with neighbors till John returned a few weeks later.

The town was abuzz with the nature of her condition. Was it some kind of spiritual ecstasy or an emotional breakdown? When John returned, he of course immediately went to her to see what was wrong. She related to him that she’d experienced God’s goodness as never before; even more, as she didn’t even know was possible. She said the joy & security she now had was so intense it was at times debilitating.

John’s reaction was interesting. He affirmed that she’d had a visitation from God. Now – keep in mind that we’re talking here about hard-core, strict Calvinists; not Pentecostals or even the more mild version – Charismatics.

After a few weeks, Sarah recovered & returned to the normal activities of life. But John said from then on Sarah maintained a peace & joy that transformed her. In writing about the effects of the revival, while Edwards doesn’t name his wife, it’s clear some of what he chronicled were things he witnessed in his own wife when she was filled with the Holy Spirit in 1742.

In 1757, Edwards was appointed president of Princeton, known at that time as the College of NJ. A short time later, he volunteered to be a test subject for a small pox vaccine. Which instead of inoculating him against the disease, claimed his life in 1758.

One of my favorite teachers is J. Edwin Orr. When Orr died in 1987, he was recognized by many as the 20th C’s foremost expert on Revival, and spent his last years living just a few miles from where I am now, in CA. My good friend and fellow pastor David Guzik befriended Orr’s widow, who passed many of Dr. Orr’s books, writings, and recordings on to him for posterity’s sake. David has faithfully made that material available online at www.jedwinorr.com.

The eminent NT scholar FF Bruce said, “Some men read history, some write it, and others make it. So far as the history of religious revivals is concerned, J. Edwin Orr belongs to all three categories.”

Orr tells remarkable stories of the impact of revival on society. The many revivals he chronicles don’t merely add a bunch of new church members; they have an astounding impact in moral revolution. Orr shares that during some revivals, because there was no crime, the Police organized singing groups to sing in churches because they had nothing else to do. There were a number of business failures; pubs and other enterprises that thrive on vice folded.

One unforeseen effect during the Welsh Revival was that there was a work stoppage in the coal mines of Wales. For years, the mules that pulled the coal carts were used to hearing the miners curse at them. But when so many miners converted during the Revival, they refused to curse anymore and the mules no longer heard the profane commands telling them to move. Work in the mines stalled till the mules were retrained to respond to the now clean speech of the joyous miners.

If you’re interested in more such interesting stories, I encourage you to head over to the jedwinorr site.

And I want to also encourage you to check our David Guzik’s website at enduringword.com.

David is one of the premier Bible expositors online today. His commentaries are used by many thousands of pastors, professors, Bible teachers & students all over the world.

Websites mentioned in this episode – jedwinorr.com  enduringword.com

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This 133rd episode of CS is titled Awakening. It’s time again for the Podcast Awards. Voting is only from April 15-30, 2016. The rules are a bit different this year, which I won’t bore you with. But please note if you want to nominate CS, It’s time again for the Podcast Awards. Voting is only from April 15-30, 2016. The rules are a bit different this year, which I won’t bore you with. But please note if you want to nominate CS, you have to do so no later than April 30th. You can only nominate once and one show per category. CS will be in the Society & Culture category. The only podcasts that will make it to the finals are those who receive enough nominations. Then, once that list is made, regular voting will begin. We did well at year & want to see how we’ll do this year.
So if you want, head over to podcastawards.com and nominate CS in the Society & Culture category. Thanks.
The tide of Pietism that swept portions of Europe in the 17th C, arrived in N America in the 18th. Like the Charismatic Movement of the 1960’s, Protestant denominations were split over how to respond to Pietism. Presbyterians were divided between those who insisted on strict adherence to the teachings of Westminster and those whose emphasis was on having an experience of saving grace. The 2 sides eventually re-united, but not before the contention became so sharp, it led to a rift. That rift reached its zenith, or nadir, might be a better descriptive, during The Great Awakening.
As we saw in our last episode, the Half-Way Covenant of New England churches was the result of the collision of the Pietistic requirement of having a conversion event in the believer’s experience with the Reformed commitment to being a Covenant Community. It came over the tension between the necessity to baptize infants so they could be members of the covenant community, but the recognition that baptism was supposed to mark personal faith subsequent to a believer’s profession of faith in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, something infants can’t do. The Half-Way Covenant allowed people to be members of the Church, without being saved. And that was a formula for disaster!
The Half-Way Covenant, along with the assault of pseudo-intellectualism infiltrating N America from the European Enlightenment, resulted in a growing spiritual lethargy among the churches of the English colonies. Jonathan Edwards, who became one of the main luminaries of The Great Awakening, remarked before it began that the spiritual condition of New England was abysmal.
The first stirrings of revival began as movements in local churches 5 to 10 years before the Great Awakening. There’d even been some minor revivals in Northampton, during the time of Jonathan Edwards’ grandfather, Solomon Stoddard in the 1720’s.
Theodore Frelinghuysen was a Dutch Reformed pastor who’d come to N America to pastor 4 churches in New Jersey. Frelinghuysen was what’s called a Precisionist. That term is the Dutch equivalent of the English Puritan. Puritanism had been exported to Holland by a minister named William Ames where it was referred to as Precisionism.
Pastor Frelinghuysen discerned a general spiritual malaise in all 4 of his congregations there in NJ; an appalling lack of piety & convictions. So he decided to embark on a program of reform. He started visiting people in their homes. He enforced church discipline and he preached fervent evangelistic sermons. A few opposed these innovations, but he persevered and the churches began to grow with genuine conversions that resulted in a warming up of the entire congregation in their fervency for the things of God. It was the first stirrings of revival, which spread to other Dutch Reformed churches. By 1726, Frelinghuysen was recognized as a leader of revival.
The Presbyterians of NJ saw what was happening among their Dutch neighbors & soon joined the revival under the work of the William & his son Gilbert Tennent.
But when it comes to The Great Awakening, the name most closely associate with it is Jonathan Edwards.
Edwards is considered by many to be one of the most bri...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 21:00
132-Colonies http://www.sanctorum.us/132-colonies/ Thu, 21 Apr 2016 21:23:37 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1255 http://www.sanctorum.us/132-colonies/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/132-colonies/feed/ 0 This, the 132nd episode of CS is titled, Colonies. Two announcements before we dive in. 1) For those who’ve expressed interest in the CS Reformation Tour in March of 2017, we’ll have the airfare portion of the trip nailed down soon, hopefully by the end of April. As soon as we rates, we’ll tell you […] This, the 132nd episode of CS is titled, Colonies.

Two announcements before we dive in.

1) For those who’ve expressed interest in the CS Reformation Tour in March of 2017, we’ll have the airfare portion of the trip nailed down soon, hopefully by the end of April. As soon as we rates, we’ll tell you here and on both the sanctorum.us site and the Facebook page.

2) The 2016 Podcast Awards are taking nominations for your favorite podcasts. If you want to vote for CS, head over to podcastawards.com and do so. Nominated podcasts only make it onto the slate if they receive enough nominations. As a listener, you can nominate Communio Sanctorum once a day for the 2 week nomination period. Both the sanctorum.us site and Facebook page will have more information. Thanks!

The 16th C saw the establishment & growth of the Spanish and Portuguese overseas empires. The Spanish Empire included Mexico, extending well into what is now the western half of the United States. In the 17th C, other Europeans began their own empire building. The most successful of the new colonial powers was Great Britain. Among its first overseas enterprises were the 13 colonies in N America that became the United States.

Though we’ve already talked about the settling of Plymouth & the Puritan settlements of Massachusetts, we’ll do a little review. The first British colonial ventures in N America failed. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a charter for colonization. He named the area Virginia, after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. But his 1st 2 ventures, failed. The first group of settlers returned to England, while the 2nd disappeared.

Then, in 1607 the first permanent colonization of Virginia began at Jamestown, named after the new British King James. There was a chaplain among them, for the Virginia Company who sponsored the venture  hoped to establish the Church of England in the new land, and to offer its services both to the settlers and Indians. It was also hoped the new colony halt Spanish expansion, which was feared for its spread of the dread “popery,” as Puritans called Catholicism. But the colony’s main purpose was economic, not religious. The Church of England never had a bishop in Virginia or in any of the other 13 colonies. The stockholders of the Virginia Company simply hoped trade with the Indians, along with whatever crops the settles grew, would bring a profit.

The founding of Virginia took place at the high point of Puritan influence in the Church of England. Several of the stockholders and settlers believed the colony should be ruled by Puritan principles. Its early laws required attendance at worship twice a day, strict observance of Sunday s a day of rest & worship, the of profanity and immodesty. But King James detested Puritans, and would not allow his colony to be ruled by them. A war with the native Americans in 1622 became the excuse to bring Virginia under his direct rule. After that, Puritan influence waned. Later Charles I, following James’s anti-Puritan policy, carved out a large part of Virginia for a new colony called Maryland, and placed it under the  Catholic proprietor, Lord Baltimore. Maryland was intended to be a Roman Catholic enclave in the British North American colonies. While many Catholics did move there, Protestants always outnumbered them.

The Puritan Revolution in England made little impact on Virginia. The colonists were more interested in growing the new cash crop of tobacco and opening new lands for its cultivation than in the religious strife going on back in merry old England. Puritan zeal lost its vigor in the midst of economic prosperity. One of the things that led to this spiritual decline was the acceptance of slavery.

Tobacco is a labor intensive crop. The importation of cheap labor in the form of African slaves is what allowed the colonists to grow the tons of tobacco that was now all the rage in Europe. But the Protestant work ethic that lay at the heart of so much of the Puritan mindset was gutted by slavery. Simply put, the Puritan colonists lost touch with why the Puritans back in England wanted to reform the government & Church of England.

Prior to Abolition, the Church of England neglected evangelizing slaves. They did so because of an ancient principle prohibiting Christians from holding fellow believers in slavery. If a slave got saved, his owner was obliged to free her/him. Then, in 1667, a law was passed saying baptism didn’t change a slave’s legal status as the property of his owner.

While the new & emerging American aristocracy of Virginia remained Anglican, many in the lower classes turned to dissident movements. When strict measures were taken against them, hundreds migrated to Catholic Maryland, where there was greater religious freedom. The Quakers & Methodists took turns at making successful forays into Virginia’s church scene.

Other colonies were founded S of Virginia. The Carolinas, granted by the crown to a group of aristocratic stockholders in 1663, developed slowly. To encourage immigration, the proprietors declared religious freedom, which attracted dissidents from Virginia & England. It didn’t take long before the people who settled in the new colonies claimed little to no religious affiliation other than Christian.

Georgia was founded for 2 over-arching reasons. The first was to halt Spanish expansion. The second was to serve as an alternative for England’s over-crowded debtors’ prisons. At the beginning of the 18th C, there were many who wanted to help the sorry lot of those in England who’d fallen into poverty and couldn’t get out. One of the leaders of this campaign was a military hero named James Oglethorpe. He thought a colony ought to be founded in N America that would serve as an alternative to the imprisonment of debtors. A royal charter was granted in 1732, and the first convicts arrived the next year. To these, other were soon added, along with a large group of religious refugees. Although Anglicanism was the official religion of Georgia, it made little impact on the colony. The failure of the Wesleys as Anglican pastors in the colony was typical of others. The Moravians had a measure of success, although their numbers were never large. The most significant religious movement in the early years of Georgia was the response to Whitefield’s preaching. By the time of his death in 1770, he’d left his stamp on much of Georgia’s religious life. Later, Methodists, Baptists and others harvested what he’d sown.

As we’ve seen in previous episodes, it was farther N, at Plymouth & around Boston that Puritanism made its greatest impact. When Roger Williams was banished, he settled Providence, around which the colony of Rhode Island eventually coalesced.

The Hutchinsons and their supporters started Connecticut.

The Puritans, who baptized their children, were influenced by the Pietistic belief in the necessity of a conversion experience in order to be a genuine Christian. The question then rose; “Why do we baptize children if people don’t become Christians till they are converted?” Wouldn’t it be wiser to wait till someone was converted, then dunk ‘em – like, BTW, the Baptists do in Rhode Island? Some wanted to follow this new course. But that clashed with the Puritan goal of founding a Christian society, that is one that was in covenant with God & guided by biblical principles. A Christian commonwealth is conceivable only if, as in ancient Israel, one becomes a member of it by birth, so that the civil and the religious communities are the same. So children Had to be baptized, because that’s how you become part of the Church, and the Church and society were one and the same, just as in ancient Israel they entered the covenant by circumcision as infants.

To make matters even MORE complicated à If infants were baptized so as to make them  “children of the covenant,” what was to be done with infants born of baptized parents who never had a conversion experience?

Many came to the conclusion there needed to be a kind of “half-way covenant,” that included those who were baptized but had no personal conversion experience. The children of such people were to be baptized, for they were still members of the covenant-community. But only those who had experienced a conversion were granted full membership in the church, and were vested with the power to participate in the process of making decisions.

This controversy engendered bitter arguments and monumental ill-will which turned the original optimism of the settlers into a dark foreboding. The tension over the half-way covenant spilled over into new debates over how churches ought to be governed & over relations between local congregations who took different sides in the controversies that began to swirl. The majority settled on a form of church government called Congregationalism. They managed to maintain a grip on doctrinal orthodoxy by adhering to the Westminster Confession.

As mentioned a few moments back, the main center of Roman Catholicism in the N American British colonies was Maryland. In 1632, Charles I granted Cecil Calvert, whose noble title was Lord Baltimore, rights colonization over a region claimed by Virginia. Calvert was Catholic, and the grant was made by Charles in an attempt to garner Catholic support. Catholics in England wanted a colony where they could live without the restrictions they faced at home. Since it was politically unwise to establish a purely Catholic colony, it was decided Maryland would be a realm of religious freedom.

The first settlers arrived in 1634, with only a tenth being Catholic aristocrats. The other nine-tenths were their Protestant servants. Tobacco quickly became the colony’s economic mainstay, giving rise to large, prosperous plantations. Maryland was governed by the Catholic landowners, but the majority of its residents were Protestants. Whenever the shifting political winds in Britain gave opportunity, Protestants sought to wrest power from the Catholic aristocracy. They succeeded when James II was overthrown. Anglicanism then became the official religion of Maryland and Catholics rights were restricted.

Because of the religious liberty practiced as policy in Pennsylvania, a good number of Catholics settled there. Catholicism then made significant gains after the Stuarts were  restored to the throne in England. But after the fall of James II, the growth of Catholicism in all 13 colonies was restricted.

The colonies of New York, New Jersey, weren’t, at first, religious refuges for any particular group. Pennsylvania was founded as a home for William Penn’s Quakers. But not solely so. Penn envisioned the colony as a place of religious freedom for all. The same was true for Delaware, which Penn purchased from the duke of York, and was part of Pennsylvania until 1701.

The religious history of New Jersey is complex. East New Jersey fell in with the strict Puritanism of New England, while the West leaned toward the tolerance of the Quakers. Sadly, many Quakers in New Jersey became a slaveholding aristocracy whose relations with the more traditional abolitionist minded Quakers of Pennsylvania became strained.

What became New York was colonized by the Dutch, whose East India Company established headquarters in Manhattan, and whose Reformed Church came with them. In 1655, they conquered a rival colony the Swedes founded on the Delaware River, then they were in turn conquered by the British in 1664 in a minor contest. What had been New Netherland became New York. The Dutch who stayed, and that was most of them, became British; which they happily consented to, since the homeland hadn’t really given them any support. The British replaced the Dutch Reformed Church with the Church of England, whose only members were the governor’s party until more British arrived and settled.

Let’s end this episode by saying that religious motivations played an important role in the founding of several of the British colonies in N America.  Although at first some were intolerant of religious diversity, time softened that policy and the colonies tended to emulate the example of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, where religious freedom existed from their inception. Such tolerance eased the natural tensions that rival colonies had as they vied for economic prosperity. The colonies also witnessed from afar the religious tensions ripping the mother-country apart. That may have moved them to cool their intolerance in favor of a more liberal policy of religious freedom. But at the same time other factors were at work that combined to erode the religious fervor of the early settles of the 13 colonies. Slavery, the social inequity based on a plantation based economy, the exploitation of Indians & their lands, all combined to work against the conscience of the English settlers. They found it difficult to follow the pattern of NT Christianity while engaging in practices they knew violated the Spirit of Christ. They entered a phase of life where the desire for wealth trumped the conviction of the Spirit. The result was a spiritual malaise that deadened the religious fervor of the colonies.

But as we’ve seen again & again in our study of Church History, a period of spiritual declension either resolves in widespread apostasy or spiritual renewal. What would it be for the British colonies in N America? Let’s find out, in our next episode.

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This, the 132nd episode of CS is titled, Colonies. Two announcements before we dive in. 1) For those who’ve expressed interest in the CS Reformation Tour in March of 2017, we’ll have the airfare portion of the trip nailed down soon, Two announcements before we dive in.
1) For those who’ve expressed interest in the CS Reformation Tour in March of 2017, we’ll have the airfare portion of the trip nailed down soon, hopefully by the end of April. As soon as we rates, we’ll tell you here and on both the sanctorum.us site and the Facebook page.
2) The 2016 Podcast Awards are taking nominations for your favorite podcasts. If you want to vote for CS, head over to podcastawards.com and do so. Nominated podcasts only make it onto the slate if they receive enough nominations. As a listener, you can nominate Communio Sanctorum once a day for the 2 week nomination period. Both the sanctorum.us site and Facebook page will have more information. Thanks!
The 16th C saw the establishment & growth of the Spanish and Portuguese overseas empires. The Spanish Empire included Mexico, extending well into what is now the western half of the United States. In the 17th C, other Europeans began their own empire building. The most successful of the new colonial powers was Great Britain. Among its first overseas enterprises were the 13 colonies in N America that became the United States.
Though we’ve already talked about the settling of Plymouth & the Puritan settlements of Massachusetts, we’ll do a little review. The first British colonial ventures in N America failed. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh was granted a charter for colonization. He named the area Virginia, after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. But his 1st 2 ventures, failed. The first group of settlers returned to England, while the 2nd disappeared.
Then, in 1607 the first permanent colonization of Virginia began at Jamestown, named after the new British King James. There was a chaplain among them, for the Virginia Company who sponsored the venture  hoped to establish the Church of England in the new land, and to offer its services both to the settlers and Indians. It was also hoped the new colony halt Spanish expansion, which was feared for its spread of the dread “popery,” as Puritans called Catholicism. But the colony’s main purpose was economic, not religious. The Church of England never had a bishop in Virginia or in any of the other 13 colonies. The stockholders of the Virginia Company simply hoped trade with the Indians, along with whatever crops the settles grew, would bring a profit.
The founding of Virginia took place at the high point of Puritan influence in the Church of England. Several of the stockholders and settlers believed the colony should be ruled by Puritan principles. Its early laws required attendance at worship twice a day, strict observance of Sunday s a day of rest & worship, the of profanity and immodesty. But King James detested Puritans, and would not allow his colony to be ruled by them. A war with the native Americans in 1622 became the excuse to bring Virginia under his direct rule. After that, Puritan influence waned. Later Charles I, following James’s anti-Puritan policy, carved out a large part of Virginia for a new colony called Maryland, and placed it under the  Catholic proprietor, Lord Baltimore. Maryland was intended to be a Roman Catholic enclave in the British North American colonies. While many Catholics did move there, Protestants always outnumbered them.
The Puritan Revolution in England made little impact on Virginia. The colonists were more interested in growing the new cash crop of tobacco and opening new lands for its cultivation than in the religious strife going on back in merry old England. Puritan zeal lost its vigor in the midst of economic prosperity. One of the things that led to this spiritual decline was the acceptance of slavery.
Tobacco is a labor intensive crop. The importation of cheap labor in the form of African slaves is what allowed the colonists to grow the tons of tobacco that was now all the rage in Europe.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 17:16
131-Results http://www.sanctorum.us/131-results/ Sun, 10 Apr 2016 09:01:23 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1229 http://www.sanctorum.us/131-results/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/131-results/feed/ 2 This episode of CS is titled, Results. Now that we’ve come through the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment & considered many but not all of the movements and luminaries of this period, it’s time to hold a brief review of the results of what took place in Europe and the New World following all this turmoil. […] This episode of CS is titled, Results.

Now that we’ve come through the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment & considered many but not all of the movements and luminaries of this period, it’s time to hold a brief review of the results of what took place in Europe and the New World following all this turmoil.

Once we embark in the next Era of Church History, we’ll find ourselves in the weeds of so many movements that we’re going to have to back up and take it in an even more summary form than we have; and that’s been pretty overview-ish as it is. You see, the great warning Roman Catholics gave when the Protestants split turned out to be true. They warned if Luther and the other Reformers left the Mother Church, they would commence a fragmenting that would never end. They foretold that everyone who had their own idea of the way things ought to be would end up running off to start their own movement, denomination and church. The hundreds of denominations and tens of thousands of independent churches today are testimony to that fragmenting. Well, there’s just no way we can chronicle all the different direction the Church went. We’ll need to stand back a only mark the broad strokes.

Though the Enlightenment heavyweight John Locke was an active advocate of religious tolerance, he made it clear tolerance didn’t apply to Catholics. The justified English fear of a Jacobite conspiracy moved Locke and the Anglican clergy to be wary of granting Catholics a full spectrum of civil rights. On the contrary, the English were at one point so paranoid, a 1699 statute made the saying of a Latin mass a crime.

Many of the Roman Church apologists were talented writers and challenged Anglican teachings. In 1665, Bishop Tillotson answered John Sergeant’s treatise titled Sure Footing in Christianity, or Rational Discourses on the Rule of Faith. Sergeant worried some Protestants might convert to Catholicism for political reasons. His anxiety grew in 1685 when the Roman Catholic Duke of York, James II, became king. King James’s Declaration of Indulgences removed restrictions blocking Catholics from serving in the government.

The arrival of William III and the what’s called “Glorious Revolution” ended James’ efforts to return England to the Catholic fold. He was allowed to leave England for France at the end of 1688. Then in 1714 in the Peace of Utrecht which ended the War of the Spanish Succession, King Louis XIV of France, promised he’d no longer back the Stuart claim to England’s throne.

During the 18th C, Catholics in England were a tiny minority. At the dawn of the C, there were only 2 convents in England, with 25 nuns. By 1770, they still numbered no more than 80,000. Catholics lacked civil & political rights and were considered social outsiders. The Marriage Act of 1753 disallowed any marriage not conducted according to the Anglican rite, excepting Quakers & Jews.

This is not to say all English Protestants were intolerant of Roman Catholics. Some of the upper classes appreciated varied aspects of Roman culture. They owned art produced by Catholic artists and thought making the “Grand Tour” to Rome as a vital part of a proper education.

Still, anti-Catholic feelings on the part of the common people was seen in the Gordon Riots  of 1780. When the 1699 statue banning the Mass was removed, a mob burned down Catholic homes & churches. Catholics didn’t receive full civil liberty until the Emancipation Act of 1829.

In England, while Anglicans, Baptists, and Catholics criticized each other, they agreed Deism represented a serious threat to the Christian Faith because it was in England that Deism found its most fertile soil.

In 1645 Lord Herbert of Cherbury, considered the “Father of English Deism,” proposed 5 articles as the basis of his the rationalist religion.

(1) God exists;

(2) We are obliged to revere God;

(3) Worship consists of practical morality;

(4) We should repent of sin;

(5) We’ll receive divine recompense in the world to come according to how we’ve lived.

Charles Blount published several works that furthered the Deist cause in England. John Toland’s Christianity not Mysterious in 1696 opened the floodgates of Deistic literature. Contemporaries of John Locke viewed his The Reasonableness of Christianity as preparing the way for Toland’s explicitly deist work. Locke tried to blunt the accusation by saying while Toland was a friend, his ideas were his own and had not connection to Locke.

The first half of the 18th C saw an onslaught of literature from deists that seemed to batter Anglicans into a corner and make the Gospel seem silly and inspid. So much so that in 1722 Daniel Defoe complained that “no age, since the founding and forming the Christian Church was ever like, in open avowed atheism, blasphemies, and heresies, to the age we now live in.” When Montesquieu visited England in 1729 he wrote “There is no religion, and the subject if mentioned, excites nothing but laughter.”

Eventually, in response to this wave of literature, Christian apologists embarked on a huge campaign to address a number of -isms that had risen to silence the Faith. They dealt with Deism, Atheism, a resurgent Arianism, Socinianism, & Unitarianism. Their task was complicated by the fact many of their Deist opponents claimed to be proponents of the “true” teachings of the Christian faith.

Richard Bentley observed that the claims of deists attacked the very heart of the Christian faith. They said, “That the soul is material, Christianity a cheat, Scripture a falsehood, hell a fable, heaven a dream, our life without providence, and our death without hope, such are the items of the glorious gospel of these deist evangelists.”

A number of Deists argued that God, the Architect and Creator of the universe, does not providentially involve himself in his creation. Rather, he established fixed laws to govern the way the world runs. Since the laws are fixed, no biblical miracles could have taken place. So, the Bible is filled with errors & nonsense, a premise deists like Anthony Collins claimed was confirmed by critics like Spinoza. Prophetic references to a Messiah in the Old Testament they claimed were not fulfilled by Christ.

Deists maintained that salvation is NOT an issue of believing the Gospel. Rather, God requires all peoples to follow rationally construed moral laws regarding what’s right and wrong. Since a measure of reason is given to everyone, God is fair, they contended, in holding everyone accountable to the same rational, moral standards.

The astute listener may note that that sounds close to what some modern scientists are advocating today. We hear much about the growing number of once atheist scientists who are coming to a faith in God. That report is true, but it’s important that we qualify the word “god” with a small ‘g’ not a capital “G” as in the God of the Bible. The god of many recent scientist converts is more akin to the Watchmaker deity of the Deists than the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Paul.

Deists believed what they called “natural religion” underlies all religion. We learn about it, not from the special revelation of Scripture, but from, as Immanuel Kant would say “the starry heavens above, and the moral law within.”

Christian apologists unleashed scores of books in an anti-deist counterattack. One of the most effective was Jacques Abbadie’s Treatise on the Truth of the Christian Religion. Published in 1684, it was one of the earliest and most widely circulated apologetics for the truthfulness of the Christian faith based on “facts.” Abbadie was a Protestant pastor in London. He countered deists’ arguments against the resurrection and alleged discrepancies in Scripture. The points he made remain some of the most potent for apologetics today. He pointed out the public nature of Christ’s appearances after the resurrection. The change in the disciples’ attitudes, from trembling on fear to a confidence in the truthfulness and power of The Gospel as evidenced by their preaching and willingness to die for the Faith. In the 18th C, Abbadie’s work was found in the libraries of more French nobles than even the writings of Bossuet or Pascal.

You may remember a couple episodes back, our brief coverage of the work of the skeptic David Hume. Hume attacked the concept of “cause and effect,” claiming that it was only an unsubstantiated presupposition allowing for it, that made cause and effect a rule. Hume’s criticism turned those who bought his ideas into inveterate critics unable to come to conclusions about ANYTHING. John Wesley described Hume as “the most insolent despiser of truth and virtue that ever appeared in the world, an avowed enemy to God and man, and to all that is sacred and valuable upon earth.”

The Scottish philosopher Thomas Reid developed an erudite response to Hume’s skepticism. In his An Essay on Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, published in 1764, Reid critiqued Hume’s theory: “The theory of ideas, like the Trojan horse, had a specious appearance both of innocence and beauty; but if those philosophers had known, that it carried in its belly death and destruction to all science and common sense, they would not have broken down their walls to give it admittance.” Hume’s principles, Reid showed, led to absurd conclusions.

While Skepticism and Deism gained many adherents early on, and Christianity struggled for a while as it adjusted to the new challenge, it eventually produced a plethora of responses that regained a good measure of the intellectual ground that had been lost. This period can be said to be the breeding ground for today’s apologetic culture and the core of its philosophical stream.

In 1790 Edmund Burke rejoiced that Christian apologists had largely won against the Deists.

At the dawning of the 18th C, the Scottish clans with their rough & tumble culture & warlike tradition continued to reign over a good part of the Scottish Highlands, which accounts for about a third of the total area. In contrast, the capital of Edinburgh was a small city of no more than 35,000 crowded into dirty tenements, stacked above one another.

By the Act of Union of 1707, Scotland and England became one. The Scottish Parliament was dissolved and merged with the English. Scots were given 45 members in the House of Commons. But tension remained between N & S.

In the Patronage Act of 1712, the English Crown claimed the right to choose Scottish pastors; an apparent end run by the Anglican Church of England around the rights of Presbyterian Scotland. Seceder Presbyterians refused to honor the pastors approved by England. They started their own independent churches.

Then, in 1742 the Cambuslang Revival swept Scotland. From 4 months, the church in Cambuslang, 4 miles from Glasgow, witnessed large numbers of people attending prayer meetings and showing great fervency in their devotion to God. In June, George Whitefield visited and preached several times. In August, meetings saw as many as 40,000. The pastor of the church wrote, “People sat unwearied till 2 in the morning to hear sermons, disregarding the weather. You could scarce walk a yard, but you must tread upon some, either rejoicing in God for mercies received, or crying out for more. Thousands and thousands have I seen, melted down under the word and power of God.”

Whitefield then preached to large crowds in Edinburgh and other cities. Other centers of revival popped up.

In the 2nd half of the 18th C, Scotland gained a reputation as a center for the Enlightenment under such men as David Hume, Thomas Reid, Adam Smith, and Francis Hutchison. Voltaire wrote that “today it is from Scotland that we get rules of taste in all the arts, from epic poetry to gardening.”

An interesting development took place in Scotland at that time, maybe born by a weariness of the internecine conflict that was endemic to Scottish history. A cultured “literati” in Edinburgh participated in different clubs, but all aimed at striking some kind of balance where people of different persuasions could hold discourse without feeling the need to come to blows. They sought enlightened ways to improve society & agriculture. In the inaugural edition of the Edinburgh Review, 1755, the editor encouraged Scots “to a more eager pursuit of learning themselves, and to do honor to their country.”

Evangelicals like Edinburgh pastors John Erskine and Robert Walker hoped to reform society using some of the new ideas of Enlightenment thinkers. They embarked on a campaign to safeguard & expand civil liberties. But unlike more moderate members of the Church of Scotland, they believed conversion to a personal faith in Christ was a prerequisite for reform. Erskine appreciated George Whitefield and edited and published a number of Jonathan Edwards’s works.

In Ireland, the Glorious Revolution was not at all “glorious” for Catholics. On July 1, 1690, the armies of the Protestant King William III defeated the forces of the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne and seized Dublin. In 1691, Jacobites in Ireland either fled or surrendered. The Banishment Act of 1697 ordered all Catholic clergy to leave Ireland or risk execution. Poverty and illiteracy made life miserable for large numbers of Irish Catholics.

English restrictions on Ireland were brutal. Power resided in the hands of a small group of wealthy Anglican elite of the official Church of Ireland. Even Scottish Presbyterians who had settled in Ulster were excluded from several civil and military roles. And the Irish had to pay the cost of quartering English troops to keep the peace.

Not to be denied, some Catholic priests donned secular clothes so as to continue to minister to their spiritual charges without putting them in danger.

In the last decades of the 18th C the Irish population grew rapidly. Methodists numbered some 14,000 in 1790 and allied with other Protestants who’d come over from England, settled the N of the Island. Protestants in Ireland, whatever their stripe, typically held fierce anti-Catholic sentiments, just as Catholics were usually hostile toward Protestants.

In 1778 the Catholic Relief Act allowed Catholics to buy and inherit land. In 1782 the Irish Parliament gained independence, and laws against Catholics were changed. But the English monarchy managed to maintain its authority and put down the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

The upshot of all that is this à While The Gospel faced a withering barrage form some of the most potent of Enlightenment critics, skeptics and foes, and it was slow to respond, which allowed the ideas of rationalism to poison the well of much Western philosophical thought, the challenge was eventually answered, not only by an eloquent reply, but by the stirring of the Holy Spirit Who brought winds of revival for which the most elite skeptic had no come back.

Christianity was tested in the British Isles during the 18th C, but it passed the test.

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This episode of CS is titled, Results. Now that we’ve come through the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment & considered many but not all of the movements and luminaries of this period, it’s time to hold a brief review of the results of what too... Now that we’ve come through the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment & considered many but not all of the movements and luminaries of this period, it’s time to hold a brief review of the results of what took place in Europe and the New World following all this turmoil.
Once we embark in the next Era of Church History, we’ll find ourselves in the weeds of so many movements that we’re going to have to back up and take it in an even more summary form than we have; and that’s been pretty overview-ish as it is. You see, the great warning Roman Catholics gave when the Protestants split turned out to be true. They warned if Luther and the other Reformers left the Mother Church, they would commence a fragmenting that would never end. They foretold that everyone who had their own idea of the way things ought to be would end up running off to start their own movement, denomination and church. The hundreds of denominations and tens of thousands of independent churches today are testimony to that fragmenting. Well, there’s just no way we can chronicle all the different direction the Church went. We’ll need to stand back a only mark the broad strokes.
Though the Enlightenment heavyweight John Locke was an active advocate of religious tolerance, he made it clear tolerance didn’t apply to Catholics. The justified English fear of a Jacobite conspiracy moved Locke and the Anglican clergy to be wary of granting Catholics a full spectrum of civil rights. On the contrary, the English were at one point so paranoid, a 1699 statute made the saying of a Latin mass a crime.
Many of the Roman Church apologists were talented writers and challenged Anglican teachings. In 1665, Bishop Tillotson answered John Sergeant’s treatise titled Sure Footing in Christianity, or Rational Discourses on the Rule of Faith. Sergeant worried some Protestants might convert to Catholicism for political reasons. His anxiety grew in 1685 when the Roman Catholic Duke of York, James II, became king. King James’s Declaration of Indulgences removed restrictions blocking Catholics from serving in the government.
The arrival of William III and the what’s called “Glorious Revolution” ended James’ efforts to return England to the Catholic fold. He was allowed to leave England for France at the end of 1688. Then in 1714 in the Peace of Utrecht which ended the War of the Spanish Succession, King Louis XIV of France, promised he’d no longer back the Stuart claim to England’s throne.
During the 18th C, Catholics in England were a tiny minority. At the dawn of the C, there were only 2 convents in England, with 25 nuns. By 1770, they still numbered no more than 80,000. Catholics lacked civil & political rights and were considered social outsiders. The Marriage Act of 1753 disallowed any marriage not conducted according to the Anglican rite, excepting Quakers & Jews.
This is not to say all English Protestants were intolerant of Roman Catholics. Some of the upper classes appreciated varied aspects of Roman culture. They owned art produced by Catholic artists and thought making the “Grand Tour” to Rome as a vital part of a proper education.
Still, anti-Catholic feelings on the part of the common people was seen in the Gordon Riots  of 1780. When the 1699 statue banning the Mass was removed, a mob burned down Catholic homes & churches. Catholics didn’t receive full civil liberty until the Emancipation Act of 1829.
In England, while Anglicans, Baptists, and Catholics criticized each other, they agreed Deism represented a serious threat to the Christian Faith because it was in England that Deism found its most fertile soil.
In 1645 Lord Herbert of Cherbury, considered the “Father of English Deism,” proposed 5 articles as the basis of his the rationalist religion.
(1) God exists;
(2) We are obliged to revere God;
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Lance Ralston clean 18:08
130-Kant http://www.sanctorum.us/130-kant/ Sun, 20 Mar 2016 09:01:14 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1222 http://www.sanctorum.us/130-kant/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/130-kant/feed/ 2 This episode is titled, Kant. At the conclusion of episode 125 – The Rationalist Option Part 2, I said we’d return later to the subject of the philosophy of the Enlightenment to consider its impact on theology & Church History. We’ll do that in this episode. In that episode the past philosopher we considered was […] This episode is titled, Kant.

At the conclusion of episode 125 – The Rationalist Option Part 2, I said we’d return later to the subject of the philosophy of the Enlightenment to consider its impact on theology & Church History. We’ll do that in this episode.

In that episode the past philosopher we considered was the empiricist David Hume, whose skepticism went so far as to suggest that the common sense notion of cause and effect was an illusion. Hume said that all we can says is what we experience, but that we can’t know with certainty that one things gives rise to another, no matter how many times that thing may be repeated. In may in fact at some time and place NOT repeat that pattern. So to draw universal laws from what we experience isn’t fitting. The effect of Hume’s critique was to cast doubt on reason. Empiricists and Rationalists were set at odds with each other.

Hume and his Empiricist buddies weren’t without their opponents. A scotsman named James Reid published An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense in 1764. Reid argued for the value of self-evident knowledge or what he called common sense. His position came to be known as Common Sense Philosophy. I had many adherents among the growing number of Deists.

In France, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, applied the principles of reason to theories of government. He came to the conclusion a republic was the preferred form of government. Since power corrupts, Montesquieu said government ought to be exercised by 3 equal branches that would balance each other: the legislative, executive, and judicial. He proposed these ideas 30 years before either the Americans or French adopted them in their own political systems.

At bit after Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau suggested that what the rationalists called  progress à Wasn’t! Enlightenment thinkers and thought generally regarded human history as a record of advance form less to great sophistication = Progress! Societies were moving out form a backward barbarianism to advanced civilizations. The Enlightenment’s emphasis on Reason was evidence humanity was emerging from the pre-scientific belief in religious superstition into a new era of rationalism. Rousseau argued that much of what people considered progress was in fact a departure from their natural state that was contrary to human flourishing! He called the modern world and advanced civilization an artificiality. Rousseau advocated a return to the original order, whatever that was. He lauded the noble savage who lived in a pure state unfettered by all the conventions & inventions of modern society. Whatever govt there was ought to serve rather than rule. Religion ought to be a thing of the lowest common denominator with no one telling anyone else what to believe or how to worship. Rousseau said that lowest common denominator was that there is a God, the soul is immortal and there are moral norms. Which sounds an awful lot to me like Rousseau contradicted the very thing he said no one could do – tell others what to believe. “Believe whatever you want, as long as you agree with me,” seems to be the rule of a lot of skeptics.

And then at the end of the 18th C, along came a German philosopher that kinda’ blew everything up. Many consider Immanuel Kant the central figure of modern philosophy.

Before we dive in, I need to pause and say I Kant understand Kant. Seriously – right about the time I think I’m getting a handle on Kantian philosophy, he’ll say something that makes it all slip away. I hope that when I teach, my words make things clearer, not more obscure. I guess Kant is trying to clarify rather than obfuscate, but his thoughts swirl in a realm far beyond my puny intellectual capacity.

So the best I can do is seek to explain Kant’s ideas as others have expressed them.

Kant was born in 1724 in the city of Konigsberg in Prussia to Pietist parents. He was a solid student but no standout. At 16 he began studies at the University of Konigsberg where he ended up spending his entire career. He studied the philosophy of Leibniz [Lib-nitz] and Wolff and the new mathematics physics of the Englishman Isaac Newton. When his father had a stroke on 1746, Kant began tutoring in the villages around Konigsberg.

Kant never married but had a rich social life. He was a popular author and teacher, even before publishing his best known philosophical works.

Kant was a firm believer in rationalism until he was awakened from his, as he called it, “dogmatic slumber” by reading Hume.

In the work for which Kant is best known, his 1781, Critique of Pure Reason, he proposed a radical alternative to both the empiricism of Hume and the rationalism of Descartes. According to Kant, there’s no such thing as innate ideas. But there are fundamental structures of the mind, and within those structures we place whatever our senses perceive. Those first and most important structures are time & space; then follow 12 “categories.”

These categories are unity, plurality, quantity; quality; reality, negation, limitation, subsistence, causality, relation; possibility, & necessity. Did you get that? There will be a quiz.

Kant said time, space, and the 12 categories aren’t something we perceive via our senses. Rather, they’re structures our minds use to organize our perceptions. In order to be able to USE or process a sensation, we have to put it into one of these mental structures. It’s only after the mind orders them within these categories that they become intelligible experiences.

Kant said that no one really knows a thing as it is in itself. What we know is only what’s going on in the activity of our minds. It’s our perception of a thing we know – not the thing ITSELF as it is. Let me use an illustration that may get this across, or not. WE can make this pleasant too. Let’s say you and I are on the Big Island of Hawaii; where my wife and I are when this episode posts on Sunday March 20th. And let’s pretend we’re both looking at a black sand beach at sunset. The sun is half a golden orb settling in the blue ocean. A half dozen palm trees stand in dark silhouette against a multi-colored sky of deep blue, fading to indigo, and morphing to scarlet & orange.

I just gave names to several colors. But those colors are labels that come from categories in my mind I sort what my eyes see into. You do the same. But how could we know if what I experience as orange is the same as what you know as orange. Maybe my orange is your blue. My black might be your white. But since we’ve always labeled what we perceive by those labels, that’s what they are to us. Maybe if what you & I perceive were to be somehow traded, we’d freak out because of the total messing with our categories it just played.

Kant said that in knowledge, what we have isn’t things as they are in themselves, but rather things as our mind grasps them. So, there’s no such thing as purely objective knowledge, and the pure rationality of Cartesians, Empiricists, and Deists is an illusion.

If true, Kant’s work meant many of the arguments used to support Christian doctrine no longer worked. If existence isn’t an objective reality, but just a category of our mind, there’s no way to prove the existence of God, the soul, or anything else. To be blunt, Descartes would be stuck at “I think, therefore I am.” He could go no further than that.

Kant, like so many Enlightenment thinkers, was loath to give up on the idea of the existence of God completely. They wanted to hang on to it. But with Kantian philosophy, faith and reason become utterly separated form each other.

Kant dealt with religion in several of his works—particularly in his Critique of Practical Reason, published in 1788. There he argued that, although pure reason can’t prove the existence of God or the soul, there’s “practical reason” that has to do with the moral life, and whose procedure is different from that of pure reason. But this practical reason, becomes a concession, a nod to those who can’t operate by the higher pure reason. It didn’t take long for others to realize practical reason was like philosophical training wheels that had to come off if humanity was to move forward as a rational creature.

Kant’s significance to religion and theology goes far beyond his uninspired attempts to ground religion in a practical morality. His philosophical work dealt a deathblow to the easy rationalism of his predecessors, and to the notion it’s possible to speak in purely rational and objective terms of matters like the existence of God and the soul. Following Kant, theologians tended to accept his divorce of faith and reason. Eventually some would question the universality and immutability of his categories of the mind, arguing that things like psychology, culture, & even language shape the categories. Kant’s work, which in some ways was the high point of modern philosophy, set the stage for the post-modern critique of the insistence on objectivity and universality as signs of true knowledge.

And though it’s early, We’ll call it quits at this point for two reasons.

1) I’m on vacation and my wife is calling me to go watch that sunset with her.

2) My head hurts. I Kant get all these ideas out of my head.

Okay, I know – bad pun.

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This episode is titled, Kant. At the conclusion of episode 125 – The Rationalist Option Part 2, I said we’d return later to the subject of the philosophy of the Enlightenment to consider its impact on theology & Church History. At the conclusion of episode 125 – The Rationalist Option Part 2, I said we’d return later to the subject of the philosophy of the Enlightenment to consider its impact on theology & Church History. We’ll do that in this episode.
In that episode the past philosopher we considered was the empiricist David Hume, whose skepticism went so far as to suggest that the common sense notion of cause and effect was an illusion. Hume said that all we can says is what we experience, but that we can’t know with certainty that one things gives rise to another, no matter how many times that thing may be repeated. In may in fact at some time and place NOT repeat that pattern. So to draw universal laws from what we experience isn’t fitting. The effect of Hume’s critique was to cast doubt on reason. Empiricists and Rationalists were set at odds with each other.
Hume and his Empiricist buddies weren’t without their opponents. A scotsman named James Reid published An Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense in 1764. Reid argued for the value of self-evident knowledge or what he called common sense. His position came to be known as Common Sense Philosophy. I had many adherents among the growing number of Deists.
In France, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, applied the principles of reason to theories of government. He came to the conclusion a republic was the preferred form of government. Since power corrupts, Montesquieu said government ought to be exercised by 3 equal branches that would balance each other: the legislative, executive, and judicial. He proposed these ideas 30 years before either the Americans or French adopted them in their own political systems.
At bit after Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau suggested that what the rationalists called  progress à Wasn’t! Enlightenment thinkers and thought generally regarded human history as a record of advance form less to great sophistication = Progress! Societies were moving out form a backward barbarianism to advanced civilizations. The Enlightenment’s emphasis on Reason was evidence humanity was emerging from the pre-scientific belief in religious superstition into a new era of rationalism. Rousseau argued that much of what people considered progress was in fact a departure from their natural state that was contrary to human flourishing! He called the modern world and advanced civilization an artificiality. Rousseau advocated a return to the original order, whatever that was. He lauded the noble savage who lived in a pure state unfettered by all the conventions & inventions of modern society. Whatever govt there was ought to serve rather than rule. Religion ought to be a thing of the lowest common denominator with no one telling anyone else what to believe or how to worship. Rousseau said that lowest common denominator was that there is a God, the soul is immortal and there are moral norms. Which sounds an awful lot to me like Rousseau contradicted the very thing he said no one could do – tell others what to believe. “Believe whatever you want, as long as you agree with me,” seems to be the rule of a lot of skeptics.
And then at the end of the 18th C, along came a German philosopher that kinda’ blew everything up. Many consider Immanuel Kant the central figure of modern philosophy.
Before we dive in, I need to pause and say I Kant understand Kant. Seriously – right about the time I think I’m getting a handle on Kantian philosophy, he’ll say something that makes it all slip away. I hope that when I teach, my words make things clearer, not more obscure. I guess Kant is trying to clarify rather than obfuscate, but his thoughts swirl in a realm far beyond my puny intellectual capacity.
So the best I can do is seek to explain Kant’s ideas as others have expressed them.
Kant was born in 1724 in the city of Konigsberg in Prussia to Pietist parents.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 12:05
129-Moravians & Wesley http://www.sanctorum.us/129-moravians-wesley/ Sun, 13 Mar 2016 09:01:37 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1219 http://www.sanctorum.us/129-moravians-wesley/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/129-moravians-wesley/feed/ 2 The title of this episode is Moravians and Wesley. We took a look at Pietism in an earlier episode. Pietism was a reaction to the dry dogmatism of Protestant Scholasticism and the reductionist rationalism of Enlightenment philosophers. It aimed to renew a living faith in a living Christ. As a movement, it was led in […] The title of this episode is Moravians and Wesley.

