The Reformation

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by tyndale1946, Feb 5, 2003.

  1. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    I started a topic on the Great Awakening and this one is on the Reformation... How did the Great Awakening and the Reformation differ? Was one more to social change and religious change within the community and society in general?... In relation to the changing landscape of life and religion or the lack there of in towns and cities... Was the change more to revert a moral decline that had corrupted society... especially the young?

    That being said was not the Reformation a restructuring of solid doctrinal truths within the church itself... Whereas the Great Awakening woke up the moral duty to God in obedience did not the Reformation address the doctrinal intellect or the lack thereof? So what actually was the Reformation and how does it fit into Baptist History alongside the Great Awakening?... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Bro. Glen noted:
    Bro. Glen

    Have you been up late figuring out ways to confuse me? :D

    OK, here is my take.

    THe Reformation was a result of individuals within the Catholic church who decided that it was corrupt and needed reforming. In the process of reforming the Catholic church they (Luther, Calvin, et.al.) came to the conclusion that the Roman church was so corrupt that it was impossible to salvage, so they, with the help of the Pope excommunicating them, set out on their own. In their view, in order to know what was needful of reform, Biblical study and scholarship was required. In my mind, that is the great contribution of the Reformation -- a tradition of scholarship and study. With the scholarship and study the doctrinal points followed.

    Course there are other valid intrepetations of that period of history.

    As for the Great-Awakening -- it was a more dangerous time theologically. [(Evidence is in the other thread various schismatic groups which resulted from that period). Stephen (Rsr)/Robert/Jim/Doc Yoakum jump in here if you think I am wrong on this issue.] But I am not sure the Great-Awakening was on par with the Reformation. I am probably predjuiced on this issue and probably should shut up.

    Bro. Glen am I clear as mud? Seems to be a muddy mind day at my house.

    Jeff.
     
  3. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    I agree with Jeff... You brethren jump in here when you have a mind to... Can't we discuss these parts of Baptist History... The reformation and the great awakening... Also there are many people that visit here and read and never respond. Talk to me like you are talking to them and educate them as well as me... I'm always ready to learn more than I already don't know ;) ... Brother Glen :D
     
  4. rsr

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    Jeff, I agree that the Reformation was more important -- it is the great divide that separates medieval and early modern Europe.

    Certainly, there was a theological basis for the Reformation. Within the church many realized that something was rotten, but such warnings went unheeded at the top. Wycliffe's followers had been agitating since the 14th Century and influenced Jan Hus' movement in Bohemia.

    Much of the criticism was not really about doctrine -- it was about corruption: Holy offices bought and sold, unqualified candidates raised to the College of Cardinals, prelates drawing (sometimes multiple) incomes from sees they'd never visited, sexual immorality and illiteracy among the clergy. (Put Savaranola in this category; the fiery Florentine preacher had no problems with church doctrine but railed against the corruption prevalent in the church. He ended up being burned -- literally.)

    Politics played a huge role in the Reformation. The Renaissance popes were up to their necks in power politics; the popes were intent on maintaining their temporal authority over the Papal States and repeatedly made alliances (including with the Turks) and went to war to preserve their temporal power. Needless to say, those he was fighting might have a bit of difficulty seeing the pope -- especially Julius -- as a man of God instead of just another earthly ruler.

    The papacy also was infested family rivalry at the time -- the contest between the Medicis and Borgias, for example.

    War is expensive, and so were the massive building campaigns that the popes undertook to restore and beautify Rome. Which brings us to Johannes Tetzel, who went to Germany to sell indulgences -- to raise cash for the new Saint Peter's. It was Tetzel's shameless hawking of indulgences (which went beyond church doctrine) that lit the fuse for Luther's 95 Theses. (His initial complaints were much the same as Wycliffe and Hus -- especially about the fraudulence of indulgences.)

    The church hierarchy, preoccupied in Rome, repeatedly ignore what was happening in Germany until it was too late.

    Indulgences offended not only the theologically minded, but many of the German princes as well. They saw gold flowing out of German at an alarming rate and saw the new movement as a way of asserting their independence. Eventually, Luther obliged by agreeing that each prince should be free to determine the religion of his subjects.

    Not to be overlooked is the influence of the development of movable type. Wycliffe lived in an age when his ideas could only be disseminated by preaching -- a very hazardous untertaking -- or laboriously copied books. By the time Luther appeared, printing presses were spreading all over Europe and he made good use of them by producing cheap pamphlets that allowed widespread dissemination of his views.

