The Renaissance brought a much more comprehensive revival of classical ideas than had the Aristotelian revival. Classical art, literature, and oratory were revived in ways that caused Christians to reassess the Medieval views of the world. See section on Christianity and Visual Art. The Reformation caused both political and theological upheaval within the Western church, and prompted a broadening of the scope of theological argumentation and of the availability of the sacred Christian texts, now being translated for the first time into local languages and mass printed for the literate public.
Christian themes that had fallen out of mainstream discourse were revived and brought to the fore in different Protestant sects: individualism Luther , a retrieved teaching on the Kingdom of God Calvin and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit the radical reformers. Additionally, any of the Protestant churches were or became national churches, aligned with the authority of the local political powers, prompting a new wave of political thought, including but not limited to considerations of the relationship of church and state Hobbes.
For others, however, the mechanical view of the world popular in the 17th century and later the Darwinian explanation of biological diversity in the 19th left progressively less of a role for God in our understanding of the cosmos, leading to several rival interpretations: 1 the Deist view that God created the world like a giant machine and then left it to run on its own without further interference Leibniz , 2 the materialist view that the material world is all that there is, and that God is an unnecessary hypothesis Laplace , 3 that there is a contradiction between theological and scientific understandings of the world, and that the Christian ought therefore be suspicious of modern science, or 4 that the Rationalist, mechanist view of the world is in fact a bad interpretation of science, overestimating the power of human understanding and underestimating the marvels of creation Newton.
The twentieth century saw the decline of Christian thought and culture as the intellectual lingua franca of the Western world. While the signers of the two Humanist Manifestoes of the early 20th century may have been viewed as radical at the time, by the end of the century secularism was the common baseline in academic and intellectual circles.
This is, in part, an effect of the decline in religious belief among Americans and Europeans generally, but also tracks the increasing professional specialization of academic discourse, in which disciplinary work be it in the physical or social sciences or in the humanities became increasingly disengaged from dialog with a broader cosmological, ethical or philosophical worldview. In particular, the academic study of humans and human society in departments of psychology, neuroscience, sociology and anthropology was increasingly modeled upon the physical sciences, increasingly specialized, and increasingly shielded against religious and ideological interpretations that were regarded as having no place in scientific study.
Some both from within the church and outside of it see this as an attempt to preserve the worldview of a West in which culture, knowledge and Christianity were completely intertwined—a fight to maintain a majority Christian culture. Others see it as a return to an essential theme of early Christianity, in which Christians differentiate themselves from the secular world and are often cast in the status of a scorned minority.
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Eastern Christianity, which never experienced a Dark Age, Renaissance or Reformation, has remained in closer contact with its roots in Late Antiquity. As in the Medieval West, Eastern Christian thought has often been centered in the work of such scholar-monks. However, Eastern Christianity if anything places an even stronger emphasis upon the relationship between spiritual practice and intellectual theory. This linkage is best understood by way of the particular strand of Christian NeoPlatonism found in Eastern Christianity.
Because Jesus is also the divine Logos, philosophical reflection and the study of the created world can be means towards this end, but its culmination is in the direct apprehension of God by that faculty of the human person called in Greek the nous. This theoretical view of the human person is viewed by the Orthodox as expressing the practical experience of the ascetic and mystical tradition springing from early Christian monasticism beginning in Egypt in the 4th century.
Ascetic practice is viewed as a set of techniques for loosening the grip of the appetites and the demons upon the soul, and allowing God to re-awaken the nous and restore it to its proper position in the psychological economy. When this happens, the nous quite naturally grows in its spiritual understanding and in direct apprehension of God. And it is from this sort of noetic apprehension that the truest form of knowledge arises — that is, it is only the spiritual practitioner who is capable of seeing spiritual realities as they really are.
Eastern Christianity thus rejects the Enlightenment view that there is any tension between faith and reason. Open main menu Menu. Christianity Studies Cluster. Late Antiquity Christianity emerged in a context that was politically Roman and culturally Hellenistic. How will we know it when we see it, or feel it?
Holy Welcome/Welcoming Ways
Jesus' keynote address, the Sermon on the Mount which took three chapters, beginning with chapter five in Matthew , tells us a lot about the reign of God. The speech that ends today has given us even more information about how we can participate in that reign, now that we're inspired by Jesus' words and life. Along with those disciples, we're told to offer gifts of compassion: to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Isn't it interesting that there seems to be far more emphasis on healing and raising than on the exact words and teachings they we should use?
