Month: March 2016

130-Kant file | Play in new windowThis 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...

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129-Moravians & Wesley file | Play in new windowThe 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...

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128-The Spiritualist Option file | Play in new windowIn 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...

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127-Which Witch file | Play in new windowThis, 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...

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