Church history

1)Evangelism and violence(150)
we focused on the manner in which violence was connected with evangelism in the fifteenth century. Pope Nicholas V argued in his papal bull of 1455, “Romanus Pontifex” that he desired to see the salvation of all people. He wrote that he was bestowing “suitable favors and special graces” on Christian rulers who sought “not only to restrain the savage excesses of the Saracens and of other infidels, enemies of the Christian name, but also for the defense and increase of the faith to vanquish them and their kingdoms and habitations, though situated in the remotest parts unknown to us, and subject them to their own temporal dominion…”

Violence was part of evangelism, or of bringing people in to Christ.
The message of the Virgin of Guadalupe that Juan Diego brought before the bishop in 1531 in Mexico is an extremely important example of this other voice. In the vision she tells Diego that she hears the weeping and sorrow of her brown-skinned children, and will remedy and alleviate all their suffering and misfortune. The Virgin is addressing the violence that followers of her Son have unleashed, and she says that she will end it.

Let’s carry on this conversation and make the connections with today. Can you draw comparisons between the sixteenth century and today, on both sides of the issue? Cite specific examples from the news representing both sides. Bring this conversation up to date.

2) You are going write about what Calvin had to say about justification (200 words)
What is justification? Remember the exact term might not be immediately used, but the broader concept is clear: salvation, being saved, getting saved, being forgiven, getting into heaven in the afterlife, being part of “the elect” or the community of those who are redeemed.

3) A millennial vision to create a perfect Christian society on earth (150 words)
This week’s class discussion began with the millennial vision of the Spanish Franciscans in New Mexico at the beginning of the 1600s. The Franciscans believed that by converting to Christian faith the First Nations peoples whom the Spanish called “Pueblos,” they would create a perfect Christian society on earth, and that this would in turn usher in the millennial (1,000 years) kingdom of Christ The English Puritans in New England had a similar millennial vision of creating a perfect society. Their initial vision was for their purifying work then to spread back across the Atlantic to reform the Church of England, which was the focus of their millennial expectations. I quoted the title of Perry Miller’s classic text from 1952: these Puritans were on an “Errand into the Wilderness.”

We then looked at the text of “Model of Christian Charity,” the sermon that John Winthrop preached aboard the Arabella in 1630 as the Puritans were first landing in Massachusetts. Winthrop called upon the settlers to practice Christian charity toward one another “… that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whither we goe to possesse it…” These settlers, said Winthrop, were to be “a Citty upon a Hill” with the eyes of all people upon them. If they failed in their mission, their prayers would be turned into curses and God would turn away from them.

This Puritan vision in effect called upon its hearers to become a part of a great Christian redemptive drama that was expected to affect all people on earth (and even the earth itself). The notion of being a City on a Hill took root in New England and became part of the fabric of the society. As the eastern colonies grew into a nation, the vision grew as well, providing the religious foundation for what eventually became the notion of US exceptionalism, “Manifest Destiny,” or what Ernest Lee Tuvson called the idea of the USA being a “Redeemer Nation” (see Ernest Lee Tuvson, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968]).

4) What is enlighrtning? (150 words)
In class on March 6 we opened our discussion with a portion of René Descartes’ meditation that led him to cogito ergo sum (“I think therefore I am”). This for me is the methodological key to the modern European Enlightenment. I called it the “turn to the human subject” that placed the thinking human self (the cogito) at the center of the universe (“anthropocentrism”). Within this new framework a new sovereign being emerged – the thinking individual. Accompanying this philosophical turn was a new political project that fostered the freedom of individual actors especially in the economic realm. This was a critical factor in the development of modern capitalism. In this regard the European Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries bequeathed to us much that we hold to be of fundamental value regarding human rights and responsibilities in the modern world. I also argued in class that the subject or “self” who emerged from this philosophical movement was white, European, male, heterosexual , and Christian (or post-Christian). This same Enlightenment turned out to be deeply racist, sexist, and Eurocentric in its historical vision.
Let’s carry on the conversation in Groups by picking up with Kant’s essay, “What is Enlightenment

5) Awakenings (200 words)
The discussion in class focused on the evangelical revival or “Awakening” that began in Europe and eventually spread to other parts of the world through Protestant missions. If the European Enlightenment was about opening up the mind (“dare to think”), the Awakenings were concerned with the warming of the heart (think of John Wesley and his heart “strangely warmed”). One of the most important outcomes of the awakenings was the renewal of worship.

 

 

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