Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists

 




Christianity


 


Bernardino Luini
Mary Magdalene




 


see also:


THE BIBLE

*

The Bible illustrations by



Julius von Carolsfeld "Das Buch der Bucher in Bildeb"


Gustave Dore


William Blak
e "The Book of Job"

 

 

 



Mary Magdalene

 

 


Caravaggio

 


Carravaggio

 


El Greco

 


El Greco

 


Rubens

 


Jose Claudio Antolinez

 


Mary Magdalene at the Tomb By Grammatica, Antiveduto Early 1620s

 


Gian Girolamo Savoldo

 


Bernardino Luini

 


Artemisia Gentileschi

 


Rembrant

 


Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection
William Etty

 


Virgin and Child between St. Catherine and St. Mary Magdalene
Giovanni Bellini

 


Phillipe Champaigne

 

 


The history of
Christianity

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Part XXVIII


 

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » The history of church and state » Separation of church and state
The separation of church and state was one of the legacies of the American and French revolutions at the end of the 18th century. It was achieved as a result of ideas arising from opposition to the English episcopal system and the English throne as well as from the ideals of the Enlightenment. It was implemented in France because of the social-revolutionary criticism of the wealthy ecclesiastical hierarchy but also because of the desire to guarantee the freedom of the church. The French state took over education and other functions of a civic nature that had been traditionally exercised by the church.

Beginning in the late 18th century, two fundamental attitudes developed in matters related to the separation of church and state. The first, as implied in the Constitution of the United States, was supported by a tendency to leave to the church, set free from state supervision, a maximum freedom in the realization of its spiritual, moral, and educational tasks. In the United States, for example, a comprehensive church school and educational system has been created by the churches on the basis of this freedom, and numerous colleges and universities have been founded by churches. The separation of church and state by the French Revolution and later in the Soviet Union and the countries under the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence was based upon an opposite tendency. The attempt was not only to restrict the public role of the church but also to work toward its gradual disappearance. The church was to be replaced with a secular ideology.

In contrast to this, the attitude of National Socialism in Germany under Hitler was contradictory. On the one hand, Nazi ideology allowed no public role for the church and its teaching. On the other hand, Hitler was concerned not to trigger an outright confrontation with the church. The concordat concluded in 1933 between Germany and the Roman Catholic Church illustrates this policy of official neutrality.

In Germany state-church traditions had been largely eliminated in 1918 with the establishment of the Weimar Republic; the abolition of the monarchical system of government also deprived the territorial churches of their supreme Protestant episcopal heads. The Weimar Constitution sanctioned the separation of church and state. State-church traditions were maintained in various forms in Germany, not only during the Weimar Republic but also during the Hitler regime and afterward in the Federal Republic of Germany. Thus, through state agreements, definite special rights, primarily in the areas of taxes and education, were granted to both the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical (Lutheran-Reformed) churches of the individual states.

Even in the United States, however, the old state-church system, overcome during the American Revolution, still produces aftereffects in the form of tax privileges of the church (exemption from most taxation), the exemption of the clergy from military service, and the financial furtherance of confessional school and educational systems through the state. These privileges have been questioned and even attacked by certain segments of the American public.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » Church and state in Eastern and Western theology
The two main forms of the relationship between church and state that have been predominant and decisive through the centuries and in which the structural difference between the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy becomes most evident can best be explained by comparing the views of two great theologians: Eusebius of Caesarea and Augustine.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » Church and state in Eastern and Western theology » The views of Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius (c. 260–339), the bishop of Caesarea, was a historian and exegete who formed the Orthodox understanding of the relationship between church and state. He saw the empire and the imperial church as sharing a close bond with each other; in the centre of the Christian empire stood the figure of the Christian emperor rather than that of the spiritual head of the church.

