Month: November 2014

65-Scholasticism file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode is Scholasticism One of the most important questions faced by philosophers & theologians throughout the centuries has been the interplay between Faith & Reason. Are they enemies or allies? Is the Christian faith reasonable, or a blind leap into an irrational darkness? A major advance in answering this came with the emergence of a group of medieval theologians known as the Scholastics. Chief among them were Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th C & Thomas Aquinas in the 13th. In his novel Pillars of the Earth, author Ken Follett spins an intriguing tale of the construction of a cathedral in England. While the cathedral & town are fictional, Follett does a masterful job of capturing the mindset and vision of medieval architecture. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the cathedral in Cologne, Germany a few times and am fascinated by what you find there. While some modern American evangelicals who tend to decry tradition may be put off by all the elaborate decoration and religious symbolism of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals, most will find them to be fascinating studies in art, architecture and with a little research interesting expressions of theological thought. You see, the Gothic cathedral wasn’t just a building; it was an attempt to embody the period’s thoughts about God and man.  As Bruce Shelly says, “The...

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64-The Eucharistic Controversy file | Play in new windowThis episode is titled “The Eucharistic Controversy.” As I mentioned last episode, as we round out the Middle Ages in Europe, we have several topics we need to cover before we can launch into the Era of Scholasticism. Last time we took a brief look at the Investiture Controversy and an even briefer look at a doctrinal error that had a long lifespan – Adoptionism. In this episode, we’ll look at another controversy that raged in the church of both East & West for a long time – that is, how to understand the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. For Protestant listeners – the issue was: Just what do we mean when we say Jesus is present at Communion or the Lord’s Supper. I need to begin by making clear à I’m no expert on all the various theories of the Eucharist. Far from it. I doubt I rank even as a novice in this area. It took me a while to compose the script for this episode because I had to work out exactly how to phrase things. Words are the tools theologians work with – and those words all carry precise meanings. But we’re dealing with multiple languages; typically, Greek & Latin. And once the ancient theologians worked out some theological formula over decades, or in some cases, centuries, picking...

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63-Invest file | Play in new windowThis 63rd episode is titled Invested We’ve concluded a series of podcasts now on medieval monasticism and return to the narrative of the Church during the Middle Ages in Europe. Before we do however, let’s remember the story of Church History is much bigger than just what happened in Europe. Most treatments of church history spend most of their time on the Western Church & only touch the church in other places as it relates TO the Western narrative. We’re trying to broaden our horizons here a bit, although it’s tough because the source material for the history of the church beyond the Western realm is much slimmer. It isn’t that there isn’t any; there’s quite a bit – but it’s not presented in the popular format that commends a layman’s, as I am, format. So it’s thick wading through most of it. Anyway, with that said – back to the Church in the European Middle Ages . . . We’ve got several themes & topics we need to develop. It’s going to take a few episodes to do so. The first we’ll look at, because it ends up becoming a recurring problem, is what’s called the Investiture Controversy. This was a theological & political brueha that came about as a result of the intrinsic fusion of Church and State in Feudal Europe....

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62-Monastic Wrap Up file | Play in new windowThis 62nd episode of CS is the 5th & final in our look at monasticism in the Middle Ages. To a lesser extent for the Dominicans, but a bit more for the Franciscans, these monastic orders were an attempt to bring reform to the Western Church which during the Middle Ages had fallen far from the Apostolic ideal. The institutional Church had become little more than one more political body, with vast tracts of land, a massive hierarchy, a complex bureaucracy, & had accumulated powerful political across Europe. The clergy and some of the older orders had degenerated into little better than illiterate fraternities. Many priests and monks could neither read nor write, & engaged in gross immorality while hiding behind their vows. It wasn’t this case everywhere. But it was in enough places that Francis was compelled to use poverty as a means of reform. The Franciscans who followed after Francis were quickly absorbed back into the Church’s structure and the reforms Francis envisioned were still-born. Dominic wanted to return to the days when literacy & scholarship were part & parcel of clerical life. The Dominicans carried on his vision, but when they became prime agents of the Inquisition, they failed to balance truth with grace. Modern depictions of medieval monks often cast them in a stereo-typical role as either sinister agents...

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61-Dominic file | Play in new windowThis episode is titled, Dominic & continues our look on monastic life. In our last episode we considered Francis of Assisi & the monastic order that followed him, the Franciscans. In this installment of CS, we take a look at the other great order that developed at this that time – The Dominicans. Dominic was born in the region of Castile, Spain in 1170. At an early age he excelled as a student. At 25, he became a priest & a few years later he was invited by his bishop, Diego of Osma, to accompany him on a visit to Southern France where he ran into a group of heretics known as the Cathars. Dominic threw himself into the Church-sanctioned movement to suppress the Cathars by going on a preaching tour of the region. Dominic proved effective in debating the Cathars. He persuaded many who’d been leaning toward their sect to instead walk away and à join the resistance. For this, the Bishop of Toulouse gave Dominic 1/6th of the diocesan tithes to continue his anti-Cathar work. Another wealthy supporter gave Dominic a house in Toulouse so he could live right in the  heart of their region. We’ll come back to the Cathars, & several other pseudo-Christian sects of that time in a future episode. Dominic visited Rome during the 4th Lateran Council,...

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