History of Christianity, 1650-1950: Secularization of the West

History of Christianity, 1650-1950: Secularization of the West

History of Christianity, 1650-1950: Secularization of the West

History of Christianity, 1650-1950: Secularization of the West

Excerpt

This volume is directed to the student of Christian history-- the college undergraduate, the seminary student, the clergyman, and the interested layman--who wishes to understand the development of Christian life during the crucial period of the last three centuries: the most complicated and least generally known of the major divisions of church history. The long series of crises during this period can now be seen as a revolution in the relation of Christianity to Western culture. A knowledge of the events of these three hundred years and a clear grasp of their significance are of capital importance to the responsible Christian believer. The author has conceived this book, therefore, as an orientation to the present state of Christianity.

Even where doctrine and church life have remained very conservative, the place of Christian doctrine and church life in the minds and practice of Christians has radically changed. Even where confessions, liturgies, and institutions seem substantially what they were early in the seventeenth century, they do in fact represent something significantly different. And yet little effort has been made, at least in histories in the English language, to comprehend this transformation of modern Christianity. There are valuable histories of various particular churches, or the churches of this or that country, but few if any which interpret comprehensively the developments which lie behind the present state of Christianity as a whole. This volume undertakes to survey these developments.

Many separated church traditions are treated in this account as if they were all part of the Christian society, the church, or as if the church were to be found in significant measure within them. This is in fact the premise of this history. It is not to assert that all are equally parts of the church, or in the same way. But the historian who believes in the church ecumenical must strive to keep it all in vision, even if only in representative and survey fashion.

Our story begins with the close of the Religious Wars, when the confessional map of Europe was stabilized. It is marked out into epochs by the French Revolution, the several crises about 1870, the World War (1914-18). These . . .

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