I really enjoyed my first class at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Spring 2018. History of Christianity 2 extends from the Reformation up through today. We used the book, The Story of Christianity, Volume 2, by Justo L. Gonzalez. My professor, Dr Michael McMullen, was very interesting and informative.
I appreciated that he gave us some freedom to choose individuals we could study from a short list of characters from the Reformation and Post Reformation history. I also enjoyed many of the students’ classroom presentations – we were allowed to give a presentation or write a paper. I was impressed with the talent and knowledge of the students even though most were half my age 🙂
Below are highlights of some of the individuals we learned about during the class. Next is a link to my English Reformation PPT that I created. Last are the individuals I chose to study from Dr. McMullen’s short list with a short abstract for each individual.
Individuals Covered in Class
Pope Clement VI, Erasmus, Martin Luther, Ignatius of Loyola, William Tyndale, King Henry VIII, John Calvin, Michael Servetus, John Edwards, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, John Eliot, William Wilberforce (briefly covered John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, Voltaire, David Hume, Immanuel Kant), Andrew Fuller, Michael Sattler, and many many others were mentioned more briefly.
English Reformation PPT
Below is a link to my English Reformation PPT
Individuals I Chose to Study from Short List
John Wesley 1703 to 1791
Sources: Gonzalez, class notes, Bruce Gore lecture.
The Club, Conversion, and Colonies
The Holiness Club
John Wesley was the youngest child of 19. He was homeschooled in the classical languages by his parents, Samuel and Susanna. Samuel was an ordained Anglican priest. At 5 years old John survived a house fire. This event influenced his thinking throughout his life. He attended Oxford University. There he was a member of the Holy Club which his brother, Charles, help start. The name, Holy Club, was given to them by the other students as a term of mockery. The club had many rules such as, prayers, songs, reading from the Greek text of the scripture, fasting twice per week, Lord’s supper weekly, and they began visiting prisoners. They also earned money to help pay for the debts of those in the debtors prison. An Oxford tract referred to the club as the Oxford Methodists – the name stuck. John also became a priest in the Anglican Church in 1728.
John went to America on a mission which lasted two years. During his trip, there was a life threatening storm at sea. Being already impressed with the behavior of a group of Moravians, he was more impressed during the storm as the Moravians calmly sang while the boat deck was flooded by the sea. After arriving in Georgia, he tried to bring his strict Method from the holiness club to those he was serving. However, the mission did not work out, and in his own words he said, Georgia was a disaster. After 2 years he went back home with self-doubts and feeling he did not have saving faith as the Moravians. Moravian, Peter Boehler, told him to keep preaching faith until he had it. In 1738 at a Moravian meeting at Aldersgate Street in London, the German Moravians were reading Martin Luther’s commentary on the book of Romans. While listening, Wesley said, I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation.
Wesley (an Arminian) was friends with George Whitefield (a Calvinist). George asked John to take over his mission to the miners in Bristol. Here John learned to open air preach and his following grew. He started many groups to be used to feed them into the Anglican Church. He kept his meetings at different times than those of the official church so they would not conflict. He desired his followers to take communion at the Church of England. The bishop of Bristol tried to limit his traveling and preaching, but John said, the world in my parish. Wesley used lay preachers as a solution to the rapid growth of the movement. Due to a law requiring registration for buildings which the Anglican Church did not recognize, Wesley had to register his buildings and worship under English law. Also, in the colonies, Anglican priests came back to England during the American Revolution. Since Wesley believed biblically, a bishop and an elder is the same office, he believed he could ordain. Due to the need in the colonies, he ordained two elders there and others in Scotland. These actions eventually lead to the new denomination, Methodists, by the time of Wesely’s death, although he still desired to stay Anglican.
- Holy Club
Sources: Class notes and Bruce Gore Lecture.
George Whitefiled, 1714-1770, was born in England in a poor family. He attended Oxford as a servitor to pay his way through school. He had a passion for the theatre. At Oxford, he helped start the Holiness Club with Charles Wesley. George’s conversion was from reading a book given to him by Charles Wesley, The Life of God and Soul of Man. Like John Wesley, he became an Anglican priest. Even during his ordination speech some in the room were converted. He preached to the miners in Bristol using his open air preaching method. He knew his preaching was effective by seeing the streams of tears down the dust covered faces of the miners. He requested help from John Wesley to help with the work in Bristol. Under John, the work began to grow and over his lifetime morphed into the English Methodists.
