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History of Christian Thought Exam 2
Religious Studies
Undergraduate 2

Additional Religious Studies Flashcards




Reformation (1517-1648)
Cultural & intellectual movement (1648-1789)
Stressed primacy of reason in quest for knowledge and truth
• Primary and sole tool thinkers want to use in the quest.
Greatest impact on England & France. Also influential in Netherlands & Germany
use of critical thinking, the human mind on its own can uncover truth and all the consequences that come from that belief.
Self law, I am the authority in the quest for finding what is true and what is not
way of talking about what is natural is universal. Trying to find the common denominator of what it is to be human
(not Luther) no room for religious diversity, one intolerant religion (Catholics) to the next (reform). Governments start to assert themselves and strive for some diversity and tolerance. (opponents are established churches)
Copernicus (d.1543) & Galileo (d.1642)
Precursors to the Enlightenment
(Discovered solar system and that it revolved around the sun and not the earth, which went against church authority)
Copernicus (d.1543) & Galileo (d.1642)
Precursors to the Enlightenment
(Discovered solar system and that it revolved around the sun and not the earth, which went against church authority)
Newton (d.1727) Precursor to the Enlightenment
(articulates notion that the world we live in operates on laws, and we just have to work to discover them. Implies you don’t need the church. Newton thought all was connected to God)
o Universe subject to fixed physical laws (a machine?)
Protestant Reformations
o Individuals do not need intermediaries to discover truth
o Prot. Orthodoxy based on rationalist principles (when Luther and Calvin died and their descendants are making the religions very organized and tough)
o Reformation & aftermath led to devastating wars and violence (Thirty Years’ War)
Enlightenment Challenges to Christianity
1. Reasonable Christianity (Descartes & Locke)
2. Deism (Lord Hebert & Tindal) rejecting traditional Christianity (reason vs. revelation)
3. Radical Skepticism (Hume) (rejects reason and revelation, Agnostic)
4. Immanuel Kant & the Limits of Reason
René Descartes (1596-1650) Reasonable Christianity
• “Father of modern philosophy”
• Wanted to conform
– Rescinded work confirming Galileo
• Introduced method of doubt in acquiring knowledge (epistemology: doctrine refers to what do we know and how do we know it, where does knowledge come from)
– Everything he believed everything because it was passed down by others
– He wanted to investigate presuppositions of his knowledge to find certainty
– Must doubt everything he believed (had to discover that which could not be doubted: the fact that he was doubting)
• Could not doubt that he was doubting
• Cogito, ergo sum
Descartes II
• Ultimate knowledge & certainty resides within
o Knowledge of God comes from within (not priests or bible)
o Idea of a perfect higher being innate
• Championed epistemology known as rationalism
o Ideas are innate (comes from within)
o Knowledge & truth discovered apart from experience
• Revelation still necessary (God discloses to us certain ideas in a specific way, but don’t rely on it alone)
• Legacy
o One must seek truth for herself/himself (Doubt, not trusting what others have told me)
o Claims of tradition & external authorities relativized & opened to scrutiny
John Locke (1632-1704)
• Championed empiricism (more people lean this way)
o No innate ideas
o Ideas developed from experience
o Comes into the world as a tabula rasa, blank slate.
• Knowledge of God
o Not innate but gathered through experience
• Revelation necessary
o Some truths discoverable by reason alone, others only by divine revelation
• Reason judges & confirms revelation, appealing to external evidence
• “God when he makes the prophet does not unmake the man” (even when god chooses to disclose certain truths, you still must respond with reason)
• Reasonable Christianity
o Jesus is the Messiah (we can rationally say this because he has fulfilled old testament prophecies)
o Humans must live repentant and virtuous lives
Lord Herbert of Cherbury (1582-1648) Deism
• “Father of deism”
• Deism rejects religion based on revelation (no such thing as God communicating anything special to us, only reason)
• Five universal ideas found in all religions (not all deists believe these) Religion should be rooted in these alone.
o One God
o God should be worshipped
o Virtuous lives best way to worship God
o Humans should repent of wrongdoing
o Rewards & punishments after death
Matthew Tindal (1655-1733) Deism
• Wrote Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730) Two principles:
a.God is eternally the same and is infinitely wise & good (God doesn’t change his mind, his commandments from all times are the same. Any new information is wrong) b.Human nature is always the same and unalterable. If these principles are true, then the religion God provides to humanity must be equally true to all people in all times and places
o Revelation is unable to add anything to a religion that is perfect, unchanging, and universal
o Natural religion cannot differ in substance from revealed religion. What does this say about Christianity? (what is it in Christianity that we can find that has always existed)
David Hume (1711-1776) Radical Skepticism
• Religion cannot be based on reason or revelation
• Religion unnecessary and even a malignant influence. Upheld empiricism
o All ideas based on experience
o Religious beliefs must be tested by experience
• Is it rational to believe in miracles? Miracles are a violation of the laws of nature, which we have learned through experience.
