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Last night we had a fruitful discussion about the first half of Chapter 23 – our essays are here.
The image above is a common argument atheists and non-believers have used to either discredit Christian-based ethics or Christianity altogether. Though in this chapter and other chapters of MacCulloch’s book have shown that Christianity (or the Church in general) has played a significant role in the history of slavery, there are some misconceptions about the type of slavery that the Bible mentions; Chris tackles this issue in his essay about slavery. There is a definite and serious responsibility all Christians should do in making sure that biblical verses be put into its proper geohistorical contexts for proper exegesis and hermeneutics to occur. Neglecting to do so will amount to serious misunderstandings and be a detriment to the gospel message, as the African-slave experience has shown.
Last night’s meeting reminded me of how special what we are doing at Project Augustine is. At times, when Christians are gathered in a small group setting to talk about spiritual matters, most are on their best behavior and may not be so upfront about what they truly believe in, fearing that they might be misunderstood or that their questions might be deemed silly at best or even heretical at worst. But not at Project Augustine. We’re pretty open – unabashedly open often in fact. Now, this style may or may not be to everyone’s liking of course. But this way of engaging Christianity really challenges us and stretches our knowledge of not only the church, Christianity, God, etc., but also ourselves and why we believe what we believe.
For this Sunday, we will go over Chapter 19: A Worldwide Faith (1500 – 1800).
Rather depressing (don’t know if that’s the right word) chapter to read personally, especially the brutal treatment of the native populations in the Americas and the slave trade in Africa.
Please write a summary or essay on one of the following:
- What was the Catholic Church’s involvement and stance of the early Western conquests and missionary work? For instance, how did Pope Julius II’s Patronato, which gave the Spanish Empire exclusive rights to preach the Gospel in new territories, as well as conquistadors who saw themselves as part of the Reconquista or part of the crusade in Europe to destroy Spanish Islam and Judaism, play as a factor in the treatment of the native population in the Americas?
- Explain the efforts of some Dominicans and Franciscans who protested against the brutal treatments of the natives. How did the ideas of the Franciscan Bartolome de las Casas lead directly to the enslavement of Africans and their coming to the Americas?
- Discuss how exclusive attitudes of Christian monopoly culture when dealing with the native culture and religions changed the landscape of the Americas. How did the apocalyptic End Time beliefs of the Iberian Franciscans factor into their missionary work? Describe how Christianity in the Americas evolved to become of mixture of native culture and Western Christianity.
- Describe the missions to Asia by the Jesuit Francis Xavier in 1542. How were their attitude and approach unlike the Iberian missions to the Americas? What were some tactics Jesuits used to reach out to the Chinese population who were antagonistic to Western culture and religion?
- Explain the reasons why Christian missions to Japan failed for the most part.
- Discuss the Church’s involvement with the African slave trade. Was the Catholic Church for or against the slave trade? Did their attitudes change later on?
- Explain how native African beliefs mixed with Catholicism to form syncretistic variations like voodoo in French Haiti, Candomble in Brazil, and the Santeria of Cuba.
Please submit you writings by Saturday, June 28.