In Eusebian political theology, the Christian emperor appears as God’s representative on Earth in whom God himself “lets shine forth the image of his absolute power.” He is the “Godloved, three times blessed” servant of the highest ruler, who, “armed with divine armor cleans the world from the horde of the godless, the strong-voiced heralds of undeceiving fear of God,” the rays of which “penetrate the world.” Through the possession of these characteristics the Christian emperor is the archetype not only of justice but also of the love of humankind. When it is said about Constantine, “God himself has chosen him to be the lord and leader so that no man can praise himself to have raised him up,” the rule of the Orthodox emperor has been based on the immediate grace of God.

To a certain extent this understanding of the emperor was the Christian reinterpretation of the ancient Roman view of the emperor as the representative of god or the gods. Some of Eusebius’s remarks echo the cult of the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus, who was represented by the emperor according to pagan understanding. The emperor—in this respect he also played the role of the pontifex maximus (high priest) in the state cult—took the central position within the church as well. He summoned the synods of bishops, “as though he had been appointed bishop by God,” presided over the synods, and granted judicial power for the empire to their decisions. He was the protector of the church who stood up for the preservation of unity and truth of the Christian faith and who fought not only as a warrior but also as an intercessor, as a second Moses during the battle against God’s enemies, “holy and purely praying to God, sending his prayers up to him.” The Christian emperor entered not only the political but also the sacred succession of the divinely appointed Roman emperor. Next to such a figure, an independent leadership of the church could hardly develop.

Orthodox theologians have understood the coexistence of the Christian emperor and the head of the Christian church as symphōnia, or “harmony.” The church recognized the powers of the emperor as protector of the church and preserver of the unity of the faith and asserted its own authority over the spiritual domain of preserving Orthodox doctrine and order in the church. The emperor, on the other hand, was subject to the church’s spiritual leadership as far as he was a son of the church.

The special position of the emperor and the function of the Byzantine patriarch as the spiritual head of the church were defined in the 9th century in the Epanagoge, the judicial ruling establishing this relationship of church and state. The church-judicial affirmation of this relationship in the 6th and 7th centuries made the development of a judicial independence of the Byzantine patriarch in the style of the Roman papacy impossible from the beginning.

The Epanagoge, however, did not completely subject the patriarch to the supervision of the emperor but rather directed him expressly “to support the truth and to undertake the defense of the holy teachings without fear of the emperor.” Therefore, the tension between the imperial reign that misused its absolutism against the spiritual freedom of the church and a church that claimed its spiritual freedom against an absolutist emperor or tsar was characteristic of Byzantine and Slavic political history but not the same as the political tension between the imperial power and the papacy that occurred in the West, especially during the period from 1050 to 1300.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » Church and state in Eastern and Western theology » The views of Augustine
Augustine’s City of God attempted to answer questions arising from the most painful event of his day: the sack of the city of Rome by the Visigoths in 410. Augustine responded to the shock and dismay his contemporaries experienced with the collapse of their world by delivering a literary demolition of paganism. From Augustine’s perspective the “splendid vices” of the pagans had led inexorably to the fall of an idolatrous world. In sharp contrast to this “earthly city,” epitomized by Rome but everywhere energized by the same human desires for praise and glory, Augustine projected the “most glorious city” of praise and thanks to God, the heavenly Jerusalem. However, Augustine did not simply identify the state with the earthly city and the church with the city of God. He perceived that the state existed not simply in opposition to God but as a divine instrument for the welfare of humankind. The civitas dei (“city of God”) and the civitas terrena (“earthly city”) finally correspond neither to church and state nor to heaven and earth. They are rather two opposed societies with antagonistic orders of value that intersect both state and church and in each case show the radical incompatibility of the love of God with the values of worldly society.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and state » Church and state in Eastern and Western theology » Later developments
The historical development of the church in the Latin West took a different course from that of the Byzantine imperial church. In the West a new power gradually emerged—the Roman church, the church of the bishop of Rome. This church assumed many of the administrative, political, and social-welfare functions of the ancient Roman state in the West following the invasion of the Germans.