Hume II Radical Skepticism
• Can we know the nature of God?
o Cause proportioned to the effect
o We have no experience of God’s attributes
• Infinite? Perfect? Good? One? (designer of the world must be perfect, no rational reason to believe because the world is so complex that only one person made it, and why should they be perfect)
• Undermines Enlightenment confidence in reason
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
• Finds common ground between rationalism & empiricism - - pure reason
o Raw data gathered through sensory experience but processed by innate categories (data conforms to mind, and questions what the mind does to it. These innate categories that we have that give is the ability to process knowledge)
o Knowledge requires both
o We know things only as innate categories can grasp them
• Phenomena, we know how something appears to the categories (The table)
• Noumena, but I cannot know anything outside, the table in itself (tableness)
o Objects transcending these categories cannot be known. God transcends our categories
Kant II the limits of reason
• Religion can be established by practical reason
o Practical reason is morality, ethics.
o We have innate sense of moral obligation, there is a sense if right and wrong (oughtness)
o In following this sense, we develop ideas about God and religion
• We infer God’s existence based on moral living
o Morality comes not from religion but vice-versa (gives us the ability to have a sense that there is a God)
The Kantian Legacy
• Three major directions taken after Kant on the issue of how God can be known and what is Christianity (Hume and Kant made it hard to answer)
a. God cannot be known by reason – must be known some other way (absolute dependence [feeling] for Schleiermacher, revelation for Barth)
b. God can be known by reason and thought (Hegel)
c. Christianity is essentially about morality (Ritschl, Harnack)
The Legacy of the Enlightenment
a. Beginnings of secularization?
a. Church begins to lose its long-held power and influence in society
b. Competing worldviews and ideologies openly oppose Christian beliefs
c. The possibility of unbelief
b. Religious toleration
a. Greater religious toleration & liberty
c. Modern Christian identity
a. Modern Christians define themselves in relation to modernity and ideals of the Enlightenment
The Enlightenment Legacy
How do we make truth claims? How can God be known? (reason has limits to what it can give you according to Hume and Kant [so he needs practical reason to know God])
Possible paths after Kant
i. God cannot be known by “pure reason” so must be known some other way (Schleiermacher, Barth)
ii. It’s still possible to know God by reason and thought (Hegel)
iii. The essence of Christianity is “practical reason” or morality (Ritschl, Harnack) [define Christianity as ethics]
Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834)
• “Father of modern theology” (by Barth) after Hume after Kant. Influenced by Romanticism
o Relate to world through inner heart and feeling (not by reason alone)
o Discover God within lived human experience [not a rational process, concentrate on the inner being, we will experience a greater knowing]
• Task of theology (being in touch with inside)
o Radical turn to the self (subjective)
• We cannot know God objectively (Kant was right)
o We cannot talk about God apart from our experiences of God (subjectively)
Schleiermacher Definition of Religion
o Not about metaphysics or morality (knowing or doing). Religion is essentially Gefühl (feeling)
• “Immediate self-consciousness” (conscious of self so we will be conscious of God)
o To be religious is to experience “a sense and taste for the infinite” (to be human is to have a sense that there is something beyond us. Reality is not limited to me)
o What we all share is “the consciousness of absolute dependence” (out very being is dependent on another being, something beyond which is God)
o Readings: Doctrines comes from experience, or revelation, from within, not from the bible like other Christian thinkers. Everyone has a unique encounter with the infinite, but we all have our own way of expressing it. Unity, but not taking away from the beauty of the individual.
Schleiermacher Definition of Religion II
• “The origin is not beyond us but within us” we start with the subjective experience of God, each of our starting points are different, that comes from the infinite.
• The bible is a group of experiences, so they are not a starting point for a personal religion.
• Experiences of the infinite prompt ethics, not external laws. But he believes that the community helps you reflect upon these experiences, making sure you do not get your experiences wrong and become unethical. Scripture does have authority, but God did not author it, it is a product of subjective experiences.
• Infallible is a response to modernity, a need to claim objective truth, Schleiermacher does not have that need.
G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)
• Differs from Kant & Schleiermacher: H. believes that we can know God in thought and Tries to restore confidence in human knowledge.
• Knowledge of Reality: All of reality is a continuum (Kant would say it is broken up into particulars, Hegel says everything that is real is connected)
o God is Ultimate Reality: Everything that is real must be connected to God (everyone is implicitly already connected to God). Everything that is real must be actualized in history (no such thing as abstract ideas, all must have concrete form. Jesus is the concrete evidence, no gap to bridge). History is the unfolding of U.R.