We took a look at Pietism in an earlier episode. Pietism was a reaction to the dry dogmatism of Protestant Scholasticism and the reductionist rationalism of Enlightenment philosophers. It aimed to renew a living faith in a living Christ.

As a movement, it was led in the 17th C by Philip Jakob Spener & August Francke [frank -uh].

Spener had a godson named Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a German Count. Even as a young child, Nicholas possessed a deep devotion to God.  His parents were devout Pietists & sent him to the University of Halle, where he studied under the Pietist leader Francke. Later he went to Wittenberg, a center of Lutheran orthodoxy, where he repeatedly clashed with his teachers. After traveling to other countries & studying law, he married and entered the service of the court of Dresden.

It was there Zinzendorf first met a group of Moravians who’d change the course of his life. Moravia lies in the SE of what is today, the Czech Republic. You’ll remember that Jan Hus of Prague was one of the earliest Reformers. The Moravians were Hussites, that is, they were long time adherents to the renewal begun by Jan Hus. They’d been forced by persecution to forsake their native land. Zinzendorf offered them asylum on his extensive lands. It was there they founded the a community called Herrnhut. This community so attracted Zinzendorf he resigned his cushy post in the Court of Dresden and joined it. Under his direction, the Moravians became part of the local Lutheran parish. But the Lutherans were unwilling to trust foreigners who’d been adherents of Pietism.

In 1731, while visiting Denmark, Zinzendorf met a group of Eskimos converted by the Lutheran missionary Hans Egede.  This kindled in the Count an interest in missions that would dominate the rest of his life. Soon the community at Herrnhut was on fire with the same zeal, and in 1732 its 1st missionaries left for the Caribbean. A few years later there were Moravian missionaries in Africa, India, S & N America. They founded the communities of Bethlehem & Nazareth in Pennsylvania, and Salem, N Carolina. In just 20 yrs a movement that began with 2 hundred refugees had more missionaries overseas than had been sent out by all Protestant churches since the Protestant Reformation 2 centuries earlier.

In the meantime, conflicts with the Lutheran authorities of Germany did slaken. Zinzendorf was banned from Saxony, and traveled to N America, where in 1741he was present at the founding of the Bethlehem township. Then, not long after his return to Germany, a peace was hammered out between Lutherans & Moravians. But it didn’t last. Zinzendorf agreed to become bishop of the Moravians, but from a spiritual line of ecclesiastical authority reaching back to Jan Hus. The Lutherans didn’t recognize Hus; they wanted the Count’s authority to link to Luther.

I insert a little personal aside here: What silly things we Christian bicker over. Doesn’t a person’s spiritual authority rest in their being called by God, not man? What matter is it that it comes through this one-time leader or that? It’s the original source that matters.

Zinzendorf died at Herrnhut in 1760, and shortly after his followers broke with Lutheranism. Although the Moravian church never had a large membership and was unable to continue sending so many missionaries, its example contributed to the great missionary awakening of the 19th C. Perhaps the greatest significance of the movement was its impact on John Wesley and, through him, on the Methodist tradition.

In late 1735 & early ‘36, a group of Moravians was sailing to the New World hoping to preach to the Native Americans of Georgia. On board was a young Anglican priest, named John Wesley, whom the Georgia Governor Oglethorpe had invited to serve as a pastor in Savannah. The young Wesley accepted the offer and hoped himself to preach to the Indians. The early part of the voyage was calm and Wesley learned enough German to communicate with the Moravians. Then the weather turned and the ship was soon in real danger. The mainmast split, and panic nearly ruined the crew. The Moravians, by contrast were utterly calm and sang hymns throughout the ordeal. Meanwhile, Wesley, chaplain of the vessel, came to the realization he was more concerned for himself than his shipmates. After the storm, the Moravians told him they were able to brave the storm and reality of death because of their conviction their lives were in God’s hands & should they perish at sea, they would but pass into the Hands of their glorious King. Wesley simply could not relate to that kind of trust in the God he served professionally.

Arriving in Savannah, Wesley asked one of the Moravians named Gottlieb Spangenberg for advice regarding his work as a pastor and missionary. He left a record in his diary of the conversation:

Spangenberg asked, “My brother, I must first ask you 1 or 2 questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?”

Wesley wrote, “I was surprised, and knew not what to answer. He observed it, and asked, ‘Do you know Jesus Christ?’ I paused, and said, ‘I know he is the Saviour of the world.’ ‘True,’ replied he; ‘but do you know he has saved you?’ I answered, ‘I hope he has died to save me.’ He only added, ‘Do you know yourself?’ I said, ‘I do.’

Then Wesley added this, “But I fear they were vain words.”

These experiences left Wesley both profoundly moved and confused. Wesley had always thought of himself as a good Christian. His father, Samuel, was an Anglican priest, and his mother Susanna the daughter of another. She’d been particularly careful in the religious instruction of her 19! children. When John was 5, fire broke out in their home. He was miraculously saved, and after that his mother thought of him as “a brand plucked from the burning;” no doubt because God had a special plan for him.

At Oxford, Wesley distinguished himself academically & in terms of his religious devotion. After helping his father’s parish work for a season, he returned to Oxford, where he joined a religious society founded by his brother Charles and a group of friends. Its members made a covenant to lead a holy & sober life, to take communion weekly, to be faithful in private devotions, to visit prisons, and spend 3 hrs every afternoon, studying the Bible and books of devotion together. Since John was the only ordained priest among them & since he possessed an aptitude to teach, John became group’s leader.   It didn’t take long before other students mocked the group, calling it the “holy club” & because of their methodical lifestyle è “Methodists.”

All that preceded his trip to Georgia. But now,  he doubts the reality of his faith. Adding to that doubt was the fact that he failed miserably as a pastor. He expected his parishioners to behave as his holy club had back in England. For their part, his parishioners expected him to be content with their attendance in church. John’s brother Charles, also in Georgia serving under Governor Oglethorpe, was disappointed with his work, and decided to return to England. John stayed on, only because he refused to give up. Then he was forced to leave under messy circumstances. A young woman whom he’d courted but broken up with married another. Wesley, judging her to be fickle, denied her communion. He was sued for defamation. Angry at this treatment, though it was largely self-inflicted, he returned to England, to the rejoicing of the people of Georgia.

At a low point and not knowing what else to do, Wesley contacted the Moravians. Peter Boehler became Wesley’s personal contact and counselor. He concluded he lacked a genuine saving faith & should stop preaching. Boehler advised him to continue until he possessed the faith he preached about.

Finally, on May 24, 1738, Wesley had the experience that changed his life. He wrote …

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

After that, Wesley no longer doubted his salvation. In fact, the obsession he’d had before about wondering if he was saved was replaced by a confidence that freed him to turn his considerable intellect to other things. Mostly, to the salvation of others.  He went immediately to visit the Moravian community at Herrnhut. Although inspiring, the visit convinced him Moravian spirituality was ill-suited to his temperament and involvement in social issues. In spite of his gratitude, he decided to not become a Moravian.

While all this was taking place, another former member of the “holy club,” one George Whitefield, had become a famous preacher. A few years earlier Whitefield was moved by an experience similar to Wesley’s at Aldersgate. He now divided his time between his parish in Georgia and preaching in England, where he had remarkable success, specially at the industrial center of Bristol. Whitefield’s preaching was emotional, and when critics objected to the way he used the pulpit he began preaching in outdoors; in the open air, as in Georgia. When the work in Bristol multiplied and he knew he’d need to soon return to Georgia, Whitefield asked Wesley to help by taking charge during his absence.

Wesley accepted Whitefield’s invitation. But Whitefield’s fiery preaching was not Wesley’s cup of tea. He objected to open-aire preaching. Later he commented on those early days, declaring that at that time he was so convinced that God wished everything to be done in order, that he assumed it a sin to save souls outside a church. Over time, in view of the incredible results & dramatic conversions, Wesley gave a reluctant nod to open-air work. He was also worried about the response to his preaching since it was so very different form Whitefield’s. But people often exhibited the same kind of response to his preaching they had to Whitefield’s. Some wept loudly & lamented their sins. Others collapsed in anguish. They would then express great joy, declaring they were wonderfully cleansed. Wesley preferred more solemn proceedings, but eventually decided what was taking place was a struggle between the devil & the Holy Spirit, and he ought not hinder God’s work. Over time, these emotional filled reactions of new converts diminished.

Wesley and Whitefield worked together for some time, although Wesley eventually became the leader of the movement. They parted because of theological differences. Both were Calvinists in most matters; but, on the issue of predestination and free will, Wesley departed from orthodox Calvinism, preferring the Arminian position. After several debates, the 2 friends decided each should follow his own path, and that they’d avoid controversies. That agreement was kept well by their followers. With the help of the Countess of Huntingdon, Whitefield organized the Calvinist Methodist Church, strongest in Wales.

Wesley had no interest in founding a new denomination. He was an Anglican, and throughout his life remained so. His goal was to cultivate the faith of the populace of England, much as Pietism was doing in Germany among Lutherans. He avoided scheduling his preaching in conflict with the services of the Church of England, and always took for granted that Methodist meetings would serve as preparation to attend Anglican worship and take communion there. For him, as for most of the church through the centuries, the center of worship was communion. This he took and expected his followers to take as frequently as possible, in the official services of the Church of England.

Although the movement had no intention of becoming a separate church, it did need an organization. In Bristol, the birthplace of the movement, Wesley’s followers organized into societies that at first met in private homes and later had their own buildings. When Methodist societies grew too large for the effective care of their members, Wesley followed a friend’s suggestion and divided them into classes, each with 11 members and a leader. These met weekly to read Scripture, pray, discuss religious matters, and collect funds. To be a class leader, it wasn’t necessary to be wealthy or educated. That gave significant participation to many who felt left out of the Church of England. It also opened the door to women who took a prominent place in Methodism.

The movement grew rapidly, and Wesley was had to travel throughout the British Isles, preaching and organizing his followers. The movement needed more to share in the task of preaching. A few Anglican priests joined. Most noteworthy among them was John brother Charles, famous for his hymns. But John Wesley carried the heaviest burden, preaching several times a day and traveling thousands of miles via horseback every year, until the age of 70.

Conflicts in the movement weren’t lacking. In the early years, there were frequent acts of violence against Methodists. Some of the nobility & clergy resented the authority the new movement gave people from the lower classes. Meetings were frequently interrupted by thugs & toughs hired by the movement’s opponents. Wesley’s life frequently threatened. As it became clear the opposition did nothing to slow or stop it, they gave up.

There were theological conflicts. Wesley grudgingly broke with the Moravians, whose inclination toward a contemplative Quietism he feared.

But the most significant conflicts were with the Anglican Church, to which Wesley belonged and in which he hoped to remain. Until his last days, he reprimanded Methodists who wanted to break with the Church of England. They saw something he seemed unwilling to see, that a breach was unavoidable. Some Anglican authorities regarded the Methodist movement as an indication of their shortcomings & resented it. Others felt the Methodists’ practice of preaching any & everywhere, without regard for ecclesiastical boundaries, was a serious breach of protocol. Wesley saw and understood these concerns, but thought the need of the lost trumps all such petty concerns.

A difficult legal decision came to make matters more tense. According to English law, non-Anglican worship services and church buildings were to be allowed, but they had to be officially registered. That put Methodists in a difficult place since the Church of England didn’t acknowledge their meetings and buildings. If they registered, it would be a declaration they weren’t Anglicans. If they didn’t, they’d be breaking the law. In 1787, after much hesitation, Wesley told his preachers to register, & the first legal step was taken toward the formation of a separate church. 3 years earlier, Wesley took a step that had even more drastic implications, at least theologically. For a long time, as a scholar of patristics, that is, the study of the Church Fathers, Wesley was convinced in the early church the term bishop was synonymous with elder & pastor. That led him to the conviction all ordained presbyters, including himself, had the power to ordain. But he refrained from employing it to avoid further alienating the Anglican leaders.

The independence of the United States, posed different difficulties. During the Revolutionary War, most Anglican clergy were Loyalists. After independence most of them returned to England. That made it difficult, impossible even, for US citizens to partake of communion. The bishop of London, who still had jurisdiction over the former colonies, refused to ordain clergy for the United States. Wesley deplored what he took to be the unwarranted rebellion of Britain’s former colonies, both because he was a staunch supporter of the king’s authority and because he could not fathom how the rebels could claim that they were fighting for freedom while they themselves held slaves. But, convinced communion was the heart of Christian worship, Wesley felt that no matter what the their political stance, US citizens ought not be deprived of the Lords’ table.

So in 1784, he ordained 2 lay preachers as presbyters for the new country, and made Anglican priest Thomas Coke their bishop. Later, he ordained others to serve in Scotland and elsewhere. In spite of having taken these steps, Wesley continued insisting on the need to avoid breaking with the Church of England. Charles told him the ordination of ministers for the New World was a break. In 1786, the Methodist leaders decided that in those places where the Anglican church was neglecting its Gospel duties, it was permitted to hold Methodist meetings at the same time as Anglican services.

Although Wesley refused to acknowledge it, by the time of his death in 1791, Methodism had become a separate church.

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The title of this episode is Moravians and Wesley. We took a look at Pietism in an earlier episode. Pietism was a reaction to the dry dogmatism of Protestant Scholasticism and the reductionist rationalism of Enlightenment philosophers. We took a look at Pietism in an earlier episode. Pietism was a reaction to the dry dogmatism of Protestant Scholasticism and the reductionist rationalism of Enlightenment philosophers. It aimed to renew a living faith in a living Christ.
As a movement, it was led in the 17th C by Philip Jakob Spener & August Francke [frank -uh].
Spener had a godson named Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a German Count. Even as a young child, Nicholas possessed a deep devotion to God.  His parents were devout Pietists & sent him to the University of Halle, where he studied under the Pietist leader Francke. Later he went to Wittenberg, a center of Lutheran orthodoxy, where he repeatedly clashed with his teachers. After traveling to other countries & studying law, he married and entered the service of the court of Dresden.
It was there Zinzendorf first met a group of Moravians who’d change the course of his life. Moravia lies in the SE of what is today, the Czech Republic. You’ll remember that Jan Hus of Prague was one of the earliest Reformers. The Moravians were Hussites, that is, they were long time adherents to the renewal begun by Jan Hus. They’d been forced by persecution to forsake their native land. Zinzendorf offered them asylum on his extensive lands. It was there they founded the a community called Herrnhut. This community so attracted Zinzendorf he resigned his cushy post in the Court of Dresden and joined it. Under his direction, the Moravians became part of the local Lutheran parish. But the Lutherans were unwilling to trust foreigners who’d been adherents of Pietism.
In 1731, while visiting Denmark, Zinzendorf met a group of Eskimos converted by the Lutheran missionary Hans Egede.  This kindled in the Count an interest in missions that would dominate the rest of his life. Soon the community at Herrnhut was on fire with the same zeal, and in 1732 its 1st missionaries left for the Caribbean. A few years later there were Moravian missionaries in Africa, India, S & N America. They founded the communities of Bethlehem & Nazareth in Pennsylvania, and Salem, N Carolina. In just 20 yrs a movement that began with 2 hundred refugees had more missionaries overseas than had been sent out by all Protestant churches since the Protestant Reformation 2 centuries earlier.
In the meantime, conflicts with the Lutheran authorities of Germany did slaken. Zinzendorf was banned from Saxony, and traveled to N America, where in 1741he was present at the founding of the Bethlehem township. Then, not long after his return to Germany, a peace was hammered out between Lutherans & Moravians. But it didn’t last. Zinzendorf agreed to become bishop of the Moravians, but from a spiritual line of ecclesiastical authority reaching back to Jan Hus. The Lutherans didn’t recognize Hus; they wanted the Count’s authority to link to Luther.
I insert a little personal aside here: What silly things we Christian bicker over. Doesn’t a person’s spiritual authority rest in their being called by God, not man? What matter is it that it comes through this one-time leader or that? It’s the original source that matters.
Zinzendorf died at Herrnhut in 1760, and shortly after his followers broke with Lutheranism. Although the Moravian church never had a large membership and was unable to continue sending so many missionaries, its example contributed to the great missionary awakening of the 19th C. Perhaps the greatest significance of the movement was its impact on John Wesley and, through him, on the Methodist tradition.
In late 1735 & early ‘36, a group of Moravians was sailing to the New World hoping to preach to the Native Americans of Georgia. On board was a young Anglican priest, named John Wesley, whom the Georgia Governor Oglethorpe had invited to serve as a pastor in Savannah. The young Wesley accepted the offer and hoped himself to preach to t...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 20:33
128-The Spiritualist Option http://www.sanctorum.us/128-the-spiritualist-option/ Sun, 06 Mar 2016 09:01:37 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1214 http://www.sanctorum.us/128-the-spiritualist-option/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/128-the-spiritualist-option/feed/ 0 In this episode, we’ll take a brief look at what came to be called Spiritualism. Coming out of the 16th C, the, what seemed to many at the time, endless debates on doctrine & dogma, the intolerance of Christians toward one another, and the lack of any apparent movement toward resolving the mess, moved many […] In this episode, we’ll take a brief look at what came to be called Spiritualism.

Coming out of the 16th C, the, what seemed to many at the time, endless debates on doctrine & dogma, the intolerance of Christians toward one another, and the lack of any apparent movement toward resolving the mess, moved many across Europe and the New World to seek refuge in a more of a religious sentiment, than a faith with clearly defined beliefs. Another factor that led to this movement was the burgeoning middle class that was rising in Europe. You see, it was only the wealthy nobility who possessed the resources for the higher education need to foster the excessive emphasis on correct doctrine. Those who didn’t have that opportunity; who couldn’t wax eloquent on complicated matters of theology, were regarded as unsophisticates who depended on their betters to tell them what to believe.

The Spiritualist Movement of the 17th & 18th Cs attracted people from all classes. From the cultured who’d tired of narrow-minded dogmatism, to uneducated commoners who were tired of having their lands abused by endless religious tussles.

The history of the Spiritualist movement is difficult to trace because it devolved into several streams that constantly mixed. Just as it’s beliefs were a hodge-podge, so is its history. We’ll examine it by taking a look at 3 of its main leaders & groups.

Jakob Boehme was born in Silesia, Germany in 1575. His parents were strict Lutherans of humble means. By all accounts, the young Jakob had a real & rich faith.

The sermons of that time were long dissertations on the theological debates of the day. Jakob was bored to tears by them because they did nothing to stoke his relationship with God.

At 14, he was apprenticed to a cobbler, a shoe-maker, which became his occupation. Shortly after beginning his apprenticeship, he began having visions. It night have been one thing if he’d kept these to himself, but he didn’t; he shared them. His master threw him out, saying he wanted an apprentice, not a prophet.

Boehme became a traveling-cobbler, moving here & there mending shoes. As he traveled and visited different churches, he came to the conclusion Church leaders had built a kind of confusing and confounding Tower of Babel with its interminable doctrinal debates. He determined to set dogmatics aside and cultivate his inner spiritual life.  He read everything he could lay his hands on that might help in that pursuit.

His meditations led him to some conclusions on the nature of the world & man’s place in it. These were then “confirmed” in visions and other spiritual experiences. But he kept his new-found convictions to himself for a time as he plied his shoe-mending-trade.

At 25, he ended his wanderings & set-up shop in Goerlitz, on the border btwn Germany & Poland. He made a comfortable living as a cobbler there.

Although Boehme didn’t see himself as called to preach, he was convinced God wanted him to record his visions. The result was a book titled Brilliant Dawn.  In it, Boehme repeatedly asserts he’s writing what God dictated word for word, and that he’s no more than a pen in His hand. Boehme didn’t publish, but a manuscript reached a local pastor, who accused Boehme to the magistrates. Under threat of exile, Boehme promised to teach or write no more on religious matters.  For 5 years he kept his promise. But in 1618, compelled by new visions and the encouragement of admirers, he wrote anew. Without permission, one of his followers published 3 of his works. These reached the same pastor, who again accused Boehme of heresy. He was forced to leave Goerlitz.

He ended up in the court of the Elector of Saxony, where several theologians examined his teachings without reaching a conclusion.  They confessed themselves unable to understand exactly his meaning. They recommended Boehme be given time to clarify his ideas. Not long after, he became fell ill and returned to Goerlitz to die among his friends & followers. He passed at the age of 50.

The Saxony theologians’ response wasn’t just a dodge to avoid passing judgment on a likeable guy. Boehme’s writings continue to be difficult to sort out. They are a confusing mish-mash of this and that; which, to be frank, is a hallmark of much of what goes under the title “spiritualism.”  Boehme’s tomes are a mixture of traditional Christian themes with others taken from magic, alchemy, occultism, and theosophy. At points, it looks like Boehme gives a metaphor to help explain his point, but it never does. You read it and say, “What does THAT have to do with anything?” So the metaphors, striking as they may be, only serve to add to the confusion. And THAT may very well be the overall point of his inkings. There may not BE a meaning to be parsed from it all. Boehme may have been using words to produce phrases that conveyed singular ideas that weren’t connected.  He may have been aiming for a state of mind that suspended rationality and logic; that out of frustration at trying to make sense of what is senseless, gives up, lays reason down and then becomes hyper-susceptible.

While the specifics of what Boehme aimed for aren’t clear, their basic direction is. He took aim at the lifeless dogmatism of theologians and the empty liturgy of the Church. Against these, Boehme exalted the freedom of the spirit with a belief in direct revelation form God to individuals. He declared that since “the letter kills,” believers ought not to guided by Scripture, but by the Holy Spirit, who inspired the biblical writers and presently inspires believers. He said, “I have enough with the book that I am. If I have within me the Spirit of Christ, the entire Bible is in me. Why would I wish for more books? Why discuss what is outside, while not having learned what is within me?”

Huh – funny then that he wrote books.

Boehme had few followers during his lifetime but later his books gained admirers. In England, some formed a Boehmenist movement. Some of them clashed with the Quakers who we’ll take a look at next. So, the Spiritualist Movement, born in part as a protest against the doctrinal debates of traditional theology, was eventually embroiled in similar controversies.

George Fox was born in small English village the same year Jakob Boehme died, 1624. Like oehme, Fox was of humble origin, and a cobbler’s apprentice. At 19, disgusted at the immorality of his fellow apprentices, he quit & began a life the life of an itinerant religious seeker. He attended meetings of all sorts, seeking spiritual illumination. He devoted himself to the study of Scripture until he’d committed most of it to memory.

Fox’s pursuit of spiritual illumination was a roller coaster of highs & lows. There were times when he had some mystical experience that thrilled, followed by a season where he despaired of finding the path that would lead to what he sought. He came to the conviction all the various sects in England were wrong, and their worship was an abomination to God.

Fox challenged much of traditional Christianity. He reasoned if God doesn’t dwell in houses made by human hands, as the Scripture said, how dare anyone call buildings where they gather “churches”? They are in truth no more than houses with bell-towers.

Pastors who work for a salary are not real shepherds, but “priests” and “journeymen.”

Hymns, orders of worship, sermons, sacraments, creeds, ministers—are all human hindrances to the freedom of the Spirit.

Over against all these things, Fox placed the what he called the “inner light.” This was a seed that existed in all people, and was the true way to find God. The Calvinist doctrine of the total depravity was a denial of God’s love. On the contrary, Fox maintained, there is an inner light in all, no matter how dim it may be. Thanks to that light, pagans can be saved as well as Christians. This light, however, must not be confused with the intellect or conscience. It’s the capability all have to recognize and accept the presence of God. By it we’re able to believe and understand Scripture. So, communication with God thru the inner light is previous to any communication by external means.

Although those close to George Fox knew of the fire burning within him, for several years he abstained from proclaiming what he was convinced he’d discovered regarding the true meaning of faith and Christianity.

At that time there were in England several religious sects, and Fox attended all without finding contentment in any. Finally, he felt called by the Spirit to speak out at a Baptist meeting, announcing the truth he now believed. From that point on, such urgings of the Spirit became more frequent. In gatherings of various religious groups, Fox declared he’d been commanded by the Spirit to announce his new vision of The Faith. He was often received with contempt and hostility, and was thrown out of meetings, beaten, and stoned. But all such didn’t not stop him. Soon he was in another “house with a belfry,” interrupting the service and proclaiming his message.

Fox’s followers grew rapidly. At first they called themselves “Children of Light” but Fox preferred the name of Friends, which later become their official name. They were soon called Quakers by outsiders. The name came from their tendency to tremble with fervency as they prayed.

In 1652, George Fox gained the support of Margaret Fell, a noble-woman who was widowed in 1658, and married him in ‘69. She became a leader in the movement and used her position to lend it an air of credibility and protection. But political opposition to grew and she was arrested for supporting the movement. Her property was confiscated & she was sentenced to life imprisonment. After being released by the king, she married Fox. The rest of their lives were spent teaching & in missions, which were repeatedly interrupted by rounds of imprisonment. Fox died in 1691, his wife Margaret in 1702.

Since the Friends believed structure in worship was an obstacle to the Spirit, their service took place in silence. Any who felt called to speak or pray aloud were free to do so. When the Spirit moved them, women had the same right to speak as men. Fox himself did not prepare to speak at such meetings, but simply allowed the Spirit to move him. There were times when many gathered hoping to hear him speak, but he refused. Also, the Quakers didn’t include the traditional sacraments of baptism & communion. They feared that physical water, bread, & wine would draw attention away from the spiritual.

Fox was aware of the danger his emphasis on the freedom of the Spirit would lead to excessive individualism. Other movements with a similar emphasis hadn’t lasted long. The exercise of individual freedom inevitably leads to the dissolving of the group. Fox avoided this by underscoring the importance of community and love. In Friends’ meetings, decisions aren’t made by a majority. If a unanimous agreement was not reached, the decision was postponed, and the meeting continued in silence until the Spirit offered a solution. If one was not received, the matter was left pending for another occasion.

Many disliked the teachings and practices of the Quakers. Religious leaders resented the way they interrupted their services to preach or read Scripture. Authorities saw the need to teach a lesson to these Friends, who refused to pay tithes, swear oaths, bow to their “betters,” or uncover their head before any but God. Quakers argued that, since God was addressed in the familiar “Thou,” no one else ought to be addressed by the more respectful “You.” Well, to those used to the submission of their “inferiors,” all this was an intolerable insubordination.

So, Fox was repeatedly beaten, & spent years in prison. He was sent to prison the first time for interrupting a preacher who declared the ultimate truth was to be found in Scripture. Fox said that wasn’t true; ultimate truth was in the Spirit who inspired Scripture. On other occasions he was accused of blasphemy, or of conspiring against the government. When the authorities offered a pardon, he refused, declaring he wasn’t guilty. To accept a pardon for something he hadn’t done was to lie. On another occasion, when serving 6 months for blasphemy, he was offered freedom in exchange for service in the Army. He refused, declaring Christians ought not use weapons other than those the Spirit provided, His sentence was prolonged by an additional 6 months.

When he wasn’t in prison, Fox spent his time in Margaret’s home, called Swarthmoor Hall. It became the headquarters of the Friends. The rest of the time he traveled England and abroad, visiting Quaker meetings and taking his message to new areas. First he went to Scotland, where he was accused of sedition; then to Ireland. He spent 2 years in the Caribbean and North America; and made 2 visits to the Continent. In all these lands he gained converts, and by the time of his death, in 1691, his followers were counted by the tens of thousands.

And like Fox, they were persecuted. They were thrown in jail for vagrancy, blasphemy, inciting riots, & refusing to pay tithes. In 1664, Charles II issued an edict forbidding unlicensed religious assemblies. Many groups continued gathering in secret. But the Quakers declared it would be a lie to do so, simply disobeyed the edict. Thousands were imprisoned, and by the time religious tolerance was granted in 1689, hundreds had died in prison.

The most famous of Fox’s followers was William Penn, after whom the state of Pennsylvania is named. His father was a British admiral who tried to secure for him the best education available. While he was a student, William became a Puritan. Then, while studying in France, he came under the influence of the Huguenots. In 1667, back in England, he became a Quaker. His father, not knowing what to do with his “fanatical” son, threw him out of the house. Penn stayed true to his convictions, and eventually spent 7 months in the Tower of London. He sent word to the king that the Tower was the worst of arguments to convince him, so, no matter who was right, whoever uses force to seek religious assent is necessarily wrong. Finally, thanks to the intervention of his father and other well-placed friends, he was set free. He then spent several years raising a family, traveling throughout Europe, and writing in defense of the Friends.

Penn then conceived the idea of what he called his “holy experiment.” Some friends had spoken to him about New Jersey, in North America. The crown had owed Penn’s father a considerable amount of money. When William’s father died, that debt fell to the son. Since the Charles II wasn’t able to pay, Penn asked instead for a grant of land in what is now Pennsylvania. His purpose was to found a new colony in which there would be complete religious freedom. By then other British colonies had been founded in North America. But, with the exception of Rhode Island, all were marked by religious intolerance. In Massachusetts, the most intolerant of the colonies, Quakers were persecuted, condemned to exile, and even mutilated and executed. What Penn now proposed was a new colony in which all would be free to worship according to their own convictions. This seemed bad enough to an intolerant age. But even worse was Penn’s plan to buy from the Indians the land that the crown had granted him. He was convinced that the Indians, and not the crown, were the legitimate owners of the land. And he hoped to establish such cordial relations with them that the settlers would have no need to defend themselves by force of arms. The capital of this holy experiment would be called Philadelphia—the city of fraternal love.

No matter how ill-conceived Penn’s experiment seemed to the more enlightened Brits, soon there were many people, not only in England, but also in other parts of Europe, willing to take part in it. Many of them were Quakers, and therefore the Friends dominated the political life of the colony for some time. But there were also settlers of many different persuasions. Under the leadership of Penn, first governor of the colony, relations with the Indians were excellent, and for a long time his dream of a peaceful settlement was a reality.

The last Spiritualist we’ll look at today is Emanuel Swedenborg.

Born in 1688, 3 years before Fox’s death, Emmanuel Swedenborg was born to an aristocratic family in Sweden. He received an education at the University of Uppsala, and spent 5 years traveling England, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. The goal of these travels was the quest for knowledge. While Fox and Boehme pursued religious enlightenment, the young Swedenborg was after scientific knowledge.

After many years of scientific inquiry, Swedenborg claimed he had a vision of being carried into the spiritual world where saw eternal truths. He wrote expansively on the true meaning of reality and Scripture. He said that all that exists is a reflection of the attributes of God.  Therefore, the visible world “corresponds” with the invisible one. The same is true of Scripture, which reflects truths that can only be known by those who’ve entered the spiritual world.

Swedenborg was convinced his writings would form the beginning of a new era in the history of the world and religion. He claimed what had taken place when he received his revelations was what the Bible meant when speaking of the 2nd Coming of Christ. As expected, these ideas weren’t received well by most of his contemporaries. His circle of followers was small. He didn’t feel called to found a new movement, but to call the existing church to a new understanding of its nature and message.

Since that plan didn’t really work, in 1784, 12 years after his death, his disciples founded the Church of the New Jerusalem, whose members were never many but which has survived to our time. In the 19th C, the Swedenborgian Society was founded with the purpose of publishing and distributing Swedenborg’s writings.

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In this episode, we’ll take a brief look at what came to be called Spiritualism. Coming out of the 16th C, the, what seemed to many at the time, endless debates on doctrine & dogma, the intolerance of Christians toward one another, Coming out of the 16th C, the, what seemed to many at the time, endless debates on doctrine & dogma, the intolerance of Christians toward one another, and the lack of any apparent movement toward resolving the mess, moved many across Europe and the New World to seek refuge in a more of a religious sentiment, than a faith with clearly defined beliefs. Another factor that led to this movement was the burgeoning middle class that was rising in Europe. You see, it was only the wealthy nobility who possessed the resources for the higher education need to foster the excessive emphasis on correct doctrine. Those who didn’t have that opportunity; who couldn’t wax eloquent on complicated matters of theology, were regarded as unsophisticates who depended on their betters to tell them what to believe.
The Spiritualist Movement of the 17th & 18th Cs attracted people from all classes. From the cultured who’d tired of narrow-minded dogmatism, to uneducated commoners who were tired of having their lands abused by endless religious tussles.
The history of the Spiritualist movement is difficult to trace because it devolved into several streams that constantly mixed. Just as it’s beliefs were a hodge-podge, so is its history. We’ll examine it by taking a look at 3 of its main leaders & groups.
Jakob Boehme was born in Silesia, Germany in 1575. His parents were strict Lutherans of humble means. By all accounts, the young Jakob had a real & rich faith.
The sermons of that time were long dissertations on the theological debates of the day. Jakob was bored to tears by them because they did nothing to stoke his relationship with God.
At 14, he was apprenticed to a cobbler, a shoe-maker, which became his occupation. Shortly after beginning his apprenticeship, he began having visions. It night have been one thing if he’d kept these to himself, but he didn’t; he shared them. His master threw him out, saying he wanted an apprentice, not a prophet.
Boehme became a traveling-cobbler, moving here & there mending shoes. As he traveled and visited different churches, he came to the conclusion Church leaders had built a kind of confusing and confounding Tower of Babel with its interminable doctrinal debates. He determined to set dogmatics aside and cultivate his inner spiritual life.  He read everything he could lay his hands on that might help in that pursuit.
His meditations led him to some conclusions on the nature of the world & man’s place in it. These were then “confirmed” in visions and other spiritual experiences. But he kept his new-found convictions to himself for a time as he plied his shoe-mending-trade.
At 25, he ended his wanderings & set-up shop in Goerlitz, on the border btwn Germany & Poland. He made a comfortable living as a cobbler there.
Although Boehme didn’t see himself as called to preach, he was convinced God wanted him to record his visions. The result was a book titled Brilliant Dawn.  In it, Boehme repeatedly asserts he’s writing what God dictated word for word, and that he’s no more than a pen in His hand. Boehme didn’t publish, but a manuscript reached a local pastor, who accused Boehme to the magistrates. Under threat of exile, Boehme promised to teach or write no more on religious matters.  For 5 years he kept his promise. But in 1618, compelled by new visions and the encouragement of admirers, he wrote anew. Without permission, one of his followers published 3 of his works. These reached the same pastor, who again accused Boehme of heresy. He was forced to leave Goerlitz.
He ended up in the court of the Elector of Saxony, where several theologians examined his teachings without reaching a conclusion.  They confessed themselves unable to understand exactly his meaning. They recommended Boehme be given time to clarify his ideas. Not long after,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 20:39
127-Which Witch http://www.sanctorum.us/127-which-witch/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 22:57:01 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1211 http://www.sanctorum.us/127-which-witch/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/127-which-witch/feed/ 0 This, the 127th episode of CS is titled, “Which Witch?” and is a brief review of the well-known but poor understood Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials are often brought up by critics of Christianity as examples of religious intolerance & superstition. And while they did indeed carry a bit of that, they were […] This, the 127th episode of CS is titled, “Which Witch?” and is a brief review of the well-known but poor understood Salem Witch Trials.

The Salem Witch Trials are often brought up by critics of Christianity as examples of religious intolerance & superstition. And while they did indeed carry a bit of that, they were far more an example of a breakdown in the judicial system. The phrase “witch-hunt” refers to an attempt to find something damning in an otherwise innocent victim. What’s rarely mentioned is that while there was a brief flurry of witch-hunting that went on in the New England colonies, it was a long practice back in Europe from the mid 15th thru mid 18th Cs. It reached its peak between 1580 & 1630. It’s difficult to sort out how many were executed but scholars say it was from a low of 40,000 o as high as 60,000.

In light of such large numbers, the 20 who were executed in the Salem Trials seems trivial – but that even a single person was executed on the charge of witchcraft was a travesty of justice.

Witch hunts began in the 15th C in SE France and W’n Switzerland. The European witch craze was further fueled by the publication of The Hammer of the Witches in 1486, by the inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger.

The trials included both male & female victims as well as all ages and classes.

In New England, there’d been three hangings for witchcraft prior to Salem. But the first signs of trouble in Salem Village occurred during the winter of 1692, when the 9 yr old daughter of the village pastor, Elizabeth Parris, and her 11 yr old cousin Abigail Williams, began displaying bizarre behavior. The girls screamed uncontrollably, threw things, groaned, and threw fits with wild contortions. Witchcraft immediately surfaced as a possible explanation.

Suspicion soon centered on 3 women who lived on the margins of the village. A homeless woman named Sarah Good. An infrequent church-attender & so suspicious woman named Sarah Osborne. And Tituba, a slave accused of fortune-telling. These 3 were interrogated in March 1692 and sentenced to jail.

Tituba’s ethnic origins are difficult to sort out but she appears to have been an African slave brought from the Caribbean to serve in the home of Pastor Samuel Parris. She regaled the young girls with tales of the occult and indulged their desire to have their fortunes read. When the girls were caught gazing into a crystal ball, they tried to shift blame by affecting bizarre behavior that made them appear victims of spells cast on them by the malevolent.

Well, other adolescent girls saw all the attention this was gaining their rivals, they affected similar behavior to get a slice of the attention pie. They accused the soft targets of women who were already considered odd and suspicious. Tituba was the first to be accused, but soon Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were also implicated, questioned and remanded to custody.

There was a long-running feud among the Putnam & Porter families in Salem. One of the young girls was 12 yr old Ann Putnam. Some of those who were accused of witchcraft were on the wrong side of that feud.

It didn’t help that Elizabeth Parris’ father, Pastor Smauel Parris used his pulpit to fan the flames of superstition that ANYONE in Salem, indeed, anyone in the church at Salem, might in fact be in league with Satan.

In March, several more women were accused. Then, anyone who questioned the girl’s veracity were suspected. Sarah Good’s 4 yr old daughter Dorothy was arrested and interrogated.

The accusations began pouring in. More arrests made. And the people being arrested weren’t just a fringe element. They were upstanding members of the community and church. As tension grew, Governor William Phips set up a special court to adjudicate the cases. The first to be brought to trial was Bridget Bishop, who was accused of being a witch because of her immoral lifestyle and her tendency for wearing black clothing. She was found guilty and was executed by hanging in June 1692. Five more women were executed in July, and then four men and one woman in August. The last executions took place in September, when six women and three men were hung.

Some of those arrested confessed that they had practiced witchcraft, and accused others of having been their mentors. But scholars now believe these confession were made under duress and with the promise that by implicating others they might be allowed to go free.

Giles Corey, an 80-year-old farmer and husband of one of the accused, was also arrested in September. Corey refused to cooperate with the authorities and was subjected to a form of torture in which the subject is placed beneath an increasingly heavy load of stones in an attempt to compel him to enter a plea. After 2 days, Corey died without entering a plea.

The last trial occurred at the end of April, and all five accused were found not guilty, bringing an end to the episode. In the final count, 20 had been hung, 1 was crushed to death, and 4 died in prison.

20 years later, the Massachusetts court declared the entire ordeal had been a gross injustice, and ordered indemnifications be paid to the victims’ families.

At the time, 2 of New England’s most influential leaders were the father and son, Increase & Cotton Mather. Increase, who became president of Harvard, believed in the reality of witchcraft, and has been blamed for much of what happened in Salem. But Increase Mather severely criticized the proceedings and use of spectral evidence which was central to the case.

Spectral evidence was the testimony of the young girls and their supporters who claimed they saw certain things that must mean the accused were in fact witches bent on the spiritual & social unravelling of the Salem community. They saw what they described as ghost-like images. Increase Mather decried the use of such evidence as being inappropriate to condemn someone to death. His son Cotton took a similar position, first writing against witchcraft, then deploring the manner in which the trials were conducted.

It was the two-fold whammy of the Mather’s condemnation of spectral evidence & that the girls apparently began to stretch out a bit to see just what they could get away with that moved people to begin to wonder what was going on in Salem. It’s one thing to accuse oddballs and misfits of being witches. But when some of the community’s most respected members and people known for their upstanding virtue were accused à Well, maybe we’ve been played by a handful of middle-schoolers!

While religious superstition fueled the panic that fired the Salem Witch Trials, it was in fact a failure of the judicial system that saw 20 people hanged. And while Pastor Parris stirred the pot in Salem with his use of the pulpit to fuel suspicion, it was the work of 2 other pastors, Increase & Cotton Mather that moved the people of Salem and Massachusetts to calm down and end the trials.

Let’s turn now in the balance of this episode to tie off the Puritanism of New England.

Within a single generation, the original Puritan vision was already dimming. A new cosmopolitanism from Europe had transformed cities like Boston. By the early 18th C, American Puritanism had split into 3 factions.

First there were the Congregational churches, which down-played Calvinist doctrines and looked to the Enlightenment. These came to be called the “Old Lights.”

Then there were those who continued to practice the rigid Calvinism of their forebears, referred to as the “Old Calvinists.”

The 3rd group emerged from the “Great Awakening” with its pietistic emphasis on a “new birth.” Adherents were called “New Lights.”

Puritanism wasn’t static on either side of the Atlantic. It couldn’t be since their political contexts were vastly different. English Puritans were engaged in a civil war, while New England Puritans were carving life out of a new world. Despite minor variations like the New England Halfway Covenant, the Puritan theological core remained the same. The Westminster Confession of Faith is a solid guide in identifying the theological tenets of Puritanism.

The Confession was the work of the Westminster Assembly which met from 1643-9.

The Assembly was a committee appointed by Parliament. It was charged with drawing up a new liturgy to replace the Book of Common Prayer and for implementing a new plan for church government. It met in what’s called the Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey for the first time on July 1, 1643. Parliament appointed 121 clergy & 30 laypeople to the assembly.

The assembly replaced the Book of Common Prayer with the Directory of Public Worship in 1645, & the 39 Articles of the Church of England were replaced by the Westminster Confession in 1646. The House of Commons returned the Confession with instructions to add biblical proof texts. Revisions were made, and the Confession was ratified by Parliament. 2 catechisms were added. The Larger Catechism (designed for instructing adults) and the Shorter Catechism (a bit easier for children) were approved in 1648.

The Church of Scotland also adopted it without amendment, satisfying compliance with the Solemn League and Covenant. Its work being completed, the Westminster Assembly dissolved in 1649.

