Classical origins: virtues – character and education for citizenship: What is human excellence?
Patristic phase: anthropology – Incarnation, soteriology (theosis): How does God prepare us for full human flourishing?
Medieval phase: the sectors – education, sciences, arts, and healthcare: How can reason and tradition help us foster flourishing in response to God?
Early modern phase: common good – vocation, the family, the polis, the markets, and secularization: What values will guide our life together?
19th & early 20thcentury: anti-humanisms – the fruits of secularization: What are we without God? (the “abolition of man”)
The post-WW II phase: thehumanities – literature, “great books,” beauty: How can we reclaim our common humanity and train our imaginations & affections?
Epilogue: lessons for the current crisis and a closing look at inter-traditional dialogue in a postsecular age
Now we have to ask (1) do these pieces work well together? (coherent whole? logical flow? right size?), (2) would this framing serve faculty seminar participants well? and (3) what readings would support each unit?
Some friends and I are beginning to plan a multi-day seminar on Christian humanism to be given to a group of scholar-teachers from across the country next spring. As we consider themes that might prove both interesting and helpful to such a group, I’ve framed some elements (still well short of an outline) as follows:
Nascent learning outcomes
Definitions: What, simply defined, is Christian humanism (hereafter, “CH”)?
Scriptural warrants: What are some key scriptural foundations of CH?
Doctrinal warrants: In what key Christian doctrines has CH been grounded?
Chronological scope, depth in the tradition: How has CH been present and active in all periods of Christian history?
Patristic roots and forms: How were the Church Fathers Christian humanists?
Medieval roots and forms: How were the scholastics and renaissance thinkers Christian humanists?
Reformation roots and forms: How were the Reformers Christian humanists?
20th century: CH as a tradition reclaimed during times of crisis: What social circumstances and intellectual contexts led WW II – era thinkers to attempt to reclaim facets of CH for their time? Are there parallels between the crisis of that era (to which some thinkers responded by looking to re-excavate CH) and our own moment of multifaceted crisis?
21st century: Application today: If CH is appropriately considered as a “crisis philosophy” that has something to say to our moment, then do we need to recapture CH today – particularly in contemporary North American culture?
Over at Peter Enns’s blog on Patheos, Reformed scholar Chuck DeGroat reflects, “imagine the experience in-the-flesh as a renowned Reformed scholar taught grace and union with Christ from a couple of Catholics.” He’s talking about an unexpected classroom experience at Oxford with Reformed historian Alister McGrath, and Chuck promises to further unfold his experience learning from McGrath in a second post. Together the two posts bear the title “Reformed and Contemplative: Discovering Both 16th Century Reformations.”
Yup, that’s one of the Catholics McGrath was talking about in the picture: Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila.
Kinda reminds me of this post byWestminster prof Carl Trueman similarly arguing for the value of the Catholic mystics.
Having reflected in a previous post on Jonathan Rauch’s recent National Journal on the plight of many working and non-working American men today, I’m going to re-post here a response to Rauch. The original article may be found over at Hang Together.
Jonathan Rauch’s (Mostly) Failed Agenda for Hurting Workers – and What Would Work
I see lots of attention being paid to this article by Jonathan Rauch on the economic crisis of America’s working class. He’s looking at the right problem, but he’s looking at it all wrong. As a result, he misunderstands both the cause and the needed remedy. Continue reading →
The editorial team at Christian History magazine is working away on our Issue #101 on Healthcare and Hospitals in the Mission of the Church, which will release this fall.
Meanwhile, project editor Jennifer Trafton and a writing team including myself, Jennifer and Edwin Woodruff Tait, and Jennifer Trafton have finished work on “The history of hell: A brief history and resource guide.” You can check it out here.
If you didn’t check it out the first time around, the 2003 movie “Luther,” bankrolled by the Lutheran financial company Thrivent and starring Joseph Fiennes, is still worth seeing. Here’s my review back when it came out:
A Reformer’s Agony A high-caliber film shows how messy it was when Luther helped change the course of history Chris Armstrong
directed by Eric Till
Before the Reformation, the meaning of life came highly structured from the hierarchy of the Church. One didn’t ask questions. One didn’t need to.
Many believers, perhaps most, experienced Truth through relics, images, and rituals—not as oppression but as comfort. To be sure, one did not meet God face to face. But one did not want to! For the late-medieval rank and file, assurance of salvation came not from bold access to the throne of God, but from the myriad mediating practices of penance and devotion.
In Luther, one scene in particular brings home this historical reality. Continue reading →
In Christian History & Biography‘s Issue 84: Pilgrims & Exiles, we dug into the characteristics, qualities, and history of the American Anabaptists. That’s the Amish, Mennonites, Brethren, and Hutterites. A young generation of American evangelicals seeking Christianity that is visible and useful in society is finding this courageous and distinctive group increasingly compelling. Though we may think of Anabaptists as enclaved and enclosed, they have an incredible history of social action and charitable ministry–especially in the 20th century in America. This is rooted in a theology and ecclesiology that seek above all to imitate Christ, which the CHB issue explores. Here is the lead article of that issue, co-written with Anabaptist scholar Jeff Bach:
A People of Conscience How America’s plain people first arose in Europe as a discipleship movement repressed by the state church. Chris Armstrong & Jeff Bach
Imagine yourself in the imposing Grossmünster church in Zurich. This is a sanctuary in transition: the votive candles have been snuffed out, the frescoes painted over, and the wooden statues depicting saints and biblical figures removed. The expansive space echoes with the high-pitched voice of Huldrych Zwingli. In the language of the marketplace, he preaches directly from the text of the New Testament, moving verse by verse through each book, ignoring the centuries-old liturgical order of readings. He insists on the need for a biblical Christianity to complete the Reformation Luther has begun. Continue reading →
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