It was in this context that the judicial pretense of the “Gift of the emperor Constantine”—the Donation of Constantine—became possible, to which the later development of the papacy was connected. The Donation is the account of Constantine’s purported conferring upon Pope Sylvester I (reigned 314–335) of the primacy of the West, including the imperial symbols of rulership. The pope returned the crown to Constantine, who in gratitude moved the capital to Byzantium (Constantinople). The Donation thereby explained and legitimated a number of important political developments and papal claims, including the transfer of the capital to Byzantium, the displacement of old Rome by the new Rome of the church, papal secular authority, and the papacy’s separation from allegiance to the Byzantine empire and association with the rising power of the Latin West. The Donation, which was based on traditions dating to the 5th century, was compiled in the mid-8th century and is associated with the political transformation that took place in Italy at that time.

This was the point from which the developments in the East and in the West led in two different directions. The growing independence of the West was markedly illustrated by the Donation of Pippin (Pippin, father of Charlemagne, was anointed king of the Franks by Pope Stephen III in 754), which laid the foundation of the Papal States as independent of any temporal power and gave the pope the Byzantine exarchate of Ravenna.

The idea of the church as a state also appeared in a democratic form and in strict contrast to its absolutist Roman model in some Reformation church and sect developments and in Free churches of the post-Reformation period. The sects of the Reformation period renewed the old idea of the Christian congregation as God’s people, wandering on this Earth—a people connected with God, like Israel, through a special covenant. This idea of God’s people and the special covenant of God with a certain chosen group caused the influx of theocratic ideas, which were expressed in forms of theocratic communities similar to states and led to formations similar to an ecclesiastical state. Such tendencies were exhibited among various Reformation groups (e.g., the Münster prophets), Puritans in Massachusetts, and groups of the American Western frontier. One of the rare exceptions to early modern theocratic theology was Luther’s sharp distinction of political and ecclesial responsibilities by his dialectic of law and gospel. He commented that it is not necessary that an emperor be a Christian to rule, only that he possess reason.

The most recent attempt to form a church-state by a sect that understood itself as the chosen people distinguished by God through a special new revelation was undertaken by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons as they are commonly known. Based on the prophetic direction of their leaders, they attempted to found the state Deseret, after their entrance into the desert around the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The borders of the state were expected to include the largest part of the area of the present states of Utah, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado. The Mormons, however, eventually had to recognize the fact that the comparatively small centre state, Utah, of the originally intended larger Mormon territory, could not exist as a theocracy (though structured as other secular models) under a government of Mormon Church leaders. Reports (some apparently spurious) by federal agents hostile to the church and widespread revulsion toward the Mormon practice of polygyny mitigated against federal sanction of the church leadership as the governmental heads of the proposed state. Utah eventually became a federal state of the United States.


The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and society
The development of Christianity’s influence on the character of society since the Reformation has been twofold. In the realm of state churches and territorial churches, Christianity contributed to the preservation of the status quo of society. In England, the Anglican Church remained an ally of the throne, as did the Protestant churches of the German states. In Russia the Orthodox Church continued to support a social order founded upon the monarchy, and even the monarch carried out a leading function within the church as protector.

Though the impulses for transformation of the social order according to the spirit of the Christian ethic came more strongly from the Free churches and state and territorial churches made positive contributions in improving the status quo. In 17th- and 18th-century Germany, Lutheran clergy, such as August Francke (1663–1727), were active in establishing poorhouses, orphanages, schools, and hospitals. In England, Anglican clerics, such as Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley in the 19th century, began a Christian social movement during the Industrial Revolution that brought Christian influence to the conditions of life and work in industry. Johann Hinrich Wichern proclaimed, “There is a Christian Socialism,” at the Kirchentag Church Convention in Wittenberg [Germany] in 1848, the year of the publication of the Communist Manifesto and a wave of revolutions across Europe, and created the “Inner Mission” in order to address “works of saving love” to all suffering spiritual and physical distress. The diaconal movements of the Inner Mission were concerned with social issues, prison reform, and care of the mentally ill.