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This, the 127th episode of CS is titled, “Which Witch?” and is a brief review of the well-known but poor understood Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials are often brought up by critics of Christianity as examples of religious intolerance & supers... The Salem Witch Trials are often brought up by critics of Christianity as examples of religious intolerance & superstition. And while they did indeed carry a bit of that, they were far more an example of a breakdown in the judicial system. The phrase “witch-hunt” refers to an attempt to find something damning in an otherwise innocent victim. What’s rarely mentioned is that while there was a brief flurry of witch-hunting that went on in the New England colonies, it was a long practice back in Europe from the mid 15th thru mid 18th Cs. It reached its peak between 1580 & 1630. It’s difficult to sort out how many were executed but scholars say it was from a low of 40,000 o as high as 60,000.
In light of such large numbers, the 20 who were executed in the Salem Trials seems trivial – but that even a single person was executed on the charge of witchcraft was a travesty of justice.
Witch hunts began in the 15th C in SE France and W’n Switzerland. The European witch craze was further fueled by the publication of The Hammer of the Witches in 1486, by the inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger.
The trials included both male & female victims as well as all ages and classes.
In New England, there’d been three hangings for witchcraft prior to Salem. But the first signs of trouble in Salem Village occurred during the winter of 1692, when the 9 yr old daughter of the village pastor, Elizabeth Parris, and her 11 yr old cousin Abigail Williams, began displaying bizarre behavior. The girls screamed uncontrollably, threw things, groaned, and threw fits with wild contortions. Witchcraft immediately surfaced as a possible explanation.
Suspicion soon centered on 3 women who lived on the margins of the village. A homeless woman named Sarah Good. An infrequent church-attender & so suspicious woman named Sarah Osborne. And Tituba, a slave accused of fortune-telling. These 3 were interrogated in March 1692 and sentenced to jail.
Tituba’s ethnic origins are difficult to sort out but she appears to have been an African slave brought from the Caribbean to serve in the home of Pastor Samuel Parris. She regaled the young girls with tales of the occult and indulged their desire to have their fortunes read. When the girls were caught gazing into a crystal ball, they tried to shift blame by affecting bizarre behavior that made them appear victims of spells cast on them by the malevolent.
Well, other adolescent girls saw all the attention this was gaining their rivals, they affected similar behavior to get a slice of the attention pie. They accused the soft targets of women who were already considered odd and suspicious. Tituba was the first to be accused, but soon Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were also implicated, questioned and remanded to custody.
There was a long-running feud among the Putnam & Porter families in Salem. One of the young girls was 12 yr old Ann Putnam. Some of those who were accused of witchcraft were on the wrong side of that feud.
It didn’t help that Elizabeth Parris’ father, Pastor Smauel Parris used his pulpit to fan the flames of superstition that ANYONE in Salem, indeed, anyone in the church at Salem, might in fact be in league with Satan.
In March, several more women were accused. Then, anyone who questioned the girl’s veracity were suspected. Sarah Good’s 4 yr old daughter Dorothy was arrested and interrogated.
The accusations began pouring in. More arrests made. And the people being arrested weren’t just a fringe element. They were upstanding members of the community and church. As tension grew, Governor William Phips set up a special court to adjudicate the cases. The first to be brought to trial was Bridget Bishop, who was accused of being a witch because of her immoral lifestyle and her tendency...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 13:07
126-A City on a Hill http://www.sanctorum.us/126-a-city-on-a-hill/ Sun, 21 Feb 2016 09:01:33 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1189 http://www.sanctorum.us/126-a-city-on-a-hill/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/126-a-city-on-a-hill/feed/ 0 This episode is titled, A City on a Hill, and returns to our look at the Propagation of the Christian Faith in the Americas. Back in Episodes 105 & 6, we breached the subject of Missions in the New World. We shared about the role the Jesuits played in the Western Hemisphere. While the post-modern […] This episode is titled, A City on a Hill, and returns to our look at the Propagation of the Christian Faith in the Americas.

Back in Episodes 105 & 6, we breached the subject of Missions in the New World. We shared about the role the Jesuits played in the Western Hemisphere. While the post-modern view of this era tends to reduce all European missionaries in a monochromatic Euro-centrism that leveled native American cultures, that simply wasn’t the case. Yes, there were plenty of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants who conflated the Gospel with their native culture. But there were also not a few missionaries who understood the different and valued the uniqueness that was native American cultures. They sought to incarnate the Christian message in those cultures and languages. That often got them in trouble with officials back home who wanted to exploit the Native Americans. In other words, it isn’t just modern Liberation Theology advocates who sought to protect the peoples of the New World from the exploitive injustices of the Old. Many early missionaries did as well.

So, we considered the work of men like Jean de Brébeuf  & Madame de al Peltrie in the NE of North America. We considered the work of the Russian Orthodox Church in the far NW and down the western coast to CA. They were met by the Spanish coming North out of Central America.

Protestants were a bit late to the game. One of the first real attempts was led by the Huguenot Admiral Coligny who we encountered in that bloody & tragic story of the Paris Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day.  He attempted a short-lived experiment off Rio de Janeiro when Admiral Villegagnon established a Calvinist settlement in 1555. It folded when the French were expelled by the Portuguese. A more permanent Calvinist settlement was made by the Dutch when they captured Pernambuco, a region at the eastern tip of Brazil. This settlement remained a Calvinist enclave for 40 years.

North America presented a very different scene for missions than Central & South America. The voyage of the Mayflower with its ‘Pilgrims’ in 1620 was an historical pointer to the strong influence of Calvinism in what would become New England. The states of Massachusetts, Connecticut & New Hampshire were strongly Congregationalist or Presbyterian in terms of their church polity and heavily influenced by English Puritanism. At least some of these pioneers felt a responsibility for spreading the Christian faith to the native Americans.

In episode 106, we talked about John Eliot, the Mayhews, William Carey, David Livingstone, David Brainerd, & of course the famous, Jonathan Edwards.

Besides the Presbyterians & Congregationalists, Episcopalians achieved some success in evangelizing Native Americans.

Being that we’ve just come up to the time of the Puritans in England, now would be a good time to take a little closer look at Puritanism in the New World.

During the reign of James I some Puritans grew discouraged at the pace of reform and separated entirely from the Church of England. After a sojourn of about 11 years in the Netherlands, a group of “separating Puritans,” known to us as “Pilgrims,” set sail for the New World. The Dutch were generally pretty welcoming of these English dissenters because they shared the same faith and as the English were such hard workers, added to their booming economy. But the English grew distressed after a little more than a decade that their children were becoming more Dutch, than English. They couldn’t return to England where tension was thick between the Crown and the Puritans. SO they decided to set sail for the New World and try their luck there. They established a Colony at Plymouth in 1620 in what is now southeastern Massachusetts.

While the colony struggled greatly, it eventually succeeded and became something of a model for other English settlements in the region.

Then, back in England, when Archbishop Laud began to suppress Puritans, emigration to the New World increased. As the Puritans’ relationship with the new king soured, a Puritan lawyer named John Winthrop began plans for a Puritan colony in New England. In March 1629, Winthrop obtained a royal charter to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A year later he was joined by 700 colonists on 11 ships & set sail.

While aboard the Arbella, Winthrop preached a sermon declaring to his fellow travelers, “We shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.” Others were soon captivated by this vision of a Christian commonwealth, and from 1630 to the beginning of the English Civil War, well over 20,000 Puritans settled in New England. This was known as the “Great Migration.”

These later Puritans were different from the Separatists Pilgrims of Plymouth. They regarded themselves as loyal members of the Church of England, now established in NEW England. They had the chance to install the ideas on reform they’d ached to achieve at home. They may have separated in geography, but not in loyalty to The Church of England.

The New England Puritans held a vision, not just of a pure church, but of a purified society.  One committed to biblical principles, not just in religious life but in all facets of public life. The idea of “covenant” between God and his people was at the center of their enterprise. Following the pattern of God’s covenant with Israel, they promised to obey God and in turn He’d bless them. This is why one often encounters the terminology that Massachusetts was a kind of new Israel. And that required a strict observance of Sabbath. Families were structured as “little churches,” with the father bestowing blessing for obedience and vice versa.

This social structure required public piety. So it prohibited what were called “secular entertainments”, like games of chance, dancing round maypoles, horse-racing, bear-baiting, and the theater. Christmas celebrations were regarded as pagan rituals. Puritans adopted a rich view of piety, that at times became excessive and became à What’s the word? Let’s just call it, odd.

Following the Pietist tradition, New England Puritans required a genuine public declaration of conversion as a condition for church membership. Problems arose when children, who’d grown up in pious homes & had always counted themselves as Born Again, to give testimony to their dramatic conversion event. This led to many of them being excluded from membership in Church, which was the heart and center of social life in the New England town. Divisions erupted, leading Puritan minister Richard Mather to developed the so-called “Half-Way Covenant” to solve the problem. The Half-Way Covenant gave a kind of quasi-membership which included baptism but not Communion to the children of church members. Puritan leaders hoped this would expose “halfway members” to an example that would see them having their own “born again” experience & usher them into full membership.

Some historians assert the Puritans aimed for a theocracy. While Winthrop was governor, he certainly wanted to base the colony’s laws on biblical principles, but he didn’t permit clergy in civil governing. Church officials had no authority over the civil magistrates. Winthrop and government officials sought the advice of ministers, but political authority rested in the hands of laity. Theocratic tendencies certainly existed, but the colony’s congregationalism restrained them. New England never had enough unity to be a theocracy.

A minority in England, Puritans were the majority in New England. A less careful recounting of American history would say they fled the Old World for the New to obtain religious liberty. Not really. They left so they could establish a PURITAN system of church and State. There was no religious liberty as we conceive it today. Puritan New England was quite IN-tolerant of dissenters; like Roger Williams & Anne Hutchison.

Historian Ed Morgan describes Roger Williams as a “charming, sweet-tempered, winning man, courageous, selfless, God-intoxicated — and stubborn.” Arriving in Boston just a year after Winthrop, he was quickly asked to be pastor of the local congregation. Williams refused. He was a staunch Separatists who vehemently disagreed with the Puritan connection to the Church of England. It stunned his fellows that a man would turn down the invitation to be a pastor for such a thing. This and other behaviors so infuriated the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they expelled him.

5 yrs later, Williams settled at the tip of Narragansett Bay on land purchased from the Indians. He named the settlement “Providence” and declared religious freedom — the first colony in the world in which religious liberty for all was genuine. Infant baptism was banned since Williams believed baptism was for those old enough to make a real profession of faith. He established the first Baptist Church in America in 1638.

The Hutchinsons, William & Anne, arrived in Massachusetts in 1634. They’d followed their minister John Cotton, pastor of a Boston congregation. Like many Puritans, the Hutchinsons hosted a group in their home to discuss Pastor Cotton’s sermon from the previous week. Anne excelled at breaking down the message into topics that were engaging. The group grew to some 80 adults.

Then, controversy arose when Anne began to argue that that all people are under either a covenant of works or grace. She was reacting against the public piety of the people of Boston who assumed good works proved the presence of salvation. She posited that works and grace were opposites and those who depended on works were lost.

But Anne crossed the line in 1637 when she denounced some ministers as preaching a Gospel of Good Works. Critics accused her of antinomianism; that is the idea that the elect don’t have to obey God. It didn’t help her case that a woman was teaching the Bible to men.

Anne was called to give an account before the General Court. She was anything but contrite. Sparks flew when she proved more adept at citing Scripture than her judges. The die was cast when she said that her knowledge of the issue had come “by revelation.” The magistrates, already suspicious of her orthodoxy, seized on this to banish her from the colony.

We’ll pick it up at this point and the infamous Salem Witch Trials in the next episode.

]]>
This episode is titled, A City on a Hill, and returns to our look at the Propagation of the Christian Faith in the Americas. Back in Episodes 105 & 6, we breached the subject of Missions in the New World. We shared about the role the Jesuits played in ... Back in Episodes 105 & 6, we breached the subject of Missions in the New World. We shared about the role the Jesuits played in the Western Hemisphere. While the post-modern view of this era tends to reduce all European missionaries in a monochromatic Euro-centrism that leveled native American cultures, that simply wasn’t the case. Yes, there were plenty of Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants who conflated the Gospel with their native culture. But there were also not a few missionaries who understood the different and valued the uniqueness that was native American cultures. They sought to incarnate the Christian message in those cultures and languages. That often got them in trouble with officials back home who wanted to exploit the Native Americans. In other words, it isn’t just modern Liberation Theology advocates who sought to protect the peoples of the New World from the exploitive injustices of the Old. Many early missionaries did as well.
So, we considered the work of men like Jean de Brébeuf  & Madame de al Peltrie in the NE of North America. We considered the work of the Russian Orthodox Church in the far NW and down the western coast to CA. They were met by the Spanish coming North out of Central America.
Protestants were a bit late to the game. One of the first real attempts was led by the Huguenot Admiral Coligny who we encountered in that bloody & tragic story of the Paris Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day.  He attempted a short-lived experiment off Rio de Janeiro when Admiral Villegagnon established a Calvinist settlement in 1555. It folded when the French were expelled by the Portuguese. A more permanent Calvinist settlement was made by the Dutch when they captured Pernambuco, a region at the eastern tip of Brazil. This settlement remained a Calvinist enclave for 40 years.
North America presented a very different scene for missions than Central & South America. The voyage of the Mayflower with its ‘Pilgrims’ in 1620 was an historical pointer to the strong influence of Calvinism in what would become New England. The states of Massachusetts, Connecticut & New Hampshire were strongly Congregationalist or Presbyterian in terms of their church polity and heavily influenced by English Puritanism. At least some of these pioneers felt a responsibility for spreading the Christian faith to the native Americans.
In episode 106, we talked about John Eliot, the Mayhews, William Carey, David Livingstone, David Brainerd, & of course the famous, Jonathan Edwards.
Besides the Presbyterians & Congregationalists, Episcopalians achieved some success in evangelizing Native Americans.
Being that we’ve just come up to the time of the Puritans in England, now would be a good time to take a little closer look at Puritanism in the New World.
During the reign of James I some Puritans grew discouraged at the pace of reform and separated entirely from the Church of England. After a sojourn of about 11 years in the Netherlands, a group of “separating Puritans,” known to us as “Pilgrims,” set sail for the New World. The Dutch were generally pretty welcoming of these English dissenters because they shared the same faith and as the English were such hard workers, added to their booming economy. But the English grew distressed after a little more than a decade that their children were becoming more Dutch, than English. They couldn’t return to England where tension was thick between the Crown and the Puritans. SO they decided to set sail for the New World and try their luck there. They established a Colony at Plymouth in 1620 in what is now southeastern Massachusetts.
While the colony struggled greatly, it eventually succeeded and became something of a model for other English settlements in the region.
Then, back in England,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 12:02
125-The Rationalist Option Part 2 http://www.sanctorum.us/125-the-rationalist-option-part-2/ Sun, 14 Feb 2016 09:01:54 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1170 http://www.sanctorum.us/125-the-rationalist-option-part-2/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/125-the-rationalist-option-part-2/feed/ 6 This is part 2 of The Rationalist Option on Communio Sanctorum, History of the Christian Church. In our last episode we took a look at eh genesis of the Enlightenment in England & France. We’ll come back to France  a bit later after taking a brief look at the Enlightenment in German & Russia. Germany […] This is part 2 of The Rationalist Option on Communio Sanctorum, History of the Christian Church.

In our last episode we took a look at eh genesis of the Enlightenment in England & France. We’ll come back to France  a bit later after taking a brief look at the Enlightenment in German & Russia.

Germany took a bit longer to join the Enlightenment. That was due in part to the condition of the land following the Thirty Years War. It’s estimated the population shrank from 20 million to just 7 after it. There’s also the issue of Germany not really being a country. It was at that time a collection of independent statelets, united by language & culture, but divided between Catholics & Lutherans.

The low regard for contemporary culture at that time in Germany is illustrated by the fact that while Newton, Locke & Voltaire were regarded as heroes in their realms, Germany’s equivalent, Gottfried von Leibniz, was never popular during his lifetime. Yet he was he was one of the most brilliant men, not just of his day, but of all time. Born in 1646 in Leipzig, Leibniz was the son of a professor of philosophy. He studied law before taking up with a disreputable group of alchemists, and worked for the Elector of Mainz.

Leibniz came to the attention of the world in 1672, when he was sent on an unofficial ambassadorial mission to Paris. The purpose of this trip was to present Louis XIV with a plan he’d worked out for the invasion of Egypt, by which he hoped to distract the Sun King from ambitions he might have toward Germany. Nothing came of Leibniz’s plans along that line, although Napoleon seems to have adopted his strategy a century later. In any case, while in Paris, Leibniz took the opportunity to meet with all the luminaries in the foremost city of culture in Europe. He studied mathematics, quickly becoming one of the foremost mathematicians in the world, and made a number of important discoveries, including differential calculus, for which thousands of college students have hated him ever since. He also proudly demonstrated an extraordinary mechanical calculator he had built.

Leibniz’s interests were so wide-ranging he could never keep his mind on what he was doing. In 1676, he became Court Chancellor of Hanover, and was put in charge of the library. But he was more interested in the mines at Harz, and spent several years devising increasingly ingenious devices to solve the problem of draining them. He eventually worked for several German states, as well as the cities of Berlin & Vienna, for which he designed a number of civic improvements. In his spare time, he travelled extensively around Europe, meeting other luminaries in the Age of Reason, and carrying out his work in mathematics, chemistry, physics, metaphysics and theology. He produced hardly any books of importance, but his vast correspondence, much of which is still in the process of being edited and published, dwarfed the output of most of his contemporaries; and there cannot have been any subject, however obscure, with which he did not deal, and on which he was not an authority. Leibniz died in 1716, an increasingly marginalized figure, defiantly wearing his long brocade coat and huge wig which had gone out of style decades before.

Despite Leibniz’s virtual single-handed attempt to kick-start the German Enlightenment, it didn’t get rolling until the 18th C. Prussia, largest of the German states, took the lead, as its rulers sought to drag their country into the modern era. Frederick Wilhelm, who came to the throne in 1713, reformed the economy after staying with relatives in the Netherlands.

Wilhelm, a careful Lutheran, had no love for Catholic France, but his son, Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great, was a quite different person than his father. Upon his accession to the throne in 1740, he set about building on his father’s practical reforms with a program of cultural renovation. Among his first acts as ruler was to recall from exile Christian Wolff, the leading German philosopher and Leibniz’s heir. Frederick II’s enthusiasm for French culture meant the usual coldness between the 2 relams saw a remarkable thaw. French was even spoken in his court, and it was at his invitation Voltaire moved to Prussia in 1749. Frederick was also keen to bolster the position of Prussia in Europe, which he did by engaging in a series of wars between the 1740s & 60s.

During the late 17th C, The Russian Czar Peter the Great travelled all over Europe on a mission to learn all he could about the Enlightenment. He was eager to learn what impact it had had on the realms of culture, economics & engineering. His plan was to return to Mother Russia and drag it, if need be, into the modern world.

Although Western Russia geographically was in Europe, it had for centuries been isolated. It was been ruled by the Mongols for much of the late Middle Ages, and was a bastion of Orthodox Christianity, a separate denomination from the Catholics and Protestants in the West. Westerners knew virtually nothing about Russian religion, and Russians cared virtually nothing for the West.

It’s hardly surprising that, when Peter returned home, he had to enforce his reforms with an iron hand if he was going to make headway. Beards, a revered symbol of Orthodoxy, was banned in an attempt to get people to look more Western. Young men were happy to comply, as women preferred. But most older men kept their beards in boxes, fearing they were bereft of salvation without them. Traditional Russian dress, which reaching to the ankle, was banned. Everyone had to dress like the French, and anyone who refused had their clothes force-tailored. English hairstyles were mandatory for women. Schools were built, the calendar reformed, military conscription introduced, and church hierarchy was placed firmly under state control. Like Louis XIV’s France, Peter’s Russia was an avowedly Christian country. As a symbol of the new, Westward leaning Russia, Peter transferred the capital to a new city, St Petersburg, on the Baltic coast.

But Peter was hardly a model of Enlightenment tolerance. In 1718, he had his son tortured to death for treason. But his reforms were extended and completed by Catherine the Great, a Prussian who became Empress of Russia in 1762. She organizing a coup against her own husband. Unlike Peter, Catherine grew up in Western Europe and had thoroughly imbibed the Enlightenment principles. She corresponded with Voltaire & and other leading cultural figures; patronized the arts, & founded the famous Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Catherine was also a skilled diplomat, and as the most powerful monarch in Europe, extended Russian influence throughout the continent.

Okay, so, you’re wondering how this is church history. I thought it wise to spend a little time charting the broad outlines of the Enlightenment so we could see how the thinking it produced effected theology.

That happens with the advent of Rationalism.

Rationalism reached its apex in the 18th & 19th Cs. It’s characterized by an interest in the physical world and its confidence in the powers of reason. In Western Europe, there’d been a growing interest in the nature since the 13th C. That was the era of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, who reintroduced Aristotelian philosophy as a tool for theology. One of the points of contrast between Aristotelianism and the prior Platonism that dominated theological thought was precisely that the new philosophy emphasized the importance of the senses & perception. The later Middle Ages, with its distrust of speculation, continued in the same vein. The art of the Renaissance, with its appreciation for the beauty of the human body and the world, was an expression of this interest. By the 17th C, many thought the goal of reason was the understanding of the world of nature.

Parallel to that, there appeared a growing confidence in the powers of reason. Often, these 2 trends were combined in an effort to show the degree to which the order of nature coincides with the order of reason. This can be seen, for instance, in the work of Galileo, who was convinced the entire natural world was a system of mathematical relations, and that the ideal of knowledge was the reduction of all phenomena to their quantitative expression. Every success of such efforts seemed to confirm the most optimistic expectations of the power of reason.

This all led to the philosophy of René Descartes in the first half of the 17th C. His system was based on a great confidence in mathematical reasoning, joined to a profound distrust of all that is not absolutely certain. He compared his philosophical method to geometry, a discipline that accepts only what is an undeniable axiom or has been rationally proven.

In applying his method, Descartes felt he ought to begin with an attitude of universal doubt, making sure that, once he found something he could not doubt, he would be certain of its truth. He then found that undeniable first truth in his own existence. He could doubt everything, but not that the doubting subject existed. “I think, therefore I am,” became the starting point for his philosophy. But this I whose existence cannot be doubted, is only the subject as a thinker. The existence of his body wasn’t proven, so m must be doubted.

Before proving his existence as a body, Descartes felt he could prove the existence of God. He found in his mind the idea of a “more perfect being,” and since his mind could not produce such an idea, which was above itself, it must have been placed there by God. Therefore, Descartes’s 2nd conclusion was that God exists. It was only then, on the basis of the existence of God, and of trust in the divine perfection, that Descartes felt free to move on to prove the existence of the world and of his own body.

Descartes was a profoundly religious man who hoped his philosophy would be found useful by theologians. But not all agreed with him. Many theologians feared the challenge of Cartesianism—as his philosophy was called. The universal doubt Descartes proposed as his starting point seemed to some as a kind of crass skepticism. The faculties of several universities declared Aristotelianism was the philosophical system best suited to Christian theology, and there were those who declared Cartesianism lead to heresy. Dismayed, Descartes decided to leave his native France moved to Sweden, where he lived the rest of his life.

But he was not without supporters. In France, those intellectual circles where Jansenism had been popular embraced Cartesianism. Eventually, others among the more orthodox also took it up, and debates continued for a long time.

The main point at which Cartesianism led to further theological and philosophical developments was the question of the relationship between spirit and matter, between soul & body. It’s at this point that we could really get into a sticky wicket as we parse all the various ways theologians & philosophers offered ideas on the inter-relationship between the thinking self and the thing that occupies space in the form of a body. But we won’t go into the theories of Occasionalism, Monism, & Preestablished Harmony.

Let me just say this became a realm of contentious debate between a Dutch Jew named Baruch de Spinoza & our friend Leibniz.

While these philosophical developments took place on the Continent, in Britain philosophy took a different route in what’s called Empiricism. It’s drawn from a Greek word meaning experience. Its leading figure was Oxford professor John Locke, who in 1690 published his Essay on Human Understanding. He read Descartes and agreed the order of the world corresponded to the order of the mind. But he didn’t believe there was such a thing as innate ideas to be discovered by looking inward. He contended that all knowledge is derived from experience; the experience of the senses, and the working of our minds. That meant the only genuine knowledge is based on 3 levels of experience: The experience of self, the experience of the world around us, and the experience of God, whose existence is manifest by the existence our selves & the world.

To this Locke added another level of knowledge, that of probability. Probability works like this; You & I have repeatedly experienced someone’s existence; let’s call him George.

We know George. He’s a friend we see a coupe times a week. When George isn’t standing in front of us, we still have reason to believe He exists, even though at that moment, we have not bare empirical basis to believe him so. Still, sound judgment gives us reason to discern the probability of George’s existence. Locke said that this judgment of probability allows us to get on with the practical affairs in life.

Faith, Locke said, is assent to knowledge derived from revelation rather than reason. Therefore, although highly probable, knowledge derived by faith can’t be certain. Reason and judgment must be used in order to measure the degree of probability of what we believe by faith. For this reason, Locke opposed the “fanatical enthusiasm” of those who think that all they say is based on divine revelation. For the same reason, he defended religious toleration. Intolerance is born out of the muddled thinking that confuses the probable judgments of faith with the certainty of empirical reason. Besides, toleration is based on the very nature of society. The state does not have the authority to limit the freedom of its citizens in matters such as their personal religion.

In 1695, Locke published a treatise, The Reasonableness of Christianity, in which he claimed Christianity is the most reasonable of religions. He said the core of Christianity is the existence of God and faith in Christ as Messiah. But Locke didn’t believe the Christian Faith had added anything of importance to what could in any case have been known by the proper use of reason and judgment. In the final analysis, Christianity was little more than a very clear expression of truths and laws that others could have known by their natural faculties.

Others would come along later and drive a wedge between faith & reason, divorcing them into different camps. And in the settlement, Faith would be left impoverished while Reason drove off with all the goodies.

One of those who drove the wagon was David Hume in the mid-18th C. In my estimation, Hume can be blamed for the post-modern tendency of knee-jerk negativity toward absolutes. An illustration may best help to describe his philosophy, or better, his anti-philosophy. Hume was skeptical of reason, saying the only reason, reason seems to work is because of mental habits we’ve developed. In other words, Descartes’ doubt didn’t go far enough; he ought to have doubted his own ability to reason.

Hume maintained, for instance that no one has ever experienced what we call cause and effect. We’ve seen, for instance, when a pool ball collides with another ball, there’s a noise & the second ball moves off in some direction. If we repeat that several times, we see similar results. So we conclude by the power of reason that the movement of the first ball caused the movement of the other. But, Hume contended, we’ve not seen any such thing. All we’ve witnessed is a series of phenomena, and our mind has linked them by means of the notion of cause and effect. This last step, taken by any who see a series of phenomena that are seemingly related, has no basis in empirical observation. It is rather the result of our mental habits. So, by an empiricists’ definition, that’s not rational knowledge.

Hume’s uber skepticism places such strict rules on interpreting what our senses tell us, there’s no room left for the working of logic & deduction. He cripples us and turns his followers into inveterate skeptics.

It wasn’t long until some Enlightenment thinkers washed their hands of faith altogether and began to envision of world without God or religion.

We’ll talk about later developments in Philosophy and their impact on theology in a later episode.

]]>
This is part 2 of The Rationalist Option on Communio Sanctorum, History of the Christian Church. In our last episode we took a look at eh genesis of the Enlightenment in England & France. We’ll come back to France  a bit later after taking a brief look... In our last episode we took a look at eh genesis of the Enlightenment in England & France. We’ll come back to France  a bit later after taking a brief look at the Enlightenment in German & Russia.
Germany took a bit longer to join the Enlightenment. That was due in part to the condition of the land following the Thirty Years War. It’s estimated the population shrank from 20 million to just 7 after it. There’s also the issue of Germany not really being a country. It was at that time a collection of independent statelets, united by language & culture, but divided between Catholics & Lutherans.
The low regard for contemporary culture at that time in Germany is illustrated by the fact that while Newton, Locke & Voltaire were regarded as heroes in their realms, Germany’s equivalent, Gottfried von Leibniz, was never popular during his lifetime. Yet he was he was one of the most brilliant men, not just of his day, but of all time. Born in 1646 in Leipzig, Leibniz was the son of a professor of philosophy. He studied law before taking up with a disreputable group of alchemists, and worked for the Elector of Mainz.
Leibniz came to the attention of the world in 1672, when he was sent on an unofficial ambassadorial mission to Paris. The purpose of this trip was to present Louis XIV with a plan he’d worked out for the invasion of Egypt, by which he hoped to distract the Sun King from ambitions he might have toward Germany. Nothing came of Leibniz’s plans along that line, although Napoleon seems to have adopted his strategy a century later. In any case, while in Paris, Leibniz took the opportunity to meet with all the luminaries in the foremost city of culture in Europe. He studied mathematics, quickly becoming one of the foremost mathematicians in the world, and made a number of important discoveries, including differential calculus, for which thousands of college students have hated him ever since. He also proudly demonstrated an extraordinary mechanical calculator he had built.
Leibniz’s interests were so wide-ranging he could never keep his mind on what he was doing. In 1676, he became Court Chancellor of Hanover, and was put in charge of the library. But he was more interested in the mines at Harz, and spent several years devising increasingly ingenious devices to solve the problem of draining them. He eventually worked for several German states, as well as the cities of Berlin & Vienna, for which he designed a number of civic improvements. In his spare time, he travelled extensively around Europe, meeting other luminaries in the Age of Reason, and carrying out his work in mathematics, chemistry, physics, metaphysics and theology. He produced hardly any books of importance, but his vast correspondence, much of which is still in the process of being edited and published, dwarfed the output of most of his contemporaries; and there cannot have been any subject, however obscure, with which he did not deal, and on which he was not an authority. Leibniz died in 1716, an increasingly marginalized figure, defiantly wearing his long brocade coat and huge wig which had gone out of style decades before.
Despite Leibniz’s virtual single-handed attempt to kick-start the German Enlightenment, it didn’t get rolling until the 18th C. Prussia, largest of the German states, took the lead, as its rulers sought to drag their country into the modern era. Frederick Wilhelm, who came to the throne in 1713, reformed the economy after staying with relatives in the Netherlands.
Wilhelm, a careful Lutheran, had no love for Catholic France, but his son, Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great, was a quite different person than his father. Upon his accession to the throne in 1740, he set about building on his father’s practical reforms with a program of cultural renovation.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 20:17
124-The Rationalist Option Part 1 http://www.sanctorum.us/124-the-rationalist-option-part-1/ Sun, 07 Feb 2016 09:01:55 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1166 http://www.sanctorum.us/124-the-rationalist-option-part-1/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/124-the-rationalist-option-part-1/feed/ 0 The title of this episode is, The Rationalist Option Part 1. I want to give a brief comment here at the outset that this episode doesn’t track much of church history per se. What we do over the next minutes is take a summary look at the European Enlightenment. We need to because of the […] The title of this episode is, The Rationalist Option Part 1.

I want to give a brief comment here at the outset that this episode doesn’t track much of church history per se. What we do over the next minutes is take a summary look at the European Enlightenment. We need to because of the ideas that come out of the Enlightenment to influence theology and the modern world.

The 30 Years War ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. But decades of bitter conflict left Europe a ravaged land. People were weary of conflict, both military and theological. And even though the 30 Years war was over, the decades following were by no means peaceful. Among other things, they witnessed the English Civil War with its execution of Charles I, and yet more wars between European powers, albeit on a smaller scale. Against this turmoil-laden background, a new spirit was brewing in Europe: one desperate to make a break with the past with its religious tension, dry scholasticism, incessant bickering and occult fetishes the Renaissance and Reformation seemed to have spun off. By the mid 17th C, the seeds of the Enlightenment, were well sown.

A new breed of thinkers inhabited a continent quite different from their ancestors. At the dawn of the 16th C Europe was dominated by the resolute Catholic power of Spain. In 1492, Spain both ended the lingering presence of Islam & discovered the New World. Italy, while having no real political power, exercised a massive cultural influence due to its claim as being the birthplace of the Renaissance.

50 years later, everything had changed. Spain was exhausted by the 30 Years War. Hegemony moved to France, which was finally free of the threat of its powerful neighbors, Spain & Germany.  The Netherlands, previously under Spanish rule, had won their freedom with the Treaty of Westphalia and almost overnight became the world’s leading trading nation. Amsterdam was the exchange capital of the world, and the Dutch merchant fleet was the largest on the planet.

Islam was also being uprooted as a threat. Though Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, 40 year slater saw the Spanish remove the last Muslim strongholds in the Iberian peninsula.  In 1683, despite being outnumbered 5 to 1, the Polish king Sobieski routed the Ottomans besieging Vienna.

The new Europe was a land of independent nations: of trade and colonialism, & a rising middle class. Instead of the hegemonies of the past, when a single power, whether emperor or pope, sought to govern the continent, a new ideal arose of a ‘balance of power’ between states—and between churches too. The Pope’s hand was declawed, even in Catholic countries, by the Treaty of Westphalia, which permitted every state to follow whatever religion it saw fit. Although France, the new dominant force in Europe, was mostly Catholic, it tended not to listen too closely to Rome. The Netherlands were strict Calvinists. It was a world in which the notions of nationhood, human rights and law were going to play an increasingly important role, and they were going to be rethought along rationalist, not religious, lines.

The most vaunted ideal of the Age of Reason was reason itself: the human capacity, by means of investigation, rather than by relying on external authority, to understand. In the first half of the 17th C, 2 philosophers, the Englishman Thomas Hobbes and the Frenchman René Descartes, pioneered a new way of understanding the world and the mind. Instead of the Neoplatonic world of the Renaissance, dominated by occult forces, where objects exerted mysterious ‘influences’ on each other, they sought to understand the world in mechanistic terms. The universe was conceived as a complicated system of levers, pulleys and bearings, and given enough time and the proper intellectual tools, comprehensible to anyone who takes the time to study it.

At the same time, there was a desire to forget the old divisions of the past and embrace what was common to all humanity. One important movement of the time, that we’ll talk about later was ‘syncretism’, which sought to reunite the churches of Europe. A leading figure in this was the Dutch Reformed thinker Hugo Grotius, who contended Christians of all denominations should come together on the basis of their common faith and heritage. Grotius was arrested by Calvinists who ran the Netherlands, and spent some years in prison until he made a daring escape and fled the country.

Despite his work as a theologian, Grotius is most remembered as a legal theorist. His On the Law of Peace and War of 1625 was the first major study of the theory of international law, and in it he sought to place binding human laws—transcending national boundaries—on a naturalistic and rational footing. This vein of thought was the result of the application to philosophy and theology of the laissez-faire principles which nations like the Netherlands applied to economics with such remarkable success.

It took 80 years of on & off warfare before the Netherlands finally achieved their independence from Spain in 1648. The country had already become a great trading nation, and during the 17th C entered a golden age, quickly becoming one of the most powerful nations in Europe. Culture, the arts and science flourished, with the works of the 17th C Dutch painters quickly becoming classics to rank alongside the best the Italian Renaissance had produced.

The Netherlands were the premier bastion of the Reformed faith in Europe. It was there Calvinists suffering persecution elsewhere emigrated. Dutch theologians defined and refined their faith, a process that led to the Arminian controversy. And while persecution of Arminians was carried out in the Netherlands, it was nothing compared to what the French & English were dishing out to religious dissidents. The rule of merchants meant the Netherlands were renowned for tolerance—racial, philosophical and national. It was to the Netherlands that a substantial Jewish community, fleeing the persecutions of Philip II in Spain in the 16th C had come. Charles II of England sought refuge there after his father’s execution. It was there, too, fringy-ish philosophers and theologians like Descartes and his disciple Spinoza, found sanctuary and worked. In providing an environment in which their ideas could develop, free of interference, the wealthy mercantile ruling class of the Netherlands played a key role in the evolution of the Enlightenment in the 17th C.

If 1 person could have claimed to be the most powerful man in the world in the late 17th C, it would have to have been Louis XIV of France. The ‘Sun King’ of legend ascended to the throne at the age of 4, in 1643. He remained there until his death in 1715. When Cardinal Mazarin, effectively the prime minister, died in 1661, the 23-year-old king decided not to appoint a successor to run the country, and did it himself. Whether or not he really uttered the famous words, “I am the state,” under his personal rule France was established as the leading force for culture and enlightenment. The magnificent palace of Versailles, completed in 1682 after 20 years of construction, symbolized the spirit of the age. It was an age of formalism, geometry, beauty and intellect. And where France led, Europe followed. 50 years earlier, scholars spoke Latin. Now, French became the language of scholarship.

At the same time, Louis did everything he could to extend France’s political power, which he achieved by means of an aggressive foreign policy. The wealth of the Netherlands, so close at hand, tempted him into a series of wars with the Dutch. In 1689 he plunged the world into a conflict that threatened a level of devastation of not seen for 50 years. This was the War of the Grand Alliance, during which the fighting covered Europe, Ireland and North America. Barely had that finished, in 1697, before Louis launched the War of the Spanish Succession of 1701–14, which left his grandson occupying the throne of Spain.

The age over which Louis presided was an avowedly Catholic one. His favored slogan was “One faith, one law, one king.” The Catholicism of France at that time was a nationalistic one, rather than a papal one. People were devoted to the Church more because of the ancient roots of Catholicism in France rather than out of a sense of duty or loyalty to Rome. This is known as ‘Gallicanism.’ One of its leading proponents in the court of the Sun King was Jacques Bossuet [BOO-sway], the Catholic bishop of Meaux [Muh].

Despite the pacific influence of men like Bossuet, Louis XIV’s determination to unite his subjects under a single faith became heavily coercive. Of the 15 million or so inhabitants of France—the largest population of any European state—about 1 million were Calvinists, called as Huguenots. Their freedom to worship was guaranteed by the Edict of Nantes of 1598, but Louis saw to it that things were not easy for them: they suffered restrictions on where they could go, what professions they could take up, where they could worship, what schools they could attend. In 1681, the oppression became suppression, when the army was ordered to harass Huguenots until they converted. 4 years later, the king revoked the Edict of Nantes.

Little wonder, then, that a growing number of French intellectuals began to think religion didn’t seem to offer much of a basis for an enlightened modern society. It wouldn’t be long before some questioned the point of religion at all. In the meantime, many were impressed by their Dutch neighbors who’d worked out a far more satisfactory social philosophy of reason and liberalism.

England had a harder time than France. Politically, most of the 17th C was something of a disaster, involving a civil war, a short-lived republic, the overthrow of 2 monarchs—a Revolution & the eventual coronation of the Dutch William of Orange as King of England; who was invited to invade by a Parliament desperate to secure a Protestant monarch.

As England finally established some political stability, it fostered major intellectual developments that would put the country on a cultural par with France. British thinkers pioneered new ideas about government, politics, ethics and economics, ideas that aimed to avoid the extremes absolutist monarchs such as Charles I & despots like Cromwell had slipped into. While the nations of the Continental developed an ever-higher reverence for their monarchs, the political and military struggles of 17th C England saw an erosion of the monarchy. The idea took hold that kings rule by consent of the governed, who retain the ability to judge & even remove him if they don’t approve of his policies.

The process was started by Thomas Hobbes, who sought to create a new political theory that was rational and humanist, without any reliance on religion. In his famous Leviathan of 1651, Hobbes put forward the claim that government is based on natural law, not on divine sanction, and that a government exists only by the will of the people.

The appearance of modern ‘liberalism’, is associated above all with John Locke, one of the most prominent British intellectuals at the turn of the 18th C. Locke is most famous for his political ideas, and his values of tolerance and liberalism, which would have an enormous impact in both America and France. Like Hobbes before him, Locke was amped to develop a new understanding of how society and its members operate and interact. He was inspired in this by the advances that had been made by science over the preceding century—climaxing in the work of Isaac Newton, revered throughout England as a genius, a new Aristotle. If the exercise of cool mathematical reason could produce Newton’s Principia, regarded by many as the final word in the study of physics, who could say what it might produce in other spheres as well?

Locke’s attempts to do this in philosophy, psychology, politics and religion resulted in his starting the English Enlightenment virtually single-handedly. Locke believed human reason should be the final arbiter of what we believe, in politics, ethics and religion alike; and he believed the values of tolerance and individual liberty, of education and freedom, would provide the proper environment for the exercise of reason. This was the philosophy of the Enlightenment in a nutshell. Yet despite his enormous prestige at home, Locke’s influence was greatest on continental Europe. French intellectuals were impressed by the commonsense political philosophy coming from across the Channel. Between them, Britain and France were responsible for the most characteristic trends and movements of the Enlightenment.

If Hobbes was the Enlightenment’s midwife and Locke birthed it, the man who epitomized its values and dreams was François Marie Arouet [Ah-roo-eh]; known by his pen name, Voltaire. He was the dominant cultural force of his day, and the smiling figure he presents in contemporary paintings, with a wicked glint in his eye, conveys the intellectual power, wit and irreverence that characterized his version of the Enlightenment.

Born in 1694 in Paris, Voltaire was educated by the Jesuits and quickly became known for his satirical poetry and biting wit. His penchant for attacking the aristocracy saw him holed up in the Bastille for almost a year. That wasn’t enough to teach him what the authorities hope and in 1726, we was sent into exile. He spent 3 years in England learning the values of liberalism, rationalism and religious tolerance. On his return to France in 1729, Voltaire set out to enlighten France by extolling the virtues of the British philosophers, above all Locke and Newton. In his Philosophical Letters of 1734, which he called ‘the first bomb against the Old Regime’, he compared France’s government, science and philosophy unfavorably to England’s. And as might be expected, he was expelled once again from Paris. Voltaire headed for the French countryside, where he immersed himself in the study of the natural sciences. In 1749, at the invitation of Frederick the Great, he moved to Prussia for a few years. He eventually ended up in Switzerland, where he devoted himself to writing plays, essays, novels and articles. His success was so great, and his influence so enormous, his estate became a place of pilgrimage to writers, philosophers and the celebrities of the time. So popular was his place he became known as ‘the innkeeper of Europe’. In 1778, in order to direct one of his own plays, Voltaire returned to Paris to enormous acclaim, & died shortly after.

Voltaire devoted his life and work to the principles of reason and tolerance that he saw exemplified in British philosophy. His slogan was ‘Crush infamy!’ and to Voltaire the most infamous institution in France was the Roman Catholic Church, an organization which in his eyes demanded loyalty from its members, which forced on them a ridiculous and barbarous mythology, and which put down dissenters with the sword. Voltaire was not an irreligious man, and was one of the foremost proponents of ‘deism.’ Yet he was notorious as an arch-heretic and enemy of Christianity for the contempt with which he held what he regarded as the superstitious and authoritarian elements of the Faith. Voltaire attacked the doctrines and practices of Christianity as mercilessly as he lampooned the secular rulers of society. There is a story that his local bishop once ordered that under no circumstances was Voltaire to be admitted to Mass. Voltaire, who had no intention of letting a mere bishop exercise authority over him, therefore faked a terminal illness and forced a priest to give him the sacrament, which could not be denied to a man on his deathbed. The moment he had consumed it, Voltaire jumped out of bed and went for a walk. The notion that one could eat God was as blasphemous to him as it was ludicrous, and mockery was the only appropriate response to it.

At the time of his death, Voltaire had produced some 2,000 books and pamphlets. Probably the greatest was his Philosophical Dictionary of 1764, devoted primarily to ethical and religious subjects. The fact that this work was burnt throughout France showed that few in authority had heeded his Treatise on Tolerance of the previous year, in which Voltaire had condemned the atrocities that had been perpetrated throughout history in the name of religion and called for the freedom of each individual to practice whatever religion they chose.

Because Voltaire was such a towering figure, his celebrity tends to diminish the many others who shared his views, though with less aplomb. He was no iconoclast, no lone voice in the wilderness. On the contrary, while his may have been the loudest voice, it was accompanied by a chorus of French critics, writers and philosophers, all of whom extolled reason and human progress and critical of the traditional authorities and mores. The first and most famous of these philosophes, as they were known, was Baron Montesquieu. His Persian Letters, published in 1721, took the form of a series of letters by 2 fictitious Persians travelling Europe. Montesquieu bitterly satirized the establishment of his day: the French king, the French government, French society and, above all, the Catholic Church, which Montesquieu hated for much the same reasons as Voltaire. However, Montesquieu’s attitude to Christianity softened over the years, and he was much more sympathetic to it in his most famous work, The Spirit of the Laws of 1748, which attempted to set out legal principles.

One philosophe who never moderated his views was Baron d’Holbach, another French aristocrat. D’Holbach wasn’t only an atheist, which was a much more daring position than the deism of Voltaire;  he believed atheism was the only possible basis for a reasonable ethical system. Politically, he opposed all kinds of absolutism, including even the enlightened monarchies of the sort Louis XIV had tried. Here again we see the influence of British thought. In his System of Nature of 1770, d’Holbach set forth a wholly materialistic and mechanistic understanding of the world. It’s hard to imagine a more different figure from Bossuet a century earlier: such was the radical turnaround, from supporting religion to undermining it, that the French Enlightenment had taken.

Next on our stop will be the German Enlightenment. But we’ll have to leave that for next time.

