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Merry Christmas everyone!
Around the world, people (Christians and non-Christians alike) are celebrating this perennial winter holiday.
Here are some interesting articles I recently came upon that explores what the Bible says about the Virgin Birth (really technically the “Virgin Conception”) and the genre of the gospels as well.
And an interesting article on how the date of December 25 came to be celebrated as Jesus’ birthday.
Here are our group’s personal reflections on Christmas and the Virgin birth as well from earlier in the year.
Some things to chew on for this Christmas season.
Well, we’ve come to the end after two years of reading “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” and we share our final thoughts here.
Howard and Chris share what they have learned and gained from reading this book; Michael writes about the historical development of how Greek pagan philosophy seeped into Western theology and how it has affected our contemporary reading of the Bible; I share my thoughts on divine intervention (or non-intervention more specifically) and history or my attempt to understand God’s role in history after having read this book.
We hope and pray that we will use the knowledge gained from this session wisely. I believe that this is just the beginning of our journey into learning more about the history of the Church.
UPDATE: Chapter 18 – Rome’s Renewal (1500 – 1700) – Witch Hunts, Huguenots, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross
Had another interesting session once again tonight.
Here are our submissions.
Ron dropped by and offered some interesting perspectives on the history of the Church in general. Many Protestants today criticize the Catholic Church for abuses of power throughout history, marginalizing others and succumbing to greed and accusing others of heresies; however, Protestants as we have seen are not immune at all as well and have succumbed to these vices just as much, if not more.
Please read all of Chapter 18 in MacCulloch’s book where it centers around the Counter-Reformation by the Catholic Church from 1500 – 1700.
We will meet this Sunday to go over our essays.
Please write a summary on one of the following:
- Discuss the origins, development, rise, and importance of the Society of Jesus (or Jesuits) from its beginnings with Ignatius Loyola. What role did they play in the Counter-Reformation? Discuss their accomplishments in secondary education throughout Europe.
- Discuss the central tenets of the Council of Trent in 1545 and through 1563. Include issues laid out for Catholic catechism, liturgy, and issues about the authority of the Catholic Church. What was its greatest impact or lasting legacy?
- Discuss the impact and acceptance of the two mystics: Teresa of Avila and Juan de Yepes (John of the Cross).
- What were the events that led up to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day in 1572. How were relations between French Catholics and Huguenots affected from this incident?
- Why did Poland-Lithuania embrace Catholicism after being “such a fertile seminary of Protestant experiment”?
- Discuss the differing ways Protestants and Catholics began implementing unique styles of worship and services.
- Discuss why Galileo was placed in prison for his scientific views. What historical circumstances led to his verdict by the Catholic Church?
- Why did the persecution and hunting of witches happen during this time in Europe and North America? Why did it eventually cease?
Please have your responses ready by this Saturday, June 14.
UPDATE: Chapter 17: A House Divided (1517 – 1660) Part III – Confessionalization, the Trinity, the Habsburg Empire and Bohemia
We have concluded Chapter 17 and here are our submissions.
We had an interesting discussion on the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity, mostly around the question whether or not the Holy Spirit was a person or just a description of the power of God. Even defining the word “person” is quite difficult when you come to think of it.
Again, we discussed how religious conflicts, especially the ones triggered by the Reformation and Calvinism in particular, across Europe could be indicative of the “true” or “invisible” church; in other words, how can we reconcile all the religious wars throughout history, purportedly fought for in the name of Christ, with the Christian message? Can it be reconciled given the fact all the Christian vs. Christian violence that has happened throughout history?
There’s a tendency by some to attribute “spiritual” or Satan into the mix as a cause of all this violence amongst Christians, but I doubt serious historians would ever accept such a reason- not just because most would find that silly, but also most would find it to be a rather naive and easy-way of thinking about such things without analyzing and critically thinking about all the factors involved.
There’s a trend you see throughout history, even beginning with the early church, where the greatest enemy of Christianity were Christians themselves.
Next Sunday, June 1 we will finish Chapter 17 by discussing the final two sections: Reformed Protestants, Confessionalization and Toleration (1560 – 1660) and Reformation Crises: The Thirty Years War and Britain.
Please write on one of the following topics:
- Discuss how Reformed Christianity/Reformed Protestantism triggered revolutions throughout Europe, especially the Netherlands, Scotland, and France during the 1560s. Why was this so?
- What was “confessionalization“? How did this affect Catholicism in Europe?
- Discuss the open toleration of other forms of Christianity, like the Anti-Trinitarians (i.e. ‘Socians’), in places like Transylvania and Poland-Lithuania.
- Discuss the background of the events leading up to the conquest of the kingdom of Bohemia by the Habsburg dynasty. How did Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand’s dismantling of Protestantism affect European politics and religion – especially between Protestants and Catholics?
- Discuss the theology of Dutch Reformed academic and theologian Jacob Arminius during the 1600’s.
- Discuss the importance and development of the King James Bible in 1611.
- Discuss how the policies of King Charles I and Archbishop of Canterbury Laud affected the Scottish and Irish churches. What were the effects of the English Civil War in 1642? How did the term “Anglican” arise from this time in English history?
Please submit your essays by Saturday, May 31.