Posts tagged with: Enlightenment

on_the_church“‘First rooted, then grounded, but both bound together at their most inner core!’ Let that be the slogan of the church living from God’s Word.” -Abraham Kuyper

What is the social nature of our relation to God? What is the church, and who is the church? How should it to relate to the broader society?

Such questions are explored at length in On the Church, a newly translated, newly released collection of essays and speeches by Abraham Kuyper on the nature of the church. Published by Lexham Press in partnership with the Acton Institute, the anthology highlight’s Kuyper’s unique ecclesiological vision of the church as both “institution” and “organism” — or as the Apostle Paul puts it, “rooted and grounded.”

“’Rooted and grounded’ unites organism and institution,” Kuyper says, “and Scripture itself refuses to allow any separation — it weaves them together. By means of the person who sows and plants, the metaphor of vital growth overflows into that of the institution; by means of the living stone, the metaphor of the building flows over into that of the organism.”

Kuyper’s doctrine of the church was not developed or delivered in a vacuum, but in response to his own social context and the challenges of his day. The disestablishment of the church in the Netherlands and the resulting social pluralization was one thing; the external challenges to the doctrine of Scripture by “higher criticism” and “modern science” were another. “Enlightenment rationalism continued to challenge Christian epistemology,” explains John Halsey Wood Jr., the anthology’s editor. “In addition, a changing social landscape, as much as the changing intellectual one, also posed a challenge to theology and the church.” (more…)

Blog author: pjohnson
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
By

A couple of months ago Arkansas’ Secretary of State rejected the request from the Universal Society of Hinduism to erect a statue on state capitol grounds.

A good friend from college, himself a Hindu, sent me an email asking me what I thought about it. What could I say? It seemed patiently unfair: Arkansas had approved a monument for the Ten Commandments on state grounds, but rejected the Hindu organization’s privately funded statue. I commiserated with my friend, saying only that I thought it was the sign of a people—Arkansas Christians in general—who feel increasingly under attack by secularists.

My friend was incredulous. Christians feel like they are under attack? They are paranoid and delusional, he declared. They are the clear majority in this country. I tried to explain that, while this may be true, there are plenty of examples of Christianity’s diminishing influence in the public sphere: a Pew study that found a large increase in secularism, a cultural and political shift away from Christian marriage and family values, recent healthcare legislation that has forced religious groups to go to court to defend their freedom of conscience.

It wasn’t long before we were debating religious liberty in general and I found myself in the unenviable position of trying to explain why I think that Americans ought to try an tolerate the views of religious groups—even those views that we may find personally distasteful. Why, my friend asked, should we try to protect those who promote ideas that we think are wrong? That’s a good question, I found myself saying. (more…)

[Part 1 is here.]

A common reading of Western history holds that the principles of the free economy grew out of the secular Enlightenment and had little to do with Christianity. This is mistaken. The free economy (and we can speak more broadly here of the free society) didn’t spring from the soil of the secular Enlightenment, much less, as some imagine, from a Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest, dog-eat-dog philosophy of life.

The free economy sprang from the soil of Christian Medieval Europe and the Renaissance, beginning in the monasteries and city states of Medieval northern Italy and spreading from there across Europe, taking particularly firm root among the Dutch and English.

Voltaire, Edward Gibbon, and other secular Enlightenment thinkers propagated the myth of a so-called Dark Ages, an age of regression, religious superstition and irrationality. And some of my Protestant forebears happily seized upon this distorted characterization in the interest of discrediting Catholicism. (more…)

A brilliant assessment of where we are. (HT: American Orthodox Institute Observer).

Subject to the governor of the universe: The American experience and global religious liberty

March 1, 2011 – Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver, addressed the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University.


A friend once said – I think shrewdly — that if people want to understand the United States, they need to read two documents.  Neither one is the Declaration of Independence.  Neither one is the Constitution.  In fact, neither one has anything obviously to do with politics.  The first document is John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.  The second is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Celestial Railroad

John Bunyan

Bunyan’s book is one of history’s great religious allegories.  It’s also deeply Christian.  It embodies the Puritan, Protestant hunger for God that drove America’s first colonists and shaped the roots of our country. 

Hawthorne’s short story, of course, is a very different piece.  It’s one of the great satires of American literature.  A descendant of Puritans himself, Hawthorne takes Bunyan’s allegory – man’s difficult journey toward heaven – and retells it through the lens of American hypocrisy: our appetite for comfort, easy answers, quick fixes, material success and phony religious piety.

Bunyan and Hawthorne lived on different continents 200 years apart.  But the two men did share one thing.  Both men – the believer and the skeptic — lived in a world profoundly shaped by Christian thought, faith and language; the same moral space that incubated the United States.  And that has implications for our discussion today.

In his World Day of Peace message earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI voiced his concern over the worldwide prevalence of “persecution, discrimination, terrible acts of violence and religious intolerance.”i   In reality, we now face a global crisis in religious liberty. As a Catholic bishop, I have a natural concern that Christian minorities in Africa and Asia bear the brunt of today’s religious discrimination and violence.  Benedict noted this same fact in his own remarks.

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“Environmentalism, Marxism, Utopianism,” Part 2 of a recent Acton roundtable discussion, is now available. Michael Miller leads a discussion with Samuel Gregg, Jordan Ballor and Anielka Munkel about environmentalism, Marxism, liberation, theology, Christian syncretism, Utopianism and one of Michael’s favorite topics, Alexis de Tocqueville. Check out Acton’s YouTube page here.

Here is the new trailer for the 7-part Birth of Freedom DVD Curriculum, created by Acton Media and released next month by Zondervan.

You can pre-order the curriculum at the Acton Book Shoppe.