]]>
The title of this episode is, The Rationalist Option Part 1. I want to give a brief comment here at the outset that this episode doesn’t track much of church history per se. What we do over the next minutes is take a summary look at the European Enligh... I want to give a brief comment here at the outset that this episode doesn’t track much of church history per se. What we do over the next minutes is take a summary look at the European Enlightenment. We need to because of the ideas that come out of the Enlightenment to influence theology and the modern world.
The 30 Years War ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. But decades of bitter conflict left Europe a ravaged land. People were weary of conflict, both military and theological. And even though the 30 Years war was over, the decades following were by no means peaceful. Among other things, they witnessed the English Civil War with its execution of Charles I, and yet more wars between European powers, albeit on a smaller scale. Against this turmoil-laden background, a new spirit was brewing in Europe: one desperate to make a break with the past with its religious tension, dry scholasticism, incessant bickering and occult fetishes the Renaissance and Reformation seemed to have spun off. By the mid 17th C, the seeds of the Enlightenment, were well sown.
A new breed of thinkers inhabited a continent quite different from their ancestors. At the dawn of the 16th C Europe was dominated by the resolute Catholic power of Spain. In 1492, Spain both ended the lingering presence of Islam & discovered the New World. Italy, while having no real political power, exercised a massive cultural influence due to its claim as being the birthplace of the Renaissance.
50 years later, everything had changed. Spain was exhausted by the 30 Years War. Hegemony moved to France, which was finally free of the threat of its powerful neighbors, Spain & Germany.  The Netherlands, previously under Spanish rule, had won their freedom with the Treaty of Westphalia and almost overnight became the world’s leading trading nation. Amsterdam was the exchange capital of the world, and the Dutch merchant fleet was the largest on the planet.
Islam was also being uprooted as a threat. Though Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, 40 year slater saw the Spanish remove the last Muslim strongholds in the Iberian peninsula.  In 1683, despite being outnumbered 5 to 1, the Polish king Sobieski routed the Ottomans besieging Vienna.
The new Europe was a land of independent nations: of trade and colonialism, & a rising middle class. Instead of the hegemonies of the past, when a single power, whether emperor or pope, sought to govern the continent, a new ideal arose of a ‘balance of power’ between states—and between churches too. The Pope’s hand was declawed, even in Catholic countries, by the Treaty of Westphalia, which permitted every state to follow whatever religion it saw fit. Although France, the new dominant force in Europe, was mostly Catholic, it tended not to listen too closely to Rome. The Netherlands were strict Calvinists. It was a world in which the notions of nationhood, human rights and law were going to play an increasingly important role, and they were going to be rethought along rationalist, not religious, lines.
The most vaunted ideal of the Age of Reason was reason itself: the human capacity, by means of investigation, rather than by relying on external authority, to understand. In the first half of the 17th C, 2 philosophers, the Englishman Thomas Hobbes and the Frenchman René Descartes, pioneered a new way of understanding the world and the mind. Instead of the Neoplatonic world of the Renaissance, dominated by occult forces, where objects exerted mysterious ‘influences’ on each other, they sought to understand the world in mechanistic terms. The universe was conceived as a complicated system of levers, pulleys and bearings, and given enough time and the proper intellectual tools, comprehensible to anyone who takes the time to study it.
At the same time, there was a desire to forget the old divisions of the past and embra...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 22:27
123-Yep, Those English http://www.sanctorum.us/123-yep-those-english/ Sun, 31 Jan 2016 09:01:42 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1161 http://www.sanctorum.us/123-yep-those-english/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/123-yep-those-english/feed/ 0 This is the second episode in which we look at English Puritanism. We left off last time with King Charles I fleeing London after breaking into The House of Commons to arrest some Puritan members of Parliament he accused of treason. The men had been warned and had fled. What Charles had hoped would be […] This is the second episode in which we look at English Puritanism.

We left off last time with King Charles I fleeing London after breaking into The House of Commons to arrest some Puritan members of Parliament he accused of treason. The men had been warned and had fled. What Charles had hoped would be a dramatic show of his defense of the realm against dangerous elements, ended up being an egregious violation of British rights. So in fear for his own life, he packed up his family and headed out of town.

Back in London, John Pym the leader of Parliament, ruled as a kind of king without a crown. The House of Commons proposed a law excluding the king-supporting faction of bishops in the House of Lords from Parliament. Other members of the House of Lords surprisingly agreed, so the clergy were expelled. This commenced a process that would eventually disbar anyone from Parliament who disagreed with the Puritans. The body took on an ever-increasing bent toward the radical. Feeling their oats, Parliament then ordered a militia be recruited. The king decided the time had come to respond with decisive action. He gathered loyal troops and prepared for battle against Parliament’s militia. Civil War had finally come.

Both sides began by building forces. Charles support came from the nobility, while Parliament found its among those who’d suffered most in the recent royal shenanigans. Parliament’s army came from the lower classes, to which were added some form the emerging merchants middle-class, as well as a handful of those nobles who’d not been in favor at court. The king’s strength was the cavalry, which of course was traditionally the noble’s military specialty. The Parliamentary forces strength was in their infantry & navy.  And the navy controlled trade.

At the outset of the war, there were only minor skirmishes. During this time Parliament sought help from the Scots, while Charles sought it from Irish Catholics. In its efforts to attract the Scots, Parliament enacted a series of measures leaning toward Presbyterianism. English Puritans didn’t agree with the Presbyterian plan for church government, but they certainly didn’t like the episcopacy of the Church of England’s King-supporting bishops. English Puritans ended up adopting the Presbyterian model, not only because it tweaked the Bishops, but because it made more Biblical sense at the time, and because confiscation of bishops’ property meant Parliament could fund the war without creating new taxes.

Parliament also convened a groups of theologians to advise it on religious matters. The Westminster Assembly included 121 ministers and 30 laymen & 8 Scottish representatives. Being that the Scots had the strongest army in Great Britain, though they numbered only 5% of the total participants in the assembly, their influence was decisive. The Westminster Confession which they produced became one of the fundamental documents of Calvinist orthodoxy. Although some of the Assembly’s members were independents who followed a congregational form of government, and others still leaned toward an episcopacy, the Assembly settled on a Presbyterian form of government, and urged Parliament to adopt it for the Church of England. In 1644, Parliament joined the Scots in a Solemn League and Covenant that committed them to Presbyterianism. The following year the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, was executed on the order of Parliament.

As Parliament built up its army, Oliver Cromwell came to the fore. He was a relatively wealthy man, descended from 1 of Henry VIII’s advisors, who was the subject of a recent TV miniseries called Wolf Hall. A few years before, Oliver had become a Puritan, and was now an avid reader of Scripture. He was convinced that every decision, both personal and political, ought to be based on the will of God.  Although he was often slow in coming to a decision, once he’d set upon a course he was determined to follow it through to its final conclusions, believing it to be, in fact, God’s Will. Although he was respected by fellow Puritans, until the Civil War he was simply known as just another member of the House of Commons. But when he was convinced armed conflict was inevitable, Cromwell returned home where he recruited a cavalry corps. He knew cavalry was the king’s main weapon, and that Parliament would need their own. His zeal was contagious, and his small force accomplished great deeds. They charged into battle singing psalms, convinced they were engaged in a holy cause. That attitude spread to the rest of the Parliament’s army which crushed the royal army at the Battle of Naseby.

That was the beginning of the end for the king. The rebels captured his camp, where they found proof he’d been asking foreign Catholic troops to invade England. Charles then tried to negotiate with the Scots, hoping to win them with promises. But the Scots took him prisoner and turned him over to Parliament. Having won the war, Parliament adopted a series of Puritan measures, including setting the precedent that Sunday was to be reserved for religious observances not frivolous pastimes.

The Puritans, who’ had to unite due to war, now fell to arguing among themselves. Most of Parliament supported a Presbyterian form of church govt, which made for a national church without bishops. But the Independents who made up the majority of the army leaned toward congregationalism. They feared a Presbyterian church would begin to limit their ability to pursue their faith the way their conscience demanded. Tension grew between Parliament and the army.

In 1646, Parliament unsuccessfully tried to dissolve the army. Radical groups gained ground in the army. A wave of apocalyptic fervor swept England, moving many to demand a transformation of the social order thru justice and equality. Parliament & the leaders of the Army began to square off with each other.

And then è The king escaped. He opened negotiations with the Scots, the army, and Parliament, making contradictory promises to all 3. Somehow he managed to gain support from the Scots by promising to install Presbyterianism in England. When the Scots invaded, the Puritan army defeated them, captured Charles I, and began a purge of those factions in Parliament they deemed inconsistent with the reforms they envisioned.  45 MPs were arrested. What remained was labeled by its enemies the Rump Parliament because all that was left was the posterior of a real parliament.

It was this Rump Parliament that began proceedings against Charles, accused of high treason and of having trust England into a bloody civil war. The 14 lords who appeared for the meeting of the House of Lords refused to agree to the proceedings. But the House of Commons carried on, and Charles, who refused to defend himself on the grounds his judges had no legal standing, was beheaded on at the end of Jan, 1649.

Now, I’m sure someone might be asking, “Wait; is this Communio Sanctorum or Revolutions?” Though I can’t hold a candle to the eminent Mike Duncan’s brilliant podcast. Yeah, this doesn’t sound much like CHURCH history. It’s more English History. So what’s up?

Well, it’s kind of important to realize the roll Puritanism & Presbyterianism played in this period of English history. The Reformation had a huge impact on the course of events in the British Isles.

Fearing the loss of their independence from England, the Scots quickly acknowledged Charles’ son Charles II, as their sovereign. And in the South, England descended into chaos among several factions all vying for power

That’s when Cromwell took the reins. He commandeered the Rump Parliament, stamped out a rebellion in Ireland, then the royalists in Scotland. Charles II fled to the Continent. When Parliament moved to pass a law perpetuating its power, Cromwell expelled the few remaining representatives, and locked the building.  Seemingly against his will, Cromwell had become master of the nation. He tried to return some form of representative government, but eventually took the title “Lord Protector.” He was supposed to rule with the help of a Parliament that would include representatives from England, Scotland, and Ireland. In reality, the new Parliament was mostly English, and Cromwell was the real government.

He set out to reform both church and state. Given the time, his policies were fairly tolerant. Although he was an Independent, he tried to develop a religious system with room for Presbyterians, Baptists, and even some advocates of episcopacy. As a Puritan, he tried to reform the customs of the culture through legislation. These laws were aimed at the Lord’s Day, horse races, cockfights, theater, and so on. His economic policies favored the middle class at the expense of the nobility. Among both the very wealthy and the very poor, opposition to his rule, which is called the Protectorate, grew.

Cromwell retained control while he lived. But his dream of a stable republic failed. Like the monarchs before him, he was unable to get along with Parliament—even though his supporters kept his opponents from taking their seats. Since the Protectorate was clearly temporary, Cromwell was offered the crown, but refused it, hoping to create a republic. In 1658, shortly before his death, in a move that seems almost politically schizophrenic, Cromwell named his son as his successor. But Richard was not his father and lacked his ability. He resigned his post.

Parliament then recalled Charles II to England’s throne. This brought about a reaction against the Puritans. Although Charles at first sought to find a place for Presbyterians within the Church of England, the new Parliament opposed it, preferring a return to the bishops’ episcopacy. The Book of Common Prayer was reinstalled after being out of favor for several years, and dissenters were banned. But such laws weren’t able to curb the several movements that had emerged during the previous unrest. They continued outside the law until, late in that 17th C, toleration was decreed.

In Scotland, the consequences of the restoration were more severe. With the episcopacy reinstalled in England, the staunch Presbyterianism of the North was challenged anew. Scotland erupted in riot. Archbishop James Sharp, the prime prelate of Scotland, was murdered. This brought English intervention in support of Scottish royalists. The Presbyterians were drowned in blood.

On his deathbed, Charles II declared himself a Catholic, confirming the suspicions of many that he’d been an agent of Rome all along and thus all the blood of Puritans & Presbyterians.  His brother and successor, James II, moved to restore Roman Catholicism as the official religion of his kingdom. In England, he sought to gain the support of dissidents by decreeing religious tolerance. But the anti-Catholic sentiments among the dissidents ran so strong they preferred no tolerance to the risk of a return to Rome. Conditions in Scotland were worse, for James II—James VII of Scotland—placed Catholics in positions of power, and decreed death for any who attended unapproved worship.

After 3 years under James II, the English rebelled and invited William, Prince of Orange, along with his wife Mary, James’s daughter, to take the throne. William landed in 1688, and James fled to France. In Scotland his supporters held on for a few months, but by the next year William and Mary were in possession of the Scottish crown as well. Their religious policy was tolerant. In England, tolerance was granted to any who subscribed to the 39 Articles of 1562, and swear loyalty to the King & Queen. Those who refused, were granted tolerance as long as they didn’t conspire against the crown. In Scotland, Presbyterianism became the official religion of State, the Westminster Confession was its doctrinal norm.

But even after the restoration, the Puritan ideal lingered & greatly influenced British ethics. Its 2 great literary figures, John Bunyan and John Milton, along with Shakespeare, long endured among the most read of English authors. Bunyan’s most famous work, known by its abbreviated title Pilgrim’s Progress, became a hugely popular, and the subject of much meditation and discussion for generations. Milton’s Paradise Lost determined the way in which the majority of the English-speaking world read and interpreted the Bible.

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This is the second episode in which we look at English Puritanism. We left off last time with King Charles I fleeing London after breaking into The House of Commons to arrest some Puritan members of Parliament he accused of treason. We left off last time with King Charles I fleeing London after breaking into The House of Commons to arrest some Puritan members of Parliament he accused of treason. The men had been warned and had fled. What Charles had hoped would be a dramatic show of his defense of the realm against dangerous elements, ended up being an egregious violation of British rights. So in fear for his own life, he packed up his family and headed out of town.
Back in London, John Pym the leader of Parliament, ruled as a kind of king without a crown. The House of Commons proposed a law excluding the king-supporting faction of bishops in the House of Lords from Parliament. Other members of the House of Lords surprisingly agreed, so the clergy were expelled. This commenced a process that would eventually disbar anyone from Parliament who disagreed with the Puritans. The body took on an ever-increasing bent toward the radical. Feeling their oats, Parliament then ordered a militia be recruited. The king decided the time had come to respond with decisive action. He gathered loyal troops and prepared for battle against Parliament’s militia. Civil War had finally come.
Both sides began by building forces. Charles support came from the nobility, while Parliament found its among those who’d suffered most in the recent royal shenanigans. Parliament’s army came from the lower classes, to which were added some form the emerging merchants middle-class, as well as a handful of those nobles who’d not been in favor at court. The king’s strength was the cavalry, which of course was traditionally the noble’s military specialty. The Parliamentary forces strength was in their infantry & navy.  And the navy controlled trade.
At the outset of the war, there were only minor skirmishes. During this time Parliament sought help from the Scots, while Charles sought it from Irish Catholics. In its efforts to attract the Scots, Parliament enacted a series of measures leaning toward Presbyterianism. English Puritans didn’t agree with the Presbyterian plan for church government, but they certainly didn’t like the episcopacy of the Church of England’s King-supporting bishops. English Puritans ended up adopting the Presbyterian model, not only because it tweaked the Bishops, but because it made more Biblical sense at the time, and because confiscation of bishops’ property meant Parliament could fund the war without creating new taxes.
Parliament also convened a groups of theologians to advise it on religious matters. The Westminster Assembly included 121 ministers and 30 laymen & 8 Scottish representatives. Being that the Scots had the strongest army in Great Britain, though they numbered only 5% of the total participants in the assembly, their influence was decisive. The Westminster Confession which they produced became one of the fundamental documents of Calvinist orthodoxy. Although some of the Assembly’s members were independents who followed a congregational form of government, and others still leaned toward an episcopacy, the Assembly settled on a Presbyterian form of government, and urged Parliament to adopt it for the Church of England. In 1644, Parliament joined the Scots in a Solemn League and Covenant that committed them to Presbyterianism. The following year the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, was executed on the order of Parliament.
As Parliament built up its army, Oliver Cromwell came to the fore. He was a relatively wealthy man, descended from 1 of Henry VIII’s advisors, who was the subject of a recent TV miniseries called Wolf Hall. A few years before, Oliver had become a Puritan, and was now an avid reader of Scripture. He was convinced that every decision, both personal and political, ought to be based on the will of God.  Although he was often slow in coming to a decision, once he’d set upon a course he was determined to follow it through to i...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 15:51
122-Those English http://www.sanctorum.us/122-those-english/ Sun, 24 Jan 2016 09:01:36 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1154 http://www.sanctorum.us/122-those-english/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/122-those-english/feed/ 0 In this episode, we’ll take a look at English Puritanism. In Episode 96, Title English Candles, we consider the arrival of the Reformation in England and the career of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of the Anglican Church. When Catholic Mary became Queen, she persecuted Protestants. But when Elizabeth ascended the English throne a new day dawned […] In this episode, we’ll take a look at English Puritanism.

In Episode 96, Title English Candles, we consider the arrival of the Reformation in England and the career of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of the Anglican Church. When Catholic Mary became Queen, she persecuted Protestants. But when Elizabeth ascended the English throne a new day dawned for the Reformation there.

Queen Elizabeth followed an median course between conservatives who sought to retain as much of the ancient practices & beliefs as possible, and the Calvinists who believed the entire life and structure of the church ought to adjust to what they saw as the Biblical norm. During Elizabeth’s reign, that delicate balance was maintained; but tensions surfaced repeatedly. Her strength and decisiveness restrained them, just barely.

Elizabeth left no heir when she died in 1603. But she’d made arrangements for the succession to pass to the son of Mary Stuart, James, who was already king of Scotland. The transition was fairly smooth, bringing the House of Stuart to reign over England. The new king—James VI of Scotland became James I of England. He did not find ruling his new realm and easy matter. The English regarded Jams as a foreigner. His plan to unite both kingdoms earned him numerous opponents on both sides.

Elizabeth’s economic reforms were bearing fruit. So the merchant class, who resented the James’ royalist policies favoring the nobility, became increasingly powerful. But James’s greatest troubles were with those Protestants who wanted the Reformation to go further in altering the English Church. They viewed the king as standing in the way. Scotland had moved further along that Reformation Road under the work of John Knox. English Calvinists felt that the time was ripe for similar changes in their land.

These Reformers didn’t comprise a single group, nor did they agree on all matters. That’s why it’s difficult to describe them in general terms. They were given the name Puritans because they insisted on the need to purify the Church through a return to the pattern the Bible gives. They opposed many of the traditional aspects of worship the Church of England retained; like, the use of the Cross, priestly garments, & the celebration of communion on an altar. They differed over whether there even ought to be an altar; wasn’t a simple table good enough? And if a table, should it be placed so as not to give anyone the idea it WAS an altar. Things like this led to some bitter rows.

Puritans insisted on the need for a sober life, guided by the commands of Scripture, and abstinence from luxury and ostentatious displays of wealth. Since a great deal of the worship of the Church of England appeared to them as needlessly elaborate, this caused further objection to such worship. Many insisted on the need to keep the Lord’s Day sacred, devoting it exclusively to religious exercises and charity. They also rejected the Book of Common Prayer and the use of written prayers in general, declaring such led to insincerity, so that even the Lord’s Prayer, rather than a set of words to be repeated, was to be used as a model for prayer. They weren’t opposed to the use of alcohol, for most of them drank moderately, but they were quite critical of drunkenness. They were also critical of all that they considered licentious; like the theater, because immorality was often depicted & the inherent duplicity in acting. They considered acting a kind of lying because someone pretended to be someone else.

It’s this tone of super-critical Puritanism that would much later move HL Mencken to describe Puritanism as, “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

A precise definition of Puritanism has been a matter much debate. That’s due in part to Puritanism’s multifaceted influence in not only religious & theological matters but in its participation in England’s political and social spheres.

Some of the difficulty in defining Puritanism comes from the many caricatures of it that began all the way back in the 16th C. As with so many of the labels that have been attributed to movements in Church History, the word “Puritan” was originally a slam applied by critics in the 1560s. They considered Puritans to be peevish, censorious, conceited hypocrites. It seems that rep stuck to them, at least in the minds of some, all the way into modern times.

There was a rather surprising diversity among Puritans. They shared a common theological confession, while differing on how the Church itself ought to be organized. Some Puritans thought the existing Anglican hierarchy of bishops was fine while others wanted to restructure the Church along more Presbyterian lines. Still other Puritans embraced a congregational form of government. Some advocated separation from the established church, while others remained. Some were royalist, others revolutionary, even to the point of regicide. While Puritans differed in worship styles & expressions of piety, they ALL wanted the English Church to more closely resemble the Reformed churches on the Continent.

Many Puritans were opposed to bishops. They argued that the highly structure church hierarchy of the Church of England was a late invention, not found in the Bible. They said the Church ought to look to Scripture as its constitution not only for doctrine, but also in its organization and governance. Moderate Puritans responded that the Bible didn’t actually give a pattern for some specific form of Church government. What it had were principles that could be applied in different ways. Others insisted that the New Testament Church was ruled by elders called “presbyters.” Still others claimed each congregation ought to be independent of others. These were dubbed “Independents.”

The Baptists rose mostly among these independents. One of their early leaders was John Smyth, an Anglican priest who decided The Church of England had not gone far enough in reformation. He established an independent, and at that time, illegal, congregation. As it grew, Smyth and his followers fled to Amsterdam. There he continued his study of the Bible, and came to the point of refusing to use translations of the Bible in worship, for only the original text had absolute authority. At church, he would read Scripture in Hebrew or Greek, and translate the text as he preached. Partly through his study of Scripture, and partly through contact with the Mennonites—whose pacifism and refusal to take oaths he adopted—he eventually became convinced that infant baptism was wrong. He then re-baptized himself with a bucket & ladle. Then he baptized his followers.

The move of Smyth and his flock to Holland was financed by a wealthy lawyer named Thomas Helwys, eventually broke with Smyth. The point of contention was over the taking of vows.  Smyth rejected any form of vow while, as a lawyer, Helwys considered basic to social order. Helwys and his followers returned to England, where in 1611 they founded the first Baptist Church in England.

Eventually, a disagreement arose among English Baptists over theological issues similar to those that had risen between Calvinists and Arminianists. Those who favored the Arminian slant were called “General Baptists” while Calvinist-leaning Baptists were referred to as “Particular Baptists.”

The balance Elizabeth had managed to maintain in the Church of England began to wobble under James. While its theology was moderately Calvinist, its worship and governance followed the older order. Puritans feared that movement was under way to return to what they called “Romanism.”

Puritans didn’t trust the new king, whose mother was none other than the Catholic Mary Stuart, AKA Mary, Queen of Scots, who’d been executed by Elizabeth on the charge of treason in plotting to assassinate Elizabeth and take her throne.  James didn’t favor Catholicism though they assumed he would and hoped to gain concessions. They were repeatedly disappointed. James’ goal was an absolute monarchy as in France. In Scotland, his Presbyterian subjects hadn’t allowed him to reign as he wished. He thought his chances for absolutism were better in the South. To that end he strengthened the bishops of the English Church as a prop to his own power. He declared, “Without bishops, there is no king,” meaning monarchy is better supported by an hierarchical structure for the church.

James’ religious policy was similar to Elizabeth’s. The Anabaptists were persecuted because James was deeply offended by their egalitarianism that threatened to up-end English society. For goodness sake; we can’t have peasants thinking they’re as important as nobles. What a catastrophe if humble commoners mixed with blue bloods. So the Anabaptists with their calling everyone “brother” & “sister” had to be repressed. They were – brutally. And  Catholics, who thought James would be their guy, were regarded by him as agents of the Pope, who everyone knew wanted to get rid of James. James said if the pope acknowledged his right to rule & condemned regicide, which a few of the more extreme English Catholics suggested, James would tolerate the presence of Catholics. Presbyterians, whom the king had come to hate in Scotland, were barely tolerated in England, James even granting them minor concessions, but only to keep them from making trouble.

Tension between Anglican bishops and Puritans grew to a boil during James’s reign. In 1604, Richard Bancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, had a series of canons approved affirming that episcopal hierarchy as an institution of divine origin, and that without it there could be no true church. This rejected many Protestant churches in Europe that had no bishops. Puritans saw it as provoking a showdown between themselves and the Church of England. Some took it even further – as a preparation by the Church of England to reunite with Rome. Several other canons were clearly directed against Puritans.

James called Parliament to sit for the approval of new taxes to complete some of England’s projects. The House of Commons included many Puritans who joined others in an appeal to the king against Bancroft’s canons. James convened a committee at Hampton Court to consider the canons, over which he presided. When one of the Puritans made reference to the church being governed by a “presbytery,” James announced there would be no closer connection between the monarchy and a presbytery than there COULD be between God and the Devil. All attempts at compromise failed. The only result of meeting was that a new translation of the Bible was approved.  It appeared in 1611 and is known today as the KJV. Produced at the high point of the English language, along with the Book of Common Prayer—it became a classic that profoundly influenced later English literature.

This all marks the beginning of a growing hostility between the House of Commons and the bishops of the Church of England.

Late in 1605, what’s known as the Gunpowder Plot was discovered. A repressive law against Catholics was issued the previous year on the pretext they were loyal to the pope rather than the king. The real purpose of the law was to collect funds. Authorities used it to impose heavy fines and confiscate property.  Many Catholics came to the conclusion the solution was to be rid of the king.  A property was rented whose cellars extended below the room where Parliament met. Several wine barrels were filled with gunpowder & set under the room. The plan was to detonate them as the king opened Parliament. This would rid England of James & many Puritans leaders. The plot was discovered; the conspirators executed. This unleashed a wave of anti-catholic sentiment in England that saw many of them arrested and imprisoned. James used the whole affairs a way to lay heavy fines on Catholics and confiscate more property.

After those first years of his reign, James tried to rule without Parliament. But it was needed in English law to impose new taxes. So in 1614, when his finances were desperate, James relented and again convened Parliament. New elections brought in a House of Commons even more stubborn than the previous. So James dissolved it and again tried to rule without it. He turned to the few tariffs he could levy without Parliament’s approval. He borrowed from bishops and nobility.

Then the Thirty Years’ War broke out. Frederick, King of Bohemia, was James’s son-in-law. But James offered no support. English Protestants charged James a traitor & coward. James replied that he WANTED to help, but that the Puritans held the purse and war is expensive! Finally, in 1621, James re-convened Parliament, hoping the House of Commons would agree to new taxes with the proviso some, at least, of the revenue would support German Protestants in the war. But it was discovered James planned to marry his son and the heir to England’s throne to a Spanish princess, a Catholic Hapsburg! Such an alliance was regarded by the Puritans as an abomination! So James once again dissolved the House of Commons and arrested several of its leaders. The marriage plans were abandoned for other reasons, and in 1624 James once again called a meeting of Parliament, only to dissolve it anew without obtaining the funds he required. Shortly thereafter, the king died, and was succeeded by his son Charles, who seems to have been a good student of his father’s routine with Parliament.

English Puritans welcomed King Charles I to his throne with less enthusiasm than they had his father. Charles said that kings are “little Gods on Earth.” Puritans   knew this didn’t bode well for their future relations with him. Nor did it help that Charles immediately married a Roman Catholic princess, Henrietta-Marie de Bourbon. This raised the specter of a Catholic heir to the English throne.

The relationship between the Crown and the mostly Puritan Parliament went from bad to worse. Puritan antagonism toward the King rose in 1633 when the King appointed William Laud as archbishop of Canterbury. Laud embarked on a policy of High Anglicanism with a strong sacramentalism & a theological slant toward Arminianism that tweaked the Calvinist Puritans.

In what proved his undoing, Charles tried to impose on the Scottish Church the Anglican Book of Common Prayer in 1637, which one Scot called the “vomit of Romish superstition.” When marketplace grocer named Jenny Geddes heard the dean of St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh read from the new prayer book, she stood up and threw her stool at him, yelling, “Devil cause you colic in your stomach, false thief: dare you say the Mass in my ear?”

Yep – them Scots! Peaceful lot they are. Which, I get to say, because I am one.

Jenny’s reaction was a foretaste of a brewing rebellion. Riots broke out in Edinburgh, and in early 1638, the Scottish formalized their opposition to King Charles innovation by establishing the National Covenant. Many signed it in their own blood, making it clear they’d die before submitting to Laud’s Anglicanism. Charles led 2 military campaigns, known as the Bishops’ Wars (1639–40), in an effort to quell the Scottish rebellion. Both were turned back.

The Scottish army then occupied northern England and threatened to march south. In November 1640 King Charles HAD to once again convene Parliament. Never had there been a body more hostile to the king. They immediately passed a law forbidding him to dissolve it without its consent. This came to be known as the “Long Parliament,” since it stayed in session for 20 yrs.

Archbishop Laud was charged with treason & imprisoned in the Tower of London.

The conflict between King and Parliament reached a boiling point. Charles was convinced Puritan members of Parliament had committed treason by conspiring with the Scots to invade England. Charles, accompanied by 400 soldiers, burst into the House of Commons in January 1642, planning to dramatically arrest them. But the men had been warned & fled. This attack on Parliament by armed troops was an egregious violation of British rights. Charles realized his error and a few days later, fearing now for his own safety, fled London.

We’ll pick it up at this point in our next Episode.

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In this episode, we’ll take a look at English Puritanism. In Episode 96, Title English Candles, we consider the arrival of the Reformation in England and the career of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of the Anglican Church. When Catholic Mary became Queen, In Episode 96, Title English Candles, we consider the arrival of the Reformation in England and the career of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of the Anglican Church. When Catholic Mary became Queen, she persecuted Protestants. But when Elizabeth ascended the English throne a new day dawned for the Reformation there.
Queen Elizabeth followed an median course between conservatives who sought to retain as much of the ancient practices & beliefs as possible, and the Calvinists who believed the entire life and structure of the church ought to adjust to what they saw as the Biblical norm. During Elizabeth’s reign, that delicate balance was maintained; but tensions surfaced repeatedly. Her strength and decisiveness restrained them, just barely.
Elizabeth left no heir when she died in 1603. But she’d made arrangements for the succession to pass to the son of Mary Stuart, James, who was already king of Scotland. The transition was fairly smooth, bringing the House of Stuart to reign over England. The new king—James VI of Scotland became James I of England. He did not find ruling his new realm and easy matter. The English regarded Jams as a foreigner. His plan to unite both kingdoms earned him numerous opponents on both sides.
Elizabeth’s economic reforms were bearing fruit. So the merchant class, who resented the James’ royalist policies favoring the nobility, became increasingly powerful. But James’s greatest troubles were with those Protestants who wanted the Reformation to go further in altering the English Church. They viewed the king as standing in the way. Scotland had moved further along that Reformation Road under the work of John Knox. English Calvinists felt that the time was ripe for similar changes in their land.
These Reformers didn’t comprise a single group, nor did they agree on all matters. That’s why it’s difficult to describe them in general terms. They were given the name Puritans because they insisted on the need to purify the Church through a return to the pattern the Bible gives. They opposed many of the traditional aspects of worship the Church of England retained; like, the use of the Cross, priestly garments, & the celebration of communion on an altar. They differed over whether there even ought to be an altar; wasn’t a simple table good enough? And if a table, should it be placed so as not to give anyone the idea it WAS an altar. Things like this led to some bitter rows.
Puritans insisted on the need for a sober life, guided by the commands of Scripture, and abstinence from luxury and ostentatious displays of wealth. Since a great deal of the worship of the Church of England appeared to them as needlessly elaborate, this caused further objection to such worship. Many insisted on the need to keep the Lord’s Day sacred, devoting it exclusively to religious exercises and charity. They also rejected the Book of Common Prayer and the use of written prayers in general, declaring such led to insincerity, so that even the Lord’s Prayer, rather than a set of words to be repeated, was to be used as a model for prayer. They weren’t opposed to the use of alcohol, for most of them drank moderately, but they were quite critical of drunkenness. They were also critical of all that they considered licentious; like the theater, because immorality was often depicted & the inherent duplicity in acting. They considered acting a kind of lying because someone pretended to be someone else.
It’s this tone of super-critical Puritanism that would much later move HL Mencken to describe Puritanism as, “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
A precise definition of Puritanism has been a matter much debate. That’s due in part to Puritanism’s multifaceted influence in not only religious & theological matters but in its participation in England’s political and social spheres.
]]>
Lance Ralston clean 19:06
121-Looking Back to Look Ahead http://www.sanctorum.us/121-looking-back-to-look-ahead/ Sun, 17 Jan 2016 09:01:54 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1150 http://www.sanctorum.us/121-looking-back-to-look-ahead/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/121-looking-back-to-look-ahead/feed/ 2 In this, the 121st episode of CS, we return to our narrative timeline for church history. Before the 10-episode The Change series, we left off with the Reformation in Europe as it interfaced with the Rationalism of the Renaissance in what’s called Protestant Scholasticism. Let me be clear; there’s much that took place in Europe […] In this, the 121st episode of CS, we return to our narrative timeline for church history.

Before the 10-episode The Change series, we left off with the Reformation in Europe as it interfaced with the Rationalism of the Renaissance in what’s called Protestant Scholasticism.

Let me be clear; there’s much that took place in Europe during the Reformation we skipped over because it would have gotten us into the proverbial weeds of details that while a few might find interesting, most would regard as that which makes some accounts of history so laborious; that is, a lot of names & dates.

In this episode, I want to step back and do something of a review to set the Reformation in perspective.

Although it surely would have grieved him had he lived to see it, Luther’s legacy in the years after his death was over a Century of religious wars. These wars didn’t just pit Catholics against Protestants, Protestant factions went to war against each other. If the Reformers had hoped to purify the Church of both theological error & political corruption, they may have succeeded in the first endeavor but failed miserably in the second. It seems people who want to use religion for personal ends don’t really care what face the mask bears, just so long as it gets the job done. Some of the more devastating wars included the French wars of religion, the Dutch revolt against Philip II of Spain, the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588, the 30 Years War in Germany, and the Puritan revolution in England.

The 17th C was a time of theological & political entrenchment. European Christendom was now divided into 4 groups: Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, & the Anabaptists. The first 3 became officially associated with regions and their governments, while the Anabaptists, after their disastrous failure at Munster, learned their lesson and sought to live out their faith independently of entanglements with the civil authority. During the 17th C, Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed developed impenetrable confessional bulwarks against each other.

As we saw in a previous episode, Catholic orthodoxy achieved its definitive shape with the Council of Trent in the mid-16th C. The Jesuits played a major role at Trent, especially in the answering the challenge presented by Luther’s view on justification and grace. The council affirmed the importance of the sacraments, and the Roman church’s theological position on the Eucharist. At Trent, the Jesuits affirmed the importance Thomism, that is, the work of Thomas Aquinas in setting doctrine. The triumph of Thomism at Trent set the future trajectory of Catholic theology.

In episode 110, we mentioned the rise of Protestant Scholasticism in post-reformation Europe. It seems there’s some confusion regarding the difference between Protestant orthodoxy and Protestant scholasticism. Orthodoxy is concerned with correct theological content, while Scholasticism had more to do with methodology.

From the mid-16th thru 17 C, Protestant orthodoxy clarified, codified, and defended the work of the early Reformers. Then, after the careers of the next generation of Reformers, it’s convenient to identify 3 phases of Protestant orthodoxy. “Early orthodoxy” runs from the mid-16th to mid-17th C. It was a time when Lutheran and Reformed groups developed their Confessions.  “High orthodoxy” goes from the mid- to late 17th C. This was a time of conflict when the Confessions hammered out earlier were used as a test of orthodoxy and formed battle lines to fight over. “Late orthodoxy” covers the 18th C, when the people of Europe began to ask why, if the Protestant confessions were true, rather than leading to the Peace the Gospel promised, they lead instead to war, death, & widespread misery.

Actually people had been asking that question for a lot longer than that; ever since the Church and State had become pals way back in the 4th C. But it wasn’t till the 18th C that they felt the freedom to voice their concerns publicly without the certainty they’d be set on by the authorities.

As Protestants & Catholics identified their differing theological positions, they became increasingly mindful of their methodology in refining their Confessions. Each appealed to the intellectual high ground, claiming a superior method for defining terms & reasoning. This was the age when there was a return by Christians theologians to Aristotelian logic.

Once the Council of Trent concluded and the Roman Church fixed its position, the opportunity for theological dialogue between Protestants & Catholics went dissolved. After that it was simply up to the various major groups to fine tune their Confessions, then fire salvos at any and everyone who differed. It was the Era of Polemics; of diatribes and discourses disparaging those who dared to disagree.

In a previous episode we dealt with the career of Jacob Hermanzoon; AKA Jacobus Arminius. Arminius rejected the Calvinism promulgated by Calvin’s student Theodore Beza. Arminius’ followers developed what they called the Remonstrance, a 5-part summary of what they understood Arminius’ positions to be on key issues of Reformed Theology. A theological and, wouldn’t you just know it, political controversy ensued that was addressed at the Synod of Dort. The Synod declared Arminius a heretic, the Remonstrance errant, and the 5-Petals of the Calvinist Tulip were framed in response to the 5-points of the Remonstrance. A few Arminianist leaders were either executed or jailed while some 200 pastors were removed and replaced with properly Reformed ministers. Despite this, the Arminianist position held on and continued to hold sway over the conscience of many.

A couple decades after the Synod of Dort, another controversy surfaced among the Reformed churches of France. It centered on the work of the brilliant theologian Moses Amyraut, professor at the then famous School of Samur. Amyraut took issue with one of the articles of the Canons of Dort, that is, the doctrine of limited atonement. He argued for unlimited atonement, believing that Christ’s atonement was sufficient for all humanity, but efficient only for the elect. His view is sometimes known as “Hypothetical Universalism” far more commonly as 4-point Calvinism.

In A Short Treatise on Predestination published in 1634, Amyraut proposed that God fore-ordained a universal salvation through the sacrifice of Christ for all. That salvation wouldn’t be effectual unless appropriated by personal faith.

Amyraut’s modification of Calvinism came to be labeled as Amyraldism & led to recurring charges of heresy. Amyraut was exonerated, yet opposition endured in any of the churches of France, Holland, and Switzerland.

The Council of Trent didn’t completely quash theological reform among Catholics. In one of the more remarkable theological developments of the 17th C, a splinter of Calvinism stuck in Rome itself.

While studying theology at the Catholic University of Leuven, Cornelius Jansen and his long-time friend, Jean Du Vergier, developed a deep interest in the thought of Augustine of Hippo. Both men went on to important positions later in life. Du Vergier became abbot at the monastery of Saint-Cyran, and Jansen was bishop of Ypres.

Jansen died suddenly during an epidemic in 1638, but before his death, he committed a manuscript to his chaplain; it was his magnum opus on Augustine’s theology. Published in 1640 under the title Augustinus, Jansen took a strict Augustinian stance on things like original sin, human depravity, and the necessity of divine grace. Jansen echoed Augustine’s ideas on predestination & argued God predestined only certain people for salvation, leaving the rest for condemnation.

The Jesuits claimed Jansen was a closet Calvinist. So Du Vergier took up the cause of his dead friend. In 1634 he became the spiritual adviser of the Cistercian convent at Port Royal and persuaded the Abbess of Jansen’s view, along with her brother, Antoine Arnauld. The Port Royal convents became a major stronghold of what was termed “Jansenism.”

In 1653, Pope Innocent X issued a papal bull condemning Jansen’s work. Because Du Vergier was now deceased, Arnauld led the Jansenist. The famed Blaise Pascal took up his pen in defense of Arnauld in his famous Provincial Letters. But neither were able to turn the tide, and Jansenism was systematically dismantled.

The convent of Port Royal was prohibited from receiving the sacraments and forbidden to accept new novices. Finally, in 1708 the pope issued a bull dissolving Port-Royal-des-Champs. The remaining nuns were forcibly removed in 1709, and most of the buildings were razed in 1710.

Sadly, after Luther’s death, the movement that bore his name fell into disarray and in-fighting. Lutherans broke into 2 main camps. Those who claimed to stay strictly loyal to Martin, and those who followed his main assistant Philip Melancthon. They remained at something of a theological stalemate until the Formula of Concord in 1577, which became the definitive statement of Lutheran orthodoxy. Much of the destruction of the 30 Years War took place on German soil. Agriculture collapsed, famine reigned, & universities closed. By the end the war, there were at least 8 million fewer people in Germany.

The Peace of Westphalia made room for Catholics, Lutherans, & Calvinists, depending on the religious leaning of the ruler. Weary of bloodshed, the 3 communions withdrew behind polemical firewalls and, instead of firing cannonballs, lobbed theological bombs at the each other.

Pietism was a kind of war-weary reaction to the new scholasticism the theology of Lutheranism settled into. Pietists viewed what was happening in the retrenchment in Lutheran theology as a “deadening orthodoxy” that stole the life out of faith. But Pietism didn’t set out to be a reform movement with the goal of establishing a new church. It simply sought a renewal that would turn dead orthodoxy in a “living orthodoxy.” Pietism saw itself as an Ecclesiola in Ecclesia, that is, “a little church within the larger church.”

That word Pietism has sadly seen a lot of emotional baggage and negative connotation for many today. They understand Pietists as wanting to privatize their faith, to withdraw from the public square and divorce their faith from the wider world. To use Jesus’ term, they see pietism as an attempt to hide you light under a basket, to put the city, not just in a valley, but in a cave, and to shot the mouth with a rock. While some Pietists did privatize their faith, that isn’t really the goal of Pietism.

Pietism was a movement that simply sought to keep piety, that is, the practice of godliness, in the Christian life. It was understood that this godliness wasn’t the result of rules and regulations but of a genuine relationship with God. Pietism was a reaction to the dead orthodoxy of confessional, State Lutheranism of the early 17th C.

Now, this is not to say that scholastic theologians were all lifeless profs. Some of them also produced moving hymns and stirring devotional writings.

Philipp Jakob Spener is known as the “father of German Pietism.” Born at Rappoltsweiler in 1635, Spener was raised by his godmother & her chaplain, Joachim Stoll who became Spener’s mentor. Stoll introduced him to writings of the English Puritans.

Spener went on to study theology at Strasbourg, where his primary professor was Johann Dannhauer, one of the leading Lutheran theologians of 17th C. Dannhauer deeply inspired the young Spener.

When he entered his first pastorate in Frankfurt in 1666, Spener was convinced of the necessity of a reformation within Lutheranism. His sermons emphasized the necessity for a lively faith and holiness in daily life. His most significant innovation was the establishment in 1670 of what today wed’ call a small or home group.These were gatherings of small groups of church members in homes to discuss sermons, devotional reading, and mutual edification.

In 1675, Spener was asked to write a preface for a collection of sermons by Johann Arndt. The result was the famous Pia Desideria (= Pious Wishes), which became a kind of Introduction to German Pietism.

While this is a bit more detailed than our usual fare here on CS, I thought it might be interesting for some of our subscribers to hear the main points Spener made in the Pious Wishes.

He enumerate 6 things as important for the Church to embrace. . .

1) He called for “a more extensive use of the Word of God.” To that end, Spener advocated small groups to encourage greater study of the Bible.

(2) He urged a renewed focus on the role of the laity in Christian ministry.

(3) He placed an emphasis on the connection between doctrine & living.

(4) He counseled restraint and charity in theological disputes.

(5) He urged reform in the education of ministers. They must be trained in piety and devotion as well as in academics.

(6) He said preaching ought to edify & be understandable by common folk, rather than sermons being technical discourses only an educated few or could understand.

Spener’s Pia Desideria won him many followers, but aroused strong opposition among Lutheran theologians & not a few pastors. Despite criticism, the movement rapidly increased.

Pietism had the good fortune of  seeing Spener succeeded by August Francke. Francke was born in Lübeck & graduated from the University of Leipzig, where he excelled in biblical languages. While a student at Leipzig in 1687, he experienced a dramatic, that is emotionally charged, conversion, which he described as the “great change.” Francke’s conversion became something of a model for Pietism. In order for conversion to be considered legit, it needed to be preceded by a profound conviction of sin that’s a datable event to which one can point for confirmation.

Returning to Leipzig, Francke led a revival in the college that spilled over into the town. It provoked conflict, and Francke was expelled from the city. At this point the term “Pietist” was first coined by a detractor, Joachim Feller, professor of rhetoric at the university. A Pietist, Feller asserted, was “someone who studies God’s Word and, in his own opinion, also leads a holy life.”

By this time, Francke had become closely associated with Spener. It was due to Spener’s influence Francke was appointed to the chair of Greek and Oriental languages at the new University of Halle. Francke emerged as the natural successor to Spener. From his position at Halle he exercised enormous influence in preparing a generation of Pietist pastors and missionaries all over the world. Under his guidance the university showed what Pietism could mean when put into practice. In rapid succession Francke opened a school for poor children, an orphanage, a home for indigent widows, an institute for the training of teachers, a medical clinic, a home for street beggars, a publishing house for Christian literature, and the famous Paedagogium, a preparatory school for upper-class students.

For 36 years his energetic endeavors established Halle as the center of German Pietism. Together, Spener and Francke created a true Ecclesiola in ecclesia.

Spener and Francke inspired other groups of Pietism. Count Nikolas von Zinzendorf, was Spener’s godson and Francke’s pupil. Zinzendorf organized refugees from Moravia on his estate and later shepherded them in reviving the Bohemian Unity of the Brethren.

The Moravians carried their concern for personal piety literally around the world. This was of huge significance for English Christianity when John Wesley found himself in their company during his voyage to Georgia in 1735. What he witnessed in their behavior and heard in their faith after returning to England led to his own spiritual awakening.

