According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How the Reformational Church Brought Secularism to Society

The Past Is Never Dead
by Scot McKnight
Jan 23, 2013
William Faulkner famously said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” This is the argument of Brad Gregory in his monumental and erudite volume, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. This 600 page ramble of Western history traces interlocking themes that affect us today but which gained their fresh life in the Reformation. I’d say the book is a critique of modernity as much as the Reformation while it is also a strong apologetic for the Catholic Church.
A big idea is that there is a seamless story from the late Medieval church into the Reformation and that what was unleashed in the Reformation — a revolution in religion — has resulted in modernity and postmodernity. In other words, with undeniable sophistication, Gregory lays at the door of the Reformation the seeds of secularism that we inhabit today. The world’s enchantment took a step backward, then, because of the Reformation.
Gregory connects John Duns Scotus and William of Occam to a new metaphysic (univocity vs. analogy) that more or less made God’s being like our being and put God into the materialistic universe of proof vs. non-proof (and God loses since God is transcendent, etc) and the Reformation’s battle over [the Catholic doctrine of] transsubstantiation was but one example of how a metaphysic can unleash theological battles that ended up separating God from reason and science. (I’m not a specialist in this field but I’m not so sure the Protestant view of the “presence” of Christ might be more analogical than univocal, and the Catholic view more univocal.)
[Reason and] Science divorced God from the discussion and scientists could no longer be considered intelligent unless they presupposed a personal God. Gregory’s discussions involve probing into how relativizing doctrines and controlling the churches (State control of Reformation churches) and subjectivizing morality (manifest in Western’s sense of tolerance) and manufacturing the goods of life (Weber’s famous thesis at a new level) led eventually to a secularization of knowledge (by keeping God out by [the scientific] method).
Let’s grant Gregory the lion’s share of his argument: the Reformation’s cracking up of medieval Christianity’s hegemony [this was not proven or explicated and I do wonder how unified late medieval times were] led to fractures not only at the ecclesiastical and theological levels but also at the intellectual, political, aesthetic and scientific levels — and those fractures have led to modernity.
And let’s grant that Gregory is not being nostalgic and pleading a return to the medieval conditions — as if one could. But let’s not fail to observe that the two major thinkers — Duns Scotus and William of Occam — who got the ball rolling here, were Catholics [as it seemed most Christians were in the late medieval period - res]. In the end, it was also the anti-institutional [(sic, anti-Catholic Church - res)] move by the Reformers that set this ball rolling. Also, ironically, Gregory’s book leaves a fairly sharp periodization of the Reformation.
Over time the assault on authority and power in the Catholic Church led to democratization with all its implications, including thousands of sorts of Protestants (and post Protestants). And, yes, at some level then the Reformation contributed to the secularization of society – though some might point a long finger or two at strains of Catholicism as well.
Question: "Is the Post-Reformation world a better world (for the church) than the Pre-Reformation world?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Univocity of being

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Univocity of being is the idea that words describing the properties of God mean the same thing as when they apply to people or things, even if God is vastly in kind.
In medieval disputes over the nature of God, many theologians and philosophers (such as Thomas Aquinas) held that when one says that "God is good", God's goodness is only analogous to human goodness. John Duns Scotus argued to the contrary that when one says that "God is good", the goodness in question is exactly the same sort of goodness that is meant when one says "Jane is good". That is, God only differs from us in degree, and properties such as goodness, power, reason, and so forth are "univocally" applied, regardless of whether one is talking about God, a man, or a flea.
Gilles Deleuze borrowed the doctrine of ontological univocity from Scotus.[citation needed] He claimed that being is univocal, i.e., that all of its senses are affirmed in one voice. Deleuze adapts the doctrine of univocity to claim that being is, univocally, difference. "With univocity, however, it is not the differences which are and must be: it is being which is Difference, in the sense that it is said of difference. Moreover, it is not we who are univocal in a Being which is not; it is we - and our individuality - which remains equivocal in and for a univocal Being."[1]

Deleuze at once echoes and inverts Spinoza,[citation needed] who maintained that everything that exists is a modification of the one substance, God or Nature. He claims that it [(univocality)] is the organizing principle of the Dutchman's philosophy [(Spinoza)] - despite the absence of the term from any of Spinoza's works. For Deleuze, there is no one substance, only an always-differentiating process, an origami cosmos, always folding, unfolding, refolding. Deleuze summarizes this ontology in the paradoxical formula "pluralism = monism".[2]

for further discussion please refer to -
The Ontological Univocity of God's Being
from a Postmodern Perspective

