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UPDATE: Final Thoughts on Diarmaid MacCulloch’s “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years”

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 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part III

 

The Three Estates

This picture criticized the contradiction of the “Ancien Regime”. The Third Estate( the old man) is giving the First Estate(clergy) and the Second Estate(nobility) a piggyback.

 

 

Today, we concluded our studies on the Enlightenment and its effects on the Christian Church by  discussing the origins and causes of the French Revolution and the rise of the middle-class afterwards.

 

Our essays can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part III – The French Revolution and its Aftermath

 

"Liberty Leading the People", Eugene Delacroix, 1830

“Liberty Leading the People”, Eugene Delacroix, 1830 It commemorated the July Revolution of 1830 which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman personifying Liberty leads the people forward over the bodies of the fallen, holding the flag of the French Revolution – the tricolor flag which is still France’s flag today.

 

For our next meeting, we will be concluding our survey of the Enlightenment period by reading the last two sections of Chapter 21: The French Revolution (1789 – 1815) and Aftermath of Revolution: A Europe of Nation-States.  

 

We’ve come a long way in our study of Christian history.  Starting with the seeds of Western Civilization in ancient Greece, to the humble beginnings of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the growth of the Church in Roman times, through the Middle Ages, the rise of the Catholic Church and the Christian Empire, the spread of Orthodox Christianity, the impact of the Reformation, the spread of Christianity throughout the entire world in Europe, Africa, Russia, Asia, and to North and South Americas, and now we come into the origins of the modern world we live in today starting with the Enlightenment period.  Christianity and her Church have come a long way and have been through much change to say the very least.

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UPDATE: Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part II – Homosexuality during the Enlightenment, role of women, Descartes, Hobbes, economics, and Kant

 

 Rene Descartes and Immanuel Kant

 

Really stimulating discussion last night on really stimulating topics.

 

Our essays are here.

 

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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.

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UPDATE – Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part I (1492 – 1700)

 

Benoît Louis Prévost, An engraving from the 1772 edition of the "Encyclopédie"

Benoît Louis Prévost, An engraving from the 1772 edition of the “Encyclopédie”. Truth, in the top center, is surrounded by light and unveiled by the figures to the right, Philosophy and Reason.

 

 

Today we delve into the first part of a series of studies on the Age of Enlightenment and its effects on Christianity.

 

Here, we delve into challenges to the authority of the Church and the Bible, the philosophy of Baruch de Spinoza, and the aftermath that the 1492 Expulsion of the Jews in Spain and Portugal had in fostering religious skepticism and doubt.

 

 

Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part I

"A Philosopher lecturing with a Mechanical Planetary" by Joseph Wright, 1766

“A Philosopher lecturing with a Mechanical Planetary” by Joseph Wright, 1766

 

We will be having our next meeting on Tuesday, August 12.

 

Please read the first two sections of Chapter 21: Natural and Unnatural Philosophy (1492 – 1700) and Judaism, Skepticism, Deism (1492 – 1700), and please answer one of the following questions:

 

  1. What are the origins and purposes of Freemasonry or Masonic practice?  What attitudes of the Reformation did they inherit?  What connections did they have with more esoteric sources of sacred literature like hermetic books, Neoplatonic writings, and the Jewish Cabbala?
  2. Describe the impact of the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.  How did the study and progress of science (or ‘natural philosophy’) impact theology during this time?  What were some of the religious ideas of Sir Isaac Newton?  What was the primary focus of Francis Bacon’s project in extending human knowledge through empiricism and how did it relate to the story of Adam and Eve?
  3. Describe the impact the 1492 expulsion of the Jewish population in the Iberian peninsula had upon Europe as they spread to other territories.  How did they view the Reformation?  How did the culture of doubt and skepticism of religion come about as a result of oppressive Church practices like the Iberian Inquisitions?  How did the religiously tolerant atmosphere of places like Amsterdam foster religious skepticism?
  4. Discuss the impact of the thoughts and works of Baruch de Spinoza.  What were some of his beliefs about God and religion that many found so dangerous?  Describe his two important works Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670) and Ethics (1677).  Why were these works banned?
  5. Discuss how the Huguenots were behind many of the anti-religious writings during the Enlightenment.   Explain how the historical criticism of the Bible during this time led to serious doubts about its divine inspiration.
  6. How did the observations of Pierre Bayle, Thomas Hobbes, early Quakers, Isaac La Peyrere, and the discovery of other races of people in the Americas affect thought about the authority of the Church and the authority of the Bible?
  7. What is deism and how did it gain prominence during the Enlightenment?  How did Protestant Evangelicals and Pietist counteract deism?

 

I know some are really excited to read this part of history and the importance of the Enlightenment, so it should be fertile ground for some interesting discussions and insights in the upcoming weeks ahead.  Really looking forward to our discussions.

 

Please submit your essays by Monday, August 11.