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In this, the 121st episode of CS, we return to our narrative timeline for church history. Before the 10-episode The Change series, we left off with the Reformation in Europe as it interfaced with the Rationalism of the Renaissance in what’s called Prot... Before the 10-episode The Change series, we left off with the Reformation in Europe as it interfaced with the Rationalism of the Renaissance in what’s called Protestant Scholasticism.
Let me be clear; there’s much that took place in Europe during the Reformation we skipped over because it would have gotten us into the proverbial weeds of details that while a few might find interesting, most would regard as that which makes some accounts of history so laborious; that is, a lot of names & dates.
In this episode, I want to step back and do something of a review to set the Reformation in perspective.
Although it surely would have grieved him had he lived to see it, Luther’s legacy in the years after his death was over a Century of religious wars. These wars didn’t just pit Catholics against Protestants, Protestant factions went to war against each other. If the Reformers had hoped to purify the Church of both theological error & political corruption, they may have succeeded in the first endeavor but failed miserably in the second. It seems people who want to use religion for personal ends don’t really care what face the mask bears, just so long as it gets the job done. Some of the more devastating wars included the French wars of religion, the Dutch revolt against Philip II of Spain, the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada in 1588, the 30 Years War in Germany, and the Puritan revolution in England.
The 17th C was a time of theological & political entrenchment. European Christendom was now divided into 4 groups: Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, & the Anabaptists. The first 3 became officially associated with regions and their governments, while the Anabaptists, after their disastrous failure at Munster, learned their lesson and sought to live out their faith independently of entanglements with the civil authority. During the 17th C, Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed developed impenetrable confessional bulwarks against each other.
As we saw in a previous episode, Catholic orthodoxy achieved its definitive shape with the Council of Trent in the mid-16th C. The Jesuits played a major role at Trent, especially in the answering the challenge presented by Luther’s view on justification and grace. The council affirmed the importance of the sacraments, and the Roman church’s theological position on the Eucharist. At Trent, the Jesuits affirmed the importance Thomism, that is, the work of Thomas Aquinas in setting doctrine. The triumph of Thomism at Trent set the future trajectory of Catholic theology.
In episode 110, we mentioned the rise of Protestant Scholasticism in post-reformation Europe. It seems there’s some confusion regarding the difference between Protestant orthodoxy and Protestant scholasticism. Orthodoxy is concerned with correct theological content, while Scholasticism had more to do with methodology.
From the mid-16th thru 17 C, Protestant orthodoxy clarified, codified, and defended the work of the early Reformers. Then, after the careers of the next generation of Reformers, it’s convenient to identify 3 phases of Protestant orthodoxy. “Early orthodoxy” runs from the mid-16th to mid-17th C. It was a time when Lutheran and Reformed groups developed their Confessions.  “High orthodoxy” goes from the mid- to late 17th C. This was a time of conflict when the Confessions hammered out earlier were used as a test of orthodoxy and formed battle lines to fight over. “Late orthodoxy” covers the 18th C, when the people of Europe began to ask why, if the Protestant confessions were true, rather than leading to the Peace the Gospel promised, they lead instead to war, death, & widespread misery.
Actually people had been asking that question for a lot longer than that; ever since the Church and State had become pals way back in the 4th C.]]>
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120-The Change 10 http://www.sanctorum.us/120-the-change-10/ Sun, 10 Jan 2016 09:01:23 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1145 http://www.sanctorum.us/120-the-change-10/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/120-the-change-10/feed/ 15 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]   [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

 

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118-The Change 08 http://www.sanctorum.us/118-the-change-08/ Sun, 27 Dec 2015 09:01:49 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1138 http://www.sanctorum.us/118-the-change-08/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/118-the-change-08/feed/ 9 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]   [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

 

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117-The Change 07 http://www.sanctorum.us/117-the-change-07/ Sun, 20 Dec 2015 09:01:47 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1135 http://www.sanctorum.us/117-the-change-07/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/117-the-change-07/feed/ 2 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]   [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

 

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116-The Change 06 http://www.sanctorum.us/116-the-change-06/ Sun, 13 Dec 2015 09:01:39 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1132 http://www.sanctorum.us/116-the-change-06/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/116-the-change-06/feed/ 3 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]   [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

 

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115-The Change 05 http://www.sanctorum.us/115-the-change-05/ Sun, 06 Dec 2015 09:01:07 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1126 http://www.sanctorum.us/115-the-change-05/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/115-the-change-05/feed/ 0 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]   [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

 

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114-The Change 04 http://www.sanctorum.us/114-the-change-04/ Sun, 29 Nov 2015 09:01:45 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1122 http://www.sanctorum.us/114-the-change-04/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/114-the-change-04/feed/ 0 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ] This episode continues our series examining the impact Christianity had on history & culture. Today we take a look at how the Faith […] [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

This episode continues our series examining the impact Christianity had on history & culture. Today we take a look at how the Faith impacted the world’s view of women.

Contemporary secular feminism came about because of the Christian Gospel’s elevation of women. As with so many other privileges and liberties, as well as the prosperity many in the Western world enjoy; they find their origin in a Biblical view of the world and Mankind’s place in it. But as secularism gained traction in the 20th C and God was increasingly pushed from the public square, privilege became entitlement, liberty devolved to license, and greed turned prosperity into massive debt. All because the moral base that made them possible was forfeited in favor of the fiction told by secularism.

Radical feminism is a grand case in point. Feminists would never have been able to mount their attack on what they deem the subjugation of women were it not for the Christian elevation of women in the first place. They never would have had the platform to make demands were it not for the Biblical worldview Christianity ensconced in Western civilization.

In Gal. 3:28 the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Ephesians 5 where he defines the roles of husband & wife in marriage, Paul tells husbands to love their wives as they do themselves. Peter tells husbands to treat a wife tenderly & with great care as he would a delicate & precious vase. This seems like common sense, but ONLY because what Paul & Peter instruct has shaped our view of marriage and a husband’s duty to his wife. We don’t realize what an utterly radical assignment that was to men living in the 1st C.

At that time, Jewish men placed far less honor on women. One of the prayers some Jewish men prayed went, “Lord, I thank You I was not born a Gentile, a woman, or a dog.”  In the Greek and Roman world, wives were esteemed as little better than servants. A wife was a social convention by which a man raised legitimate heirs for the family name and fortune. But when it came to affection and pleasure, many men kept mistresses or visited temple prostitutes. Generally speaking, a wife had little honor in her husband’s esteem and had little claim on his attention or affections.[1]

When Paul told husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church in Ephesians 5, he elevated the wife to a place she’d not had before.

In 1 Peter 3:7 we read— “Husbands, dwell with your wife with understanding, giving honor to her, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”

When Peter told a Christian husband to honor his wife as he would a precious and delicate vase, this was nothing less than radical social revolution. The idea that a man would take the time to understand his wife was new and novel. And it was precisely for values like this Christians were accused by their critics of upsetting the social order and turning the world upside down. [2]

Imagine that! Because Christian men loved and served their wives, they were hated and persecuted. Why? Because they were monkeying with a system that had been in place for hundreds of years. Who knows what chaos might ensue if men started honoring their wives!

Now, I know what some feminists would say at this point because I’ve already heard it; “What about Peter & Paul’s instruction that a wife is to submit to her husband? See?! They’re just misogynist keepers of the tradition of a male-dominated society.”

Not exactly. In fact, not even close. Just as both Peter & Paul defied all cultural sensitivities of their day by calling men to love their wives sacrificially, & seek daily to understand and honor them, what they said to women in their roles as wives was JUST as revolutionary. Let me explain . . .

In Ephesians 5:22-24 the Apostle Paul says a wife’s submission to her husband is patterned after her submission to Christ. In v24, he says she’s to submit “in everything,” meaning it’s more than mere outward compliance. It goes deeper than just a tight-lipped surrender.

All of us need to understand that submission deals more with the posture of our hearts than with our actions. Before Paul moves to the roles of wives & husbands in Eph. 5, he speaks of the principle of mutual submission all believers are to hold. He then goes on to describe how men are to submit to those God has placed in authority over them at work and in the government. [3]

A lot of people think submission merely means giving in outwardly while inwardly they harbor resentment and defiance toward the one they’re supposedly submitting to. Their attitude is, “Okay, I’ll do what you say—but I still think you’re a jerk.”

In order to understand what Paul meant when he wrote that a wife is to submit “in everything”, let’s think about the cultural setting in which Paul wrote this.

In the Greco-Roman world of the 1st C, it was universally accepted that wives submitted to their husbands. Men were the undisputed rulers of their homes.  Paul wrote this letter to the Church in the city of Ephesus governed by the Roman Law known as paterfamilias. This law gave the male head of household absolute authority over his wife, children and servants.  He could beat and even put them to death if he wished, and the law was loath to interfere.[4]

So why would Paul call wives to something that was already so much an accepted part of life? Telling a wife to submit to her husband was like telling her to breathe. It was that obviousness that would move them to look closer and realize what he was really saying.

The clue to what he means is in the grammar. The verb ‘submit’ is in the middle voice. Paul says a wife is to “place herself in submission.” What he calls for isn’t merely a resigned outward compliance because of force.  He calls for a heart attitude of godly deference. The wife is to submit to her husband on the inside as well as on the outside.

Please don’t miss this because it’s the key to understanding the mind-blowing revolution Paul brought. He’s saying to the women of his day, “You’ve been yielding outwardly because you had no choice. You have no power in society so you have to comply with your husband’s wishes. But now God gives you this voluntary choice, this act of will rather than legal requirement & forced compliance. You can submit from your heart too.”

This is what he means by “in everything” in verse 24.  “Submit in everything: in your actions, in your heart, in your speech, even you body language.”

Rather than seeing Paul as some kind of male chauvinist seeking to cruelly subjugate women, realize he was giving them a power they’d never known before. It was the power to choose for themselves. He was making decision-makers of those who had been forbidden to make real decisions before.

While this truth may have been obscured for modern readers of the Bible, it it was certainly not lost to the men & women of the 1st C who when they installed these things in their homes found a new level of life , meaning, purpose & joy they’d never known before. And it was the beauty & excellence of their lifestyle that was so attractive to their unbelieving peers & saw them come into the faith by the hundreds, then thousands. Even though persecution by hostile authorities was still a regular occurrence.

Simply put – search the annals of the Greeks & Romans and you will find nothing that comes close to this marital ethic, or any other culture of the ancient world. Honest secular historians admit that the arrival of Jesus was THE turning point in the history of women and that the Gospel marked a sea change in women’s status in society.

[1] John MacArthur, Jr., Different by Design, (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994) 53

[2] Acts 17:6

[3] Ephesians 6 & Romans 13

[4] Paterfamilias • Originally called by the Latin title of paterfamilias, the father evolved into the patron of Roman Republican and early Imperial society. The father of the Roman family had the power over everyone and everything in the home. He could sell his wife or children into slavery and order their deaths at will. [© 1999-2002 Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)]

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[The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. This episode continues our series examining the impact Christianity had on history & culture. Today we take a look at how the Faith impacted the world’s view of women.
Contemporary secular feminism came about because of the Christian Gospel’s elevation of women. As with so many other privileges and liberties, as well as the prosperity many in the Western world enjoy; they find their origin in a Biblical view of the world and Mankind’s place in it. But as secularism gained traction in the 20th C and God was increasingly pushed from the public square, privilege became entitlement, liberty devolved to license, and greed turned prosperity into massive debt. All because the moral base that made them possible was forfeited in favor of the fiction told by secularism.
Radical feminism is a grand case in point. Feminists would never have been able to mount their attack on what they deem the subjugation of women were it not for the Christian elevation of women in the first place. They never would have had the platform to make demands were it not for the Biblical worldview Christianity ensconced in Western civilization.
In Gal. 3:28 the Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Ephesians 5 where he defines the roles of husband & wife in marriage, Paul tells husbands to love their wives as they do themselves. Peter tells husbands to treat a wife tenderly & with great care as he would a delicate & precious vase. This seems like common sense, but ONLY because what Paul & Peter instruct has shaped our view of marriage and a husband’s duty to his wife. We don’t realize what an utterly radical assignment that was to men living in the 1st C.
At that time, Jewish men placed far less honor on women. One of the prayers some Jewish men prayed went, “Lord, I thank You I was not born a Gentile, a woman, or a dog.”  In the Greek and Roman world, wives were esteemed as little better than servants. A wife was a social convention by which a man raised legitimate heirs for the family name and fortune. But when it came to affection and pleasure, many men kept mistresses or visited temple prostitutes. Generally speaking, a wife had little honor in her husband’s esteem and had little claim on his attention or affections.[1]
When Paul told husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church in Ephesians 5, he elevated the wife to a place she’d not had before.
In 1 Peter 3:7 we read— “Husbands, dwell with your wife with understanding, giving honor to her, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
When Peter told a Christian husband to honor his wife as he would a precious and delicate vase, this was nothing less than radical social revolution. The idea that a man would take the time to understand his wife was new and novel. And it was precisely for values like this Christians were accused by their critics of upsetting the social order and turning the world upside down. [2]
Imagine that! Because Christian men loved and served their wives, they were hated and persecuted. Why? Because they were monkeying with a system that had been in place for hundreds of years. Who knows what chaos might ensue if men started honoring their wives!
Now, I know what some feminists would say at this point because I’ve already heard it; “What about Peter & Paul’s instruction that a wife is to submit to her husband? See?! They’re just misogynist keepers of the tradition of a male-dominated society.”
Not exactly. In fact, not even close.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 10:07
113-The Change Part 3 http://www.sanctorum.us/113-the-change-part-3/ Sun, 22 Nov 2015 09:01:45 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1118 http://www.sanctorum.us/113-the-change-part-3/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/113-the-change-part-3/feed/ 2 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ] This episode is part 3 in a series examining  the impact Christianity has had on history & culture. Today we go even further […] [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

This episode is part 3 in a series examining  the impact Christianity has had on history & culture. Today we go even further in our examination of the sanctity of life that’s been the focus of the previous 2 episodes, but today, we look at it specifically in Christianity’s regard for the Sanctity of Sex.

As we begin, I want to pause to say that what we’re going to look at today may offend the sensibilities of some of our more secular &/or liberally-minded listeners. The redefinition of gender that’s become a hot topic of late has split the church, as well as the wider culture. It’s not my intent here to develop a theology of gender, merely to give an accurate, albeit summary, review of sexual ethics in Church history. So summary are the following comments they border on being simplistic, and for that I apologize.

This would be a good time to remind CS subscribers & anyone listening to this that I am what can be called a conservative, Evangelical pastor of a non-denominational church whose primary focus of ministry is the verse by verse expository teaching and preaching of the Bible. I believe in the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture & seek to cultivate a thoroughly Biblical Worldview. Part of that worldview is to not only cleave to Truth as revealed in the Bible, but to exemplify the character of Christ in my words & actions. We was, as John says in the first chapter of his Gospel, FULL of Truth & Grace. The legacy of the Gospel is that we also are to be filled by that fullness. So while I must, for sake of conscience, speak the truth, I must do so in love. Therefore I apologize for the times past in CS episodes when my joviality has been unkind; when for the sake of a couple yucks, I’ve demeaned others. That is definitely NOT consistent with the character of Jesus, who died to remove shame.

With that said, what follows could be found offensive to some because it upholds a Biblical morality in regard to sexual ethics & gender distinctions. I DO NOT apologize for that because it’s not I who’s offending – It’s God’s Word, as historically understood and applied by the Church.

And now, let’s get to it . . .

Wherever the Bible was read & studied, human beings were understood as being created in the image of God & as the creation account in Genesis makes clear, that meant they were made male & female. The first man & woman were placed in an idyllic setting, were naked & because they were innocent, they were without shame. God Himself officiated at their Garden wedding, then announced that the goal of their union was to become one flesh. You don’t have to be a genius to realize it was God’s original plan for human beings to enjoy a rich & rewarding sex life all within the marriage relationship, & that marriage alone is the proper place for the act of sex.

Just as the Christian who arrived in Rome found a low regard for human life, they also encountered a shocking moral depravity in regard to sex. Immorality was everywhere, an integral part of pagan culture. The Apostle Paul wrote of the Greco-Roman debauchery in Romans 1 when he said –

24 God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served what was created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.

We know what social conditions were like at the time the Gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire because of contemporary writers who described it. Juvenal, Ovid and others recorded that sexual activity between men & women was promiscuous & depraved. The famous historian Edward Gibbon, whose epic tome The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire is considered THE standard work on the subject, said that the breakdown in sexuality morality began after the Punic Wars in 146 BC. By the 2nd C, normal sexual intercourse & marital fidelity had all but disappeared. It wasn’t just that adultery & fornication were common, people engaged in all kinds of bizarre sexual practices. What’s more, they were brazen about it; graffiti & iconic images of their bizzarity appeared on columns, walls, & household items like oil lamps, bowls, cups & vases.

It’s interesting that in the early years of the Republic, the Romans considered the Greeks who’d been the dominant civilization just before them to be morally corrupt. The Greeks exercised in the nude & practiced all forms of sexual license. The Romans shunned public nudity & considered much of what the Greeks had done morally shameful. But as power & wealth flowed into Rome from their many conquests, they increasingly aped the older Greek practices. By the 2nd C AD, they were doing more & worse than the Greeks had even thought.

Things were so bad at the turn of the Millennium from the 1st C BC to AD, that Augustus enacted a set of laws aimed at curbing people’s addiction to illicit sex. The law had little effect, as to be expected when the only person to be punished for committing adultery was the woman. It was a terrible combination when people were on one hand, obsessed with sex & on the other, despised marriage. Marriage was at a low point because most were arranged; social arrangements that aimed at one thing, securing one’s place in a society where standing was EVERYTHING. So men and women married with not an ounce of love or affection for each other. Couple that with no expectation of sexual fidelity on the part of either the husband or wife & it was a formula for massive infidelity. In certain segments of Roman society, women were as debauched as the men. Some women pursued sexual liaisons with every notable public figure they could; gladiators, politicians, actors, & comedians. The Roman satirist Juvenal wrote about these liaisons. The Church Father Tertullian wrote a treatise on proper conduct by Christians living in the debauched Empire. In a treatise called “Concerning Shows” he warned believers away from the theater because the plays enacted there were ribald & blatant live pornography. Ovid wrote that normal heterosexual sex had turned into a brutal sadomasochism; THAT was the new normal.

As the debauchery evolved from decade to decade, it grew progressively worse, as sexual sin always does. Since slaves were mere property, both men & women began to use their young slaves as sex objects. Then homosexuality became increasingly accepted, with older men making the object of their desire, younger & younger men & boys. Incest, a strict taboo for generations, was never openly accepted as normal, but it was quietly accepted for those who opted for it. Several Emperors led the way.

It was into this sexual maelstrom Christians came with a radically different sexual ethic. Only sex between a husband & wife was acceptable before God. Hebrews 13:4 made it clear – “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

For Christians, sex btwn a husband & wife was an expression of mutual love & intimacy. It wasn’t purely selfish gratification. In truth, the Apostle Paul made a mind-blowing statement when in 1 Cor. 7 he said that a husband & wife OWED each other sexual satisfaction. To a culture that legally treated women as the property of their husbands – that was astounding. For most in the Greco-Roman world, a wife was merely a social convention by which one raised legitimate heirs for the estate & family name. But for pleasure & fun, you had an affair or many. And since a wife didn’t expect her husband to be faithful or really even to check up on her, she also had lovers. So what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church was nothing short of astounding! And if you know anything about Corinth, then you know that’s saying something. As bad as things were all over the Empire, Corinth was considered by most as being really bad! Imagine the casino owners, showgirls & sex workers of Las Vegas saying, “Yeah, Corinth is a really morally nasty place” and you get an idea of how bad it really was.

Yet there was a church there, and Paul told the Christians they were to take all that sexual energy & focus it into the husband-wife relationship where it belonged. He even warned them about thinking that abstaining from sex somehow pleased God or made them more spiritual. A husband owed his wife sexual satisfaction, & vice versa. The only time they could abstain was during a short time to devote themselves to fasting. But when the fast was over, they were to get to it again. è I’m not making that up, read 1 Cor. 7 yourself, it’s all right there.

While most skeptics scoffed at the Christian commitment to sexual purity, a few commended them. Galen, a Greek physician of the 2nd C thought the Christian commitment to fidelity in marriage set them apart as noble. The fruit of healthy, loved filled marriages that shaped happy families began to have a dramatic impact on their neighbors. People thought Christians odd for their commitment to fidelity, but they couldn’t argue with the obvious love & devotion Christian couples had for each other.  They began to reason – “Sex is fun, but what my soul craves is love. I want pleasure, but what I NEED is significance, and it’s only a committed relationship that’s going to scratch that itch.”

Unrestrained sex began to be regarded as NOT inevitable. People COULD in fact reign in their passions & lust. Look! The Christians are doing it by the thousands! And surprise, surprise, they are waaaay happier than the pagans.

As the Christian ethic regarding sex gained traction, they told how Jesus had warned about lust in the Sermon on the Mount. He said if a man looks longingly & lustfully on a woman other than his wife, he’s committed adultery in his heart. It wasn’t just an overt act of sex that was prohibited. Christian sexual morality went further! It was about total marital fidelity to one’s spouse that included the thought life. Unbelievers began to realize Christianity wasn’t just moralism. It wasn’t prudish asceticism. It enjoyed physical pleasure, but in the boundaries God designed it for. It was an ethic that enhanced & enriched life, while the immorality they’d given themselves to before was degrading & life-quenching.

Biblical Sexual morality allows life to flourish while sin diminishes the quality of life.

One of the ways we can see the influence of Christianity in honoring marriage is in the beauty & solemnity of the wedding ceremony. In Greco-Roman culture it was a small affair without much to-do. And marriage had fallen to such a low state by the turn of the Millennium most weddings were more farce that ceremony. Christians changed that. Specifically, Christian women changed that. They took to heart Jesus’ elevation of women & embraced their calling as redeemed daughters of God. As wives & mothers they gladly took hold of their calling to raise godly children and saw the wedding ceremony as the commencement of that. They demanded the ceremony be reverent & solemn.  Their commitment worked slowly to effect a sea-change in the way all society viewed marriage & weddings. Christian women took a courageous & heroic stand. The pagan Libanius couldn’t help but express his admiration when he said, “What women these Christians have!”

Along with the wanton & debauched heterosexual immorality of Greco-Roman society was its acceptance of homosexuality. And not the plain 2 adults of the same-sex variety. Pederasty or pedophilia was common, where an adult man had sex with a boy btwn the age of 12 & 16. In fact, pederasty was the usual form of homosexuality.  Several Roman writers comment on this.

Pederasty declined & ultimately failed in its grip on Roman society for the same reason heterosexual immorality declined; because of the sanctifying influence of Christianity. Christians didn’t stage campaigns calling homosexuality wrong any more than they did for adultery & fornication. They simple showed a more excellent way that won the argument by the superiority of their lifestyle.

That being the case, in the modern return of the rise of sexual immorality, homosexuality, the turn toward acceptance of same-sex marriage, the popularity of the 50 Shades literary porn for soccer moms, and the plague of internet porn, w/the commensurate explosion of child-pornography & sex crimes against children, reason moves us to conclude it’s the failure of Christians to demonstrate to their culture the superiority of the Christian sexual & marriage ethic. We don’t need campaigns against same-sex marriage. We need Christian husbands & wives to love & serve each other, working for each other’s delight & raising happy, healthy families! Hard to do when the divorce rate among those calling themselves Christians is little better than the wider culture. Impossible when a church guy cheats on his wife or a church gal steps out on her husband.

Earlier I said the moral excellence of early Christians commended them to many of their non-Christian peers. While that’s true, it’s certainly not the whole story. The sexual purity of Christians moved others to hate them & accuse them of trying to subvert society. Why, those dangerous Jesus followers were fiddling with centuries of tradition. Keep that up & the gods will be ticked. Who knows what wrath might be brewing, ready to fall on everyone’s head for allowing the Christians to get away with their narrow sexual rules. And what’s this silliness about loving my wife! You Christians are hazardous social revolutionaries. Honestly, in some places of the Empire, it was arguments like this that led to persecutions, and Christians were put to death: è For loving their wives & staying sexually faithful to them.

Well, here we are, 1800 years later & the wheel’s turned once more. The Christian sexual ethic that won out because it was proven to be vastly superior to the pagan ethic, the Christian honoring of the sanctity of marriage & sex that transformed society for the better for nearly 200 years, is being rapidly swept away in a re-embrace of humanistic paganism. The failure isn’t the Gospel’s. Nor is it the overwhelming power of immorality & sin.

The age grows dark when the light goes dim.

]]>
[The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. This episode is part 3 in a series examining  the impact Christianity has had on history & culture. Today we go even further in our examination of the sanctity of life that’s been the focus of the previous 2 episodes, but today, we look at it specifically in Christianity’s regard for the Sanctity of Sex.
As we begin, I want to pause to say that what we’re going to look at today may offend the sensibilities of some of our more secular &/or liberally-minded listeners. The redefinition of gender that’s become a hot topic of late has split the church, as well as the wider culture. It’s not my intent here to develop a theology of gender, merely to give an accurate, albeit summary, review of sexual ethics in Church history. So summary are the following comments they border on being simplistic, and for that I apologize.
This would be a good time to remind CS subscribers & anyone listening to this that I am what can be called a conservative, Evangelical pastor of a non-denominational church whose primary focus of ministry is the verse by verse expository teaching and preaching of the Bible. I believe in the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture & seek to cultivate a thoroughly Biblical Worldview. Part of that worldview is to not only cleave to Truth as revealed in the Bible, but to exemplify the character of Christ in my words & actions. We was, as John says in the first chapter of his Gospel, FULL of Truth & Grace. The legacy of the Gospel is that we also are to be filled by that fullness. So while I must, for sake of conscience, speak the truth, I must do so in love. Therefore I apologize for the times past in CS episodes when my joviality has been unkind; when for the sake of a couple yucks, I’ve demeaned others. That is definitely NOT consistent with the character of Jesus, who died to remove shame.
With that said, what follows could be found offensive to some because it upholds a Biblical morality in regard to sexual ethics & gender distinctions. I DO NOT apologize for that because it’s not I who’s offending – It’s God’s Word, as historically understood and applied by the Church.
And now, let’s get to it . . .
Wherever the Bible was read & studied, human beings were understood as being created in the image of God & as the creation account in Genesis makes clear, that meant they were made male & female. The first man & woman were placed in an idyllic setting, were naked & because they were innocent, they were without shame. God Himself officiated at their Garden wedding, then announced that the goal of their union was to become one flesh. You don’t have to be a genius to realize it was God’s original plan for human beings to enjoy a rich & rewarding sex life all within the marriage relationship, & that marriage alone is the proper place for the act of sex.
Just as the Christian who arrived in Rome found a low regard for human life, they also encountered a shocking moral depravity in regard to sex. Immorality was everywhere, an integral part of pagan culture. The Apostle Paul wrote of the Greco-Roman debauchery in Romans 1 when he said –
24 God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served what was created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
We know what social conditions were like at the time the Gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire because of contemporary writers who described it. Juvenal, Ovid and others recorded that sexual activity between men & women was promiscuous &...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 17:28
112-The Change Part 2 http://www.sanctorum.us/112-the-change-part-2/ Sun, 15 Nov 2015 09:01:18 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1115 http://www.sanctorum.us/112-the-change-part-2/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/112-the-change-part-2/feed/ 0 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ] This episode is part 2 of our series considering the impact Christianity has had on history & culture. Today we dig a little […] [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

This episode is part 2 of our series considering the impact Christianity has had on history & culture. Today we dig a little deeper into how the Faith impacted the world’s view of the sanctity of life.

In our last podcast, we talked about the ancient world’s widespread practice of infanticide & how Christianity affected a fundamental shift in the way people evaluated life. This elevation of the value of human life came from Christianity’s roots in Biblical Judaism with its revelation that human beings are created in God’s image, then taken further by the Incarnation; that God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The cross reveals how highly God values people. Therefore, God’s people must value them as well. So while the pagan world thought little of exposing unwanted infants to the elements & wild beasts, Christians rescued & adopted them, raising them as their own. It was an early & inventive church growth program.

Another way the Christian view of the sanctity of life affected the Roman world was its impact on the arena.

The Roman writer Ausonius reported that gladiatorial games began in Rome about 264 BC. By the time Christians arrived there, the Romans had watched many thousands of gladiators fight to the death with one other & beasts. Because the whole thing was meant to be a show, more often than not, the battles weren’t quick affairs. They were long, drawn out torments where as soon as one combatant gained a significant advantage on his opponent, he took his time finishing him off to titillate the blood-lust of the spectators. Death by many cuts. As one historian wrote, the 300 year long popularity of the Gladiatorial games “illustrates the pitiless spirit and carelessness of human life lurking behind the pomp, glitter, and cultural pretensions of the great imperial age.”

Like infanticide, the games underscore Rome’s low regard for human life.

Gladiators were usually slaves, prisoners of war, or condemned criminals, all regarded as expendable. Rome’s seeming unstoppable war-machine meant a constant influx of new slaves & prisoners. The games provided a way to reduce the supply to the slave market to keep their price up & keep the legions who sold them supplied with income. So speaking purely pragmatically, the games were a slick arrangement. It helped regulate the slave industry & provided entertainment for the populace. If one poor soul had to die to keep a thousand happy, it was deemed worth it. Social commentators in ancient Rome remarked on how the State kept the ever-ready-to-riot masses pacified by providing free bread & games; giving rise to the phrase – Bread & Circuses.

Though over time a handful of gladiator achieved celebrity status, the main bulk of them were considered by society to be loathsome & doomed, assigned by Fate to a pitiless lot. Only a handful of freemen ever willingly became gladiators and if they did it was for money & fame. They enjoyed the applause of the crowd & were willing to imperil their lives to gain it. There were a few women gladiators.

Before being allowed to fight in the arena, gladiators were trained. BTW, that word arena comes from the place where gladiatorial contests were waged. Harena is Latin for “sand” and refers to the floor of the theater which was covered w/a fine sand to absorb the blood. The whole aim of the games were to entertain so gladiators were taught the rudiments of combat so they could make a good showing & increase the tension of the spectators. A good deal of gambling took place in the stands as people bet on their hoped-for champion. Because the games were a major event, the famous, rich & powerful were nearly always in attendance, including senators, emperors, pagan priests & vestal virgins.

The games weren’t held just in Rome. Amphitheaters for games were erected in most major cities of the empire. >> I want to pause briefly and make a clarification. In modern usage, the word amphitheater is often used to describe a venue that’s a half circle; like the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles. But the prefix amphi means round, a full circle. For the Greeks & Romans, an amphitheater was a full circle, like the Colosseum in Rome. A half circle, is just a theater. Amphitheaters were used for the gladiatorial games while theaters were used primarily for political gatherings, speeches, & plays.

Back to the gladiators: In Rome, as combatants entered the arena, they’d file before the emperor’s box, salute & shout, “We who are about to die salute you.” They would then fight either man to man or in small teams. Occasionally masses of men would re-enact famous battles from Roman history. But most of the time it was 2 men battling each other to the death. When it became clear one was the victor & his opponent was close to death, the winner would look to the stands for the audience’s verdict. If the loser had fought well, they might mark their desire that he be allowed to live by extending their arms & giving a thumbs up. Most times, the crowd wanted to see the match finished by slaying the loser, so they gave thumbs down, the women just as much a part of this as men. All eyes then turned to the emperor whose decision decided the loser’s fate. He nearly always went with the crowd’s majority.

Occasionally gladiators fought wild animals that often got the better of their human opponents. During the early 2nd C, the Emperor Trajan celebrated his conquest of the region of Dacia by hosting games lasting 4 months. Ten thousand gladiators participated & 10,000 animals were killed. Half the gladiators died in the arena while many other died later of their wounds. When Titus inaugurated the Colosseum in Rome in 80 AD, 5,000 animals were killed in a single day, along with hundreds of gladiators.

While the average Roman throughout the empire enjoyed the games, Christians were appalled by them. But don’t forget, MOST of those early Christians were first, game-loving pagans. A radical transformation took place when they converted. What had once been entertainment became abhorrent as they realized the foolishness of their previous ways. For Christians, the games were gambling with men’s lives. They were a shocking violation of the Command, “You shall not murder.”

So, Christians refused to attend the games. It wasn’t so much a boycott as it was a simple decision to not attend an event so fundamentally a grotesque violation of their deeply held conviction.  What used to be entertainment became a deplorable & degrading vice.

Pagan critics of the Faith noticed the Christian absence at the games & complained; calling Christians anti-social! One critic accused, “You do not go to our shows; you take no part in our processions . . . you shrink in horror from our sacred games.” Interesting that the games were called sacred by this pagan critic. He saw participation in what the majority did civilly as a kind of civil religion everyone needed to be a willing part of or they presented a threat & danger to society. As we consider that attitude of the ancient Roman Empire toward Christianity, it speaks volumes to us today about how Christians are once again marginalized for our moral stand on same-sex marriage & intellectual position on theism & creation.

Church leaders called upon their members to not attend the games or other pagan celebrations where debauchery was on display. In AD 220 Tertullian wrote a book called “Concerning Shows” & devoted an entire chapter admonishing Christians to not attend the games.

Evidence of the profound impact Christianity has had on history & the valuation of human life is that today, as we read this chapter of the history of the Roman Empire, we shudder at the barbarity & butchery of the gladiatorial games. It’s appalling imagining people in the stands screaming for blood, cheering as a gladius is drawn slowly across the neck of some poor hapless slave.

Christianity’s high regard for all human life eventually moved Christian emperors to ban the games. Historians agree – it was the growth of the Faith & the persuasion of the Gospel that affected a fundamental shift in the way people regarded life. People grew uneasy with the idea that they were entertained by cruelty & murder. The emperors Theodosius & his son Honorius brought an official end to the games in the late 4th C after 7 centuries of brutality and untold thousands slaughtered for no more reason that entertainment.

Someone might ask if the modern penchant for violence in movies & TV, with all the blood & gore isn’t a return to the moral bankruptcy of the Roman games. There’s an important difference – in movies & TV, everyone knows it’s contrived – no one is actually hurt. In fact, stunt crews go to great lengths to ensure they aren’t; whereas in the ancient games, the victor was cheered & encouraged by the crowds to finish it by brutally killing his opponent. Even in modern boxing matches, the referee stops the match when one of the contestants is in danger of real harm.

Where this seems to be changing though is in the realm of MMA where combatants aim at doing real harm to their opponent and injury is common. As the sport grows & more fighters enter the octagon, the crowd’s thirst for the spectacular keeps growing apace. We can only hope they don’t ever get to the point where they stand, extend their arm and give a thumbs down on a loser who’s tapped out.

Christianity had a positive impact on other Romans laws as soon as the Emperor became a Christian. In 315 Constantine banned the practice of branding the faces of criminals condemned to serve in the mines or as gladiators.  He did so because man was created in the image of God and the face is a special & unique way of identifying individuals. He eventually banned all branding of slaves. He also required people arrested for a crime be given a speedy trial, since holding them implied guilt by holding them against their will. Coming to see the cross as a most cruel form of execution, crucifixion was also outlawed.

Constantine’s son Constantius followed in his father’s reforming ways. He segregated male & female prisoners, to which we say, “Duh!” But know this, until the mid-4th C, male & female prisoners were incarcerated together. And yes, you can imagine what that meant for the poor women. It reveals what low regard Greco-Roman culture had for women who weren’t under the manus, that is – the controlling hand of a husband. Such women were considered fair game for the unwelcomed attention of men. The elevation of women found in the Bible brought social transformation where ever the Faith spread.

We’ve already considered the long historical debate over the legitimacy of Constantine’s conversion. Was it real or feigned because he could see which way the religio-political winds among Rome’s legions were blowing? His reforming of these deep-seated Roman customs regarding the sanctity of life do suggest he really understood the implications of the Gospel & had some kind of a moral revolution himself. A guy who merely used Christianity when it was convenient wouldn’t call for the radical reformation of centuries old traditions knowing the social unrest it would cause unless he was convinced it was the right thing to do.

Another way the Christian view of the sanctity of life shines through in transforming the ancient world is in the end it brought to human sacrifice, a fairly common practice in paganism. Child sacrifices were common rituals for Canaanite worshipers of Baal. Before Patrick arrived in Ireland, the Druids sacrificed both adults & infants. As late the 13th & 14th Centuries, the yet unreached Prussians & Lithuanians practice human sacrifice. In the New World, the Aztecs & Mayans both sacrificed many thousands of victims in blood orgies. The Aztecs would even subdue a neighboring tribe just to produce victims to sacrifice, leaving pools of blood at the base of their pyramids.

But where ever the Gospel went & people were converted to faith in Christ, human sacrifice came to an end.

Finally, where ever the Gospel reached, people’s views of suicide changed. The philosophy of Stoicism which held a powerful sway over the mindset of the Roman Empire, put little value on human life, including one’s own. The ancient Romans had gone all in on the idea of quality of life. The only lives that bore any quality were those of the rich, powerful & privileged. The lower classes were taught to accept the fact that Fate had passed them by & the best they could aspire to was to make the lives of the blessed a little better before giving up their pathetic little lives. Suicide was considered a viable option when life was just too much to endure.

Some Greeks & Romans even considered suicide a glorious end. The person who took their own life in their own time, their own way was the master of their own fate – not leaving death to claim them at its whim. Many notable Romans took their own lives, including Cato, Seneca, Petronius & some of the Emperors. Suicide was lauded as brave, a noble thing to do if it meant avoiding shame.

It’s sad therefore to see the modern resurrection of the old arguments for suicide, that it’s noble if it means being the master of your own destiny, avoiding shame, or is a rebuttal to the supposed lack of quality of a person’s life. Christians joyously announce that in fact we AREN’T the masters of our fate, God is. Shame is dealt with at the cross, & the issue isn’t quality of life – it’s sanctity of life. Quality is subjective, with one person’s abyssmalation being another’s glory, & vice versa. Abyssmalation isn’t even a word – but it gets the point across.

Christianity regards suicide as self-murder, a most obvious violation of the sanctity of life. It’s also, in nearly all cases, a profound loss of faith in God; concluding that one’s life is beyond God’s ability to rescue, restore & redeem.

Interestingly, while suicide came to be generally regarded as incompatible with Faith in God, it wasn’t until the Council of Elvira in 305 that it was formally condemned. And even then it wasn’t suicide as an act of desperation that was in view by the ban placed on it. What prompted the Council’s ban was the fact some Christians were too eager to be martyred. Remember that the couple decades just before Constantine became emperor were times of great & bloody persecution for Christians. Martyrs had achieved heroic status. What had been meant as a way to encourage Christians to stay faithful went overboard & became a kind of perverse delight in being martyred. So there were dozens who could easily have survived just by exercising some simple wisdom. But they nearly dared their tormentors to kill them, thinking that by doing so they were being heroic and would earn more points with God. Really, it was an ancient form of suicide by cop – in this case, suicide by executioner = Martyrdom. The Council of Elvira called a halt to it in 305.

Clement of Alexandria, Lactantius, Gregory of Nazianus & Eusebius all condemned suicide. But the most vociferously opposed to it was Augustine in the 5th C. You may remember he wrote against the Donatists in North Africa. The Donatists believed there was no forgiveness of sins after baptism, so some had gone to extreme measures & agreed to a mass suicide right after being dunked.

Augustine reasoned suicide violated the command “You shall not murder.” He pointed out that in the Bible, none of the Heroes of the Faith took their own lives and when Elijah asked God to slay him, God refused.

As the years passed, the Roman church added more proscriptions to suicide in the hope no one would even think about it for the way it would consign the soul to eternal darkness. Public attitude toward suicide eventually changed to such a degree that it went from being considered noble to cowardly. Instead of using it to escape shame, it became a means to it.

In our neat episode, we’ll consider Christianity’s impact on sexual morality.

Don’t forget the 2017 Reformation Tour – March 7-19.

You can find a link for more info at www.sanctorum.us, or the Podcast FB page.

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[The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. This episode is part 2 of our series considering the impact Christianity has had on history & culture. Today we dig a little deeper into how the Faith impacted the world’s view of the sanctity of life.
In our last podcast, we talked about the ancient world’s widespread practice of infanticide & how Christianity affected a fundamental shift in the way people evaluated life. This elevation of the value of human life came from Christianity’s roots in Biblical Judaism with its revelation that human beings are created in God’s image, then taken further by the Incarnation; that God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. The cross reveals how highly God values people. Therefore, God’s people must value them as well. So while the pagan world thought little of exposing unwanted infants to the elements & wild beasts, Christians rescued & adopted them, raising them as their own. It was an early & inventive church growth program.
Another way the Christian view of the sanctity of life affected the Roman world was its impact on the arena.
The Roman writer Ausonius reported that gladiatorial games began in Rome about 264 BC. By the time Christians arrived there, the Romans had watched many thousands of gladiators fight to the death with one other & beasts. Because the whole thing was meant to be a show, more often than not, the battles weren’t quick affairs. They were long, drawn out torments where as soon as one combatant gained a significant advantage on his opponent, he took his time finishing him off to titillate the blood-lust of the spectators. Death by many cuts. As one historian wrote, the 300 year long popularity of the Gladiatorial games “illustrates the pitiless spirit and carelessness of human life lurking behind the pomp, glitter, and cultural pretensions of the great imperial age.”
Like infanticide, the games underscore Rome’s low regard for human life.
Gladiators were usually slaves, prisoners of war, or condemned criminals, all regarded as expendable. Rome’s seeming unstoppable war-machine meant a constant influx of new slaves & prisoners. The games provided a way to reduce the supply to the slave market to keep their price up & keep the legions who sold them supplied with income. So speaking purely pragmatically, the games were a slick arrangement. It helped regulate the slave industry & provided entertainment for the populace. If one poor soul had to die to keep a thousand happy, it was deemed worth it. Social commentators in ancient Rome remarked on how the State kept the ever-ready-to-riot masses pacified by providing free bread & games; giving rise to the phrase – Bread & Circuses.
Though over time a handful of gladiator achieved celebrity status, the main bulk of them were considered by society to be loathsome & doomed, assigned by Fate to a pitiless lot. Only a handful of freemen ever willingly became gladiators and if they did it was for money & fame. They enjoyed the applause of the crowd & were willing to imperil their lives to gain it. There were a few women gladiators.
Before being allowed to fight in the arena, gladiators were trained. BTW, that word arena comes from the place where gladiatorial contests were waged. Harena is Latin for “sand” and refers to the floor of the theater which was covered w/a fine sand to absorb the blood. The whole aim of the games were to entertain so gladiators were taught the rudiments of combat so they could make a good showing & increase the tension of the spectators. A good deal of gambling took place in the stands as people bet on their hoped-for champion. Because the games were a major event, the famous,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 18:50
111-The Change Part 1 http://www.sanctorum.us/111-the-change-part-1/ Sun, 08 Nov 2015 09:01:29 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1111 http://www.sanctorum.us/111-the-change-part-1/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/111-the-change-part-1/feed/ 0 [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ] In a nod to Bilbo Baggins, in this 111th episode of CS, we’re changing gears a bit to begin a series of podcasts […] [The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ]

In a nod to Bilbo Baggins, in this 111th episode of CS, we’re changing gears a bit to begin a series of podcasts considering the impact Christianity has had on the world. We’ll unpack how the Faith has left its imprint on society. The Title of this episode is The Change – Part 1: The Sanctity of Life.

Knowing my fascination with history and especially the history of Rome, a few years ago, someone recommended I watch a mini-series that aired on a cable network. While it was dramatic historical fiction, the producers did a good job of presenting the customs & values of 1st C BC Roman culture. While the series was suspenseful & entertaining, it was difficult to watch because of the brutality that was commonplace. And it wasn’t put in merely for the sake of titillation or to make the shows more provocative. It was an accurate depiction of the time. More than once, I found myself near tears, broken over just how lost the world was. Several times I said out loud, “They needed Jesus!”

Exactly! THAT was the very era Jesus was born into & the culture the Gospel spread in. How desperately the Roman Empire needed the life-affirming message the Early Church preached & lived.

There’s an old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When the early Christians came to Rome, we can be thankful they DIDN’T do what the Romans did. On the contrary, slowly but surely, with fits & starts, they eventually transformed the Greco-Roman world from rank paganism to a more or less Biblical world view. Nowhere was that seen more clearly than in the change that was made to the sanctity of human life.

During the early days of the Roman republic, the high value put on the family unit formed a moral base that lent a certain weight to the value of the individual. But as the idea of the State grew during the late republic, then blossomed in the Empire, people were evaluated in terms of what they could contribute to the State. That meant people on the bottom of the social scale had little to no value. The poor, women, and slaves became chattel; property to be used. Life became cheap. And the pagan gods bequeathed no real moral virtue into the Roman world. They were understood to be whimsical & selfish at the best of times, cruel in the worst.

The Christian value of the sanctity or specialness of human beings was based in the Jewish view of man as created in God’s image. There was a healthy Jewish population in the City of Rome itself & scattered throughout other major cities of the Empire. Early on, the unique Jewish view of man had infiltrated the Roman world where ever Jews were to be found. So different was this view of man from the paganized Greco-Roman worldview that many of the more enlightened Greeks & Romans had begun attending Jewish synagogues. If they stayed, they became known as God-fearers; Gentiles who believed in the God of the Bible, but hadn’t become full converts to Judaism by being circumcised, baptized, & keeping kosher. They occupied a section in many synagogues, sitting by themselves to hear the teaching of Scripture. The book of Acts tells us some of Paul’s most fruitful work was in this God-Fearer section of the synagogue.

The Jewish idea of men & women being created in God’s image took on new potency when the Gospel was preached, for it told of God becoming man. And becoming a man so He could go to the cross to ransom lost men & women; translating them from a destiny in hell to the glory of heaven. All this spoke of God’s view of the value of human beings. If He would endure the passion & cross, it meant life was of inestimable value. Rather than life being cheap, it was to be honored and protected at all costs, regardless of its station or quality.

One way the early Christian demonstrated this was the church’s opposition to the widespread practice of infanticide. It was common to expose unwanted children soon after birth, either by drowning or leaving them on exposed where the elements or wild beasts would finish them. They were left to die for physical deformities, for being of the wrong sex, or simply because the parents couldn’t afford another mouth to feed.

