Protestantism and Capitalism Weber

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Published on 12 Jan 2012
SOC250Y1- Lecture January 12, 2010
Connection between Protestantism and Capitalism Weber
How does Weber begin the question of understanding religions? The distinction between
virtuoso and heroic religiosity and mass religiosity. Weber recognized that for most people
religion is not a full time preoccupation. Most people want religion to be there for key events
but then there are the few who are deeply spiritual and intensely preoccupied with spiritual
Charisma- religious charismatics typically responsible for initiating new movements because
of their deep spirituality they typically find something inadequate with the existing religion
they will conceive new ways
Weber comes up with the idea that religious history is largely the situation where you have
charismatic figures that create or transform religious traditions, pick up followers; their
message becomes the new tradition (cyclical pattern)
Weber’s sociological method- followers, if successful will generate new religious movement
ongoing tension between charisma and tradition- tradition is a social gravity that typically stays
there, most subscribe to tradition with not much trouble- it is the intense virtuoso types that
find inadequacies
Weber says you need charisma to challenge tradition because things are set up to preserve
Reason why extraordinary traits of charismatics are needed to attract followers and challenge
Charisma: extraordinary traits of character, personality charisma is a force that ruptures or
challenges tradition
- Overseers translated to bishops
Charisma and its Routinzation
office (an organizational hierarchy),
law, rituals, sacraments and texts
The Sect Church distinction Weber noted 2 basic religious personality types and thus two
ways in which religions are organized
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The Sect type refers to intense religious believers, enthusiastic, they join voluntarily,
willing to risk discrimination for the sake of their spiritual intensity corresponds more
to heroic or virtuoso religiosity.
o These people are drawn to high demands for spiritual life, high purity
o Where new religious movements typically start
The other type is the Church the holiness has migrated to the structure itself, no longer
has to be in the individual members, the Church organization itself is holy.
o Mass religiosity dominates here or everyday religiosity
o To be a member of the Church the primary requirement is to be loyal to the
Church and comply with Church teachings
How Sect Church unfolded- what was the sociological primary clue? Christianity began as a
sectarian unit what instrument did we look at? PENANCE it is a very good way to
measure the progress of this sect to church movement.
The sacrament which was used for newcomers- Baptism- cleansed you of all previous sins and
the holy spirit of God became an indwelling presence. Paul’s letters say “you are now living
temples” = the gift of the holy spirit in early Christian writings is presented as an anticipation of
the life to come, of what will happen when judgement day occurs and you end up in the
paradise. The gift of the Holy Spirit was to enable Christians to live such a religious demanding
Critical development that occurred which raised significant issues Conversion of Gentiles-
Jesus’ followers tried to convert Gentiles, non-Jews
City of Antioch those non-Jews began to convert do they have to follow full Jewish
requirements? Be circumcised? Etc.?
Apostolic Decree settled conflict over whether non-Jews need to do Jewish requirement- James
Peter and the others agreed with Paul and Barnibus in that non-Jews only had to uphold
minimal requirements (1) idolatry / apostasy (2) adultery/ fornication (3) murder = mortal sin
Distinction between venial and mortal sins? Mortal sin would get rid of Holy Spirit in you
mortal sins were those that spiritually killed you; you committing those acts meant the holy
spirits presence was voided.
Venial sins grieved the Holy Spirit but you did not lose that gift
Christianity developed slowly because outside discrimination and the fact it was not easy to be
a Christian growth was very slow because dangerous and demanding
What showed the first trains in the Christian movement? When members began to suffer doubts
and anxieties? “The double-soul or double minded”
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What triggered the loss of confidence was that the return of Jesus seemed to be delayed and
delayed. Some passages in the Bible seemed to say he was coming back soon (NT)
Non arrival of the second coming = questioning, no longer coming to Christian community, fall
back into the ways of sin thus the Christian movement needs to find a way to deal with this
problem. The Christians who lose confidence begin to accumulate sins and thus wonder if they
will be saved. Around the year 125-130 a text appeared called the Sheppard of Hurmah by a
Christian prophet who claimed he had a series of visions with an angel who came to him and
told him God would forgive all sins after baptism. = Jubilee period of forgiveness or grace, first
effort to soften penitential situation. God would forgive if they had baptism quickly and did not
sin again! = First little modification of the teaching
Another step that took place 60 -70 years later sacrament of post baptismal penance- if you
committed sins after baptism and did not keep “seal of baptism” unbroken there would be
another chance, a second repentance in which you would confess sins and priest/bishop would
forgive sins around the year 200
The next modification = 216/217 CE most common sin committed- adultery and fornication
first of the mortal sins that Christian leaders said could be forgiven because that sin was
committed so often leaders ruled church could forgive those who sinned these sins-
traditionalists condemned this and even generated a schism in Rome some said this made sin
possible Kalistus forgiving sins but those who were happy with the forgiveness were those
interested in mass religiosity who simply wanted to be forgiven, easily, rather than having to
maintain it themselves
Converts were said to be “Awakened and reborn”, a transformative redemption that secured an
immediate bestowal of charis or grace and the promise of eternal salvation
Spiritual rebirth was achieved through baptism- a sacred ceremonial that functioned as
a ritual of initiation, rite of purification (Washing away all prior sins) and also as a
means of spiritual reconstitutions, empowerment
Miraculously restored to purity the “washing of regeneration” (loutron palingenesias)
they believe is infused with the Holy Spirit of God a gift or endowment that constitutes
not only a pledge of future “deliverance from death”, but also an instalment of grace
and power that enables the Christian to live in the “newness” of a spiritual life. Through
the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, the believer experiences love of God and the
attending joys and powers of faith, as expressed in virtuous moral conduct, altruistic
solidarity with co-believers, and in ecstatic manifestations of grace (life speaking in
As celebrated in the “discourse of conversion” passage through baptism marked the
transition to a new state of being, from darkness to light, from vice to virtue from death
to eternal life
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