* * * * * * * * * * * * * Book Review
go to amazon link here
About the Author
Brad S. Gregory is Dorothy G. Griffin Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.
Book Description
In a work that is as much about the present as the past, Brad Gregory identifies the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation and traces the way it shaped the modern condition over the course of the following five centuries:
  • hyperpluralism of religious and secular beliefs,
  • an absence of any substantive common good,
  • the triumph of capitalism and its driver, consumerism,
all these, Gregory argues, were long-term effects of a movement that marked the end of more than a millennium during which Christianity provided a framework for shared intellectual, social, and moral life in the West.
Before the Protestant Reformation, Western Christianity was an institutionalized worldview laden with expectations of security for earthly societies and hopes of eternal salvation for individuals. The Reformation’s protagonists sought to advance the realization of this vision, not disrupt it. But a complex web of rejections, retentions, and transformations of medieval Christianity gradually replaced the religious fabric that bound societies together in the West.
Today, what we are left with are fragments:
  • intellectual disagreements that splinter into ever finer fractals of specialized discourse;
  • a notion that modern science—as the source of all truth—necessarily undermines religious belief;
  • a pervasive resort to a therapeutic vision of religion;
  • a set of smuggled moral values with which we try to fertilize a sterile liberalism;
  • and, the institutionalized assumption that only secular universities can pursue knowledge.
The Unintended Reformation asks what propelled the West into this trajectory of pluralism and polarization, and finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past.
Editorial Reviews
A strikingly brave and wide-ranging work, in which a distinguished historian of early modern Europe interprets the contemporary world. The precision and clarity with which Gregory lays out his evidence and the accuracy with which he handles materials in many different languages and of many different kinds give this original book extraordinary credibility. It's rare for a book to attain this level of scholarship nowadays. An astonishing achievement.
--Anthony Grafton, author of Worlds Made by Words
A work of deep moral seriousness. Gregory's greatest contribution is his portrayal of the Reformation of Christianity as a central moment of disturbance and creativity in the modern Western world. In this endeavor, he has no equal among living authors. The Unintended Reformation is simply the most intelligent treatment of the subject by a contemporary author. It is also the most unconventional and most stirring engagement I know with the problem of how the West has dealt with its heritage of plural religions and concepts of values and happiness.
--Thomas A. Brady, Jr., author of German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400-1650
Gregory's insightful and compelling narrative invites us to recognize the surprising extent to which we are still what the Protestant Reformation and its heirs made us, a society of conflicting and contested truth claims. As he spells out the consequences--and the interest is in the detail--we become more sharply aware of sometimes unrecognized aspects of our present condition.
--Alasdair MacIntyre, author of God, Philosophy, Universities
A revisionist manifesto, sharp-edged and provocative, The Unintended Reformation analyzes the legacy of the Protestant Reformation with an eye firmly fixed on the present. Gregory challenges many revered assumptions and does so with verve and brilliance. Bound to stir debate for years to come, this magisterial history of the early modern era belongs on the shelf right next to Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and Charles Taylor's A Secular Age.
--Carlos Eire, author of A Very Brief History of Eternity
The Protestant Reformation is considered by many to be one of the pivotal events in the history of the Western world. No one can doubt the central role that Luther, Calvin, and other reformers have played in the lives of Christians through the years... [Gregory] approaches the continuing impact of the Reformation in what he terms a "genealogical" approach--one that sees the Reformation as the root of a tree whose branches reach into every aspect of modern life.
Rejecting the "supersessionist" view, that contemporary Christendom constitutes a radically new understanding of God and of the world itself, Gregory insists that our views, even our presuppositions, must be reimagined and re-evaluated in ways that demonstrate how the Reformation continues to reach into our theologies, our laws, our lives... [A] rewarding look at the long reach of history, and how we are the poorer for ignoring it. (Publishers Weekly 20111114)
[An] extraordinary new book...But however brilliant is Gregory's historical presentation (and it is brilliant), what ultimately distinguishes The Unintended Reformation is the sheer forcefulness of the narrative, which he pursues by examining the shift in perspectives on six distinct but interrelated themes since the sixteenth century: God, truth, institution, ethics, consumption and knowledge. The effect of this approach is to give the book an uncommon clarity: by going over what is essentially the single narrative in six different ways, each slight turn of the story illuminates the whole, and each new element comes across as both surprising and yet strangely familiar.
The Unintended Reformation is unquestionably the most important contribution to the way we understand our present condition since Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. But it is also as a stinging rebuke to all those well-nigh fictitious accounts of the emergence of the enlightened West out of the intellectual darkness and decrepitude of the Middle Ages that now distort our collective self-perception. Let's hope Gregory's book wreaks havoc on some of these myths that we persist in telling ourselves.
--Scott Stephens (Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Religion and Ethics blog 20120210)
There could not be a more propitious moment for a book on greed and the historical roots of capitalism. Brad Gregory shows that historians have as much to contribute to contemporary debates about business and social ethics as most philosophers or economists...What is bold and unusual about The Unintended Reformation is that it comes from an explicitly Christian perspective and ends by arguing that only religion--properly understood as a doctrine of solidarity--can allow humanity to escape from the predicament of the modern, the material curse of poverty and the mental afflictions of prosperity. Gregory not only offers what is today a highly original combination of history and morality but also cogently explains why that combination is needed today.
--Harold James (Financial Times 20120211)
This book is truly breathtaking in its scope, erudition and sheer nerve. There is no faulting Gregory's grasp of Reformation history, but to his analysis of what has happened since there could be many objections raised. This is relatively unimportant, however. Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism was not completely right either, but it was brilliant nevertheless. Gregory's is a work not just of genuine scholarship but also of sincere moral purpose, which, even if it annoys, frustrates or fails to convince, has opened up an immensely important debate. There may yet be time to fix some of what went wrong in the Reformation.
--Lucy Wooding (Times Higher Education 20120309)
Restrained and erudite...Apart from furnishing an interesting and well written account of the Reformation, the book is perhaps most interesting when [Gregory] grapples with his opponents...[A] thought-provoking book.
--Nick Carn (Financial World 20120601)
A lucidly written and far-reaching analysis that shows how the contemporary Western world continues to be influenced by the complex transformations that occurred in the 16th and 17th centuries.
--J. Werner (Choice 20120701)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