Abandoning unwanted infants was quite common in the Greco-Roman world. In fact, the founding myth of Rome begins with 2 infant boys being tossed into the Tiber River. Romulus & Remus both survived to be suckled by a she-wolf, then raised by an elderly shepherd. It was their later struggle that founded the city of Rome, named for one of the brothers – Romulus.

So in the city of Rome itself, parents would regularly leave unwanted children at the base of the Columna Lactaria. In later times, Roman parents would abandon their infants there to show grief over some national calamity, like the death of a beloved emperor. To put that in modern terms, imagine someone dropping off their 2 week old infant at a memorial for 9/11 – and just walking away; thinking that somehow shows solidarity with everyone’s shock & grief. Yet that’s what many Romans did with their newborns when calamity struck.

Greeks also practiced infanticide by abandoning infants. They did so because it was woven into their mythology. The well-known Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex revolves around Oedipus who at only 3 days was abandoned by his father King Laius of Thebes. Ion, founder of Ionia was abandoned as an infant by his mother. Poseidon, Aesculapius, & Hephaistos were all abandoned infants. Even Paris who started the Trojan War was abandoned as a child. In Sparta, every newborn was brought before the elders for inspection. If the child was deemed weak in any way, it was abandoned.

As shocking, is realizing in all the literature come to us from that time, nowhere is there a shred of evidence infanticide was wrong, or even questioned.

Infanticide wasn’t practiced just among the Greeks & Romans; other ancient societies practiced it as well. Plutarch said the Carthaginians had made infant sacrifice a regular occurrence. When building a new house or wall, they mixed the blood of an infant with the mortar, thinking it made the wall stronger. If a wealthy family had no new-born to offer, they’d buy one off a poor mother. Though we don’t have a record of what was on the 12 Tablets that formed the basis of Roman Law & civilization, we know a good deal of what was in them from the quotes of later Romans. Cicero says it was part of Roman law to expose deformed infants. In the 1st C AD, Seneca, remarks in passing, without batting the proverbial eye, that deformed infants were routinely drowned. Infanticide was so common in the later Greek era that in the 2nd C BC, Polybius blamed a population decline on it.

 

Because infanticide was so common, large families among both Greeks & Romans was rare. An inscription found at Delphi reveals that in a 2nd C sample of 600 families, only 1% had more than 1 daughter! Infanticide was practiced in India, China, Japan, Africa, the rainforests of Brazil, among the Inuit, & among the native North & Central  Americans.

Early Christians balked not at calling infanticide, murder. To them, infants were creatures of God who bore His image no less than their mature counterparts. They’d heard of Jesus’ attention to little children in Matthew 19. That passage is interesting because the disciples thought the children approaching Jesus weren’t worthy of His august attention. In their attitude toward the little ones, contrary as it was to Jesus’ own perspective, we catch of glimpse of how the Greco-Roman culture had influenced them. The pre-Roman Jewish culture put a huge emphasis on children. They were regarded as a great blessing from God. Children were God’s promise of a future! Yet in the disciples’ shooing the children away from Jesus, we see how the Greco-Roman devaluing of life had infected them.

We ought to reflect on how the modern abortion debate may have affected our valuation of human life. The parallels to the current population decline among ethnic Europeans ought to be obvious & a sign of how the Judeo-Christian worldview has been gutted from Western civilization.

The Didache, the standard catechism used by the Church in the 1st C tells Christians, “You shall not commit infanticide.” It’s condemned in the Epistle of Barnabas, written about 130. In AD 222, the 1-time slave turned bishop of Rome, Callistus expressed his dismay at the widespread practice of exposing unwanted infants.

It was this & the very vocal Christian opposition to it that helped fuel the persecution the early church faced in so many places around the Empire. The Romans placed great stock in tradition and looked with suspicion on anyone who sought to change it. The Christians were doing just that with their radical ideas about how to treat the unwanted.

While Christians opposed infanticide, they were unable to do anything about it as a social policy while they were an outlawed group. It wasn’t until the Edict of Milan in AD 313 that they were able to even speak to official policy. Then, only 60 years later Emperor Valentinian, at the urging of Basil of Caesarea, outlawed the wicked practice of infanticide.

But while they waited for the laws to change, early Christians didn’t sit on their hands. They regularly went out to the hillsides where children were left exposed and took them into their homes, raising them as their own children. In Rome, Bishop Callistus organized people to roam the streets in the late evening, looking for abandoned children. He then placed them in the homes of parents wanting them. As far as we know, this was the first organized adoption agency, even though it was done on the sly. The famous martyr Polycarp’s protégé, Benignus of Dijon, recused & nurtured abandoned little ones, ministering to the needs of children who’d been deformed because of botched abortions. Afra of Augsburg, a notorious prostitute before her conversion to Christ, began a ministry to the abandoned children of prisoners, thieves, smugglers, pirates, runaway slaves, and all sorts of ne’er-do’ wells.No one should get the impression from this that following Valentinian’s outlawing of infanticide & child-abandonment, there was an immediate, overnight end to the practice. Far from it. People in Europe & the Eastern Empire continued to off their off spring in large numbers. And Christians continued to adopt them. But as the influence of the Christian worldview spread, there was a deep & fundamental shift that took place in the way people viewed human life; all of it from cradle to grave. And where that respect for life settled in, infanticide evaporated. It got to the point where a single abandoned infant became a shocking event the news of which spread like wild-fire. And when desperation moved some young mother to abandon her child, where did she leave it? Not on a hillside to let it die. No. She left it on the doorstep of the local church because she knew her child would be taken care of.

So it ought to be with the deepest kind of grief that we hear now about newborns being left in dumpsters & gas station restrooms. It seems we’ve regressed, not progressed; devolved, not evolved. Society has at any rate. And to think – there are people who actually rejoice that the Christian worldview has been cut loose from modern society.

We have abortion, which is really just an earlier form of infanticide. Partial birth abortion isn’t even that! If a woman doesn’t make the appointment to rid herself of the unwanted before it’s born, no problem; when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

What’s next? Gladiatorial combat? Oops – too late. // Slavery? Again, too late. It’s already here.

We’ll be taking a look at many more ways the Christian Faith has impacted culture & civilization in the weeks to come.

You can register now for the 2017 Reformation Tour by going to the sanctorum.us website or the FB page for the link.

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[The substantive content of this and the entire “The Change” series of podcast-episodes for Communion Sanctorum is indebted to the excellent book by Alvin J. Schmidt titled How Christianity Changed the World. ] In a nod to Bilbo Baggins, In a nod to Bilbo Baggins, in this 111th episode of CS, we’re changing gears a bit to begin a series of podcasts considering the impact Christianity has had on the world. We’ll unpack how the Faith has left its imprint on society. The Title of this episode is The Change – Part 1: The Sanctity of Life.
Knowing my fascination with history and especially the history of Rome, a few years ago, someone recommended I watch a mini-series that aired on a cable network. While it was dramatic historical fiction, the producers did a good job of presenting the customs & values of 1st C BC Roman culture. While the series was suspenseful & entertaining, it was difficult to watch because of the brutality that was commonplace. And it wasn’t put in merely for the sake of titillation or to make the shows more provocative. It was an accurate depiction of the time. More than once, I found myself near tears, broken over just how lost the world was. Several times I said out loud, “They needed Jesus!”
Exactly! THAT was the very era Jesus was born into & the culture the Gospel spread in. How desperately the Roman Empire needed the life-affirming message the Early Church preached & lived.
There’s an old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” When the early Christians came to Rome, we can be thankful they DIDN’T do what the Romans did. On the contrary, slowly but surely, with fits & starts, they eventually transformed the Greco-Roman world from rank paganism to a more or less Biblical world view. Nowhere was that seen more clearly than in the change that was made to the sanctity of human life.
During the early days of the Roman republic, the high value put on the family unit formed a moral base that lent a certain weight to the value of the individual. But as the idea of the State grew during the late republic, then blossomed in the Empire, people were evaluated in terms of what they could contribute to the State. That meant people on the bottom of the social scale had little to no value. The poor, women, and slaves became chattel; property to be used. Life became cheap. And the pagan gods bequeathed no real moral virtue into the Roman world. They were understood to be whimsical & selfish at the best of times, cruel in the worst.
The Christian value of the sanctity or specialness of human beings was based in the Jewish view of man as created in God’s image. There was a healthy Jewish population in the City of Rome itself & scattered throughout other major cities of the Empire. Early on, the unique Jewish view of man had infiltrated the Roman world where ever Jews were to be found. So different was this view of man from the paganized Greco-Roman worldview that many of the more enlightened Greeks & Romans had begun attending Jewish synagogues. If they stayed, they became known as God-fearers; Gentiles who believed in the God of the Bible, but hadn’t become full converts to Judaism by being circumcised, baptized, & keeping kosher. They occupied a section in many synagogues, sitting by themselves to hear the teaching of Scripture. The book of Acts tells us some of Paul’s most fruitful work was in this God-Fearer section of the synagogue.
The Jewish idea of men & women being created in God’s image took on new potency when the Gospel was preached, for it told of God becoming man. And becoming a man so He could go to the cross to ransom lost men & women; translating them from a destiny in hell to the glory of heaven. All this spoke of God’s view of the value of human beings. If He would endure the passion & cross, it meant life was of inestimable value.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:13
110-Faith in the Age of Reason – Part 2 http://www.sanctorum.us/110-faith-in-the-age-of-reason-part-2/ Sun, 01 Nov 2015 09:01:32 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1106 http://www.sanctorum.us/110-faith-in-the-age-of-reason-part-2/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/110-faith-in-the-age-of-reason-part-2/feed/ 0 The title of this episode is Faith in the Age of Reason, Part 2. In our last episode we briefly considered Jakob Hermanzoon, the Dutch theologian who’d sat under the tutelage of Theodore Beza, John Calvin’s successor at the Academy in Geneva. We know him better by his Latin name Jacobus Arminius. Arminius took exception […] The title of this episode is Faith in the Age of Reason, Part 2.

In our last episode we briefly considered Jakob Hermanzoon, the Dutch theologian who’d sat under the tutelage of Theodore Beza, John Calvin’s successor at the Academy in Geneva. We know him better by his Latin name Jacobus Arminius.

Arminius took exception to Beza’s views on predestination & when he became pastor of a church in Amsterdam, created a stir among his Calnvinsit colleagues. It was while teaching a series of sermons on the Book of Romans that Arminius became convinced Beza had several things wrong. The implication was that because Beza was Calvin’s successor & the standard-bearer for Calvinism, Arminius contradicted Calvin. Things came to a head when Arminius’ colleague Peter Planck began to publicly dispute with him.

Arminius hated controversy, seeing it as a dangerous distraction to the cause of the Gospel & pressed for a synod to deal with the matter, believing once his views were set alongside Scripture, he’d be vindicated.

In 1603, Arminius was called to the University at Leiden to teach when one of the faculty members died. The debate Arminius had been having with Planck was shifted to a new controversy with one of the other professors at Leiden, François Gomaer.

This controversy lasted the next 6 yrs as the supporters of both Calvinism & Arminius grew in number & determination. The synod Arminius had pressed for was eventually held, but not till 9 years AFTER his death in 1609.

In the meantime, just a year after his death, Arminius’ followers gathered his writings and views & issued what they regarded as a formal statement of his ideas. Called the Five Articles of the Remonstrants, or just the Remonstrance, it was a formal proposal to the government of Holland detailing the points of difference that had come to a head over the previous 6 yrs in the debate between Arminius & Gomaer.

Those 5 points were –

  1. That the divine decree of predestination is conditioned on Faith, not absolute in Election.
  2. That the Atonement is in intention, universal;
  3. That man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith;
  4. That though the grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; & finally –
  5. By the enabling power of the HS, believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.

In 1618, the Dutch Church called the Synod of Dort to answer the Remonstrance. The results of the Synod, called the Canons of Dort, strongly upheld Theodore Beza’s formulation of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination & developed their own 5 point response to the Remonstrance.

It comes as a major surprise to most students of Church history to learn that TULIP, or the famous 5 Points of Calvinism were a RESPONSE to the challenge of Arminianists; that they’d come up with their 5 points first. Most people who’ve heard of Calvinism & Arminianism have never even heard of the Remonstrance; yet it’s the thing that formalized the debate between the 2 camps; a debate that’s continued to today and has led to some prolific rows among God’s people.

Put a Presbyterian elder & Methodist deacon in a room together & let the fun begin!

Now, lest we think the Protestants fell out in the Calvinist-Arminianist brouha while the Catholics sat back, ate popcorn & watched the show, realize things were FAR from being all united & just one big happy family over in the Roman sector of the Church. Catholics were no monolithic entity at this time. It was a mixed bag of different groups and viewpoints with their own internal disagreements.

In the late 16th & early 17th Cs there was a long row between the Jesuits and the Dominicans over how divine grace and human free will interacted.

In the late 17th C, Pope Innocent XI, spent his reign playing a power game with Louis XIV and the Gallic theologians who believed in the authority of the Church, but not the Pope.

More serious was the rise of Jansenism. This movement grew out of the work of   Cornelius Jansen, a professor at Louvain University.  Jansen published a book in 1640 titled Augustinus, in which he stated what he believed were the doctrines of Augustine. Jansen sounded a lot like Calvin & argued that divine grace can’t be resisted, meaning it overrides the human will. He fiercely opposed the doctrine of the Jesuits that salvation depended on cooperation between divine grace & human will. So, the Jansenists believed in predestination, which meant that although they were Catholics they were in some ways more like Calvinists.

Jansenism proved a thorn in the side of the Catholic Church, & especially the Jesuits, for quite a while. Its leading exponent after Jansen himself was Antoine Arnauld, an intellectual and cultural giant of the 17th C. Arnauld corresponded with such philosophical luminaries as Descartes and Leibniz. He possessed a penetrating critical faculty; and as a theologian he was no less brilliant.

But back to our previous theme, stated at the beginning of the last episode – Protestant Scholasticism, or the Age of Confessionalism, in which the various branches of the Protestant church began to coalesce around distinctive statements of their theology.

The Anglican Church of England occupied a curious position in the midst of all this. On the one hand it was a Protestant church, having been created in the 1530s when King Henry VIII took command of the existing Catholic Church in England. The Lutheran sympathies of his advisers, like Thomas Cranmer and Thomas Cromwell, influenced the new church, but so too did the Catholic tendencies of later monarchs like Charles I and churchmen such as William Laud. Unlike other churches throughout Europe, the Church of England rarely had to struggle for the souls of its nation with another movement. So it had never been forced to define its beliefs and practices in the face of opposition to others. By the turn of the 18th C, the 1 thing all Anglicans agreed on was a shared distrust of Roman Catholics.

The doctrinal openness of the Church of England meant that it was in England that religious free-thinking had the greatest chance of taking root. In the late 16th C it was still possible to be burnt at the stake in England for denying the Trinity, but a C later those who asserted such things had no need to fear anything more damaging than govt. censure and a deluge of refutations by the clergy. The Church of England prided itself on its doctrinal orthodoxy, understood in terms of common sense, and a middle way between what were regarded as the bizarre excesses of continental Protestants and Catholics. This middle way was based on what its followers felt was a healthy respect, but refusal to fawn, for tradition. This took shape in the principle of the apostolic succession, an ancient Christian notion we’ve already examined in previous episodes. Apostolic succession claims that Christian doctrines can be known to be trustworthy because they are taught in churches which were founded by the apostles or their immediate followers. In other words, great trust was placed in the notion of an unbroken chain of tradition going back to the apostles themselves. It was this ‘apostolic succession’, together with the Scriptures, themselves handed down as part of this authoritative tradition, that mainstream Anglicans felt guaranteed the trustworthiness of their church. By contrast, many thought, the Catholics had added to that tradition over the centuries, while the more extreme Protestants had subtracted from it.

There was considerable tension between the churches. The worst example was France, where after the Revocation of Nantes in 1685 the Protestants were an actively persecuted minority: they felt especially threatened by the surrounding Catholics, and all the more determined never to give in to them. Persecution only strengthened their resolve and inspired sympathy from Protestants throughout Europe, who by the same token became increasingly hostile to Catholicism.

In England, Catholicism was the minority faith: officially banned, its priests had to operate in secrecy.

There’s a story from this time of a Catholic bishop who, functioning as a kind of religious spy, held Mass in an east London pub for a congregation of Irish workers disguised as beer-guzzling patrons.

Many people were scared of Catholics, whom they regarded as tools of a foreign power; those sneaky French or the Pope. There was also great suspicion of ‘Dissenters’—members of any churches other than the Church of England. ‘Dissenters’ and Catholics alike, it was feared, were eating away at the social fabric of the country, and the policies of tolerance followed by the Whig party were opposed by many. Many Anglican churchmen formed a party with the slogan ‘Church in Danger’, which spent its time campaigning against Catholics, Dissenters, deists, the principle of toleration and, essentially, everything that the Enlightenment had produced.

In 1778, parliament passed the Catholic Relief Act, which decriminalized Catholicism—to the enormous anger of a sizeable minority in the population. 2 years later a Scottish aristocrat named Lord George Gordon led a huge mob to London, resulting in a week of riots in which Catholic churches were looted, foreign embassies burnt, and nearly 300 people were killed.

But we ought not think it was all petty small-mindedness that ruled at that time. There were some who worked tirelessly to effect peace between the warring camps of Christendom. In the 17th C a number of attempts were made to open up dialogue between Roman Catholic & Protestant churches with the aim of reuniting them.

The godfather of this endeavor, sometimes known as ‘syncretism’, was a German Lutheran theologian named George Callixtus. He devoted huge effort in the early 17th C to find common ground between the different groups. Like his contemporary Hugo Grotius in the Reformed Church, he believed it should be possible to use the Apostles’ Creed, and a belief in the authority of the Bible alone, as a basis for agreement among Christians.

Callixtus made progress with Calvinists but the Catholics were less receptive. The Conference of Thorn, called by King Vladislav IV of Poland in 1645, attempted to put these ideas into practice, but after several weeks of discussions the Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist theologians were unable to pull anything substantive together.

Sadly, Callixtus’s efforts met with the greatest opposition from his fellow Lutherans.

So, let’s turn away from the acrimony & controversy that marked Protestant Scholasticism for a moment to take a look at a guy more like the rest of us; at least we probably hope so.

He was an obscure, uneducated Frenchman of the late 17th C.

Nicolas Herman, a manservant from Lorraine, tried to live his life around what he called ‘the practice of the presence of God’. He was not a very good manservant, having a pronounced limp from his army days and appallingly clumsy; but he performed his duties diligently until 1651, when, at the age of 40, he went to Paris and became a Carmelite monk. His monk’s name was Lawrence of the Resurrection. Brother Lawrence was put to work in the monastery’s kitchen—a task he hated, but which he did anyway because it was God’s will. To the surprise of the other monks, he not only did his work calmly and methodically, but spoke to God the entire time. Brother Lawrence declared that, to him, there was no difference between the time for work and the time for prayer: wherever he was, and whatever he was doing, he tried to perceive the presence of God. As he wrote to one of his friends:

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God: the only ones who can understand it are those who practice and experience it. But I do not advise you to do it from that motive. It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise, but let us do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us. If I were a preacher, I would, above all other things, preach the practice of the presence of God. And if I were a spiritual director, I would advise all the world to do it. That is how necessary I think it is—and how easy, too.”

Brother Lawrence became a minor celebrity among the hierarchy of the French Catholic Church, and he was visited by more than one archbishop, anxious to see if the reports of his humility and holiness were true. Lawrence’s 16 Letters & Spiritual Maxims testify of his sincere belief in God’s presence in all things and his trust in God to see him through all things. They also testify to the way in which holy men and women continued to devote themselves to God’s will, both in and out of the monasteries, even as the intellectual revolutions of the Enlightenment were at their height.

It is easy when considering the Age of Reason, to suppose theology was increasingly being seduced by philosophy, and that the simple, heartfelt faith of the commoners of the Middle Ages and the Reformation was being replaced by rationalism. That was true in some quarters, but the 17th & 18th centuries had their share of sincere & pious saints, as well as heretics, as much as any age; and there were some important movements that recalled the faithful to a living and wholehearted religion. As the theologians bickered, ordinary Christians were getting on with things, as they always had.

As we bring this episode to a close, I want to end with a look at Blaise Pascal. That’s a great name, isn’t it? Blaise. Sounds like a professional skateboarder.

Pascal was a Jansenist, that is, a member of the Roman Catholic reform movement we took a look at a moment ago. While the Jansenists began as a movement that sought to return the Roman Church to the teachings of Augustine, since Augustine’s doctrines were considered as being based in Scripture, the Jansenists were a Roman Catholic kind of back to the Bible movement.

A few days after Blaise Pascal’s death, one of his servants noticed a curious bulge in the great scientist’s jacket. Opening the lining, he withdrew a folded parchment written by Pascal with these words . . .

The year of grace 1654. Monday, November 23rd.,… from about half past ten in the evening until about half past twelve, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and scholars. >> Certainty, certainty, feeling, joy, peace. >> God of Jesus Christ, I have separated myself from Him. I have fled from Him, Renounced Him, crucified Him. May I never be separated from Him. Renunciation, total and sweet.

For 8 years Pascal had hid those words in his coat, withdrawing them now & again to read them and be reminded of the moment when grace has seized his soul.

Pascal’s mother died when he was only 3. His father, Stephen Pascal, began the education of the 3 children, Gilbert, Blaise, & Jacqueline. Occasionally he took the young Blaise with him to meetings of the Academy of Science. The youth’s scientific curiosity was aroused.

Before he reached the age of 27 Pascal had gained the admiration of mathematicians in Paris; had invented the calculating machine for his father who was a busy tax-collector; and had discovered the basic principles of atmospheric & hydraulic pressures. He belonged to the age of scientific greats.

Blaise’s initial contact with the Jansenists came as the result of an accident his father had. On an icy day in Jan, 1646, Stephen tried to prevent a duel. He fell on the hard frozen ground and dislocated a hip. The physicians who treated him were devoted Jansenists. They succeeded not only in curing their patient but in winning his son to their doctrines.

They told the Pascals physical suffering was an illustration of a basic religious truth: man is helpless; a miserable creature. Blaise had seldom enjoyed a day without pain. He knew how helpless physicians could be, so the argument struck him with unusual force. It deepened his sense of the tragic mystery of life.

He also learned from these Jansenist physicians how profoundly the Bible speaks to the human condition. He became an avid student of Scripture, pondering its pages as he had atmospheric pressures. He came to see the Bible as a way to a transformed heart.

In 1651, Pascal’s personal tragedy deepened with the death of his father. The loss brought him to a crisis. His sister, Jacqueline, renounced the world by entering the Port-Royal convent, and Blaise was left alone in Paris.

He now gave himself to worldly interests. He took a richly furnished home, staffed it with servants, and drove about town in a coach drawn by 4 horses; an extravagance. He pursued the ways of elite but decadent Parisian society. But after a year of pleasure he found only a “great disgust with the world,” and he plunged into quiet desperation. He felt abandoned by God.

Blaise turned again to the Bible, to the 17th ch of the Gospel of John, where Jesus prepares for His sacrifice on the cross. It was then that Pascal felt a new blaze of the Spirit. As he wrote, “Certainty, certainty, feeling, joy, peace.”

Pascal’s new faith drew him magnetically into the orbit of the Jansenists. Late in 1654 he joined his sister, Jacqueline, as a member of the Port-Royal community. He was then asked by one of the Jansenist leaders for assistance in his defense against the attack of the Jesuits.

Pascal responded brilliantly. He penned 18 Public Letters exposing Jesuit errors in flashes of eloquence and sarcastic wit. As each letter appeared, the public snatched them up. They were instant best-sellers. Port-Royal was no longer an obscure Jansenist monastery; it was a center of public interest. The Pope condemned the letters, but all the educated French read them, as succeeding generations did for the next 2 centuries.

Upon completing the letters in March, 1657, Pascal planned a book on the evidences for Christianity. He was never able to complete it. In June, 1662, he was seized with a violent illness and, after lingering 2 months, died on August 19 at the age of just 39.

Friends found portions of his writing on faith and reason, and 8 years after his death they published these notes under the title Thoughts (Pensées). In the Pensées, Pascal is a religious genius who cuts across doctrine and pierces to the heart of man’s moral problem. He appeals to the intellect by his passion for truth and arouses the emotions by his merciless descriptions of the plight of man without God.

Man, Pascal said, is part angel and part beast. He is a Chimera. In Greek mythology the chimera was a she-goat with a lion’s head and a serpent’s tail. Pascal wrote, “What a Chimera is man! What a novelty, a monster, a chaos, a contradiction, a prodigy! The glory and refuse of the universe. Who shall unravel this confusion?”

Reason, as great a faculty as it is, is no sure guide, Pascal warns. If we trust reason alone, we will doubt everything except pain and death. But our hearts tell us this cannot be true. That would be the greatest of all blasphemies to think that life and the universe have no meaning. God and the meaning of life must be felt by the heart, rather than by reason. It was Pascal who said, “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.”

He saw the human condition so deeply yet so clearly that men and women in our own time, after 3 centuries, still gain perspective from him for their own spiritual pilgrimage.

As we end, let me again announce the 2017 Reformation Tour. 2017 marks the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. And while most tourists will be visiting Europe in the Fall we’ll get ahead of the crowds by going in the Early Spring – March 17-19.

For more information, go to the www.sanctorum.us site and go to the Reformation Tour page.

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The title of this episode is Faith in the Age of Reason, Part 2. In our last episode we briefly considered Jakob Hermanzoon, the Dutch theologian who’d sat under the tutelage of Theodore Beza, John Calvin’s successor at the Academy in Geneva. In our last episode we briefly considered Jakob Hermanzoon, the Dutch theologian who’d sat under the tutelage of Theodore Beza, John Calvin’s successor at the Academy in Geneva. We know him better by his Latin name Jacobus Arminius.
Arminius took exception to Beza’s views on predestination & when he became pastor of a church in Amsterdam, created a stir among his Calnvinsit colleagues. It was while teaching a series of sermons on the Book of Romans that Arminius became convinced Beza had several things wrong. The implication was that because Beza was Calvin’s successor & the standard-bearer for Calvinism, Arminius contradicted Calvin. Things came to a head when Arminius’ colleague Peter Planck began to publicly dispute with him.
Arminius hated controversy, seeing it as a dangerous distraction to the cause of the Gospel & pressed for a synod to deal with the matter, believing once his views were set alongside Scripture, he’d be vindicated.
In 1603, Arminius was called to the University at Leiden to teach when one of the faculty members died. The debate Arminius had been having with Planck was shifted to a new controversy with one of the other professors at Leiden, François Gomaer.
This controversy lasted the next 6 yrs as the supporters of both Calvinism & Arminius grew in number & determination. The synod Arminius had pressed for was eventually held, but not till 9 years AFTER his death in 1609.
In the meantime, just a year after his death, Arminius’ followers gathered his writings and views & issued what they regarded as a formal statement of his ideas. Called the Five Articles of the Remonstrants, or just the Remonstrance, it was a formal proposal to the government of Holland detailing the points of difference that had come to a head over the previous 6 yrs in the debate between Arminius & Gomaer.
Those 5 points were –

* That the divine decree of predestination is conditioned on Faith, not absolute in Election.
* That the Atonement is in intention, universal;
* That man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith;
* That though the grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; & finally –
* By the enabling power of the HS, believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace.

In 1618, the Dutch Church called the Synod of Dort to answer the Remonstrance. The results of the Synod, called the Canons of Dort, strongly upheld Theodore Beza’s formulation of the Calvinist doctrine of predestination & developed their own 5 point response to the Remonstrance.
It comes as a major surprise to most students of Church history to learn that TULIP, or the famous 5 Points of Calvinism were a RESPONSE to the challenge of Arminianists; that they’d come up with their 5 points first. Most people who’ve heard of Calvinism & Arminianism have never even heard of the Remonstrance; yet it’s the thing that formalized the debate between the 2 camps; a debate that’s continued to today and has led to some prolific rows among God’s people.
Put a Presbyterian elder & Methodist deacon in a room together & let the fun begin!
Now, lest we think the Protestants fell out in the Calvinist-Arminianist brouha while the Catholics sat back, ate popcorn & watched the show, realize things were FAR from being all united & just one big happy family over in the Roman sector of the Church. Catholics were no monolithic entity at this time. It was a mixed bag of different groups and viewpoints with their own internal disagreements.
In the late 16th & early 17th Cs there was a long row between the Jesuits and the Dominicans over how divine grace and human free will interacted.
In the late 17th C, Pope Innocent XI,]]>
Lance Ralston clean 23:00
109-Faith in the Age of Reason – Part 1 http://www.sanctorum.us/109-faith-in-the-age-of-reason-part-1/ Sun, 25 Oct 2015 09:01:41 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1103 http://www.sanctorum.us/109-faith-in-the-age-of-reason-part-1/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/109-faith-in-the-age-of-reason-part-1/feed/ 0 The Title of this episode, is Faith in the Age of Reason.  Part 01 After the first flush of Reformation excitement died down, the Protestant churches of Europe went into a long period of retrenchment, of digging in both doctrinally & culturally. This period lasted from the late 16th to the later 17th C. and […] The Title of this episode, is Faith in the Age of Reason.  Part 01

After the first flush of Reformation excitement died down, the Protestant churches of Europe went into a long period of retrenchment, of digging in both doctrinally & culturally. This period lasted from the late 16th to the later 17th C. and is referred to by church historians as the Age of Confessionalism. But “confession” here isn’t the personal practice of piety in which someone admits error; Confessionalism is the term applied to how the various Protestant groups were increasingly concerned with defining their own beliefs, or confessions, in contrast to everyone else. It resulted in what is sometimes called Protestant Scholasticism. It’s called this because the churches developed technical jargon to describe their doctrinal positions ever more accurately—just as the medieval Roman Catholic scholastics had done 3 Cs before.

And don’t forget, it was Roman Scholasticism that helped spark the Reformation in the first place. It was the scholastics devotion to correct theology that highlighted the doctrinal & practical errors many in the Church began to call for reform over. But it was also the tendency of some Scholastics to forsake practical theology in favor of the purely hypothetical that fueled the Reformation’s drive to return the practice of faith to everyday life and made religion the sphere, not just of academics & sequestered clerics, but the common people.

So, we might conclude that the Protestant churches were now headed down the same path with their own version of Scholasticism. And in some cases, that’s what happened.

Many of the discussions of the Protestant Scholastics became dry and technical. Martin Luther sought to overturn centuries of medieval religious jargon and get back to the original message of the NT. John Calvin is often thought of as a more ‘systematic’ theologian, but his Institutes of the Christian Religion, though carefully arranged by topics, was intended to be no more than a faithful exposition of Scripture.

Luther’s & Calvin’s heirs, however, went beyond their intended simplicity. They didn’t abandon the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, but they sought answers to questions not found in the Bible. A prime example was the issue of predestination and the relation between grace and free will—which, at the start of the 17th C was THE hot theological topic among Protestants & Catholics. A new kind of scholasticism was produced, and some Protestant theologians were happy to use the terminology of Aristotle, and regarded the premier Roman Catholic Scholastic Thomas Aquinas as an authority.

One of the key figures of this era was Theodore Beza, an aristocratic Frenchman who, although only 10 yrs younger than Calvin, outlived him by 40 & was widely regarded as Calvin’s successor. It was Beza, rather than Calvin, who was regarded by most Reformed theologians of the 17th C as the theological authority; and it was he who was especially good at recasting the terminology of Aristotle & the medieval scholastics in disputing with his opponents, who were most often Lutherans & Catholics.

It was Beza who defined the doctrine of predestination and its role in Reformed theology. In doing so, he developed the doctrine of ‘double predestination’, the notion that God deliberately predestines the reprobate to damnation & the elect to salvation. It was Beza who put forward the ‘prelapsarian’ position, which says God planned the Fall and the division of humanity into elect & reprobate before Adam sinned. These ideas were present in germ-form in Calvin, but they weren’t the touchstones of Reformation orthodoxy they later become.

Beza was an eloquent author. That can’t be said of all who took up their pens in the service of the Lutheran & Reformed cause. In place of Luther’s & Calvin’s attempts to simply expound what Scripture said about doctrine and theology, the Protestant Scholastics were all about logical consistency and adherence to a pre-established orthodoxy.

The Age of Confessionalism is often thought of as a time when theologians conducted a war of words with sharp pens, rather than sharp swords. What comes as a surprise is how so much of their angry rhetoric was aimed, not at people far across the theological divide from themselves, but at their own, much closer colleagues.

With the hardening of orthodoxy, there were inevitable splits within churches as some rebelled against what their colleagues were laying down as required doctrine. The greatest of these splits occurred in the Reformed Church at the end of the 16th C, after the preaching of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch minister and professor taught by Beza. Arminius was initially a supporter of Beza’s views. But he rebelled against Beza’s distinctions regarding predestination and prelapsarianism, declaring them unjust. Arminius argued that if God condemns some and saves others, it must be on the basis of who has faith, not on the basis of some eternal decree He’s already worked out even before they’re born.

Arminius died in 1609, but the controversy he started rumbled on thru the centuries & has continued right on down to today.

His Dutch name was Jakob Hermanszoon – but as did many scholars of the day, he Latinized it to Jacobus Arminius; and it’s from that we get the theology derived from him – Arminianism – which as most listeners know, is usually posited as opposite to Reformed theology, or Calvinism. Now, before I get a pile of angry emails & comments – let me say what’s called Arminianism & Calvinism today would likely be disavowed by John Calvin & Jakob Hermanszoon.  If they attended a seminary class on these topics today they’d likely say, “What’ch you talkin’ about Willis?

Both Arminianism & Calvinism have taken on theological accretions & associations their authors likely never intended. And strictly speaking, we can’t equate Calvinism with what’s known as Reformed Theology.

But. back to the story. è Arminius was born in the Netherlands near Utrecht. His father was a blacksmith & armorer who died shortly after Jakob was born. He was educated at the expense of family friends who recognized his keen intellect. He’d just entered Marburg University in Germany at the age of 16 when news reached him of a tragedy back home in his hometown of Oudewater.

The Roman Catholic Spanish had occupied a good part of Holland for some time but were expelled from Oudewater when the city became a Protestant enclave. When the Spanish returned, they over-ran the town and carried out a brutal massacre that killed Arminius’ mother & siblings. Jakob spent 2 weeks in inconsolable mourning.

When the new University of Leiden opened nearby in 1576, he was the 12th student enrolled. At Leiden he adopted the controversial theology of the French scholar Peter Ramus, a Protestant progressive killed during the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Leaving Leiden, Jakob went to Geneva where he enrolled in the Academy, then headed by Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor.

Arminius’s defense of Ramus angered the faculty of the Academy so he left for a trip to Basel where he was offered a doctorate but declined, believing he’d not bring honor to the title.

Returning to Geneva, Arminius seems to have been more prudent in his approach. In 1585, Beza wrote to the city magistrates of Amsterdam who’d sponsored Arminius’s education, highly commending his ability and diligence and encouraging a continuance of their support in his studies.

After a short visit to Italy, Arminius returned home, was ordained, and in 1588 became one of the ministers of Amsterdam. His 1590 marriage to a merchant’s daughter gave him influential links.

From the outset, Arminius’s sermons on Romans 7 drew a strong reaction from staunch  Calvinists who disliked his views on grace and predestination. The Calvinists said that while God’s saving grace is unearned, He offers it only to those He predestines to salvation. Arminius disagreed, saying God gives grace to those who believe.

In 1592 a colleague accused him of Pelagianism, a 5th C heretical distortion of grace & free-will already condemned by the Church. Arminius was also accused of an overdependence on the early church fathers, deviation from 2 early Calvinist standards known as the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, and goofy ideas regarding predestination.

When Arminius and his supporters challenged his critics, urging them to point out specifically WHERE he was in error, they were unable to do so. The city authorities ended up on his side. The question of predestination was not raised in any substantive form until Arminius became professor of theology at Leiden, where he served from 1603–9. The last 6 years of his life were spent in controversy over his views as they stood in opposition to those of his old schoolmaster – Theodore Beza.

In a 1606 message titled “On Reconciling Religious Dissensions among Christians,” Arminius argued that dissension damages people both intellectually & emotionally and creates doubt about religion that leads to despair & if unchecked, ultimately to atheism. He proposed as a remedy to the controversy his ideas had stirred, the calling of a national synod. Arminius believed the proper arbiter between feuding clergy was a good & godly magistrate. The synod was eventually held at Dort in 1618, but Arminius had already been dead for 9 years!

In assessing Arminius’ theological position, we could say that in his attempt to give the human will a more active role in salvation than Beza’s brand of Calvinism conceded, Arminius taught a conditional election in which a person’s free will might or might not affect the divine offer of salvation.  It’s important to distinguish between Arminius’s teaching and what later became known as Arminianism, which was more liberal in its view of free will and of related doctrines than was its founder. Arminius’s views were never systematically worked out until the year after his death, when his followers issued a declaration called the Remonstrance, which dissented at several points from Beza’s description of Calvinism. It held, among other things, that God’s predestination was conditioned by human choice, that the Gospel could be freely accepted or rejected, and that a person who’d become a Christian could “fall from grace” or forsake salvation.

Though he was mild–tempered, Arminius nevertheless spoke his mind in controversy and characteristically defended his position from Scripture.

We’ll pick it up at this point in our next episode as we continue our look at Protestant Scholasticism. There’s a whole lot more for us to learn about this period, including the Calvinist reaction to the challenge of the Remonstrance, as well as the career of a couple of major lights in Christian history, Brother Lawrence & Blaise Pascal – as well as several others.

As we end, let me again announce the 2017 Reformation Tour. 2017 marks the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. And while most tourists will be visiting Europe in the Fall we’ll get ahead of the crowds by going in the Early Spring – March 17-19.

For more information, go to the www.sanctorum.us site and go to the Reformation Tour page.

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The Title of this episode, is Faith in the Age of Reason.  Part 01 After the first flush of Reformation excitement died down, the Protestant churches of Europe went into a long period of retrenchment, of digging in both doctrinally & culturally. After the first flush of Reformation excitement died down, the Protestant churches of Europe went into a long period of retrenchment, of digging in both doctrinally & culturally. This period lasted from the late 16th to the later 17th C. and is referred to by church historians as the Age of Confessionalism. But “confession” here isn’t the personal practice of piety in which someone admits error; Confessionalism is the term applied to how the various Protestant groups were increasingly concerned with defining their own beliefs, or confessions, in contrast to everyone else. It resulted in what is sometimes called Protestant Scholasticism. It’s called this because the churches developed technical jargon to describe their doctrinal positions ever more accurately—just as the medieval Roman Catholic scholastics had done 3 Cs before.
And don’t forget, it was Roman Scholasticism that helped spark the Reformation in the first place. It was the scholastics devotion to correct theology that highlighted the doctrinal & practical errors many in the Church began to call for reform over. But it was also the tendency of some Scholastics to forsake practical theology in favor of the purely hypothetical that fueled the Reformation’s drive to return the practice of faith to everyday life and made religion the sphere, not just of academics & sequestered clerics, but the common people.
So, we might conclude that the Protestant churches were now headed down the same path with their own version of Scholasticism. And in some cases, that’s what happened.
Many of the discussions of the Protestant Scholastics became dry and technical. Martin Luther sought to overturn centuries of medieval religious jargon and get back to the original message of the NT. John Calvin is often thought of as a more ‘systematic’ theologian, but his Institutes of the Christian Religion, though carefully arranged by topics, was intended to be no more than a faithful exposition of Scripture.
Luther’s & Calvin’s heirs, however, went beyond their intended simplicity. They didn’t abandon the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, but they sought answers to questions not found in the Bible. A prime example was the issue of predestination and the relation between grace and free will—which, at the start of the 17th C was THE hot theological topic among Protestants & Catholics. A new kind of scholasticism was produced, and some Protestant theologians were happy to use the terminology of Aristotle, and regarded the premier Roman Catholic Scholastic Thomas Aquinas as an authority.
One of the key figures of this era was Theodore Beza, an aristocratic Frenchman who, although only 10 yrs younger than Calvin, outlived him by 40 & was widely regarded as Calvin’s successor. It was Beza, rather than Calvin, who was regarded by most Reformed theologians of the 17th C as the theological authority; and it was he who was especially good at recasting the terminology of Aristotle & the medieval scholastics in disputing with his opponents, who were most often Lutherans & Catholics.
It was Beza who defined the doctrine of predestination and its role in Reformed theology. In doing so, he developed the doctrine of ‘double predestination’, the notion that God deliberately predestines the reprobate to damnation & the elect to salvation. It was Beza who put forward the ‘prelapsarian’ position, which says God planned the Fall and the division of humanity into elect & reprobate before Adam sinned. These ideas were present in germ-form in Calvin, but they weren’t the touchstones of Reformation orthodoxy they later become.
Beza was an eloquent author. That can’t be said of all who took up their pens in the service of the Lutheran & Reformed cause. In place of Luther’s & Calvin’s attempts to simply expound what Scripture said about doctrine and th...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 14:12
108-Overview 03 http://www.sanctorum.us/108-overview-03/ Sun, 18 Oct 2015 09:01:26 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1100 http://www.sanctorum.us/108-overview-03/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/108-overview-03/feed/ 1 This episode of CS is the 3rd Overview in the series so far. We’ve spent quite a bit of time tracking the Reformation and need now to give a brief over view & analysis of what we’ve seen as we prepare for launching into the next era of Church History. There’s a well-worn saying in […] This episode of CS is the 3rd Overview in the series so far. We’ve spent quite a bit of time tracking the Reformation and need now to give a brief over view & analysis of what we’ve seen as we prepare for launching into the next era of Church History.

There’s a well-worn saying in English I’m not sure other languages duplicate. It says that “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” The idea is that the details of something can obscure the bigger picture. You fail to see a forest because all you see are a lot of trees.

As we’ve spent many episodes tracking the Reformation & Counter-Reformation, we may be so distracted by the many names, places, dates & movements, that we miss the larger picture and the summary effect of all this on the people of 16th C.

Trends from the previous century came to fruition in the 16th that made for a monumental shift in people’s idea of what The Church was. Consider a couple of the things that happened in the 15th C.

  • Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453.
  • The New World was opened to Europe in 1492.

Until then, European Christians felt hemmed in by Muslims to the S & E, & by the Atlantic to the W. Missions were conceived of exclusively as the conversion of Islam. Challenges to Christianity were limited to the threat of  an aggressive Islam. That view seemed potent when news of the Fall of Constantinople arrived.

Yet in just the hundred years of the 16th C., the situation changed dramatically. To the E & S, Islam was countered by the Spanish Reconquista & the failure of the Turks to take Vienna. The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 saw the end of Muslim naval power in the Mediterranean. Muslims armies, which had seemed irresistible till then, began to be rolled back.

Then, the Atlantic, which had been a barrier, suddenly became a highway. New worlds opened with the discovery of The New World. Sailing W, Spanish conquistadors took a realm far larger than Spain itself. They took their faith with them.

The Portuguese sailed S around Africa, setting up traded centers & missions in the Far East. And suddenly, Islam, which had appeared the greatest barrier to Christian expansion, saw its central territory suddenly surrounded by the growing economic & military power of Europe. North Africa & western Asia shifted from being Muslim lands to European colonies.

In all these lands newly opened to the Europeans, Christianity established a foothold. Some of them would centuries later become their own vibrant center of missionary outreach at a time when Europe was growing increasingly secular.

But, few who lived in the 15th C time could comprehend the massive consequences of the events they witnessed. When Spain & Portugal came near to blows over who had the rights to what, the pope thought he could work a compromise by decreeing the W belonged to Spain while the E belonged to Portugal. But what about when sailing W leads to the E, and vice versa? The conflict then was played out in the Philippines.

King Ferdinand of Spain and his grandson the famous Emperor Charles V, before whom Luther appeared at the Diet of Worms, were far more concerned with the politics of Europe than the promises of a New World. That would be like a company in the year 2000 being more concerned with the telegraph than mobile cellphones.

During the 16th C, when these vast geopolitical changes were taking place, the towering edifice of medieval Christianity collapsed. The Council of Trent tried to salvage what it could & set the scene for what became modern Catholicism. Protestantism diffused into dozens of groups amid the ruins of the medieval Church. The long-held ideal of a single church, with the vicar of Christ as its visible head, never a view held firm by the Eastern Church, lost its power in the West as well. From then on, Western Christianity was divided among a plethora of groups that divided up along cultural & doctrinal differences.

In spite of corruption & the many voices calling for reform, there was agreement among Christians the Church was in essence one, and its unity ought to be seen in its organization. All the chief figures of the Reformation at first held such an understanding of the Church. Only a few went to the place where they rejected it. Most of the Protestant leaders believed the unity of the Church was crucial to its nature, and that although it was temporarily necessary to break unity to be faithful to God’s Word, that faithfulness demanded all effort at regaining unity.

As the Middle Ages had, people of the early 16th C took for granted that the survival of a nation-state required religious agreement among its subjects. That notion, which Christians rejected when a minority in the Roman Empire, became the prevailing view after the conversion of Constantine. All who lived in a Christian state must be Christian & faithful members of the Church. In a few scattered and special places Jews & Muslims were allowed an exemption, but even then were objects of disenfranchisement & persecution.