Church councils would address the words and teachings issue much later, but for the time being, the Holy Spirit would be enough. More emphasis, it seems, on the doing than on the saying, more emphasis on doing good than on holding the "correct" beliefs. Have an undivided heart And then Jesus focuses on two things: have no fear, he says, and have an undivided heart. As Soren Kierkegaard noted, "pure of heart" means "to will one thing. There have been Christians in every age and place who have known something of that kind of loss, but many of us in the mainline churches in the United States find it harder to relate.
We recall Barbara Brown Taylor's apt description of the temptation we face: "Sure, it is the gospel, but there is no reason to get all upset about it. Being a good Christian is not all that different from being a good citizen, after all. You just stay out of trouble and be nice to your neighbors and say your prayers at night. There is absolutely no reason to go make a spectacle of yourself But Charles Cousar recognizes what we face if we get up out of our comfort zones to follow Jesus, if we "discover that the announcement of the dawn of a new age is forever risky business.
We are sent by Jesus, who was sent by God, so we're associated with Jesus, identified with him, and granted his authority, but along with the authority comes the risk, as David Bartlett warns us. Is that risk too daunting? Eugene Boring draws this hard and uncomfortable conclusion about our discomfort with "talk of witness, persecution, poverty, and martyrdom," because "our own version of Christianity" may be so comfortable, an accommodation so suited "to our own tastes," that we have to wonder if it can indeed "remain Christian faith.
Persistent hospitality We could focus on the lesson about hospitality a "holy welcome" in this short text, the last three verses of a much longer speech by Jesus. Hospitality is a very good thing, of course. In the United Church of Christ, we claim extravagant hospitality at the heart of our vision for the church, and we commit to live that out the best we can. Jesus, interestingly, doesn't speak of extravagance here but of one little cold cup of water. Even that much, he says, will be rewarded. If he was arguing from the lesser to the greater as he so often did , we can imagine how pleased God is by an extravagant welcome offered in God's name.
However, offering that welcome and the gift of compassion is as good for our spiritual health as it is for the well-being of the one welcomed. It's one way we experience the reign of God drawing near. Evan Drake Howard writes, "The more extravagant the welcome, the greater the refreshment, the deeper the grounding, the clearer the enlightenment, the stronger the inspiration that will flow from it. He is life itself, self-life. He has life in Himself, not from another. He is the source of all life. He has aseity, or life in Himself John , He has permanent and perpetual life.
God is pure life. Therefore He is immortal. He had no birthday, therefore no father or mother; He has no death-day, therefore no undertaker. God is the creator of everything else Gen. Creator of all, created by none. He is the first cause of everything else, but caused by nothing.
God is certainly not the creation of Man. Man did not create God by imagination, nor by projecting himself to the cosmos, as atheists suggest. Nor is God self-created. He simply exists and lives of Himself. The Creator is not the Creation. Idolatry worships the Creation rather than the Creator Rom. He is separate from His Creation. We are not part of God. God is everywhere, but is not everything. He has a separate and divine substance that is fundamentally different from the universe.
Monism is also wrong to suggest that all things are one, i. Romans 1 and Psalm 19 state that God has made His existence known to all men. He is a fool who tries to deny this Psa. Therefore, there are no real atheists or agnostics. They already know God exists.
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They are merely lying in order to try to run from God. We merely build upon what God has already revealed about Himself in Natural Revelation by bringing Special Revelation. See Acts Indeed, a God whose existence needed to be proved would not be the true God. It is an insult to God to attempt to prove His existence, for that doubts the fact that He has already made His existence known.
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Man already knows God exists, but he must acknowledge this openly in order to come to know God personally Heb. He is God. But God is personal. Not exactly like we are personal, but more than we are.
Specifically, as we shall see later, God is actually Tri-personal in the Trinity. God is a He, not an It. God is also a He, not a She. He is personal in that He speaks, feels, thinks, remembers, recognizes, etc. God is Incomprehensible but Not Inscrutable. God has told us He exists and also gives us the privilege of knowing Him personally.
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God is knowable. Agnostics and Deists are wrong to say God cannot be known. Yet we can never know everything about God. Finite Man can never know all about the infinite God, not even in eternal Heaven. It would take a second God to know God fully. His attributes are beyond full knowledge Eph.