• The truth about God and our connection to God must be actualized in time & space. Salvation = becoming conscious of our unity with God (making the unity explicit)
Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889)
•Representative of Protestant Liberalism (w/Harnack)
o Christianity essentially a historical, moral religion (must approach in a historical manner)
Departure from Schleiermacher: Theology must be rooted in historical reality of NT documents (not subjective feelings)
• Knowledge of God: Begins with historical evidence. BUT, historical facts aren’t disinterested
• Must be existentially appropriated
• Kingdom of God: This-worldly reality, rooted in love of God/neighbor (society should have started to show this love, recreate a world order to reflect the kingdom of God)
o You can be a Christian without believing in the miracles of Jesus.
Piux IX (1792-1878) and the Syllabus of Errors (1864) (resist modernity)
Errors that the Catholic Church is REJECTING:
44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality, and spiritual government…
77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship…
80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization…
The First Vatican Council (1869-1870)
• Dei Filius: Reaffirms traditional Catholic doctrines
o Reason has a role in knowing truth, but revelation still essential (you need revelation to inform you of truth)
• Pastor Aeternus: Decree on papal infallibility
o Controversy: Should every formal utterance be considered infallible? Should the pope consult the church hierarchy before declaring a teaching infallible?
o Final decree: pope infallible (without error, cannot be questioned) when making pronouncements ex cathedra/from the chair
o What might be the motivation behind this decree?
o Modern ideas, response to the channenges and uncertainties.
Enlightenment Origins: H.S. Reimarus (1694-1768)
o Tried to distinguish Jesus of history & Christ of faith
o Historical Jesus a failed political revolutionary, died a convicted common criminal.
o Disciples stole body (concocted a story), Christianity a fraudulent deception, created and sustained fro the disciples own ulterior motives.
o Published these questions after he died.
D.F. Strauss (1808-1874)
o Gospel not fraudulent, but he rejects supernaturalist view
o Much of Gospels reflect mythical worldview (myths are not historically accurate)
o Myths convey deeper truths – that’s how ancient peoples communicated truth
o Must separate historical from mythical
o A story is mythical if: a) violates natural laws; b) couldn’t be remembered by author (John); c) two accounts contradict one another; d) characters converse in odd manner
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
o Reacts against tendency by Prot. Liberals to strip Jesus down to a moral teacher
• Jesus not a mirror image of modern people
• You can’t find the historical Jesus in the first place, who thought he was helping inaugurate the idea of the end times, he died believing in an ancient world view.
o Jesus’ teachings & identity shaped by eschatological outlook
• Jesus died believing that the end was at hand
o Jesus is strange & alien to our time
o Legacy: Difficulty of not making the historical Jesus into our own image
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
• Charles Darwin’s theory challenged idea that God directly involved in creation of each species. Does not require an intervening God.
• Origin of the Species (1859)
o Natural selection: each species arises through natural laws
o Higher animals evolve from lower ones
o All species struggling to survive – those that best adapt to their environment grow & evolve
• Descent of Man (1871)
o Humans can be traced to monkeys and their progenitors
Darwinism’s Theological Implications
Fall: we need a redeemer to save us from a fallen condition, he thinks we have risen rather than fallen.
Redemption: then we have nothing to be redeemed from.
Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)
• Left-wing Hegelian, departs on the fact that we are one with the divine, the question remains: is there someone to be a part of or is God us?
• The Religion of Humanity, Originally a student of Hegel’s: Rejects Christian theology (these people believe they are talking about a being outside of themselves, who is all knowing and all powerful. He thinks that this language has something to say about the people who are using it)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
• Also a Hegelian; influenced by Feuerbach particularly on self-alienation
• Differences from Feuerbach
o F. doesn’t move beyond the psychological (point is not to interpret the world but to change it)
o Alienation arises from social & historical circumstances
• Particularly the unjust social, economic, and political conditions in history (shape who we are and gives rise to this alienation that divides us from ourselves)
• These conditions produce illusory beliefs of religion
Marx II
• Critique of Capitalism: Degrades humanity. Humans become means to an end (profit) those who own the means of production are just trying to maximize profit. Workers do not receive adequate compensation from work but are exploited. End result = self-alienation
• Self-alienation gives religion its raison d'être (people focus on God to help cope with shitty life that I don’t think can be changed, and focus on the other world where there is no suffering)
Marx’s views on religion must be understood in light of the human condition and unjust social & economic conditions (they can keep exploiting you if you continue to believe in religion, which is a product of unjust suffering)
Feuerbach II
o Theology is an act of projection (we are taking humanities innermost fears and projecting them onto an external divine being[unconsciously])
Theology leads to self-alienation (we are not ourselves because it has been taken away from us and projected onto God)
• Christianity as Anthropology: Consciousness of God is self-consciousness (what they think they know is really an articulation of themselves)
Christian doctrines interpreted anthropologically (theology is really what they are longing for in themselves.)
Syllabus of Errors 1
3. Human reason, without any reference whatsoever to God, is the sole arbiter of truth and falsehood…it is law to itself… 15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true… 18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion…
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