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Home » Church History » Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part II (1650 – 1750)

Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part II (1650 – 1750)




For our next meeting on Tuesday, August 26, please read the next three sections of Chapter 21Social Watersheds in the Netherlands and England (1650 – 1750), Gender Roles in the Enlightenment, and Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century.

Please answer one of the following questions:


  1. Describe how the changing economic landscape and economic prosperity (especially in England and the Netherlands) changed the face of Europe in the 17th century.  How was Christianity affected by the democratization of choice in this new society and new economy?  How did this new economy foster the transition of music from worship to leisure?
  2. What was the main philosophy of Rene Descartes?  What were his ideas on dualism?  What was the impact of Cartesian dualism in terms of Christian theology and the understanding of the soul and or spirit?
  3. How was human sexuality portrayed during the Enlightenment?  What were gender roles like, especially the role of women during this period?  What were attitudes about homosexuality and lesbianism like?  Describe the reasons why women outnumbered men in Protestant church congregations during the 17th century.    How did the phenomenon of gender-skewed congregations contribute to new Christian reflections on gender – especially the thoughts of English ministers like Richard Allestree and Cotton Mather? Who was Mary Astell and how did she contribute to feminist attitudes during this period and beyond?
  4. How did the Catholic Church react to the Enlightenment – especially  in France and the activities of the Jesuits?
  5. What were the views of morality and religion according to David Hume?  What was the general attitude of Christians toward his harsh criticisms against religion?
  6. Discuss the impact of Cornelius Jansen and the Jansenist movement.  What was his basic theology and why did the Catholic Church in France find him dangerous?  What was Jansenist contribution to the Enlightenment period?
  7. Describe the philosophy of Voltaire and his campaign against the Catholic Church/Christianity.
  8. Discuss the impact of Denis Diderot, a former seminarian turned atheist.  What were his general views about knowledge?  What was so different about the publication of his Encyclopedie and what was its importance to the Enlightenment?
  9. Discuss the intellectual system constructed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  What was his ‘natural religion’?  What was his general philosophy about human beings and their place in society?  What was his doctrine of a ‘General Will’?
  10. How did the philosophy of Immanuel Kant shape the way that the West did its thinking through the 19th – 20th centuries, and what were its affects upon the Christian faith?  How did his thoughts revolutionize modern philosophy?  What were his general ideas about the self, experience, knowledge, and the mind?  What were his thoughts about God and the knowledge of God?
  11. What was the real agenda behind the ‘Enlightened Despots’?  How did the Enlightenment change the dynamics between Church and State?  What was the general movement against religion by state or national rulers?  What main countries were involved?  Describe the progressive weakening of the impact of the Church (Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) at large in global affairs during this period.


Please submit by Monday, August 25.



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