This view of national & concomitant religious uniformity is what led to the many wars of religion of the 16th & !7th Cs. Then, in some areas sooner than in others, a conclusion was reached that religious tolerance was preferable to the devastation these wars brought. So began the long process, as one after another the various European states adopted policies of religious tolerance. And that led to the modern idea of the secular state.

The 16th C also witnessed the collapse of the ancient dream of political unity under an Empire. Charles V was the last emperor who could harbor such illusions. After him, the so-called emperors were little more than kings of Germany whose powers were limited.

The Conciliarist hope for reforming the Church was also shaken. For several decades, Protestant reformers hoped a universal council would set the pope’s house in order. But the opposite took place. The papacy achieved its own reformation without help from a council.  By the time the Council of Trent assembled, it was obvious it wouldn’t be an ecumenical council so much as a papal tool.

Sincere believers among both Protestant and Catholic saw many of the old certainties crumble around them. Even the discoveries taking place in the New World posed questions unanswerable by the old guidelines. Medieval foundations like papacy, empire, tradition—no longer held. Galileo demonstrated the earth wasn’t a fixed point of reference. Now it seemed there wasn’t ANY fixed point to be trusted.

Such were the times of Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Knox, & the other great reformers. While the world was in chaos, they resolved to stand firm in Faith & the power of the Word of God. Luther and Calvin insisted that the power of the Word was such that, as long as the Roman Church continued reading, even though the pope & his advisors refused to listen, there was always in the Roman communion a “vestige of the church.” So they anticipated the day when the Church would once again cleave to the Word & set aside their differences to emerge in a united church once more.

As I shared last episode, we now have dates for the 2017 Reformation Tour.

March 7-19, 2017. We’re still working the costs but can let you know we’ll be starting in Prague, then visiting Dresden, Wittenberg, Erfurt, Eisenach, Marburg, Worms, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Constance, Zurich, & end in Geneva.

We’re going to limit the tour to about 45, so we can keep it to one bus. This maximizes our agenda since we don’t have to coordinate between multiple vehicles. It’ll also make the tour more intimate & personal.

The main point of departure will be from the Los Angeles CA. But as people sign up, we’ll see if it’s good to also select some other major departure ports. There will also be a land only option for those already in Europe or those who have air miles they want to redeem.

The cost for the tour is right around $3800 for air & land, $2,700 for land only. For more information, you can go to the CS FB site or the CS site itself at www.sanctorum.us for a link to the tour. There you can see the details for the tour, download a brochure and even got to the Reformation Tours site to register.

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This episode of CS is the 3rd Overview in the series so far. We’ve spent quite a bit of time tracking the Reformation and need now to give a brief over view & analysis of what we’ve seen as we prepare for launching into the next era of Church History. There’s a well-worn saying in English I’m not sure other languages duplicate. It says that “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” The idea is that the details of something can obscure the bigger picture. You fail to see a forest because all you see are a lot of trees.
As we’ve spent many episodes tracking the Reformation & Counter-Reformation, we may be so distracted by the many names, places, dates & movements, that we miss the larger picture and the summary effect of all this on the people of 16th C.
Trends from the previous century came to fruition in the 16th that made for a monumental shift in people’s idea of what The Church was. Consider a couple of the things that happened in the 15th C.

* Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453.
* The New World was opened to Europe in 1492.

Until then, European Christians felt hemmed in by Muslims to the S & E, & by the Atlantic to the W. Missions were conceived of exclusively as the conversion of Islam. Challenges to Christianity were limited to the threat of  an aggressive Islam. That view seemed potent when news of the Fall of Constantinople arrived.
Yet in just the hundred years of the 16th C., the situation changed dramatically. To the E & S, Islam was countered by the Spanish Reconquista & the failure of the Turks to take Vienna. The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 saw the end of Muslim naval power in the Mediterranean. Muslims armies, which had seemed irresistible till then, began to be rolled back.
Then, the Atlantic, which had been a barrier, suddenly became a highway. New worlds opened with the discovery of The New World. Sailing W, Spanish conquistadors took a realm far larger than Spain itself. They took their faith with them.
The Portuguese sailed S around Africa, setting up traded centers & missions in the Far East. And suddenly, Islam, which had appeared the greatest barrier to Christian expansion, saw its central territory suddenly surrounded by the growing economic & military power of Europe. North Africa & western Asia shifted from being Muslim lands to European colonies.
In all these lands newly opened to the Europeans, Christianity established a foothold. Some of them would centuries later become their own vibrant center of missionary outreach at a time when Europe was growing increasingly secular.
But, few who lived in the 15th C time could comprehend the massive consequences of the events they witnessed. When Spain & Portugal came near to blows over who had the rights to what, the pope thought he could work a compromise by decreeing the W belonged to Spain while the E belonged to Portugal. But what about when sailing W leads to the E, and vice versa? The conflict then was played out in the Philippines.
King Ferdinand of Spain and his grandson the famous Emperor Charles V, before whom Luther appeared at the Diet of Worms, were far more concerned with the politics of Europe than the promises of a New World. That would be like a company in the year 2000 being more concerned with the telegraph than mobile cellphones.
During the 16th C, when these vast geopolitical changes were taking place, the towering edifice of medieval Christianity collapsed. The Council of Trent tried to salvage what it could & set the scene for what became modern Catholicism. Protestantism diffused into dozens of groups amid the ruins of the medieval Church. The long-held ideal of a single church, with the vicar of Christ as its visible head, never a view held firm by the Eastern Church, lost its power in the West as well. From then on, Western Christianity was divided among a plethora of groups that divided ...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 11:20
107-Reform Around the Edges http://www.sanctorum.us/107-reform-around-the-edges/ Sun, 11 Oct 2015 09:01:51 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1092 http://www.sanctorum.us/107-reform-around-the-edges/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/107-reform-around-the-edges/feed/ 0 This episode is titled, “Reform Around the Edges.” Stay tuned to the end of this episode for some important news about the CS 2017 Reformation Tour. It’s difficult living in the Modern World to understand the Late Medieval norm that a State had to have a single religion all its subjects observed. You’d be hard […] This episode is titled,Reform Around the Edges.”

Stay tuned to the end of this episode for some important news about the CS 2017 Reformation Tour.

It’s difficult living in the Modern World to understand the Late Medieval norm that a State had to have a single religion all its subjects observed. You’d be hard pressed to find a European of the 16th C who didn’t assume this to be the case. About the only group who didn’t see it his way were the Anabaptists. And even among them there were small groups, like the extremists who tried to set up the New Jerusalem at Munster, who did advocate a State Church. Classic Anabaptists wanted religious tolerance, but were most often persecuted for this stance.

As we have seen in the story of the Church in Germany & as was hammered out in the Peace of Augsburg, peace was secured by deciding some regions would be Lutheran, others Catholic by the principle of  cujus regis eius religio [coo-yoos regio / ay-oos rel-i-gio] meaning, “Whose realm, whose religion.” Whatever the religion of the ruler of a region determined what the subjects religion. Under Augsburg, people were supposed to be free to relocate to another region if a ruler’s religion didn’t square with their convictions.

The many wars of religion that washed over Europe in general and France in particular is evidence of the idea that ruled that a State could have but one religion. Even the Edict of Nantes, passed by King Henry IV after the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, only guaranteed the survival of French Protestantism by granting a number of Protestant cities as enclaves in an otherwise French Catholic realm.

We’ve given a thumbnail sketch of the spread of the Reformation over Germany, France, England, Scotland, the Low Countries & in Scandinavian.

Let’s take a look now at Spain.

Before the Reformation reached the Iberian Peninsula, many hoped the Spanish Church would lead the way in long-overdue reform. Queen Isabella’s faith was earnest. She & Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros implemented a massive reform—including a renewal of biblical studies centered on the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. We know a polyglot today as a parallel Bible; only a polyglot doesn’t have several versions in the same language; It’s several languages side by side in parallel columns. The Complutensian Polyglot had the Hebrew, Latin & Greek texts of the OT as well as the Aramaic of the Torah. The NT was contained in both Greek & The Latin Vulgate. Spain also had many humanists like Erasmus—some of them in high places—who longed for reform.

The arrival of the Protestant Reformation saw attitudes in Spain changed. At Worms, the upstart monk Martin Luther defied Emperor Charles V, who just happened to be King Charles I of Spain. Charles became the champion of opposition to Protestantism. The Spanish Inquisition, previously aimed at Jews & those accused of practicing the occult, turned its attention toward those calling for reform & anything that smacked of the dreaded “Lutheranism.” Several leading humanists fled to places like the Low Countries where they were welcomed. Others stayed in Spain & tried to lay low, devoting themselves to their studies & hoping the storm would pass them by.

The Inquisition wasn’t able to halt the “Lutheran contagion,” as it was called. Valladolid & Seville became centers of Reformation despite frequent burnings at the stake by the Inquisition. A monastery in Santiponce near Seville was a reform center where Bibles & Protestant books were smuggled in barrels labeled as oil & wine. When one of the smugglers was captured and burned, a dozen of the monks fled, agreeing to meet in a year in Geneva. One of them became pastor to a Spanish congregation there. Another, Casiodoro de Reina, spent the rest of his life translating the Bible into Spanish; a recognized masterpiece of Spanish literature released originally in 1569. A few years later, another of the 12, Cipriano de Valera, revised de Reina’s version, which is now known as today as the Reina-Valera Bible. Back in their monastery in Santiponce & throughout the area around Seville, the Inquisition cleansed the Church of all trace of Protestantism.

We hop over now to Italy.

Among the inaccessible valleys of the Alps, some more reachable parts of Northern Italy & Southern France, the ancient community of the Waldensians continued a secluded but threatened existence. They were repeatedly attacked by armies hoping to suppress their supposed heresy. But they’d long stood firm in their mountain fastness. By the early 16th C the movement lost steam as constant persecution suppressed them. Many among them felt that the price paid for disagreeing with Rome was too high, and increasing numbers returned to Catholicism.

Then, strange rumors were heard. News of a great Reformation arrived. An emissary sent to inquire about these rumors returned in 1526 announcing they were true. In Germany, Switzerland, France, and even more distant regions dramatic change was afoot. Many of the doctrines of the Reformers matched what the Waldensians had held since the 12th C. More delegations met with leading reformers like Martin Bucer, who warmly received them & affirmed most of their beliefs. They suggested some points where they differed & the Waldensians ought to consider revising their stand to bring it into closer alignment with Scripture. In 1532, the Waldensians convened a synod where they adopted the main tenets of the Protestant Reformation. By doing so, they became the oldest Protestant church—existing more that 3 Cs before the Reformation.

Sadly, that didn’t make things easier for the Waldensians. Their communities in Southern France, whose lands were more vulnerable than the secluded Alpine valleys, were invaded and virtually exterminated. The survivors fled to the Alps. Then a series of edicts ensued, forbidding attendance at Protestant churches & commanding attendance at Mass.  Waldensian communities in southern Italy were also exterminated.

Large armies raised by the Pope, the Duke of Savoy, & several other powerful nobles wanting to prove their loyalty to Rome repeatedly invaded the Waldensian mountain enclaves, only to be routed by the defenders. On one occasion, 6 men with crude firearms held back an entire army at a narrow pass while others climbed the mountains above. When rocks began raining on them, the invaders were routed.

Then, in what has to be a premier, “Can’t a guy catch a break?” moments, when the Waldensians had a prolonged respite from attack, a plague broke out decimating their population. Only 2 pastors survived. Their replacements came from the Reformed centeres of Switzerland, bringing about closer ties between the Waldensians and the Reformed Church. In 1655, all Waldensians living in Northern Italy were commanded under penalty of death to forfeit their lands in 3 days, selling them to Catholics.

In the same year the Marquis of Pianeza was given the assignment of exterminating the Waldensians.  But he was convinced if he invaded the Alps his army would suffer the same fate as earlier invaders. So he offered peace to the Waldensians. They’d always said they’d only fight a war of defense. So they made peace with the Marquis & welcomed the soldiers into their homes where they were fed & housed against the bitter cold. Lovely story huh? Well, wait it’s not over yet. Two days later, at a prearranged time, the guests turned on their hosts, killing men, women & children. This “great victory” was then celebrated with a Te Deum.

Yet still the Waldensians resisted, hoping their enemies would make peace with them. King Louis XIV of France, who ordered the expulsion of all Huguenots from France, demanded the Duke of Savoy do likewise with his Waldensians. This proved too much for many of them who left the Alps to live in Geneva and other Protestant areas. A few insisted on remaining on their ancestral lands, where they were constantly menaced. It wasn’t until 1848 that the Waldensians and other groups were granted freedom of worship in Italy.

Ah, time for a breather, we’d hope. But again, it was not to be. Because just 2 years later, famine broke out in the long exploited & now over-populated Alpine valleys. After much debate, the 1st of many Waldensian groups left for Uruguay & Argentina. Where they flourished. In 1975, the 2 Waldensian communities, 1 on each side of the Atlantic, made it clear that they were still 1 church by deciding to be governed by a single synod with 2 sessions, 1 in the Americas in February, the other in Europe in August.

The Waldensians weren’t the only Protestant presence in Italy. Among others, Juan de Valdés & Bernardino Ochino deserve mention.

Valdés was a Spanish Protestant Humanist of the Erasmian mold. When it was clear Charles V was determined to wipe Protestantism out of Spain, he was fled to in Italy in 1531. He settled in Naples where he gathered a group of colleagues who devoted themselves to Bible study.  They didn’t seek to make their views public, and were moderate in their Protestant leanings. Among the members of this group was Giulia Gonzaga, a woman of such fame that at 1 point in her life the Sultan in Constantinople sought to have her kidnapped. But it was another member of this group, Bernardino Ochino, a famous & pious preacher who twice was elected general of the Capuchins. Ochino openly promulgated Protestant principles. When the Inquisition threatened him, he fled to Geneva, then kept going to Basel, Augsburg, Strasbourg, London, and finally Zürich. His wanderings wasn’t just geographical, it was also doctrinal. He became ever more radical, eventually rejecting the Trinity and defending polygamy, which partly explains why he had to move around a lot. He kept getting kicked out of town.  He died of the plague in 1564.

Now we take the CS train to HUNGARY

At the beginning of the Reformation, Hungary was ruled by the 10 year old boy-King Louis II. 10 years later, in 1526, the Ottoman Turks defeated the Hungarians and killed him. The Hungarian nobility elected Ferdinand of Hapsburg to take the throne. Nationalist named John Sigismund as king. After complex negotiations, Hungary was partly under Hapsburg & mostly under Ottoman, rule. The Hapsburgs were devoted Catholicism, and took every measure to prevent what they considered the Protestant contamination. But theirs was only the western edge of Hungary. The rest of the realm was ruled by the Ottomans. Royal Hungary, known to us as Transylvania, enjoyed a measure of autonomy, and eventually King Sigismund, realizing religious division weakened the kingdom, decided 4 forms of Christianity would have equal standing: Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, the Reformed tradition, & Unitarianism, which we’ll take a closer look at when we consider Poland. The Ottomans promoted divisions among Christians precisely because they knew it would weaken the Western Hungary. Whatever Christian group was strongest was opposed by the Ottomans as they gave support to the weaker elements until THEY emerged as the leading group, then Turkish support would switch.

Lutheranism reached Hungary early. There’s evidence Luther’s 95 theses circulated in Hungary only a year after their original; posting in Wittenberg. By 1523, the Hapsburgs ordered Lutherans be burned to prevent their spread. A few years later, Zwingli’s teachings entered on the scene, and similar measures were taken against them.

Though Ottoman rule was harsh & atrocities were committed against all Christians, it was in the territories occupied by the Ottomans that Protestantism grew most rapidly.

Hungarians preferred the Reformed Tradition coming out of Switzerland to the church government advocated in Lutheranism. They already suffered under a highly centralized. In the Reformed tradition, pastors and laity shared authority. Also, this decentralized form of church govt made it more difficult for Ottoman authorities to exert pressure on church leaders. Records make it clear that Ottoman authorities accepted the appointment of a parish priest on the condition the congregation pay if the priest was arrested for any reason. So, priests were often arrested, & freed only when a bribe was paid.

Both Hapsburgs and Ottomans tried to prevent the spread of what they called heresy by means of the printing press. In 1483, long before the Reformation, the Sultan issued a decree condemning printers to have their hands cut off. Now the Hapsburg King Ferdinand I issued a similar ruling; except that, instead of having their hands amputated, they were drowned! But that didn’t stop the circulation of Protestant books. These books were often printed in the vernacular, climaxing in the publication of the Karoly Bible in 1590 and the Vizsoly Bible in 1607, which in Hungary played a role similar to that of Luther’s Bible in German. It’s estimated that by 1600 as many as 4 out of 5 Hungarians were Protestant.

Then conditions changed. Early in the 17th C, Ottoman power waned, & Transylvania, supported by Hungarian nationalists, clashed with the Hapsburgs.  The conflict was settled by the Treaty of Vienna, granting equal rights to both Catholics & Protestants. But the Thirty Years’ War—in which Transylvania opposed the Hapsburgs & their allies—brought devastation to the country. Even after the end of the War, the conflict among the Hapsburgs, Royal Hungary & Ottomans continued. The Hapsburgs eventually gained the upper hand, & the Peace of Karlowitz in 1699 gave them control over all Hungary—a control they retained until 1918 & the end of WWI. In Hungary, as elsewhere, the Hapsburgs imposed virulent anti-Protestant measures, and eventually the country became Catholic.

We end with a look at POLAND.

When Luther posted his theses on that door in Wittenberg, there was already in western Poland a growing number of the followers of the Pre-Reformer, Jan Hus; Hussites who’d fled the difficulties in Bohemia. They were amped by the prolific work of the German monk. The Poles, however, had long been in conflict with Germans, and distrusted anything coming from such a source. So Lutheranism did spread, but slowly. When Calvinism made its way to Poland, Protestantism picked up steam.

The king at the time was Sigismund I who vehemently opposed all Protestant doctrine. But by the middle of the 16th C, Calvinism enjoyed a measure of support from Sigismund II, who even corresponded with Calvin.

The leader of the Calvinist movement in Poland was Jan Laski, a nobleman who had connections to a wide circle of people with Reformed leanings, including Melanchthon & Erasmus. He even purchased, Erasmus’ library. Exiled from Poland for being a Calvinist, he was called back by the nobility who’d come to favored the Reformed Faith. Laski translated the Bible into Polish, & worked for a meeting of the minds between Calvinists & Lutherans. His efforts led to the Synod of Sendomir in 1570, 10 years after Laski’s death.

The Polish govt followed a policy of greater religious tolerance than most of Europe. A large number of people, mostly Jews & Christians of various faith flavors, sought refuge there. Among these was Faustus Socinius, who denied the Doctrine of the Trinity, launching a group known as the Unitarians. His views were expressed in the Racovian Catechism, authored not by Socinius, but by 2 of his followers and published in 1605. This document affirms and argues that only the Father is God, that Jesus is not divine, but purely human, and that the Holy Spirit is just a way of referring to God’s power and presence.

Throughout most of the 16th C & well into the 17th, Protestantism as affirmed at the Synod of Sendomir, had a growing number of followers—as did also Socinian Unitarianism. But as the national identity of Poland developed in opposition to Russian Orthodox to the East, and the German Lutherans to the West, with both Russia & Germany repeatedly seeking to take Polish territory, that identity became increasingly Roman Catholic, so that by the 20th C, Poland was one of the most Catholic nations in Europe.

This brief review of the Reformation around the edges of Europe reveals that within just a few decades of Martin Luther’s time the ideas of Protestant theology had covered the continent & caused large scale upheaval. What we HAVEN’T considered yet, is the impact of the Reformation further East. In a much later episode we’ll take a look at the impact it had on the Eastern Church.

And that brings us to the end of this episode and an important announcement about the CS 2017 Reformation Tour. We have dates – March 7-19, 2017. We’re still working the costs bu can let you know we’ll be starting in Prague, then visiting Dresden, Wittenberg, Erfurt, Eisenach, Marburg, Worms, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Constance, Zurich, & end in Geneva.

We’re going to limit the tour to a total of 45, so we can keep it to one bus. I’ve learned from experience that this maximizes our agenda since we don’t; have to coordinate between multiple vehicles. It’ll also make the tour more intimate & personal.

The main point of departure will be from the International airport at Los Angeles CA. But as people sign up, we’ll see if it’s good t also select some other major departure ports. There will also be a land only option for those already in Europe or those who have air miles they want to redeem.

As soon as we have firm costs, we’ll let you know where you can go to get more info and to make a deposit.

]]>
This episode is titled, “Reform Around the Edges.” Stay tuned to the end of this episode for some important news about the CS 2017 Reformation Tour. It’s difficult living in the Modern World to understand the Late Medieval norm that a State had to have... Stay tuned to the end of this episode for some important news about the CS 2017 Reformation Tour.
It’s difficult living in the Modern World to understand the Late Medieval norm that a State had to have a single religion all its subjects observed. You’d be hard pressed to find a European of the 16th C who didn’t assume this to be the case. About the only group who didn’t see it his way were the Anabaptists. And even among them there were small groups, like the extremists who tried to set up the New Jerusalem at Munster, who did advocate a State Church. Classic Anabaptists wanted religious tolerance, but were most often persecuted for this stance.
As we have seen in the story of the Church in Germany & as was hammered out in the Peace of Augsburg, peace was secured by deciding some regions would be Lutheran, others Catholic by the principle of  cujus regis eius religio [coo-yoos regio / ay-oos rel-i-gio] meaning, “Whose realm, whose religion.” Whatever the religion of the ruler of a region determined what the subjects religion. Under Augsburg, people were supposed to be free to relocate to another region if a ruler’s religion didn’t square with their convictions.
The many wars of religion that washed over Europe in general and France in particular is evidence of the idea that ruled that a State could have but one religion. Even the Edict of Nantes, passed by King Henry IV after the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, only guaranteed the survival of French Protestantism by granting a number of Protestant cities as enclaves in an otherwise French Catholic realm.
We’ve given a thumbnail sketch of the spread of the Reformation over Germany, France, England, Scotland, the Low Countries & in Scandinavian.
Let’s take a look now at Spain.
Before the Reformation reached the Iberian Peninsula, many hoped the Spanish Church would lead the way in long-overdue reform. Queen Isabella’s faith was earnest. She & Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros implemented a massive reform—including a renewal of biblical studies centered on the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. We know a polyglot today as a parallel Bible; only a polyglot doesn’t have several versions in the same language; It’s several languages side by side in parallel columns. The Complutensian Polyglot had the Hebrew, Latin & Greek texts of the OT as well as the Aramaic of the Torah. The NT was contained in both Greek & The Latin Vulgate. Spain also had many humanists like Erasmus—some of them in high places—who longed for reform.
The arrival of the Protestant Reformation saw attitudes in Spain changed. At Worms, the upstart monk Martin Luther defied Emperor Charles V, who just happened to be King Charles I of Spain. Charles became the champion of opposition to Protestantism. The Spanish Inquisition, previously aimed at Jews & those accused of practicing the occult, turned its attention toward those calling for reform & anything that smacked of the dreaded “Lutheranism.” Several leading humanists fled to places like the Low Countries where they were welcomed. Others stayed in Spain & tried to lay low, devoting themselves to their studies & hoping the storm would pass them by.
The Inquisition wasn’t able to halt the “Lutheran contagion,” as it was called. Valladolid & Seville became centers of Reformation despite frequent burnings at the stake by the Inquisition. A monastery in Santiponce near Seville was a reform center where Bibles & Protestant books were smuggled in barrels labeled as oil & wine. When one of the smugglers was captured and burned, a dozen of the monks fled, agreeing to meet in a year in Geneva. One of them became pastor to a Spanish congregation there. Another, Casiodoro de Reina, spent the rest of his life translating the Bible into Spanish; a recognized masterpiece of Spanish literature released originally in 1569.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 21:04
106-Westward HoHo http://www.sanctorum.us/106-westward-hoho/ Sun, 04 Oct 2015 09:01:11 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1087 http://www.sanctorum.us/106-westward-hoho/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/106-westward-hoho/feed/ 7 Since last week’s Episode was titled Westward Ho! As we track the expansion of the Faith into the New World w/Spain & Portugal’s immersion, this week as we turn to the other European’s we’ll title this week’s episode, Westward Ho Ho, because I’m tired of saying Part 2. I know it’s lame, but hey, it’s […] Since last week’s Episode was titled Westward Ho! As we track the expansion of the Faith into the New World w/Spain & Portugal’s immersion, this week as we turn to the other European’s we’ll title this week’s episode, Westward Ho Ho, because I’m tired of saying Part 2. I know it’s lame, but hey, it’s my podcast so I’ll call it what I want.

Before we dive into this week’s content, I wanted to say a huge thanks to all those who’ve left comments on the sanctorum.us site & the CS FB page.

And for those who use iTunes as their portal to CS, thanks for rating the podcast & leaving a review. It those positive reviews on iTunes that go further than anything else, besdies word of mouth, of course, in boosting the podcast.

Last week we ended the episode on the expansion of the Faith into the New World by speaking of the Spanish missions on the West Coast. The Spanish were urgent to press north from what would later be called Southern CA, because the Russians were advancing south from their base in Alaska. And as any history buff knows, they’d already established a base at San Francisco.

Russians weren’t the only Old World power feared by Spain. The French had New World possessions in Louisiana & French Jesuits were active in the Mississippi Valley. Some dreamed of a link between French Canada & the South down the Mississippi River. The gifted linguist Father Marquette, sailed south along the Mississippi & attempted a mission among the Illinois Indians. While in Quebec, he’d made himself master of 7 Algonquin languages and gained a mighty reputation as an Indian-style orator. He combined preacher, pastor, explorer & geographer in one. His writings contributed to local knowledge of Indian peoples, culture & agriculture. As any high school student knows, the French were to lose New Orleans and Western Mississippi to Spain, while Eastern Mississippi went to the British. But French Carmelites, a 16th C branch of the Franciscans known as the Recollects, along with the Jesuits accomplished much in French possessions before the Jesuits’ expulsion in 1763. They’d attempted a failed mission to the Sioux. Nevertheless, French Roman Catholic influence remained strong in Canada.

As I tell these ultra-bare sketches of mission work among the native Americans, it can easily become just a pedantic recounting of generalized info. A sort of, “Europeans came, Indians were preached to. Churches were planted. Movements happened, some guys died – blah, blah, blah.”

Our goal here is to give the history of the Church in short doses. That means, if we’re to make any headway against the flow of it all, we have to summarize a LOT. But that works against the real interest in the history and what makes the story exciting.

It’s the individual stories of specific people that make the tale come alive. à Jesuit, Franciscan, & Protestant missionaries; and just ordinary colonists who weren’t set on a specific mission but were real-deal born again followers of Jesus who came to the New World to make a new life for themselves & their descendants, and just happened to share their faith with the Native Americans and they got saved and started a whole new chapter in the Jesus story. è THAT’S where the good stuff is.

So, let me mention 1 of these Jesuit missionaries we’ve been talking about who brought the Gospel to the Canadian Indians.

Jean de Brébeuf was born to a family of the French nobility & entered the Jesuit order in 1617. He reached Canada 8 yrs later. He learned 1 of the Algonquin languages and lived among the Huron for 3 yrs. After being captured by the British, he returned to France but renewed his mission in Canada in 1633. He founded a mission called St Marie Among the Hurons in ‘39. The Mission was destroyed by the Iroquois a decade later.

Because De Brébeuf was tall & strongly-built, he became known as the Gentle Giant. Like the Jesuits in Paraguay we looked at in the last episode, he could see ahead into how European colonists would bring an unstoppable challenge to the Native American way of life and advocated the Hurons withdraw into a secluded missionary settlement in order to preserve their culture. He’s an example of the heroic pioneer Jesuit, of which there were many, whose missionary life ended in martyrdom in the field.

De Brébeuf stands as a little known, but ought to be lauded, example of the fact that not all Europeans who came to the New World, especially not all missionaries, conflated following Christ with European culture & lifestyle. That’s an assumption many moderns have; that it wasn’t until the modern era that missionaries figured out people could remain IN their culture and follow Jesus, that they didn’t have to become converts to Western Civilization BEFORE they could become Christians. While it has certainly been true that some missions and eras equated the Faith with a particular cultural milieu, throughout history, MOST believers have understood that the True Gospel is trans-cultural, even super-cultural.

Many Jesuits missionaries in the New World like De Brébeuf tried to preserve the native American cultures – while filling them with the Gospel! They saw the emerging European colonies as a THREAT to the Indians and wanted to protect them.

De Brébeuf & another Jesuit leader named Gabriel Lalemant wer captured when the mission was over-run by the Iroquois in 1649.  In 1639, a wealthy noblewoman named Madame de la Peltrie led an order of French nuns called Ursulines in opening a school for Indian girls in Quebec.

With the end of the 7 Years War, or as it’s known in the US, the French & Indian War, French Canada became a British possession. The Jesuits, on the verge of their being banned from the New World, expanded their work among the Indians to include the Mohawks, Oneidas, Cayugas and Senecas, as well as those Algonquins yet unreached in Quebec. While converts were made among the Iroquois tribes, the majority remained hostile. Among the converts, there was a huge problem with disease introduced by the missionaries themselves, & the influence of alcohol brought by Europeans. Indian physiological tolerance to hard-alcohol was low and addiction quick. Jesuits missionaries reached the Hudson Bay area and baptized thousands. Even after the British won Canada and the Jesuit order was suppressed, some remained in Canada as late as 1789.

In the far NW, Russians entered Alaska in 1741. Russian Orthodox Christianity had begun work on Kodiak Island, off Alaska, in 1794. By ‘96 thousands of Kodiaks & the population of the Aleutian Islands had been baptized. They met hostility from the Russian American Company but the mission received fresh invigoration by the arrival an Orthodox priest from Siberia named Innocent Veniaminoff.  He reached the Aleutians in the 1820s & mastered the local dialect well enough to translate the Gospel of Matthew and write a devotional tract that became a classic, titled = An Indication of the Pathway into the Kingdom of Heaven. After working among the Aleutians for some years, Veniaminoff served among the Tlingit people. After his wife died, he was appointed bishop of a vast region stretching from Alaska to CA. Between 1840 & 68 he carried out a massive work. Although 40 yrs of missionary service, often in conditions of tremendous physical hardship, left him exhausted & longing to retire, he was appointed metropolitan of Moscow, a position he used to found the Russian Missionary Society as a means of support for Orthodox missions. His outstanding service was recognized in 1977 by the Orthodox Church of America conferring on him the title of ‘Evangelizer of the Aleuts and Apostle to America’, while the Russian Orthodox Church made 1997the 200th year of his birth ‘the year of St Innocent’.

Alaska was sold to the United States in the 1870s but the Orthodox Synod created an independent bishopric to include Alaska in 1872. By 1900 there were some 10,000 Orthodox Christians in the diocese. Of the 65,000 Alaskan and Aleutian people today, some 70 per cent claim to be Christian and many of these belong to the Orthodox community.

The Roman Catholic orders had a great advantage in missions due to their central organizing body called The Sacred Propaganda for the Faith. Today this structure is called the Congregation for the Evangelization of the Nations.

In contrast to the Roman orders & their missionary zeal, Protestant churches had little missionary vision in the 16th C. When they engaged in missions in the 17th C they had no organizing center.

French Protestants, led by the Huguenot Admiral Coligny, attempted a short-lived experiment off Rio de Janeiro when Admiral Villegagnon established a Calvinist settlement in 1555. It folded when the French were expelled by the Portuguese. A more permanent Calvinist settlement was made by the Dutch when they captured Pernambuco, a region at the eastern tip of Brazil. This settlement remained a Calvinist enclave for 40 years.

North America presented a very different scene for missions than Central & South America. The voyage of the Mayflower with its ‘Pilgrims’ in 1620 was an historical pointer to the strong influence of Calvinism in what would become New England. The states of Massachusetts, Connecticut & New Hampshire were strongly Congregationalist or Presbyterian in church life and heavily influenced by English Puritanism. At least some of these pioneers felt a responsibility for spreading the Christian faith to the native Americans.

John Eliot is regarded as the driving force behind the early evangelization of the Indians. He was the Presbyterian pastor at Roxby, a village near Boston in 1632. He learned the Iroquois language, and like the Jesuits in Paraguay, though surely with no knowledge of their methodology, founded ‘praying towns’ for the Indians. These were communities that, over a period of 40 yrs, came to include some 3,000 Christian Indians in Natick and other settlements. Eliot translated the entire Bible into Iroquois by 1663 and trained 24 native American pastors by the time of his death.

A remarkable family called The Mayhews were pioneers in missionary work in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and the Elizabeth Islands off Cape Cod. Thomas Mayhew bought the islands in 1641 with an Indian population of around 5,000. His son, Thomas Jr., began a mission & by 1651 200 Indians had come to faith. After the death of Thomas Sr. & Jr., John, youngest son of the Thomas Jr., along with his son Experience Mayhew continued the mission.  Experience had the advantage of fluency in the Indian language with the ability to write it. Zechariah, his son, carried on a tradition that lasted all the way to 1806 and produced many Indian clergy and a Harvard graduate. The ministry of the Mayhews spanned almost 2 centuries.

Another New England figure who became a missionary icon to such great spreaders of the faith as William Carey & David Livingstone, was David Brainerd. Brainerd was born in the farming country of Haddam, Connecticut and studied for the ministry at Yale College, from which he was wrongly expelled in 1741. He impressed the local leadership of the Scottish Society for the Propagation of the Gospel enough for them to employ him for missionary service in 1742. He worked among the Indians of Stockbridge and then, after ordination as a Presbyterian, in western Massachusetts, Pennsylvania & New Jersey. There he experienced genuine religious revival among the Delaware Indians, which he recounted in detail in his journals.

Brainerd died young but his diary and the account of his life by the great preacher and philosopher, Jonathan Edwards, became immensely influential in the Protestant world. Edwards, also a student at Yale, was himself a missionary at Stockbridge among the Indians from 1750–58.

While it’s risky to do a diagnosis on someone 270 years later, we glean from David Brainerd’s logs that he suffered from at least a mild case of a depression-disorder, and maybe not so mild. It’s his honesty in sharing with his journals his emotions that proved to be a tonic to mission luminaries like Carey & Livingstone.

New England Presbyterians & Congregationalists were matched by other Protestants in their efforts among native Americans. Episcopalians and the missionary society of the Church of England achieved some success in evangelizing native Americans.

Work among the Iroquois of New York was initiated by Governor Lord Bellomont, and a converted Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant, who helped establish a Mohawk church. Queen Anne of England even presented silver communion implements to 4 Mohawk Christians in London in 1704 for use in one of their chapels.

In Virginia, the royal charter declared 1 of the aims of the colony was the conversion of the Indians. The first minister of the village of Henrico, a Alexander Whitaker, did significant missionary work and introduced the Indian princess, Pocahontas, to the faith.

BTW – Pocahontas was her nickname – which translates roughly to “Little Hellion.” Her real name was Matoaka, but she was so precocious as a child her nickname became her favored label.

Whitaker established a college at Henrico for the education of Indians and there were appeals for funding for Indian missions back in England by King James I and his archbishops, so that 1 of 6 professorships at the College of William and Mary was set apart for teaching Indians.

Methodists had the example of John & Charles Wesley when they were Anglican priests and missionaries for the Society of the Proclamation of the Gospel in Georgia from 1735. Though John’s primary assignment was a chaplain for the English settlers, he tried to reach out to the Choctaw and Chickasaw. He had little response from the Native Americans. No wonder, since he’d later say he was most likely unconverted at that point.

After his break with the Church of England, Wesley’s chief lieutenant in the New World was Thomas Coke who became a driving force for Methodist missionary work, attempting a mission in Nova Scotia in 1786 before being re-directed to the West Indies by a storm. Methodist missions came into their own in the 19th C after Coke’s death & took the form of frontier preachers & ‘circuit riders’ under the direction of Francis Asbury, who travelled some 300,000 miles on horseback in the cause of the Gospel and whose vision included both Indians and black slaves for Methodist outreach. By the time of Asbury’s death in 1816 Methodist membership had risen from 13 to 200,000 over a 30-yr period.

The 19th C in North America saw the far north reached by Roman Catholics, Anglicans & Methodists.

The 19th C was a time of extraordinary development in NA, despite the ravages of the Civil War in the 1860’s, especially in the US. Great numbers of immigrants flooded into the country from Europe, estimated at 33 million between 1820 and 1950. Of British emigrants between 1815 and 1900, 65% found their way to the US. Of African-Americans, whereas only some 12% belonged to a church in 1860, by 1910 the number was 44%. Many joined the Baptist and Methodist congregations of the southern states after the abolition of slavery. In the Nation at large, the extraordinary achievement to any non-American was the blending into 1 nation of so many different peoples, so that their American citizenship was more prominent than their roots as Italian, Irish, Jewish, German, Scandinavian or English. This influx posed great challenges to the churches but Americans largely became a church-going people. And while differences over Religion had become the cause of so much misery & bloodshed in Post-Reformation Europe, Americans learned to live in civil harmony with people of other denominations.

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Since last week’s Episode was titled Westward Ho! As we track the expansion of the Faith into the New World w/Spain & Portugal’s immersion, this week as we turn to the other European’s we’ll title this week’s episode, Westward Ho Ho, Before we dive into this week’s content, I wanted to say a huge thanks to all those who’ve left comments on the sanctorum.us site & the CS FB page.
And for those who use iTunes as their portal to CS, thanks for rating the podcast & leaving a review. It those positive reviews on iTunes that go further than anything else, besdies word of mouth, of course, in boosting the podcast.
Last week we ended the episode on the expansion of the Faith into the New World by speaking of the Spanish missions on the West Coast. The Spanish were urgent to press north from what would later be called Southern CA, because the Russians were advancing south from their base in Alaska. And as any history buff knows, they’d already established a base at San Francisco.
Russians weren’t the only Old World power feared by Spain. The French had New World possessions in Louisiana & French Jesuits were active in the Mississippi Valley. Some dreamed of a link between French Canada & the South down the Mississippi River. The gifted linguist Father Marquette, sailed south along the Mississippi & attempted a mission among the Illinois Indians. While in Quebec, he’d made himself master of 7 Algonquin languages and gained a mighty reputation as an Indian-style orator. He combined preacher, pastor, explorer & geographer in one. His writings contributed to local knowledge of Indian peoples, culture & agriculture. As any high school student knows, the French were to lose New Orleans and Western Mississippi to Spain, while Eastern Mississippi went to the British. But French Carmelites, a 16th C branch of the Franciscans known as the Recollects, along with the Jesuits accomplished much in French possessions before the Jesuits’ expulsion in 1763. They’d attempted a failed mission to the Sioux. Nevertheless, French Roman Catholic influence remained strong in Canada.
As I tell these ultra-bare sketches of mission work among the native Americans, it can easily become just a pedantic recounting of generalized info. A sort of, “Europeans came, Indians were preached to. Churches were planted. Movements happened, some guys died – blah, blah, blah.”
Our goal here is to give the history of the Church in short doses. That means, if we’re to make any headway against the flow of it all, we have to summarize a LOT. But that works against the real interest in the history and what makes the story exciting.
It’s the individual stories of specific people that make the tale come alive. à Jesuit, Franciscan, & Protestant missionaries; and just ordinary colonists who weren’t set on a specific mission but were real-deal born again followers of Jesus who came to the New World to make a new life for themselves & their descendants, and just happened to share their faith with the Native Americans and they got saved and started a whole new chapter in the Jesus story. è THAT’S where the good stuff is.
So, let me mention 1 of these Jesuit missionaries we’ve been talking about who brought the Gospel to the Canadian Indians.
Jean de Brébeuf was born to a family of the French nobility & entered the Jesuit order in 1617. He reached Canada 8 yrs later. He learned 1 of the Algonquin languages and lived among the Huron for 3 yrs. After being captured by the British, he returned to France but renewed his mission in Canada in 1633. He founded a mission called St Marie Among the Hurons in ‘39. The Mission was destroyed by the Iroquois a decade later.
Because De Brébeuf was tall & strongly-built, he became known as the Gentle Giant.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 18:53
105-Westward Ho! http://www.sanctorum.us/105-westward-ho/ Sun, 27 Sep 2015 09:01:34 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1083 http://www.sanctorum.us/105-westward-ho/#respond http://www.sanctorum.us/105-westward-ho/feed/ 0 Westward – Ho! • In this episode of CS, we take a look at the Expansion of Christianity into the New World. Following Columbus’s voyages of the end of the 15th C to the Caribbean, the expansion of Christianity into the New Word was chiefly  dependent on the 2 great colonial powers of Portugal & […] Westward – Ho! • In this episode of CS, we take a look at the Expansion of Christianity into the New World.

Following Columbus’s voyages of the end of the 15th C to the Caribbean, the expansion of Christianity into the New Word was chiefly  dependent on the 2 great colonial powers of Portugal & Spain. From the outset of their adventures in the New World, a religious intention was central to the efforts of the explorers, however secondary it may have become to conquest and treasure-seeking for themselves and their royal patrons back in Europe.

By means of a papal bull in 1493, Pope Alexander VI, divided the world between the 2 kingdoms. Although the line was later moved to allow Portugal to colonize Brazil, the original division was a line drawn from North to South west of the Azores Islands. Spain was given the West Indies & the Americas; while Portugal, because it had already explored the west coast of Africa & moved towards India thru Vasco da Gama’s explorations, was given the right to colonize Africa, India & the East.

It seems monumentally arrogant to us today that these Europeans assumed they were “discovering” lands that already had people living there for generations. And how do you plant a colony in a place the natives call home? Yet that was the attitude of many Europeans in the late 15th C. and as the scope of geography for the New World was understood, other Europeans joined the rush to grab as much territory as they could. è Because religion was a central & defining part of the European worldview, they took their Faith with them.

Priests accompanied da Gama’s voyages as they were equally part of Spanish colonization, combining the roles of missionaries, explorers, secretaries and chroniclers. Often they belonged to religious orders like the Franciscans and Dominicans, then later, the Jesuits.

It was with a sense of religious mission, as well as the longing to acquire wealth from indigenous peoples, that men like Cortez & Pizarro began their conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires. Modern students of history know that the Spanish conquistadors seemed not to think forced baptisms of native Americans was all that bad of an option. What they’d do well to remember was that they didn’t originate the policy. Charlemagne had practiced a similar program of forced conversions. That doesn’t make it right, but it provides a little historical context.

Cortez was born in Medellin, Spain. He attended the University of Salamanca and left Spain for Cuba in 1511. At the age of 33 he mounted an expedition against the Aztec capital in Mexico with 700 fellow Spaniards, equipped with canons and muskets, reinforced by thousands of Indian allies who’d been brutally dominated by the blood-thirsty Aztecs for generations.

Although he experienced a reverse after a massacre of Aztec nobles and temporarily had to withdraw from the capital of Tenochtitlan, he returned to the city in August 1520 and systematically destroyed it. He founded and built Mexico City on the same site. He became governor of New Spain and captain general of the forces in 1522, titles that were confirmed by the emperor, Charles V, when Cortez returned to Europe in 1529. He was later replaced by a viceroy and died in 1547.

His contemporary, Pizarro, directed his attention to the Inca empire in Peru. He obtained authority from Spain for its conquest in 1528–29 and attacked the Incas in 1530. A massacre of Incas assembled at Cajamarca was followed by the capture of the Inca capital of Cuzco in November 1530.

You may remember from an earlier episode, one of the major debates between the Church and civil rulers of Europe was over who had the right to appoint bishops. While there were seasons when civil rulers wrested control of this, it was usually the Church that maintained control over church appointments. The New World presented a new challenge & opportunity. The Pope was already busy enough with internal affairs & the threat of the Reformers to be bothered with selecting hundreds of new bishops for lands that hadn’t even been properly mapped yet. So he granted the monarchs of Spain & Portugal the right to select church leaders in their new colonies.

On the colonialist front, a system was developed called encomienda. By this method, a number of Indians were assigned to a colonist-landlord. He was given rights to both tribute & labor but it was understood he was responsible for Christianizing those committed to his charge. As we’d suspect, the encomienda system became a by-word for oppression and cruelty and resulted in the virtual slavery of the Indians after its introduction in 1503. Brave Dominican priests denounced the system with one of the earliest protestors being Antonio de Montesinos on the island of Hispaniola in 1511.

Bartholemew de las Casas was another Dominican, whose father accompanied Columbus on one of his voyages. When he witnessed the live burial of an Indian leader in 1514 in Cuba, he became a champion of Indian rights for the next 50 years.

