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UPDATE: “Confessions”: Book IX – Chapters 7 – 13

Clergymen bow and touch relics of Lebanese St. Rafqa as they are displayed for visitors on Nov. 6, 2014, at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church in Easton.

 

Today, we concluded the autobiographical portion of Augustine’s Confessions.  Most colleges courses covering this book would normally stop here, but we will continue with the rest of the books.

It is interesting, as one person put it, that when he went seminary in his late 30’s, he was surrounded by young 20-year olds straight out of college.  When it came to reading Augustine’s Confessions, many of the young people found it a bit boring and less applicable; however, the handful of older people in the class felt a deeper connection while reading the book because they went through the same struggles, experiences, and questions as Augustine had but afraid to share them with others.  So I guess when you re-read Confessions later on in your life, the deeper the connection you feel with Augustine.

We discussed whether or not traditional “biblical” gender roles still apply till this day, as well as how Protestants uphold the doctrine of Sola Scriptura  and some problems it has in today’s context; the use and abuse of relics in the Church in history; Augustine’s Neoplatonic view of the afterlife after his vision or epiphany with his mother Monica; and Mike (not written here) talked about whether or not salvation was conditional or unconditional – the Bible seems ambivalent in some respects with the issue.

Our essays can be found here.

 

 

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UPDATE: “Confessions” – Book IX: Chapters 1 – 6

 

Here are our essays for the first half of Book IX of the Confessions.

We covered the role emotions play to religious and spiritual practices; how conversion changes our view of others and the world around us; the use and place of the Bible in a believer’s life; and whether or not non-believers will be rewarded for good works in the afterlife.

 

 

UPDATE: “Confessions” Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6

 

How pagan are modern-day church services today?  Have church services been pagan all along?

 

Here are our essays on Book VIII – Chapters 1 – 6 of Augustine’s Confessions.

We discussed the implications of delayed gratification, the pagan elements and origins of the Catholic Mass and Protestant services, the life of Anthony the Great and whether or not Christ calls us to a life of asceticism.

 

 

Was God Pro-Choice?

 

 

Every election year, many Christians (Evangelical and Catholic) gather together to make the issue of abortion a major topic in politics.  They cite the sanctity of life all together and tell how abortion is murder of the unborn.  Many also claim that abortion is impermissible on any grounds because of the Bible, even in cases of rape, incest, or even if a woman’s life is in jeopardy due to complications in a pregnancy.

 

OK, maybe God being “pro-choice”as the title states might be a bit of an anachronism, but it seems rather clear that in some instances he does sanction abortion or at the very least, permit ways to allow for a woman to have a miscarriage if she’s pregnant due to adultery.

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Final Thoughts on “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” by Diarmaid MacCulloch

 

After a long hiatus, we will share our final thoughts on MacCulloch’s book.

 

Please write a summary of these main points:

  1. Go back to your very first essays here to see if reading this book fulfilled some or all of your expectations.  What were the strengths and weaknesses of this book in relation to your expectations from the start?
  2. Provide one (no more than two if need be) area or moment of Church history as told by MacCulloch that was most interesting for you or changed your perspective of Christianity.
  3. Finally, how has your faith been affected after having read through Church history? What lingering questions or thoughts do you still have?

 

We will have our final meeting on Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years next Sunday, May 3.

 

 

UPDATE: Chapter 25: Culture Wars (1960 – Present) – Part II: Doctrine of Hell in 20th century and the Orthodox Church after the Soviet Union

Russian church

Russian Orthodox Church has enjoyed a resurgence since the end of atheist Soviet Communist rule in 1991. (Reuters)

This will be our next to last submissions on MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years: two essays on the relevancy of the doctrine of hell in churches today and how the Orthodox Church has changed after the collapse of communism in Russia after 1991.

In our last entry for this series, coming next month, we will reflect on how a knowledge of Church history has impacted our understanding of the Christian faith.

Chapter 24: Not Peace but a Sword (1913-60) – Part II

 

Adolf Hitler greeting Catholic leaders during a Nazi rally.

Adolf Hitler greeting Catholic leaders during a Nazi rally.

 

We will finish up the rest of Chapter 24 and discuss the impact World War II had upon Christendom.

 

Please read the last three sections: The Churches and Nazism: The Second World War, World Christianity Realigned: Ecumenical Beginnings, and World Christianity Realigned: Pentecostals and New Churches.

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Chapter 24: Not Peace but a Sword (1913-60) – Part I

Happy New Year!

For our first meeting of 2015 for next week, please read the first three sections of Chapter 24: A War That Killed Christendom (1914-18); Great Britain: The Last Years of Christian Empire; Catholics and Christ the King: The Second Age of Catholic Missions.

 

American soldier dies during a German gas attack during WWI.  May, 1918.

American soldier dies during a German gas attack during WWI. May, 1918.

 

 

Please answer one of the following questions:

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UPDATE: Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Part I – First-wave feminism, Ultramontanism, and Hegel

 

 

 

This past Wednesday we had a rather lively discussion on the notion of visions in Christianity – visions of Mary for Catholics and just general visions by Pentecostals or other generally charismatic sects.  It’s quite interesting that the Mother Mary almost never (to my knowledge) appears to Protestants – visions of Mary almost always occur to poor girls in small villages that are going through war or political strife.  For Protestants, claims of visions or other prophetic utterances seem to be hit or miss according to the limited experiences we discuss from our own personal encounters.

 

There was also some discussion on whether or not missions (in general throughout history) isn’t a form of Western imperialization in some respects.  We tend to go there and not only want to preach the gospel to them, but also hope and pray that they’ll receive the same benefits and even the comforts of an affluent Western lifestyle.  Has the Western mindset of the gospel been diluted and mixed with the gospel of Western standard of living and materialism?  There was also some thoughts as to whether or not Marcion was right in stating that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are NOT one and the same.  Christianity has moved so far away from Judaism and its understanding of God that when you compare the two, they seem worlds apart.  It is arguable, but it’s an interesting thought nonetheless.

 

Here are our submissions from our meeting this Wednesday.

 

 

Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Part I

 

"Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches" by Anton von Werner (1877)

“Die Proklamation des Deutschen Kaiserreiches” by Anton von Werner (1877), depicting the proclamation of the foundation of the German Second Reich (18 January 1871, Palace of Versailles). Left, on the podium (in black): Crown Prince Frederick (later Frederick III), his father Emperor Wilhelm I, and Frederick I of Baden, proposing a toast to the new emperor. Centre (in white): Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of Germany, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian Chief of Staff.

 

For next Tuesday, Sept. 23 read the first 3 sections of Chapter 22: Europe Re-enchanted or Disenchanted? (1815 – 1914) – Catholicism Ascendant: Mary’s Triumph and the Challenge of Liberalism, Protestantism: Bibles and ‘First-Wave’ Feminism, and A Protestant Enlightenment: Schleiermacher, Hegel and Their Heirs.  

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