The Anglo-Saxon Free churches made great efforts to bring the social atmosphere and living conditions into line with a Christian understanding of human life. Methodists and Baptists addressed their message mainly to those segments of society that were neglected by the established church. They recognized that the distress of the newly formed working class, a consequence of industrialization, could not be removed by the traditional charitable means used by the state churches. In Germany, in particular, the spiritual leaders of the so-called revival movement, such as Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher (1796–1868), denied the right of self-organization to the workers by claiming that all earthly social injustices would receive compensation in heaven caused Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to separate themselves completely from the church and its purely charitable attempts at a settlement of social conflicts and to declare religion with its promise of a better beyond as the “opiate of the people.” This reproach, however, was as little in keeping with the social-ethical activities of the Inner Mission and of Methodists and Baptists as it was with the selfless courage of the Quakers, who fought against social demoralization, against the catastrophic situation in the prisons, against war, and, most of all, against slavery.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and society » The problem of slavery and persecution
Christian approaches to slavery have passed through many controversial phases. Paul recommended to Philemon that he accept back his runaway slave Onesimus “no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother…both in the flesh and in the Lord” (verse 16); the passage does not reject slavery but stresses that masters must treat their slaves humanely. Although the biblical writings made no direct attack upon the ancient world’s institution of slavery, its proleptic abolition in community with Christ—“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)—has been a judgment upon the world’s and the Christian community’s failure to overcome slavery and all forms of oppression. Most scholars assume that the eschatological assumptions of the apostolic community—that the return of Jesus and thus the end of time were imminent—rendered social issues secondary. As it became evident that Jesus’ return was not imminent and as the early church made its place in the world, the Church Fathers began to address social issues, and they identified slavery as the just punishment for sin. However, they also emphasized the need to treat slaves justly and maintained that Christians could not be enslaved. Medieval society made slow progress in the abolition of slavery, but by the year 1000 slavery had essentially disappeared in much of Western Europe, and by about 1100 it had been replaced by serfdom. One of the special tasks of the orders of knighthood was the liberation of Christian slaves who had fallen captive to the Muslims; and special knightly orders were even founded for the ransom of Christian slaves.

With the discovery of the New World, the institution of slavery grew to proportions greater than had been previously conceived. The widespread conviction of the Spanish conquerors of the New World that its inhabitants were not fully human, and therefore could be enslaved, added to the problem. The importation of African slaves to North America was supported by various Christian churches, including the Anglican, which predominated in Virginia and other British colonies. Into the 18th century, African slaves were described as bearing the mark of Cain, and other scriptural passages were used to support slavery. When some churches began to champion abolition in the 19th century, churches in the American South continued to find support for the institution in the Bible.

The attempt of missionaries, such as Bartolomé de Las Casas in 16th-century Mexico, to counter the inhuman system of slavery in the colonial economic systems finally introduced the great basic debate concerning the question of human rights. A decisive part in the elaboration of the general principles of human rights was taken by the Spanish and Portuguese theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries, especially Francisco de Vitoria. In the 18th century Puritan leaders continued the struggle against slavery as an institution. In German Pietism, Nikolaus Ludwig, Graf von Zinzendorf, who became acquainted with slavery on the island of Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands, used his influence on the king of Denmark for the human rights of the slaves. The Methodist and Baptist churches advocated abolition of slavery in the United States in the decisive years preceding the foundation of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in Boston in 1832 by William Lloyd Garrison. In England and in The Netherlands, the Free churches were very active in the struggle against slavery, which was directed mainly against the participation of Christian trade and shipping companies in the profitable slave trade. The abolition of slavery did not end racial discrimination, of course. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist pastor and Nobel laureate, led the struggle for civil rights in the United States until his assassination in 1968.