December 20, 2011, by Christian Smith
This is a tremendously important and illuminating work that deftly discloses the deep historical roots of the character of our modern, secular world. Brad Gregory offers us here a massive scholarly achievement of great significance and insight, which deserves a very wide reading.
Modern people love to think that they are radically different from those who lived in the pre-modern age. Gregory clearly shows instead how powerfully governed are modern thinking, practices, and tendencies by assumptions and categories formed in the late Middle Ages, as mediated by the Protestant Reformation. Particularly impressive is Gregory's case for the secularizing and pluralizing logic that the Protestant Reformation set into historical motion.
Thoughtful moderns and postmoderns who want to understand the massive historical forces that have produced their own social worlds, and therefore their very lives, must read this book. Professional historians, whose work has grown ever more specialized and narrow, need to read this sweeping narrative, which pulls us all back to the big picture and the big questions. Protestant (and other) Christians today who are puzzled or distressed by the secularization of so much of the world have to confront, absorb, and digest the implications of Gregory's powerful argument.
The historical, sociological, and philosophical thought that Brad Gregory has put into this broad-ranging work is extraordinary; his historical scholarship is meticulous; his writing is lucid; and the payoff of insight for readers who take his argument seriously is huge. Gregory is to be much congratulated and thanked for producing this landmark book. I myself have already read it once, and have already started to read it again.
5.0 out of 5 stars
January 10, 2012, by Thomas W. Smith, Ph.D.
This book is a tour de force by a distinguished historian of the Reformation. The thesis is that many of the significant challenges we face today in terms of politics, culture, economics, and our ability deliberate together reasonably can be traced back to the unintended consequences of the Reformation. This fact is obscured by the assumption among many contemporary historians that we have moved beyond a pre-modern past in ways that mean we no longer need to understand the world of the Middle Ages and Reformation in order to understand ourselves. The book achieves that ambitious goal because the author has mastered an astonishing variety of different approaches to knowing -- history (of course), but also theology, moral and political philosophy, and metaphysics. The erudition and scope of the book is deeply impressive and inspiring. I hope that this work will become for a new generation of grad students what McIntyre's work was for me when I started grad school in the late eighties, or what Millbank's was to many grad students in the last decade -- a book that reorients students away from conventional grad school limitations on what they should learn and how they should learn it. I hope that it will become for everyone an occasion to reflect more deeply on the ways the past has influenced our current situation.
5.0 out of 5 stars
January 17, 2012, by Matthew C. Briel
My comments here build on earlier reviews, especially Christian Smith's and Thomas Smith's.
This book is a great achievement. Here I'd like to focus on what it brings to professional historians.
I am in graduate school and my experience of this book is close to what Thomas Smith said he hoped would happen to readers who are entering the academy. It's premature but this book may end up being as important as MacIntyre's After Virtue. However, it is a work of a historian rather than a philosopher and it has the particular strengths of a historian that a philosopher lacks: a great sensitivity to the details of ritual, everyday life, economic changes, political decisions, etc. Gregory's great contribution is his keen sense of how practices and thought impact each other (and some philosophical training seems evident here).
Though obviously a longish book, it seems a short book to me for how much it accomplishes. Many of the theorists of the past century and a half (Nietzsche, Heidegger, and other philosophers but especially the profoundly influential Weber and Foucault) are engaged well. My profession is dominated by these thinkers and their intellectual offspring. Gregory, engaged in a critique, briefly acknowledges the good that they have contributed (naive objectivity or positivism of some 19th century historians is no longer possible) but is more concerned to describe the negative effects of their thought and to argue against them- usually it is a question of the premises of their thought rather than mistakes in reasoning. Gregory has argued for a new space in the academy. I hope that he treats these questions in greater detail, or that some other author will develop Gregory's insights here.
It is bound to be sharply criticised by both the right and the left because Gregory challenges both in a penetrating analysis. (critical of secular dominance in certain arenas as well as smug Christian consumers.)
Like MacIntyre's After Virture (1981), Gregory has made a big step forward. The claims in this book are huge and it needs to be unpacked (could he please make this a trilogy?). I look forward to reading more from Gregory. Really, an intellectual thrill. Give it a full week of three or four hour evenings to soak it in. The longer footnotes (i.e. not just the bibliographical references) enhance the experience.


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