De las Casas had to confront a widespread European mindset based on a philosophical position going all the way back to Aristotle, that viewed Native Americans as inherently “less human” & so fit to be slaves by nature, an inferior race intended for menial labor & to serve their betters. He worked tirelessly in America and Spain to change this attitude & to convince those in authority that the use of force was contrary to a Christian understanding of the Indians as worthy of respect for those created in God’s image. His efforts to lobby support at home in influential circles, received recognition from the emperor, Charles V, against the activities of the colonists. It included a debate in 1550 at Valladolid with the Aristotelian philosopher and scholar, Sepulveda. Before he died, de las Casas’s campaign for just laws for the Indians was responsible for what’s called “the New Laws” of 1542–3, which prohibited Indian slavery and caused the Council for the Indies to be reorganized. After serving as bishop of Chiapas, de las Casas used his pen on behalf of the Indians, most famously in his Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, a hard-hitting critique of Spanish practices, in which some claimed he exaggerated abuses. But the work was widely read & proved influential in turning the tide in Europe toward a greater empathy toward the people of the New World.

The Franciscans & Dominicans were the first in the field of the New World from 1510 onwards; but in the 2nd phase of the mission the Jesuits were active.

José de Anchieta was a great Jesuit missionary who gave 44 years of his life and became known as the ‘apostle of Brazil’. He was one of the founders of both the Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro Jesuit missions. Another heroic figure and defender of Indian rights in Brazil was the Jesuit, Antonio Vieira, who in equal measure opposed both the Inquisition and colonists, was admired by King John IV of Portugal but almost lynched in 1661 after the king’s death.

In the 17th C, Jesuits were active in Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay. In the early 1600s they created a missionary system known as the ‘Reductions.’ These were settlements of native Americans that sought to protect them from European colonization while at the same time evangelizing them. In total, these communities comprised some 100,000 people. Each settlement had a church, school and workshops and led an ordered life. The colonists resented the removal of their labor pool but the Jesuits steadfastly defended the Indians against enslavement.

General agitation against the Jesuit order in Europe and colonies of the NW led to their expulsion from Portuguese territory in 1759, then from Spanish possessions 8 yrs later. The order was suppressed in the NW in 1773. All this was a disastrous blow to the Reductions. It also exposed the weakness of a form of mission that was essentially paternalistic, with little or no authority passed over to the indigenous people or attempt to develop an indigenous Indian leadership. With the removal of the Jesuit leaders the Reductions collapsed & whole villages were engulfed by jungle after 150 years as oases of Christian community.

The region of modern Venezuela was an area for further Jesuit exploits. They penetrated the jungles of the Amazon to reach large numbers of Indians. The area of the upper Amazon valley was known as the Maynas. One early Jesuit pioneer, Rafael Ferrer, began a mission in 1599 that cost him his life in martyrdom in 1611. Further Jesuit efforts achieved more and by 1661 many thousands were baptized in the region. The Jesuits found that these people were less easily led than the Guarani people who lived around Sao Paulo. There was opposition from the Portuguese; but with assistance of the Franciscans, half a million people were reached in the Maynas region.

Central America was pioneered by the Franciscans, Dominicans & a Catholic order we’ve not seen before; the Mercedarians.

Founded by the Spaniard, Peter Nolasco in 1235, their original goal was to ransom captives and redeem properties that had fallen into Muslim hands during the Moorish Occupation of Spain. The Mercedarians began as a lay order but by the 14th C. the clergy had taken control. Following the Reconquista, when the Moors were expelled from Spain, the Mercedarians continued their mission by travelling to Muslim lands to seek freedom for Christian captives. Gradually, academic, theological, and educational work was included in its work and an order of nuns was founded. They joined the Franciscans & Dominicans in taking the Gospel to Central America.

The first church in Panama was built in 1510. Missionaries entered Guatemala in 1526. By 1600 there were 22 Franciscan & 14 Dominican bases in Guatemala.

Mexico, after the era of Cortez, attracted the orders, so that Franciscans landed at Vera Cruz in 1524, Dominicans in 1526, Augustinians in 1533 and later Capuchins & Jesuits. The Franciscan, Juan de Zumarraga, became bishop of Mexico City in 1528 and proved to be a firm defender of Indian rights and a believer in an indigenous clergy. He became archbishop of Mexico in 1546. The University of Mexico, founded in 1553, reflected the church’s emphasis on education.

In the north of the country a famous Jesuit missionary, Eusebio Kino, arrived in 1681 and did missionary work in Baja or Lower California, up into the modern state of Arizona, reaching as far as Colorado. Described as a modest, gentle, humble man who was an upholder of the welfare of Indians, he travelled perpetually in the interest of the mission. He hoped to reach the fierce Apaches but died before he could in 1711. Before their formal removal from the region, the Jesuits achieved 37 bases in Lower California by 1767.

In the modern state of California a string of Franciscan missions are still to be found between San Diego and San Francisco. Father Junipero Serra, born in Majorca, became the leader of the mission and founded the communities of Monterey, Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and several others. While many of the original buildings are gone, Catholic churches continue on in several of these sites to this day. By 1800 some 100,000 Californian Indians, many from the Chumash people, had been reached by the mission and 18 Franciscan mission compounds were established. At least some of the thrust to the N was driven by Spanish fear of Russian incursion, moving S from Alaska. Father Serra also spent some years establishing a work in Texas.

Regarding Junipero Serra, as I record this, Pope Francis has recently arrived in the US where he will address both to the US Congress & the United Nations. While here, he will canonize, that is confer sainthood, on Serra. This has been an issue of some controversy for a while as Serra’s career has come under fire from some historians & human rights advocates.

Critics claim Serra’s methods ranged from harsh to brutal. Lashings of the Indians were used liberally in the missions for infractions as small as asking for more food.  The friars kept meticulous records so historians are able to document this treatment. The problem comes in interpreting these records. The language isn’t the problem; it’s the cultural context that makes interpretation difficult.

On one hand, Serra was devoted to protecting the Indians from exploitation by adventures & settlers who wanted to reduce the native population to slavery. Serra understood people are led to faith by kindness & love rather than heavy-handedness. That he traveled so far, pioneering several mission proves he wasn’t driven by some kind of personal profit motive. So why the harsh treatment of the Indians at so many of the missions? Apologists FOR Serra say such treatment was necessary because of the nature of the cultures of the natives where the Missions were located.

What we can say is that the Missions definitely went far to alter the tribal life of the Indians were they were based. If they began as attempts to Christianize native Americans while allowing them to continue some of their native traditions, they ended up going much further in converting the Indians not just to the Faith, but to the Spanish culture. And it seems that more than anything raises the ire of at least some of Serra’s critics.

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Westward – Ho! • In this episode of CS, we take a look at the Expansion of Christianity into the New World. Following Columbus’s voyages of the end of the 15th C to the Caribbean, the expansion of Christianity into the New Word was chiefly  dependent o... Following Columbus’s voyages of the end of the 15th C to the Caribbean, the expansion of Christianity into the New Word was chiefly  dependent on the 2 great colonial powers of Portugal & Spain. From the outset of their adventures in the New World, a religious intention was central to the efforts of the explorers, however secondary it may have become to conquest and treasure-seeking for themselves and their royal patrons back in Europe.
By means of a papal bull in 1493, Pope Alexander VI, divided the world between the 2 kingdoms. Although the line was later moved to allow Portugal to colonize Brazil, the original division was a line drawn from North to South west of the Azores Islands. Spain was given the West Indies & the Americas; while Portugal, because it had already explored the west coast of Africa & moved towards India thru Vasco da Gama’s explorations, was given the right to colonize Africa, India & the East.
It seems monumentally arrogant to us today that these Europeans assumed they were “discovering” lands that already had people living there for generations. And how do you plant a colony in a place the natives call home? Yet that was the attitude of many Europeans in the late 15th C. and as the scope of geography for the New World was understood, other Europeans joined the rush to grab as much territory as they could. è Because religion was a central & defining part of the European worldview, they took their Faith with them.
Priests accompanied da Gama’s voyages as they were equally part of Spanish colonization, combining the roles of missionaries, explorers, secretaries and chroniclers. Often they belonged to religious orders like the Franciscans and Dominicans, then later, the Jesuits.
It was with a sense of religious mission, as well as the longing to acquire wealth from indigenous peoples, that men like Cortez & Pizarro began their conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires. Modern students of history know that the Spanish conquistadors seemed not to think forced baptisms of native Americans was all that bad of an option. What they’d do well to remember was that they didn’t originate the policy. Charlemagne had practiced a similar program of forced conversions. That doesn’t make it right, but it provides a little historical context.
Cortez was born in Medellin, Spain. He attended the University of Salamanca and left Spain for Cuba in 1511. At the age of 33 he mounted an expedition against the Aztec capital in Mexico with 700 fellow Spaniards, equipped with canons and muskets, reinforced by thousands of Indian allies who’d been brutally dominated by the blood-thirsty Aztecs for generations.
Although he experienced a reverse after a massacre of Aztec nobles and temporarily had to withdraw from the capital of Tenochtitlan, he returned to the city in August 1520 and systematically destroyed it. He founded and built Mexico City on the same site. He became governor of New Spain and captain general of the forces in 1522, titles that were confirmed by the emperor, Charles V, when Cortez returned to Europe in 1529. He was later replaced by a viceroy and died in 1547.
His contemporary, Pizarro, directed his attention to the Inca empire in Peru. He obtained authority from Spain for its conquest in 1528–29 and attacked the Incas in 1530. A massacre of Incas assembled at Cajamarca was followed by the capture of the Inca capital of Cuzco in November 1530.
You may remember from an earlier episode, one of the major debates between the Church and civil rulers of Europe was over who had the right to appoint bishops. While there were seasons when civil rulers wrested control of this, it was usually the Church that maintained control over church appointments. The New World presented a new challenge & opportunity.]]>
Lance Ralston clean 16:10
104-A Needless Tragedy http://www.sanctorum.us/104-a-needless-tragedy/ Sun, 20 Sep 2015 09:01:28 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1079 http://www.sanctorum.us/104-a-needless-tragedy/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/104-a-needless-tragedy/feed/ 2 The title of this episode is – A Needless Tragedy. This episode sees us backtracking a bit. We’re going back to that period of European history following the Reformation called the Wars of Religion. We’re taking a look at one day – August 24, 1572 and one city – Paris & the infamous event that […] The title of this episode is – A Needless Tragedy.

This episode sees us backtracking a bit. We’re going back to that period of European history following the Reformation called the Wars of Religion. We’re taking a look at one day – August 24, 1572 and one city – Paris & the infamous event that happened then & there = the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

We do this because while it’s a lot more detailed & specific event that we usually get in to here on CS, it illustrates for us the impact the Reformation had on Europe &, I think, the Modern World.

John Calvin was French but his reforming work was conducted in Geneva, Switzerland. It didn’t take long for his influence to spread back to his native land and by 1555, Calvinism had firm roots there. French Calvinists were called Huguenots – a word of unknown origin but was meant as a mockery of the Protestants. The Faith spread rapidly and soon there were 2000 French Reformed churches. Nearly half of the population was won over to the Reformed faith.

What made things difficult for the French Roman Catholic rulers was that many of the nobility were drawn into the Calvinist camp. Remember that at that time, religious affiliation and political alignment were regarded by most Europeans as one & the same. A showdown between the Catholics & Protestants seemed inevitable.

Enter the scheming Queen Mother of France, Catherine de Medici; a Roman Catholic. She arranged for her daughter, the Catholic, Margaret of Valois, to be married on August 18th of 1572 to the Protestant King, Henry of Navarre. The hope in Paris was that this wedding would bring peace between the warring Catholics and Protestants. Protestant and Catholic nobles who’d fought each other the previous decade turned out for the celebration. Thousands of Protestants came to Paris for the wedding, and the festivities lasted for days.

But while Catherine de Médici was planning her daughter’s wedding, she was also plotting the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny [koh-LEE-nee], a leader of the Huguenots.

On Aug. 22nd, the assassination attempt failed. The plot, so soon after the royal wedding, threatened to badly embarrass the royal family. Near midnight the following day, Charles IX, the 22 yr-old French king & brother of the bride, in a fit of rage, screamed at his mother, “If you’re going to kill Coligny, why don’t you kill all the Huguenots in France, so there’ll be none left to hate me.”

Catherine wasn’t one to put up with the pique of her petulant son and decided to follow up on his suggestion. She ordered the murder of all the Huguenot leaders still in Paris, including those who’d attended the wedding. The massacre began on Aug 24, 1572, St. Bartholomew’s Day. Admiral Coligny was murdered first as he knelt in prayer.

Many of the Huguenot nobles were lodged at the Louvre. They were called into the courtyard and shot one by one as they appeared. During the night, the homes of Paris Huguenots were each marked with white crosses. Before daybreak, messengers were sent throughout the city crying out, “Kill! Kill! The King commands it.” A murdering frenzy fell on the whole city. Entire Huguenot families were taken into the streets and murdered. The dawn of St. Bartholomew’s Day revealed thousands of martyred Huguenots.

The craze spread to the provinces in the following days and weeks, and the death toll was probably in the range of 30 to 40 thousand. Admiral Coligny’s head was embalmed and sent to Rome as a gift to Pope Gregory XIII. When the head reached Rome, the pope and his cardinals attended a mass of thanksgiving.

The massacre was not without cost to Charles IX. He began having horrific nightmares. In less than 2 years, he lay dying at the age of only 24. His last days were plagued with visions of his victims. He cried to his nurse, “What bloodshed, what murders! What evil counsel have I followed? O my God, forgive me!. . . I am lost!”

That’s the short version of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre tale. Now for a little more depth.

The massacre marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent leaders, as well as many re-conversions by commoners. Those who remained faithful to the Huguenot cause were increasingly radicalized.

Though by no means unique, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was the worst of the century’s religious atrocities. Throughout Europe, it impressed on Protestants the firm conviction Catholics were bloody & treacherous. But some of those Protestants ought to have seen how they treated other Protestants of a different flavor, as well as Catholics, with the same kind of brutality when they had the chance.

While the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre seems a violent but quickly burnt-out fit of hatred, it was in truth the culmination of a series of events.

1st – The Peace of Saint-Germain in 1570 put an end to 3 years of terrible civil war between French Catholics & Protestants. But the peace was precarious since many Catholics refused to accept it. The famous Guise family led this faction & so fell out of favor at the French court. Meanwhile, the Huguenot political & military leader Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was readmitted to the king’s council in Sept 1571.

Many Catholics were shocked by the return of Protestants to the court, but the queen mother, Catherine de’ Medici & her son Charles IX were determined not to let war break out again. Being were well aware of the kingdom’s financial difficulties, they knew more war would bankrupt them so they were determined to stay friendly with Coligny. The Huguenots were in a strong defensive position as they controlled several fortified towns like La Rochelle.

To cement the peace between the 2 groups, Catherine offered to marry her daughter Margaret to the Protestant prince Henry of Navarre, the future King Henry IV. The royal marriage was arranged for 18 August 1572. But it was rejected by traditionalist Catholics. Both the Pope & King Philip II of Spain strongly condemned Catherine’s plan.

2nd – The impending marriage led to the gathering of a large number of well-born Protestants in Paris, who’d come to escort their prince. But Paris was a violently anti-Huguenot city, & Parisians, who tended to be extreme Catholics, found their presence unacceptable. Encouraged by Catholic preachers, they were horrified at the marriage of a princess of France with a Protestant.  The French Parliament snubbed the marriage ceremony.

3rd – Compounding this bad feeling was the fact that the harvests had been poor & taxes had risen to pay for the civil wars. The rise in food prices, set against the backdrop of the obscene luxury displayed by the nobles on the occasion of the royal wedding increased tension among the people. A particular point of tension was a cross erected on the site of the house of Philippe de Gastines, a Huguenot who’d been martyred a couple yrs before. A mob tore down his house & erected a large wooden cross in its place. Under the terms of the Peace of Saint-Germain, but after much popular resistance, the cross was removed in Dec. 1571. That then led to riots that killed 50, & saw massive property damage. In the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, relatives of the Gastines family were among the first to be killed by the mob.

4th – The royal court itself was divided. Catherine hadn’t obtained Pope Gregory XIII’s permission for the marriage; so the French clergy hesitated about what to do. It took all Catherine’s considerable skill to convince Cardinal de Bourbon to marry the couple. And remember who were’ talking about here – this is Catherine DE MEDICI, from a family that RULED a good part of Europe for a long time.

5th – In the years leading up to the massacre, Huguenot political rhetoric had for the first time taken a tone against, not just the policies of the monarchy, but following the trend of Protestant thought, toward monarchy in principle. This trend would grow greatly after the Massacre as the Huguenots would lay the blame at the foot of the throne.

6th – Tensions were further raised in May 1572 when news reached Paris that a French Huguenot army under Louis of Nassau crossed into a Dutch province and captured a couple Catholic strongholds. This was all so Louis could assist his brother William in his political ambitions. French Catholics were furious that all of France was being dragged into a war with the Netherlands & Spain they had nothing to do with.

All these ingredients mixed in the pot to produce a tension just waiting for a spark to ignite.

After the wedding on the August 18, Coligny and leading Huguenots remained in Paris to discuss some grievances about the Peace of St. Germain w/the king.

On the 22nd, an attempt was made on Coligny’s life as he made his way home from the Louvre. He was shot from the upstairs window of a home owned by the Guises & seriously wounded. The would-be assassin escaped in the confusion that followed.

The attempted assassination of Coligny triggered the crisis that led to the massacre. Coligny was the most respected Huguenot leader and enjoyed a close relationship with the king. Aware of the danger of reprisals from the Protestants, the king and his court visited Coligny on his sickbed & promised the culprits would be punished.

While Catherine was eating dinner, Protestants burst in to demand justice, some going so far as to threaten her. The fears of Huguenot reprisals grew in the palace. Coligny’s brother-in-law led a 4,000-strong army camped just outside Paris and, although there’s no evidence it was planning to attack, Catholics in the city feared it might take revenge on the Guises or the populace itself.

So that evening, Catherine held a meeting with her Italian advisers. On the evening of the 23rd, Catherine went to see the king to discuss the crisis. Though no details of the meeting survive, it seems Charles & his mother decided to eliminate the Protestant leaders, meaning between 2 & 3 dozen noblemen still in Paris. They thought this would gut the Huguenots of their leadership and leave the Protestants in the city powerless & squelch any real attempts at attacking the royals.

Shortly after this decision, the municipal authorities of Paris were summoned. They were ordered to shut the city gates and to arm the citizenry in order to prevent any attempt at a Protestant uprising. The king’s Swiss Guard was given the task of killing a list of leading Protestants. It’s difficult today to determine the exact chronology of events and to know the moment the killing began. It seems a signal was given by ringing bells at a church near the Louvre. The Swiss guards expelled the Protestant nobles from the Louvre castle, then slaughtered them in the streets.

A group led by the Duke of Guise dragged Admiral Coligny from his bed, killed him, and threw his body out a window.  And all the tension building since the Peace of St. Germain exploded in a wave of popular mob violence. The common people began to hunt Protestants throughout the city, including women and children. Chains were used to block streets so Protestants couldn’t escape from their houses. The bodies of the dead were collected in carts and thrown into the Seine. The massacre in Paris lasted 3 days despite the king’s attempts to stop it.

The leading Huguenot prince, Henry of Navarre just 19 & newly married to Catherine’s daughter, was spared & pledged to convert to Catholicism. He later renounced his feigned conversion when he escaped the madhouse that was Paris.

On Aug 26th, the king fabricated an “official” version of events—saying that he ordered the massacre to thwart a Huguenot plot against the royal family. A celebration & parade were held, while the killings continued in parts of the city.

Although King Charles dispatched orders to the provincial governors on Aug. 24th to prevent violence and maintain the terms of the Peace of Saint-Germain, from August to October, massacres of Huguenots took place in a total of 12 French cities. In most of them, the killings swiftly followed the arrival of the news of the Paris massacre, but in some places there was a delay of a month.

In many cities across France, the loss to the Huguenot communities after the massacres was far larger than those actually killed. Because in the following weeks there were mass conversions to Catholicism. For instance, in Rouen [Ruin], where a few hundred were killed, the Huguenot community shrank from over 16K to fewer than 3K as a result of conversions and emigration to safer cities & countries.

Soon afterward both sides prepared for a 4th civil war, which began before the end of the year.

The St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre with the ensuing turmoil that fell out from the Reformation in all Europe went far in shaping the mindset of succeeding generations. I think you can make a good case for the emergence of the Enlightenment’s suspicion of religion because of all the horrendous bad behavior of people in the name of God during the Wars of Religion.

Of course, as we’ve said in previous episodes, it was most often politicians and power-hungry prelates who hid behind the Church & used the name of God in their bald grab for temporal power. They knew the common people could be manipulated by a religious argument more easily than by admitting they just wanted more land or greater position. Today politicians seek to dispatch their opponents by saying they’re wonky on immigration or women’s rights. In 16th & 17th C Europe, they did so by accusing their opponents of heresy.

As we finish off this episode, I again want to say thanks to all who’ve visited the CS FB page and given us a like. It you haven’t done that yet, let me encourage you to do so.

And if you use iTunes as your portal to CS, giving the podcast a review there goes a long way in getting the word out. Thanks.

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The title of this episode is – A Needless Tragedy. This episode sees us backtracking a bit. We’re going back to that period of European history following the Reformation called the Wars of Religion. We’re taking a look at one day – August 24, This episode sees us backtracking a bit. We’re going back to that period of European history following the Reformation called the Wars of Religion. We’re taking a look at one day – August 24, 1572 and one city – Paris & the infamous event that happened then & there = the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.
We do this because while it’s a lot more detailed & specific event that we usually get in to here on CS, it illustrates for us the impact the Reformation had on Europe &, I think, the Modern World.
John Calvin was French but his reforming work was conducted in Geneva, Switzerland. It didn’t take long for his influence to spread back to his native land and by 1555, Calvinism had firm roots there. French Calvinists were called Huguenots – a word of unknown origin but was meant as a mockery of the Protestants. The Faith spread rapidly and soon there were 2000 French Reformed churches. Nearly half of the population was won over to the Reformed faith.
What made things difficult for the French Roman Catholic rulers was that many of the nobility were drawn into the Calvinist camp. Remember that at that time, religious affiliation and political alignment were regarded by most Europeans as one & the same. A showdown between the Catholics & Protestants seemed inevitable.
Enter the scheming Queen Mother of France, Catherine de Medici; a Roman Catholic. She arranged for her daughter, the Catholic, Margaret of Valois, to be married on August 18th of 1572 to the Protestant King, Henry of Navarre. The hope in Paris was that this wedding would bring peace between the warring Catholics and Protestants. Protestant and Catholic nobles who’d fought each other the previous decade turned out for the celebration. Thousands of Protestants came to Paris for the wedding, and the festivities lasted for days.
But while Catherine de Médici was planning her daughter’s wedding, she was also plotting the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny [koh-LEE-nee], a leader of the Huguenots.
On Aug. 22nd, the assassination attempt failed. The plot, so soon after the royal wedding, threatened to badly embarrass the royal family. Near midnight the following day, Charles IX, the 22 yr-old French king & brother of the bride, in a fit of rage, screamed at his mother, “If you’re going to kill Coligny, why don’t you kill all the Huguenots in France, so there’ll be none left to hate me.”
Catherine wasn’t one to put up with the pique of her petulant son and decided to follow up on his suggestion. She ordered the murder of all the Huguenot leaders still in Paris, including those who’d attended the wedding. The massacre began on Aug 24, 1572, St. Bartholomew’s Day. Admiral Coligny was murdered first as he knelt in prayer.
Many of the Huguenot nobles were lodged at the Louvre. They were called into the courtyard and shot one by one as they appeared. During the night, the homes of Paris Huguenots were each marked with white crosses. Before daybreak, messengers were sent throughout the city crying out, “Kill! Kill! The King commands it.” A murdering frenzy fell on the whole city. Entire Huguenot families were taken into the streets and murdered. The dawn of St. Bartholomew’s Day revealed thousands of martyred Huguenots.
The craze spread to the provinces in the following days and weeks, and the death toll was probably in the range of 30 to 40 thousand. Admiral Coligny’s head was embalmed and sent to Rome as a gift to Pope Gregory XIII. When the head reached Rome, the pope and his cardinals attended a mass of thanksgiving.
The massacre was not without cost to Charles IX. He began having horrific nightmares. In less than 2 years, he lay dying at the age of only 24. His last days were plagued with visions of his victims. He cried to his nurse, “What bloodshed, what murders! What evil counsel have I followed? O my God, forgive me!. . .]]>
Lance Ralston clean 15:35
103-Back in the East Part 2 http://www.sanctorum.us/103-back-in-the-east-part-2/ Sun, 13 Sep 2015 09:01:59 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1076 http://www.sanctorum.us/103-back-in-the-east-part-2/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/103-back-in-the-east-part-2/feed/ 6 This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 2 In our last episode, we took a brief look at the Jesuit missions to the Far East; namely Japan, China, Vietnam & India. We encountered the revolutionary approach to mission work of Alessandro Valignano and his spiritual heirs – Michele Ruggieri & […] This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 2

In our last episode, we took a brief look at the Jesuit missions to the Far East; namely Japan, China, Vietnam & India.

We encountered the revolutionary approach to mission work of Alessandro Valignano and his spiritual heirs – Michele Ruggieri & Matteo Ricci. Their accomodationist approach to evangelism, where the Gospel was communicated by seeking to build a cultural bridge with the high civilizations of the Far East, was officially suppressed by Rome, even though it had amazing success in planting a healthy & vibrant church. So healthy was the Church in Japan it came under fire from a fierce resurgence in Japanese nationalism that expelled the Jesuits and persecuted the Church, driving it underground.

But it wasn’t just the Jesuits who took the Gospel to the Far East.

From the dawn of the 17th C, both Dutch & English trading interests moved into Asia. Their commercial & military navies dominated those of other European nations.

The Dutch established bases in Indonesia and created a center at Jakarta. The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602, and carried the Dutch Reformed Church to the East Indies. But don’t think this means the Dutch conducted missionary work among indigenous peoples. It merely means they carried their religious institution with them and built chapels so Dutch nationals had a place to worship when they were doing business there.  Any converts from among the native population as by accident, not any kind of planned outreach. Dutch interests in the Far East were exclusively commercial.

The English equivalent of the Dutch East India Company was, the creatively named à English East India Company. Though the directors of the Company were suspicious of missionaries, they appointed chaplains to their trading communities. This provided an opening later for those with missionary vision in England and India, such as Parliamentarian William Wilberforce and Charles Grant, an employee of the company.

Two outstanding East India Company chaplains were Henry Martyn & Claudius Buchanan. Martyn was a leading Cambridge intellect and winner of several academic prizes. He and other Cambridge students were influenced by the long ministry of Charles Simeon, whose preaching urged that the Gospel be taken to All Peoples. Martyn was a brilliant linguist and translator. He was appointed a chaplain in 1805, translated the NT into Urdu and Persian and prepared an Arabic version before his early death from tuberculosis at only 31. His Indian assistant, Abdul Masih, converted from Islam to become a Christian missionary and advocate of the Faith. He was ordained in 1825 as the first Indian Anglican clergyman. Many others were inspired by Martyn’s life of scholarship and devotion.

William Carey, often regarded as the father of Protestant English missions, was both a shoemaker & Baptist preacher in Northamptonshire. He arrived in India in 1793. He was soon joined by 2 other Baptist giants, Joshua Marshman & William Ward, making what came to be known as the ‘Serampore Trio.’ Serampore is the region where they lived and worked.  The trio greatly admired the Moravians and shaped their community on the Moravian model.

Carey’s passage to India had been denied by the East India Company which was the de facto English government of their holdings in India, with their own hired army enforcing their will on the regions they operated. It wouldn’t be till later that British colonies and India came under control of the Crown. The East India Company opposed Carey’s longing to take the Gospel to the Indians. Chaplains for the British in India was fine, but they didn’t want to foment hostility with the faiths of their trading partners. Carey had ONE goal in going to India – to evangelize the lost. His passion to raise support in England for foreign missions led to his being derided by critics like Sydney Smith, a author of satire and clergyman who wrote for the Edinburgh Review.

But by steady perseverance, monumental labor at biblical translation, longsuffering through family tragedies and the loss of precious manuscripts by fire, Carey faced down all his critics, became Professor of Sanskrit at Fort William College and earned the accolade from Bishop Stephen Neill, himself a missionary in India: “In the whole history of the Church, no nobler man has ever given himself to the service of the Redeemer.”

For North Americans, an equivalent figure to Carey as a pioneer was the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson received his inspiration to become a missionary from reading the sermons of Claudius Buchanan in 1809. After ordination as a Congregationalist minister, he applied to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. On his voyage to India, he & his wife became adopted a Baptist statement of Faith. On arrival in India he was baptized, having made his change of mind known to William Carey. He was refused permission to work by the East India Co as a Baptist missionary in India but began work in Rangoon in 1813. His work among the Karen people met with considerable response. The first Karen to be baptized was Ko Tha Byu, who came from a background of violent crime. Byu became a notable evangelist. The Karen became the largest Christian group and in modern Myanmar number some 200,000 Christians in over 1,000 churches. Judson himself became a missionary icon and hero in mid-19th C North America.

China closed its doors to foreigners of all kinds after imperial edicts against Christian preaching in 1720. Robert Morrison was the lone Protestant missionary from 1807, often at risk of his life. Although the East India Co was hostile to his mission, in 1809 he was employed by them as an interpreter so he could remain on Chinese soil. With the help of William Milne, he translated the entire Bible into Chinese and created a Chinese dictionary, which became a standard work for language studies. He and Milne founded an Anglo-Chinese school in Malacca.

But any missionary incursion into wider China was impossible until the treaties of the mid-19th C opened the country by slow degrees.

First, the so-called ‘treaty ports’ became accessible in 1842 in the Treaty of Nanking, forced on China by British commercial interests. The Chinese were desperate for opium from India, supplied by the British, a major source of revenue.

A bit later, the Treaty of Tientsin opened the interior to missionaries, preparing the way for the China Inland Mission.

James Hudson Taylor was born in Yorkshire, England to a devout Methodist family. He trained as a doctor, but, before he qualified, offered himself as a missionary to the China Evangelization Society. Because of the political conditions in China during the Taiping Rebellion, regarded by many as a pro-Christian moment, he was sent to Shanghai in 1853.

Hudson Taylor was inspired by Karl Gutzlaff, who’d travelled to the Chinese interior between 1833-9 as a freelance missionary.

Gutzlaff was a German who’d been educated at a Moravian school. Drawn to the Far East by the urge to see China won to Christ, he began with the Netherlands Missionary Society in 1824 by serving in Thailand where he translated the Bible into Thai in just 3 years.

In 1828 he broke with Netherlands Missionary Society because they wouldn’t send him to China.  From his perspective, that’s why he was in the Far East. So, he became a freelance missionary, distributing Christian literature along the coast. He became an interpreter for the East India Co in Shanghai & helped negotiate the Treaty of Nanjing. He recruited Chinese nationals as ‘evangelists’ to the interior and raised funds for their support through his writings in Europe, only to find that many of his recruits had deceived him and taken the money for other purposes. Although discredited in the eyes of some, Gutzlaff’s strategy of using nationals as Christian workers was sound. No one doubted his missionary zeal. Hudson Taylor looked on him as the ‘grandfather’ of the China Inland Mission and its work in the interior provinces.

Hearkening back to the accomodationist policy of Valignano, Taylor experimented with identification in Chinese dress and the ‘queue’; that is, the pigtail hairstyle worn by Chinese men. But Taylor caught grief from other members of the missionary community. In 1857 he resigned from the China Evangelization Society he’d been working with. Stirred deeply by the needs of the Chinese of the interior, Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1865, aiming to put 2 missionaries in each province, areas that were just recently open to foreigners after the Treaty of Tientsin. He was now a fully qualified doctor & married to Maria Dyer, daughter of a missionary and a leader in her own right, he set out with a party of 16 from London to Shanghai in 1866, narrowly avoiding total loss by shipwreck.

From the beginning the CIM was to be a so-called ‘faith mission’, with no public appeals for funds; and its missionaries accepted the absolute, if gently applied, authority of Hudson Taylor, described by some as the ‘Ignatius Loyola of Protestant missions.’

The CIM came to number over 800 missionaries, including Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians and others. It planted churches that had a membership of some 80,000 by 1897. The public profile of the CIM was greatly enhanced in the 1880s by the arrival of the “Cambridge 7”, 2 of whom were well-known sports heroes & popularized as making great sacrifices for the Cause of Christ. CT Studd was 1 of these, later to found of the World Evangelization Crusade  & the Heart of Africa Mission, which worked in the Belgian Congo.

Hudson Taylor’s publication, China’s Millions, achieved a circulation of 50,000 & helped put the mission in front of the public. The society suffered heavily in the nationalist Boxer Rebellion of 1898 to 1900. A total of 200 missionaries, many of them Roman Catholic, & 30,000 Chinese Christians lost their lives. CIM lost 58 missionaries & several children. Even with this tragic set-back, the CIM continued to be an influential group under its 2nd director, Dixon Hoste, 1 of the Cambridge 7. In 1949 all missionary personnel were expelled by the Communists.

Hudson Taylor is described by the eminent Church Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette as “1 of the 4 or 5 most influential foreigners who came to China in the 19th C for any purpose, religious or secular.”

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This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 2 In our last episode, we took a brief look at the Jesuit missions to the Far East; namely Japan, China, Vietnam & India. We encountered the revolutionary approach to mission work of Alessandro Vali... In our last episode, we took a brief look at the Jesuit missions to the Far East; namely Japan, China, Vietnam & India.
We encountered the revolutionary approach to mission work of Alessandro Valignano and his spiritual heirs – Michele Ruggieri & Matteo Ricci. Their accomodationist approach to evangelism, where the Gospel was communicated by seeking to build a cultural bridge with the high civilizations of the Far East, was officially suppressed by Rome, even though it had amazing success in planting a healthy & vibrant church. So healthy was the Church in Japan it came under fire from a fierce resurgence in Japanese nationalism that expelled the Jesuits and persecuted the Church, driving it underground.
But it wasn’t just the Jesuits who took the Gospel to the Far East.
From the dawn of the 17th C, both Dutch & English trading interests moved into Asia. Their commercial & military navies dominated those of other European nations.
The Dutch established bases in Indonesia and created a center at Jakarta. The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602, and carried the Dutch Reformed Church to the East Indies. But don’t think this means the Dutch conducted missionary work among indigenous peoples. It merely means they carried their religious institution with them and built chapels so Dutch nationals had a place to worship when they were doing business there.  Any converts from among the native population as by accident, not any kind of planned outreach. Dutch interests in the Far East were exclusively commercial.
The English equivalent of the Dutch East India Company was, the creatively named à English East India Company. Though the directors of the Company were suspicious of missionaries, they appointed chaplains to their trading communities. This provided an opening later for those with missionary vision in England and India, such as Parliamentarian William Wilberforce and Charles Grant, an employee of the company.
Two outstanding East India Company chaplains were Henry Martyn & Claudius Buchanan. Martyn was a leading Cambridge intellect and winner of several academic prizes. He and other Cambridge students were influenced by the long ministry of Charles Simeon, whose preaching urged that the Gospel be taken to All Peoples. Martyn was a brilliant linguist and translator. He was appointed a chaplain in 1805, translated the NT into Urdu and Persian and prepared an Arabic version before his early death from tuberculosis at only 31. His Indian assistant, Abdul Masih, converted from Islam to become a Christian missionary and advocate of the Faith. He was ordained in 1825 as the first Indian Anglican clergyman. Many others were inspired by Martyn’s life of scholarship and devotion.
William Carey, often regarded as the father of Protestant English missions, was both a shoemaker & Baptist preacher in Northamptonshire. He arrived in India in 1793. He was soon joined by 2 other Baptist giants, Joshua Marshman & William Ward, making what came to be known as the ‘Serampore Trio.’ Serampore is the region where they lived and worked.  The trio greatly admired the Moravians and shaped their community on the Moravian model.
Carey’s passage to India had been denied by the East India Company which was the de facto English government of their holdings in India, with their own hired army enforcing their will on the regions they operated. It wouldn’t be till later that British colonies and India came under control of the Crown. The East India Company opposed Carey’s longing to take the Gospel to the Indians. Chaplains for the British in India was fine, but they didn’t want to foment hostility with the faiths of their trading partners. Carey had ONE goal in going to India – to evangelize the lost. His passion to raise support in England for foreign missions led to his being derided by critics like Sydney ...]]>
Lance Ralston clean 12:52
102-Back in the East – Part 1 http://www.sanctorum.us/103-back-to-the-east-part-1/ Sun, 06 Sep 2015 09:01:20 +0000 http://www.sanctorum.us/?p=1060 http://www.sanctorum.us/103-back-to-the-east-part-1/#comments http://www.sanctorum.us/103-back-to-the-east-part-1/feed/ 1 This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 1 In our last foray into the Church in the East, we stopped our review with the Mongols. You may remember while the Mongols started out generally favorable to Christianity, when later Mongol Khans became Muslims, they embarked on a campaign to eradicate […] This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 1

In our last foray into the Church in the East, we stopped our review with the Mongols. You may remember while the Mongols started out generally favorable to Christianity, when later Mongol Khans became Muslims, they embarked on a campaign to eradicate the Gospel from their lands. This pretty much rang the death knell to The Church in the East, which for centuries boasted far more members and covered a much wider geographic area than the Western Church.

And again, let me be clear to define our terms, when I speak of the Church in the East, I’m not referring to the Eastern Orthodox Church HQ’d in Constantinople; not the Greek Orthodox Church or it’s close cousin, the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church in the East was also known as the Nestorian Church and looked to the one-time Bishop of Constantinople, Nestorius who was officially labeled a heretic, but who became the patriarch of a wide-ranging church movement that reached all the way to Japan.

While today Nestorianism is officially recognized as a heresy in its view of the nature of Christ, it’s doubtful that Nestorianism was actually taught by Nestorius and what was believed by the Christians of the Church in the East. It would probably be best if we reckoned them as genuine believers, legit followers of Jesus, though there are definite differences between what we believe and practice today and what they did – just as there’d be some difference between us and most believers of the Renaissance Europe.

In any case, the once vibrant Church in the East came to a virtual end with the Mongols. It wasn’t till the 16th C that the Faith began a renewed mission to the East, and this time it was by a concerted effort of Europeans. It came because of the expansion of the Portuguese & Spanish empires in the 16th  & 17th Cs, then to Dutch, English, French & Danish traders in the 18th  & 19th Cs.

Even before the Jesuit order was recognized by Rome, its founder, Ignatius Loyola was aware of the need for an able overseer of missions to the East. Though he was loath to lose his assistant, in 1540 Loyola sent his ablest lieutenant and close friend, Francis Xavier to the Portuguese colony of Goa in India. Xavier remains one of the greatest of all Christian missionaries. He possessed an immensely attractive personality and a Paul-like determination to preach the Gospel where Christ had not been named.

Xavier moved from Goa to the fishermen of the Coromandel coast of India, where he baptized thousands and engaged in discipleship, though by his own admission his command of the language was marginal. He visited Sri Lanka from 1541–45, and Indonesia for 2 years before entering Japan in 1549. He established a Jesuit mission there and had 2 Christian books translated into the language. Exposure to Japan, with its, at that time, deep respect for all things Chinese, convinced him to do whatever it took to enter China. He was poised to do so when he died in 1552.

Allesandro Valignano was born to Italian nobility & obtained a doctorate of law at the University of Padua. But a profound religious experience we’d have to call a dramatic and genuine conversion, hijacked his previous career path and set him on mission. He became a Jesuit in 1566 because they were about the only ones at the time who were doing missions. He was appointed Visitor to the Eastern Missions in 1573 & sailed to Goa from Lisbon in 1574.

After a period of study in Macau, he came to the conclusion the Church was going about the task of spreading the faith to new people all wrong. He was determined to take the Gospel into China, but realized that meant he’d need to learn the language & customs. The Chinese were an ancient and proud race. They weren’t going to be wowed by relatively uneducated & backward Europeans, regardless of how superior those Europeans might think they were. Valignano knew learning  Chinese would open a door for the Gospel.

He vehemently opposed the conquistador approach to China and Japan both Portugal and Spain had used in their conquest of the Philippines. He made 3 trips to Japan from 1578 to 1603. Like Francis Xavier, Valignano was convinced of China’s importance as a mission field but failed to make it there.

That would be left for 2 other Jesuits who carefully followed his missions’ philosophy – Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci [Richie].

Ricci & Ruggieri entered China in 1583. They and their successors earned the deep respect of the Chinese, not least for their mathematical and astronomical abilities but because of their high regard for Chinese culture.

Ruggieri, a lawyer from Italy, worked with Ricci in Portuguese Macau before moving to the mainland. Together, they produced a Portuguese—Chinese dictionary, and Ruggieri later composed the first Chinese-Catholic catechism. He was proficient enough in the language to compose Chinese poetry.

Ricci, an outstanding intellectual, mastered the Confucian classics and came to believe that the kind of grounding he’d received in the works of Thomas Aquinas and his use of Aristotle was compatible with the moral ideals set out by Confucius. Ricci’s work of 1603, titled The Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, adopted this approach in reaching out to the Chinese literati, among whom he was deeply admired. Ricci believed participation by Chinese Christians in ancestor rites did not compromise their faith.

Uh: We might disagree with him on that one.

From 1600, Ricci was allowed to live in Beijing. His successors, like Ferdinand Verbiest & Schall von Bell, were also greatly admired by the Chinese & were given official positions by the first Q’ing emperor in the late 17th C. They carried such influence, they were able to secure positions of honor for other missionaries.

It’s a tragedy that after the combined influence of Valignano’s policy was followed through with such success by Ruggieri, Ricci and their fellow Jesuits, it was eventually overturned in Rome. The so-called Rites Controversy at the opening of the 18th C, hinged on how far the honoring of ancestors was a civil vs. a religious act. Rome ruled against the Valignano’s position, saying Chinese Christians were engaging in superstitious & unbiblical acts. This led immediately to an alienation of the Jesuits & the loss of all the good-will they’d earned. Christianity became viewed as a religion of foreigners, and if you know anything about the Chinese – that was simply “No Bueno!”

The issues raised by the rites dispute weren’t laid to rest until 1939, when Catholics were finally allowed to take part in ancestral veneration and the rites were accepted as mere civil demonstrations of honor, which had lost any of their earlier pagan associations.

In India another Jesuit apostle of accommodation, Robert de Nobili immersed himself in the philosophy & culture of Hinduism as a way to first understand, then build a bridge to the people of India to share the Gospel. Like Valignano, the Italian de Nobili was determined to detach himself from European models of Christianity & incarnationally manifest the Gospel in India. He succeeded and was able to see several high-caste Brahmins become Christians. But his methods raised controversy among his superiors and for a time he was forbidden to baptize.

In Vietnam of the 17th C, Jesuit pioneer Alexandre de Rhodes followed the same accomodationist policy and advocated ordaining national clergy to carry on the work of evangelism and church-planting. This was unheard of and got him into major trouble with his superiors. You can lead people to faith all day long. But you can’t make them priests! Priests come from Europe, for goodness sake. Everyone knows that. I mean, just imagine what a nightmare you’re making if you start ordaining Vietnamese, or Indian, or Chinese, or Japanese as priests. I mean come on! Let’s not get carried away. De Rhodes knew it was right to ordain nationals & disregarded the ban placed on him, eventually leading to his expulsion from the Jesuits. Nevertheless, by 1640, there were some 100,000 Vietnamese Christians.

After Francis Xavier departed, Japan enjoyed a period of great progress. Valignano was deeply impressed with the quality of Christianity found there. By 1583 there were 200 churches and 150,000 Christians. In one town south of Kyoto 8,000 were baptized in 1579.

But there was a sharp change in attitude by Japanese political authorities later in the 16th C due to a fiercely-resurgent nationalism.  In 1614 all Jesuits were expelled. Persecution broke out for the 300,000 Japanese Christians in a population of 20 million. Christians were crucified in Nagasaki and there were more mass executions in 1622. The policy was pursued with great savagery between 1627-34 and resulted in many, what came to be known as ‘hidden Christians’, whom 19th C missionaries found retained their knowledge of many of the symbols of the Christian faith, when Japan opened 2 Cs later. Despite the eventual persecution of Christians in Japan in the later 16th & early 17th Cs, Andrew Ross, a Protestant, judged the Jesuit mission in Japan to be the most successful approach to a sophisticated society since the conversion of the Roman Empire.

We’ll continue our look at the Eastward Expansion of Christianity in the 16th & 17th Cs next time as we consider how the Dutch and English began to reach the East.

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This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 1 In our last foray into the Church in the East, we stopped our review with the Mongols. You may remember while the Mongols started out generally favorable to Christianity, In our last foray into the Church in the East, we stopped our review with the Mongols. You may remember while the Mongols started out generally favorable to Christianity, when later Mongol Khans became Muslims, they embarked on a campaign to eradicate the Gospel from their lands. This pretty much rang the death knell to The Church in the East, which for centuries boasted far more members and covered a much wider geographic area than the Western Church.
And again, let me be clear to define our terms, when I speak of the Church in the East, I’m not referring to the Eastern Orthodox Church HQ’d in Constantinople; not the Greek Orthodox Church or it’s close cousin, the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church in the East was also known as the Nestorian Church and looked to the one-time Bishop of Constantinople, Nestorius who was officially labeled a heretic, but who became the patriarch of a wide-ranging church movement that reached all the way to Japan.