Christian churches have engaged in similar struggles on behalf of other exploited or persecuted groups. In Germany in the 1930s some Christians fought against the Nazis’ violent anti-Semitism and their attempts to euthanize the mentally ill and others they considered “unfit to live.” For his leadership in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1984. He later served as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, which investigated allegations of human rights abuses during the apartheid era. And Pope John Paul II used his enormous influence among Catholics and throughout the world to promote respect for human dignity and to deter the use of violence.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and society » Theological and humanitarian motivations
Decisive impulses for achieving social change based on Christian ethics have been and are initiated by men and women in the grasp of a deep personal Christian experience of faith, for whom the message of the coming Kingdom of God forms the foundation for faithful affirmation of social responsibility in the present world. Revival movements have viewed the Christian message as the call to work for the reorganization of society in the sense of a Kingdom of God ethic. Under the leadership of an American Baptist theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch (1861–1918), the Social Gospel movement spread in the United States. A corresponding movement was started with the Christian social conferences by German Protestant theologians, such as Paul Martin Rade (1857–1940) of Marburg. The basic idea of the Social Gospel—i.e., the emphasis on the social-ethical tasks of the church—gained widespread influence within the ecumenical movement and especially affected Christian world missions. In many respects modern economic and other forms of aid to developing countries—including significant ecumenical contributions from the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Roman Catholic Church—replaced the Social Gospel.

Christians have sometimes argued that these developments reduce the Christian message to a purely secular social program that is absorbed by political programs. Other Christians, however, have maintained that faithful responsibility in and to the world requires political, economic, and social assistance to oppressed peoples with the goal of their liberation to a full human life.


The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and education » Intellectualism versus anti-intellectualism
In contrast to Tertullian’s anti-intellectual attitude, a positive approach to intellectual activities has also made itself heard from the beginning of the Christian church; it was perhaps best expressed in the 11th century by Anselm of Canterbury in the formula fides quaerens intellectum (“faith seeking understanding”). But well before Anselm, Christians maintained that because people have been endowed with reason, they have an urge to express their experience of faith intellectually, to translate the contents of faith into concepts, and to formulate beliefs in a systematic understanding of the correlation between God, humankind, and creation. This desire was exemplified by Justin Martyr, a professional philosopher and Christian apologist of the 2nd century who saw Christian revelation as the fulfillment, not the elimination, of philosophical understanding. Even before Justin Martyr, the author of The Gospel According to John set the point of departure for the intellectual history of salvation with his use of the term Logos to open the first chapter of the Gospel. The light of the Logos (the Greek word means “word” or “reason,” in the sense of divine or universal reason permeating the intelligible world) had made itself manifest in a number of sparks and seeds in human history even before its incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ.

These contrasting opinions have stood in permanent tension with one another. In medieval thought the elevation of Christian belief to the status of scientific universal knowledge was dominant. Theology, the queen of the sciences, became the instructor of the different disciplines, organized according to the traditional classification of trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic) and quadrivium (music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy) and incorporated into the system of education as “servants of theology.” This system of education became part of the structure of the universities that were founded in the 13th century.

With the Reformation there was widespread concern for education because the Reformers desired everyone to be able to read the Bible. Luther also argued that it was necessary for society that its youth be educated. He held that it was the duty of civil authorities to compel their subjects to keep their children in school so “that there will always be preachers, jurists, pastors, writers, physicians, schoolmasters, and the like, for we cannot do without them.” This stress on education was made evident by the founding of many colleges in North America in the 17th and 18th centuries by Protestants and by members the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, a Roman Catholic missionary and educational order.