    And one can't forget the role of Henry VIII. His lack of a male heir (and possibly some religious scruples) led him to break with Rome, although he remained essentially a Catholic in theology. But his actions (including suppressing the monasteries and divvying up the loot to the aristocracy) put England in the Protestant camp, creating a counterweight to the French and Austrian power that might otherwise have enabled the Counter-Reformation to sweep all before it. (We'll leave the 30 Years War and Sweden's Gustav Adolphus for another thread.)

    Well, I've written too much, and am probably wrong about much of it. It's a massive topic, worthy of study.

    I have found christianitytoday.com to be a good, nonsectarian source for articles about the Reformers.

    [ February 05, 2003, 08:50 PM: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  5. Jeff Weaver

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    rsr

    No, don't think you missed the mark anywhere there. Certainly wish I had had the presence of mind to write such an eloquent passage. :D (I write Civil War stuff and edit for a couple of presses, so when I come here, I just get sloppy with syntax and grammar.)

    Back to the subject at hand.

    I for some reason or another had focused on Calvin more than Luther when I did my little bit above. But you are absolutely right about Luther and the reasons for his objections to Papal authority. And equally correct in the assessment of the reactions of the myriad of German princes. (For those who might happen this way and don't know, Germany was at the time of the Reformation a wierd nation state. There were a considerable number of kingdoms, duchies, baronies, etc. each with a royal family of considerable power, united under a relatively weak monarch -- the Holy Roman Emperor.) The Holy Roman state was very fragile, and the ruling elite had little to gain and a lot to lose by supporting Rome on this one. It has been many moons since I studied this period in European history. It would be nice to have time and energy to revist some of that political history to make an evaluation of the impact of those forces on the Reformation.

    Jeff,
     
  6. rsr

    rsr
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    Not to get off the thread here, Jeff, but maybe we can do something on the Civil War in the books forum -- if we can stay off the "Who was right?" track. I've read more Civil War material than anything else. I'm a great admirer of Breckenridge and George Thomas.

    Sorry, Bro. Glen. Didn't mean to sidetrack the conversation; the Reformation is a great topic and worthy of discussion. It was a time when the world was turned upside down, when the assumptions of centuries were examined in a new light.
     
  7. Rev. G

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    The Reformation and the Great Awakening are both similar in that theological renewal and practical piety were needed within the Church. Theologically both stressed the "solas" of the Reformation and the "doctrines of grace".

    Differences? Many more social changes were taking place in Europe than in the Americas.
     
  8. rsr

    rsr
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    Bro. Glen, where would you like to go from here?

    How about we start with the forerunners of the Reformation and go forward?
     
  9. Jeff Weaver

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    Rsr

    That idea has my vote. [​IMG]

    I tried to send you a PM re Civil War, but says your box is full.

    Jeff,
     
  10. rsr

    rsr
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    Thanks, Jeff. I'll clean out my box if you want to try again.
     
  11. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Where ever you brethren want to take this is fine with me... I'm just the layman you all seem to have the credentials I'm just a babe in the woods... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  12. Daniel Dunivan

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    The settings for these two theological movements was very different, and their outcoms also quite different. When we look at the Reformation, we see something that had been building in the church for some time, and probably the biggest reasons that it happened when it did was because of the invention of the printing press and the "return to the sources." In the Great Awakenings, especially the second, we have religious ferver arising out of a new situation in America--the frontier. While the great awakenings brought about a great deal of change, in fact most Baptist spirituality arose out of this time rather than 1600s, this change was more with form than theology, as done in an academic setting. I would say that in the great awakenings American individualism caused the Christian message to be applied individually and also placed theology in the hands of the individual--&gt;how else could we have something like this Baptistboard?
     
  13. Jeff Weaver

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    DD noted:

    No agrument on that one.

    Danny, you may be right, but I think, in honesty, that is debatable. Printing while an valuable advance, the price of books was probably prohibitive to the masses, even if they could read. I tend to think the leaders of the reformation would have revolted, printing press or no.

    Danny I partly agree and partial don't on this one. I would agree with the spirituality part, but disagree on the theology part. I believe the awakenings revolutionized the Baptist thought of the time. Up to that point there had been basically General and Particular. After that time, there were hyper-Calvinistic Baptists to hyper-Arminian types, and a completely new group arose out of this -- hyper-dispensationalists. I don't think with out the fervor, and intense interest in spirituality of the Great Awakening (Part Deux) that we would have more than 4-5 factions of Baptists today. (Course speculation is just that speculation). In addition to the schismatic course the Great Awakening set the Baptists on, it did the same to lesser degrees for other groups as well, notably the Presbyterians. The course of events that the Second Great Awakening set into motion eventually led (directly or indirectly) to probably more than 500 separate groups in the U.S.) If you will indulge an example.... I don't think without the Great Awakening you have the popularity of someone like Alexander Campbell. So, I think you would have to count the original Campbellites, plus any group which is deriviative of that (Campbell's) original theology, as well as their political schisms until the present time.

    DId that make any sense to anyone but me?


    See comment above. :D

    Danny, I understand your particular historical focus is on historical theology, so you have me at a disadvantage -- I did my Ph.D. in military history. You have an additional advantage of youth, and a non-atrophied brain, so take it easy on me. [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  14. Jim1999

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    When it comes to religious movements, always keep an eye to the German theologians. So much of what has happened in the modern church came out of Germany.

    At the time of the first Great Awakening, there was the Pietist Movement in Germany.....then in England there was the Methodist revivals....this is what spread to the USA. Religion was not all that important, much like to-day. People went to church, owned pews and virtually socialized. The devout religious leaders saw a need for personal piety among these church attenders,,,and hence we have the earnest and tough preaching......Sinners in the hands of an Angry God....oh what we could do with this type of preaching to-day to wake up the people presently occupying the comfortable pews.

    At the time, 1734-1744 (roughly)there was a very large number of unchurched people. "Religion" may have played an prominent part in the establishment of America, but it was not a personal, intimate relationship with a living God....there was much more humanism. This is what had to be alerted and raised from the dead.

    The Reformation was essentially a doctrinal move and it centered around indulgences, leading to Luther's great stand on the "just shall live by their faith". He never desired to leave the RC, but when he was left no choice, he preached alone. Doctrines followed; some good; some not so good.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  15. Jeff Weaver

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    Jim

    Good and thoughtful comments as usual.

    A couple of things. You noted:

    I don;t know if we have discussed this with you or not, but we PB's are sometimes termed Children of a Happy God (beyond the universalist faction). The reason being that we typically preach a positive sermon about what God has done for his people. That all being said. I am not so much sure that we need tough or tougher preaching. I would think, however, that we need a more balanced approach to preaching. Sometimes a sermon on repentance (the Angry God approach); sometimes a sermon on what God has done for us (The Happy God approach). Sometimes sermons on what we ought to be doing for one another. We need sermons on the life of Christ, purpose and establishment of the Church, etc. etc.

    At any rate... It seems to me that most of our churches have gotten into a rut (I include Primitive Baptists in this). I really don't know if the Baptist Board is any indication or not, but some folks here (and I would assume in their respective churches) have fetishes for certain topics. Some examples -- It seems to me that homosexuality has received excessive air time here. (BTW, good call on closing that other topic). Others seem to live to argue about Calvinism/Arminian doctrine. Still others are obsessed about end times. I am not saying that those things don't have a place, but they don't have a place to the exclusion of all else.

    I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue -- balance. And anyone else who happens by who might care to comment.

    Regards to all
    Jeff.

    P.S. I about forgot to relate this to the Reformation/Great Awakening. I preceive but have no firm proof that this preaching "out of balance" began during the great-awakening. Thougts on that notion would also be welcome.

    J
     
  16. Jim1999

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    If I may, growing up in England and Wales, and in the evangelical Anglican Church, I witnessed some great preachers. The difference between American and English Churches being the importance of words and emotion.

    When I first came to America (including Canada to some degree) I was faced with screaming,pulpit pounding preachers, full of dramatics. This was very strange to me and I got very little substance from the sermons. If I sat on edge, it had more to do with volume than substance. In England, we sat on edge because the message witnessed to our spirit and we felt the touch of conviction and convincing in the words.

    There are always exceptions, and I know there are many fine preachers in America; just diferent to what I am accustomed.

    Balance in preaching is so important. We cannot flog a horse day in and day out and expect it to perform steadily. It will get jumpy and spirited and eventually destroy the carriage, the plough or the ploughman.

    In the early days there were the silver-tongued speakers, the orators, but then there were the preachers. Both using words responsibly, but the first showing his eloquence; the latter showing his Saviour. This is what we need to-day. Too often we present this gentle Jesus meek and mild and forget that He trod the path to Golgotha. We forget that He travelled where we cannot go.

    Sometimes we step into modernity and we forget the simple message we have to preach. We use the words of seminary, and forget the child in the front pew. We need to choose our words, but not ignore the language. We need to be colourful, but not always loud and animated. We just need to become preachers again with a message, and that message must always include the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  17. rsr

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    Some good observations so far. To respond to a couple of the themes:

    I lean more toward Daniel's view of the importance of printing. Yes, books were expensive, but only relatively. And they were produced for a limited audience. The real power of the press as used by the Reformers (particularly Luther) was in distributing many cheap pamphlets and broadsides which could gain a wide circulation at relatively low cost.

    While it is generally true that the Reformation was more about theology and the Great Awakening was about practice, I don't think you can draw a sharp distinction between the two. Theology will affect practice, and practice eventually can affect theology. Those who hold to the Regulative Principle do so because of doctrine; Primitive Baptists are similar. OTOH, it's not unheard of for churches to adopt a practice and then accrete a theology around it.

    Jim, I've heard all kinds of preachers, including Baptist Barn Burners. Personally, I like something in between. I have an aversion to BEING YELLED AT (which is one reason I like the history forum).

    BTW Bro. Glen, I don't have any credentials, which is why I will defer to the learned among us.
     
  18. Jeff Weaver

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    SO far you guys have given me somethings to chew on.

    Jim, thanks for clarifying. I think I must have misunderstood some of the point you were trying to make earlier. No nits to pick with the last post. [​IMG]

    Stephen, as for the printing press. I do agree that the printing press had a lot to do with the spread of the Reformers ideals. I had my mind fixed on the other end of the Reformation. I can get a little dense from time to time. Thanks for putting the brain into gear.

    Rsr noted:

    As for churches adopting a practice and developing theology to support it. I suppose all churches are guilty of this to some degree or another. But the point is well taken. Personal tragedy is also a factor in developing some theology. (Universalism is one that this applies to more than any other I have real knowledge of, but would suspect that some of the health/wealth folks might fall in the same boat). At any rate, we have groups which developed around a single point of doctrine, or very limited group of doctrines or practices. I suspect that in the beginnings of Pentacostalism there would have been little to distinguish them from their antecedents, but those folks have focused on that "baptism of the Holy Spirit." and gone from there. Somewhere amongst my clutter I have a couple of histories of the Pentacostal movement, and that was one of the things that struck me about them. One of these histories was internal, the other was an external history. Some baptist/baptistic groups have not been immune to this either.

    Rsr, as for credentials, I have advance history degrees, but the focus was not religion, so I am just as much in the dark as anyone else on most of this stuff. I always welcome your comments.

    I can stand being yelled at either.

    Jeff.
    In snowy Saltville.
     
  19. rsr

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    Jeff, by credentials I meant not the knowledge of the subject but the methodology: search for primary sources, examining the credibility of sources, the ability to examine a quotation within the context of the larger work, understanding the cultural atmosphere and currents of technology, etc. I just find it objectionable that so much argumentation and history -- and theology -- is built on "proof texting" from nonexistent, garbled, unreliable or out-of-context sources.

    Stephen
     
  20. Jeff Weaver

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    Stephen

    I think I understand now. Boy I am slow of late. :D

    I will agree about the proof-texting. I think, however, that alot of history proof-texting is done by non-professional historians. I will be a little bit arrogant (I actually would rather not, but don't know how else to say it). -- It seems that many folks who would never presume to be an engineer or medical doctor think that because they can read a history book that they are a historian. There are a myriad of course one must take at the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. levels of historical education that deal with the very thing you note, so the point is understood and agreed with. The same is true of theology and theologans. Everyone wants to be one. :D That is probably more problematic with Baptists and groups deriviative from Baptists because of the priesthood of the believer doctrine. At any rate, thanks for clarifying. I'll probably need to clarify this post as well, so if it isn't clear, just ask. The Diabetes is running out of control for the last few days and it causes me some mental confusion.

    Jeff.
     

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