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It has been a long time coming, but here are our essays for the last half of Chapter 22, focusing on the rise of Christian fundamentalism, biblical criticism, the “quest for the historical Jesus”, and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche.
It was good to get back in the swing of things after a little over a month and a half, and hopefully we’ll get the momentum back till we finish the book.
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.
Today marks the anniversary of St. Augustine’s death in 430 AD.
Relevant magazine has listed 15 of Augustine’s most influential quotes in their opinion here.
My personal favorite is:
If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. – Sermons
For our next meeting on Tuesday, August 26, please read the next three sections of Chapter 21: Social Watersheds in the Netherlands and England (1650 – 1750), Gender Roles in the Enlightenment, and Enlightenment in the Eighteenth Century.
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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
UPDATE: Chapter 19: A Worldwide Faith (1500 – 1800) – Submissions: Bartolome de las Casas and Christianity in Japan
Here are our essays for Chapter 19.
Christianity goes global, to the South and Central Americas and all the way to Japan.
And of course, a lot of bloodshed and death on both sides – for the native populations as well as persecutions for Christians.
A great movie to watch about the missionary activities of the Jesuits in South America was “The Mission” starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro.