History of Christianity Part IV

History of Christianity 4

Modern times: The modern times brought the fundamental breakthrough in the emancipation of man and his intellect from given authorities and church tradition. These approaches were only fully implemented in the scholarly circles of the Enlightenment and – popularized – in the middle classes and workers of the modern age (since the 19th century).

The Reformation only wanted to recognize the authority of God and Jesus Christ for the justification of the individual and thus liberate the Christian from the need for salvation of the church’s intermediary bodies, from office, tradition and salvation offers of the church; Here the individual reformers set different priorities. In return, the Catholics – without giving up justification through Jesus Christ and his grace – bound themselves more firmly to the traditional church conditions (performed in the Tridentinum 1545-63). The modern age began for Christianity with a loss of its ecclesiastical unity; from now on, alongside the oriental schism, it is split up into an abundance of denominations, churches and denominations. Immediately after the Reformation, Christian denominations emerged alongside the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Churches, the Reformed Churches and the Anglican Churches (Church of England).

Since then, the development of teaching has also been denominational. Due to the “necessity” associated with the post-Reformation development to set oneself apart and to justify one’s own variant of Christianity ( controversial theology), the “doctrines of distinction” were in the foreground until the 20th century: in the Reformation churches the doctrine of justification with all its aspects, in the Catholic area the doctrine of the sacraments, ecclesiology, primacy and infallibility of the Pope (defined at the 1st Vatican Council 1869/70), Mariology. In a first phase of confessional consolidation (Lutheran and Reformed “Orthodoxy”, Catholic “Baroque scholasticism”), the differences were emphasized very strongly, and after their temporary regression in the Enlightenment period, they were re-established in the “neoconfessionalism” of the 19th (and early 20th) centuries. In the 17th century, denominational differences became the starting point for a European war on German soil (Thirty Years’ War).

In the relationship between Christianity and the state, the Reformation had ambivalent effects. On the one hand, the distinction between the “two kingdoms” (doctrine of two kingdoms) brought autonomy for both sizes, profession and asceticism were understood profane in the sense of a “secular worship” (work), which laid the foundations of modern society. On the other hand, the churches of the Reformation sought a close institutional relationship with the state (Princely Reformation, sovereign church regiment, state church; in Germany the state church has ended since 1918, in Great Britain and Scandinavia it still exists today with restrictions).

According to technology-wiki.com, Christianity in Western Europe is confronted with a process of secularization that continues today. After beginning in the Middle Ages, this intensified in the Enlightenment, took increasingly radical positions, especially in the 19th century, attained a socially dominant position well into the second half of the 20th century and has only recently emerged – not least in the context of one Newly started discussion about the Christian roots and the value foundation of Europe – in the process of flattening. In terms of content, the process of secularization reflects a model of the autonomy of man, which goes back to the Enlightenment: the orientation of modern man towards God has become problematic, in many cases man has taken its place (in the bourgeoisie, the individual, including the nation; in Marxism society). After a period of apologetic defense (e.g. anti-modernism Pius X., Neo-Lutheranism, dialectical theology) found essential elements of bourgeois liberalism and humanism (e.g. liberal theology, God-is-dead theology, political theology) and later also Marxist approaches (e.g. liberation theology) Christianity inlet. One of the most striking opposing positions to this is represented by K. Barth, whose theology had a decisive influence on Christianity, especially in the first half of the 20th century (after 1918). He helped Protestantism and all of Christianity to (re) reflect on the fact that Jesus Christ is not a model or ideal for human development possibilities, but the hand of God, which the Creator extends to his creatures. Barth’s sharp and relentless theological criticism was directed against the “softening of the gospel” according to the standards of reason as well as its confusion with claims of an ideology or subordination to other interests of society.

The completely new social question posed by industrialization in the 19th century was taken up only hesitantly in Germany by the constituted churches – unlike by the diaconal associations (Caritas, Diakonie), which is why large sections of the workers were alienated from them. Protestant social ethics developed only slowly at first; the Catholic social doctrine found expression in a series of papal social encyclicals. The ecumenical movement first faced the social question at the World Conference on Practical Christianity in Stockholm in 1925; Since the fourth plenary session of the WCC (Uppsala 1968), the numerous political and social problem areas have consistently been the focus of ecumenical work around the world.

Current situation: Christianity today is particularly characterized by dealing with four problem areas. First, there is a redefinition of ecumenical perspectives. In view of today’s, v. a. Through the ecumenical movement (re) gained consciousness of the fundamental unity of all Christians, on the one hand, the denominational differences in the consciousness of many Christians are losing more and more importance; on the other hand, necessary steps to preserve one’s own ecclesiastical identity must not lead to a new confessionalism. New spiritual challenges arise from interdenominational charismatic movements and the often inadequate integrative power of the established churches as well as the worldwide growth of the Pentecostal churches. The second problem is with secularized thinking (“secularism”) in its various forms around the world, in contrast to which the churches have to find and practice contemporary forms of debate. Against this background, mission and evangelism are the existential church tasks for the future, even in countries with nominal Christian populations. Thirdly, there is the question of the inculturation power and ability of Christianity (inculturation; contextualization), since the growing majority of Christians in countries of the so-called Third World lives. Fourthly, connected with this, there is the problem of interreligious dialogue. From the beginning of its history, the C. sees itself as the only revelation of salvation from God that is valid for all people. The future of Christianity will be determined to a large extent by the extent to which it will succeed in presenting its views on God, the destiny of man and the world as God’s good creation in an understandable way for non-Christians and, in dialogue, especially with the major world religions, understanding common ethical issues To achieve values ​​as maxims for action in the world.

History of Christianity 4