Open conflict between science and theology occurred only when the traditional biblical view of the world was seriously questioned, as in the case of the Italian astronomer Galileo (1633). The principles of Galileo’s scientific research, however, were themselves the result of a Christian idea of science and truth. The biblical faith in God as Creator and incarnate Redeemer is an explicit affirmation of the goodness, reality, and contingency of the created world—assumptions underlying scientific work. Positive tendencies concerning education and science have always been dominant in the history of Christianity, even though the opposite attitude arose occasionally during certain periods. Thus the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) spoke of celebrating God in science. In the 20th century, Pope John Paul II maintained that he saw no contradiction between the findings of modern science and biblical accounts of the Creation; he also declared the condemnation of Galileo to be an error and encouraged the scientific search for truth.

The attitude that had been hostile toward intellectual endeavours was heard less frequently after the Christian church had become the church of the Roman Empire. But the relationship between science and theology was attacked when the understanding of truth that had been developed within theology was turned critically against the dogma of the church itself. This occurred, for instance, after the natural sciences and theology had turned away from total dependence upon tradition and directed their attention toward experience—observation and experiment. A number of fundamental dogmatic principles and concepts were thus questioned and eventually abandoned. The struggle concerning the theory of evolution has been a conspicuous modern symptom of this trend.

The estrangement of theology and natural science in the modern period was a complex development related to confessional controversies and wars in the 16th and 17th centuries and philosophical perspectives in the 18th and 19th centuries. The epistemological foundation of faith was radically challenged by the Scottish philosopher David Hume. Building upon Hume’s work, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant advocated freedom from any heteronomous authority, such as the church and dogmas, that could not be established by reason alone. Scholars withdrew from the decisions of church authorities and were willing to subject themselves only to critical reason and experience. The rationalism of the Enlightenment appeared to be the answer of science to the claim of true faith that had been made by the churches.

The Christian community and the world » The relationships of Christianity » Church and education » Forms of Christian education
The Christian church created the bases of the Western system of education. From its beginning the Christian community faced external and internal challenges to its faith, which it met by developing and utilizing intellectual and educational resources. The response to the external challenge of rival religions and philosophical perspectives is termed apologetics—i.e., the intellectual defense of the faith. Apologetic theologians from Justin Martyr in the 2nd century to Paul Tillich in the 20th have promoted critical dialogue between the Christian community, the educated world, and other religions. This exchange was further encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II, and the ecumenical movement. The internal challenges to the Christian community were met not only by formulating the faith in creeds and dogmas but also by passing this faith on to the next generations through education.

By the 8th and 9th centuries, cathedral schools were established to provide basic education in Latin grammar and Christian doctrine to the clergy, and by the 11th century these schools emerged as centres of higher learning. The school at the court of Charlemagne (which was conducted by clergy), the medieval schools of the religious orders, cathedrals, monasteries, convents, and churches, the flourishing schools of the Brethren of the Common Life, and the Roman Catholic school systems that came into existence during the Counter-Reformation under the leadership of the Jesuits and other new teaching orders contributed much to the civilization of the West. Equally important were the schools started by the German Reformers Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, Johann Bugenhagen, John and August Hermann Francke, and the Moravian reformers John Amos Comenius and the graf von Zinzendorf. The church was responsible for overseeing schools even after the Reformation. Only in the 18th century did the school system start to separate itself from its Christian roots and fall more and more under state control.

With the separation of church and state, both institutions have entered into tensely manifold relationships. In some countries the state has taken over the school system and does not allow private church schools except in a few special cases. Other countries (e.g., France) maintain school systems basically free of religion and leave the religious instruction to the private undertakings of the different churches. In the American Revolution the concept of the separation of state and church was intended to free the church from all patronization by the state and to make possible a maximum of free activity, particularly in the area of education. The Soviet Union used its schools particularly for an anti-religious education based upon the state philosophy of dialectical materialism, practicing the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of anti-religious propaganda in schools, though the churches were forbidden to give any education outside their worship services.

