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Chapter pp. 469-492

Rel Std 5A Chapter pp. 469-492: Encounters with Modernity


Department
Religious Studies
Course Code
REL STD 5A
Professor
Chris Mc Kenna
Chapter
pp. 469-492

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CHRISTIANITY– LAWRENCE S. CUNNINGHAM
pp. 469-492: Encounters with Modernity
Christianity Challenged and Enlarged
Circa 1700: Focal points that contribute to state of modernity/modern Christianity
oA new awareness of history
Renaissance: Europeans looked back at classical pagan antiquity 
transformations in religious practices/theological self-
understandings
Look backward prompt look forward
oA new awareness of geography
Colonialism ≠ religious exercise
British East India Company (trade) excluded British
missionaries from India until 1815
Colonialism + growing Euro/-American power: implications for
Christianity
Iberian colonization of the Americas (15th), accompanied by
missionary activity: more than doubled size of Christendom
16th/17th: Catholic missionaries in Asia sent reports to
Europe, radically complicated world religious picture
oA new awareness of nature
Nature is autonomously lawful– operate by own “natural” laws
Isaac Newton: laws of motion = emblematic of Reason as
opposed to religious passion
oNature as a realmof peaceful order and mutual
tolerance
18th: Deism, new philosophical creed widely popular (Euro &
American elites, e.g. Founding Fathers)
Advocate a natural religion, deny interference of a Creator
with the laws of the universe
oA new skeptical attitude toward miracles
Natural laws existed: how could anyone break those laws at will
If natural laws are unbreakable and miracles never
happened, biblical accounts questionable  how true is the
Bible as a whole
oA new and progressively more intense attachment to nationality
Patritoism (love of country) replace piety (love of God)
Tears of reverence for those who died for country rather than
died for faith, “fallen” soldier” v. martyr
Christendom transform into secular, multinational Europe with
Christian heritage and nationally divided Christian constituency of
fluctuating size
oA new and countervailing awareness of emotion
Irreplaceable importance of emotion in human life

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Cult of sublime emotion (reaction to cult of reason)
oEvangelical Christianity (“Great Awakening,” first half
of 19th): blessed but entirely interior assurance of
salvation
oEmotionally exalted religious experience: new
legitimation
oA new awareness of individual rights
Emphasize emotional dimension of faith, private experience
No arguing with emotional experience, contagious (build
communities)
Rational argumentation: crucial to birth of democracy
What if lack education to argue as equal? Have feelings,
count.
oJulie, or the New Heloise (1761) Jean-Jacques
Rosseau dignified feeling subject, regardless of social
class
“Religion of the heart”
oA nascent new awareness of rights transcending gender and race
Individualism: practice of considering each person in his own right
(logically should have included men and women alike and
regardless of race/ethnicity– but did not)
Individual rights remained the rights of (white Christian) men
1792: Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Step toward feminism: bold comment on what the French
Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) was not
doing to educate/liberate French women
14th Amendment (1868): guarantee equal protection of laws to all
people born in U.S. (indirectly protect Jews/other ethnic/religious
minorities)
The Bible Within the Limits of Reason Alone
(title echoes Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, 1792 Immanuel Kant:
philosophy of religion rather than theology, university rather than Church)
Establish independence of university/philosophy from Church
16th: wrong distinction could cost life
18th: precise dogmatic distinctions matter much less
middle of 19th: biblical criticism independent of church
Modern skepticism about miracles
oHermann Samuel Reimarus exposes contradictions in Gospel accounts of
Jesus’ Resurrection; believe in God worthy of worship, but promote
Reason
oJean-Jacque Rousseau: all human institutions corrupt natural goodness
Emile presents vision of Christianity based on modern dream of
natural religion/Gospel: sincerity, authenticity, heart > dogma,
authority, mind
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