Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century: Illustrated from Writers of the Period

Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century: Illustrated from Writers of the Period

Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century: Illustrated from Writers of the Period

Religious Thought in the Eighteenth Century: Illustrated from Writers of the Period

Excerpt

The eighteenth century is often spoken of as "the Age of Reason". The term describes well the manner in which representative men of the century thought of their own epoch. It seemed that the heavy weight of authority and tradition was being lifted, and that mankind was now free to guide its own course by the eternal principles of Reason. Politically, intellectually, and religiously the eighteenth century may be said to be the inversion of the Middle Age. The political conflicts of the Middle Age had been waged within the framework of a theocratic society. Imperialist and Papalist alike had contended with varying doctrines of Divine Right as their controversial weapons. The question was how the respective rights of Pope and Emperor were to be reconciled within the Respublica Christiana. For both sides the Civitas Dei was a given fact, assumed to be the divine and all-embracing society of mankind. The philosophy of the Middle Age was a hardy growth, but for the representative thinkers it led up to and was controlled by the higher principles of revealed theology. Ethically the standards of the Middle Age were dominated by the ascetic ideal. Man was a fallen creature, born in sin, calling out for the aids of supernatural grace. Though a relative goodness was not denied to the natural virtues of the world, the religious life par excellence was the life of austerity and renunciation. In all these respects the eighteenth century reversed the principles and standards of the Middle Age. The State revenged itself for its age-long subjection to the Church, and in Protestant and Catholic lands alike the civil ruler tended to direct the Church as a department of State. Natural Religion now took precedence and Revelation became a questionable adjunct. The ethical ideal of asceticism fell into . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.