A second issue that results from the separation of church and state is the question of state subsidies to private church schools. These are claimed in those countries in which the church schools in many places take over part of the functions of the state schools (e.g., in the United States). After the ideological positivism and the materialism of the 19th century faded away in many areas, it was realized that religious life had an important role in the cultural development of the West and the New World and that the exclusion of religious instruction from the curricula of the schools indicated a lack of balance in education. In the 20th century religion was adopted as a subject among the humanities. State universities in the United States, Canada, and Australia, which did not have theological faculties because of the separation of church and state, founded departments of religion of an interdenominational nature and included non-Christians as academic teachers of religion.

Another development in the history of Christian education was the founding of universities. The origins of the university can be traced to the 12th century, and by the 13th century the medieval university had reached its mature form. Universities were founded during the rest of the Middle Ages throughout Europe and spread from there to other continents after the 16th century. The earliest universities emerged as associations of masters or students (the Latin universitas means guild or union) that were dedicated to the pursuit of higher learning. The universities, which superseded the cathedral schools as centres of advanced study, came to have a number of shared traits: the teaching methods of lecture and disputation, the extended communal living in colleges, the periodically changing leadership of an elected dean, the inner structure according to faculties or “nations,” and the European recognition of academic degrees. Universities provided instruction in the liberal arts and advanced study in the disciplines of law, medicine, and, most importantly, theology. Many of the great theologians of the era, notably, Thomas Aquinas, were associated with the universities.

The advent of humanism and the Reformation, as well as the reforms initiated by some university faculty, created a new situation for all systems of education, especially the universities. Humanists demanded plans to provide designated places for free research in academies that were princely or private institutions and, as such, not controlled by the church. On the other hand, Protestant states and principalities founded new universities, such as Marburg in 1527, Königsberg in 1544, and Jena in 1558. As a counteraction, the Jesuits took over the leadership in the older universities that had remained Roman Catholic or else founded new ones in Europe and overseas.

In areas of missionary work, Christian education has had a twofold task. First, its function was to lay an educational foundation for evangelization of non-Christian peoples by forming a system of education for all levels from grammar school to university. Second, its function was to take care of the education of European settlers. To a large extent the European colonial powers had left the formation of an educational system in their colonies or dominions to the churches. In the Spanish colonial regions in America, Roman Catholic universities were founded very early (e.g., Santo Domingo in 1538, Mexico and Lima in 1551, Guatemala in 1562, and Bogotá in 1573). In China, Jesuit missionaries acted mainly as agents of European education and culture (e.g., astronomy, mathematics, and technology) in their positions as civil servants of the court.

Since the 18th century, the activities of competing Christian denominations in mission areas has led to an intensification of the Christian system of education in Asia and Africa. Even where the African and Asian states have their own system of schools and universities, Christian educational institutions have performed a significant function (St. Xavier University in Bombay and Sophia University in Tokyo are Jesuit foundations; Dōshisha University in Kyōto is a Japanese Presbyterian foundation).

In North America, Christian education took a different course. From the beginning, the churches took over the creation of general educational institutions, and various denominations did pioneer work in the field of education. In the English colonies, later the United States, the denominations founded theological colleges for the purpose of educating their ministers and established universities dealing with all major disciplines, including theology, often emphasizing a denominational slant. Harvard University was founded in 1636 and Yale University in 1701 as Congregational establishments, and the College of William and Mary was established in 1693 as an Anglican institution. They were followed during the 19th century by other Protestant universities (e.g., Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas) and colleges (e.g., Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois) and by Roman Catholic universities (e.g., the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana) and colleges (e.g., Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts). In addition, many private universities were based upon a Christian idea of education according to the wishes of their founders.

Christian education has been undertaken in a variety of forms. The system of Sunday schools is nearly universal in all denominations. Confirmation instruction is more specialized, serving different tasks, such as preparation of the children for confirmation, their conscious acknowledgment of the Christian ethic, of the Christian confessions, of the meaning of the sacraments, and of the special forms of congregational life.

Ernst Wilhelm Benz
Carter H. Lindberg

 

 

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