Although there are many points where Whitefield and the Wesleys are similar, they did have a significant doctrinal difference with regard to Calvinism. George was a Calvinist while John was an Arminian. George even used his Calvinist beliefs within his evangelistic sermons. Even today, you can listen to his sermon being read on youtube, the Potter and the Clay. Calvinists believe that God decreed who will be saved based on God’s own purpose and will. Arminius believed that God made His selection by foreseeing how the person would choose in the future. At the Synod of Dort, the assembly gave 5 points refuting the Remonstrance in the Netherlands. These 5 points against the Remonstrance are as follows: T – total depravity – that man is totally depraved and can only be saved by God’s grace, U – unconditional election – that man was not chosen by God based on man’s works, L – Limited Atonement – that Jesus’ Sacrifice is efficacious for only the elect, I – Irresistible grace – that if you were of God’s elect, then his grace would be irresistible and would be received, P – Perseverance of the saints – the faith and sanctification of the elect would persevere to the end.
Whitefield opened an orphanage in Savannah, Georgia. Today, the Bethesda Academy is the oldest charity still in operation. Whitefield’s chapel is still there. Though Whitefield was not against slavery, he did believe slaves should be educated and receive the gospel. During a sermon with slaves in attendance, at the end of the sermon, he directly addressed the slaves by quoting the verse that in Christ we are all one. George preached for 30 years. Some say he preached so much that it was like a 30 year long sermon. He preached in England, Scotland, and the Colonies where God used Whitefield in the Great Awakening. He spoke 1000 times a year, 3 times a day, speaking 60 hours in a week, seven days a week. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean 13 times. He spoke to crowds of 20,000 people. Ben Franklin calculated that his voice could be heard by 30,000 people. There are reports that he could be heard up to one mile away. He preached in Johnathan Edward’s church. Sarah Edwards said Whitefield was a born orator.
Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758
Sources: class notes, Bruce Gore lecture, and Gonzolez – History of Christianity Volume II, Britannica.
- about Edwards
- the great Awakening
- the Theologian
Jonathan Edwards, 1703 – 1758, is America’s greatest theologian and philosopher. Edward’s grandfather was Solomon Stoddord, a very well respected pastor of the church in Northampton in Massachusetts Bay colony. As a child, Jonathan was homeschooled and learned Latin by 6 years of age, by 13 Greek and Hebrew. He entered Yale by the age of 13. Edwards was very interested in the natural sciences. He often gives illusions to natural science examples in his sermons and writings. He married Sarah Pierrepont, and they had 11 children. Many of Edward’s decedents became university presidents and pastors. After the death of his Grandfather Stoddard, Edwards became Pastor of Northampton in 1729.
the great Awakening
Although Edwards was not an emotional speaker and he read his sermons word by word, a great revival happened in 1734 while Edwards was teaching on a series regarding Justification by Faith Alone. The revival spread through the region. Within about 1 year, 300 people in Edward’s church professed faith in Christ. Edwards wrote about the awakening in 1737, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God. George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent were passionate speakers, and the awakening spread even more throughout the colonies. However, Edwards was later dismissed from his church based on his view of who should take the Lord’s Supper – only true believers for Edwards. He later wrote a book, Qualifications for Communion. Edwards then became a missionary to the Indians. By 1757 he became president of what is known today as Princeton University.
Edwards at first objected to God’s sovereignty in who will be saved and who will not be saved, but after his conversion in 1721 he calls the doctrine sweet. Edwards became a strong defender of Calvinism. He wrote about original sin, but his most famous work was, The Freedom of the Will. The book uses Romans 9:16 as it’s basis: It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. He believed the verse proved that man was saved by God’s grace through God’s decree and not by man’s own corrupt human desire which could not receive grace.
Edwards argues that man has natural ability to choose God, but man does not have moral ability to choose God. This argues in defense of Calvinism’s assertion that man cannot choose God because he is (T)otally depraved and spiritually dead toward God; this is the first assertion in the Calvinist formula, T.U.L.I.P. As an example, Edwards gives an example of a prisoner that remains in an OPEN cell because his pride will not allow him to come out and kiss the king’s ring to be forgiven. Though he has natural ability to walk out, yet he does not have the moral ability, due to his pride, to walk out. So man has natural ability, but he does not have a moral ability to come to Christ due to his spiritually dead condition.
Edwards argues that though man is free to make choices, those choices are based on previous choices and other factors that are not within one’s control, such as, his natural predisposition, his moral inability, and his circumstances, such as, when he was born, where he was born, who his parents are. If the first chain link in one’s own life was not a free choice, then how can all the subsequent choices be considered totally free?
John Spilsbury 1668
2B’s and Three K’s
Sources: Michael Thompson Dissertation
B – Baptist
John Spilsbury was one of the early Particular Baptist leaders in England in the early 1600’s. Some believe his church was the first Particular Baptist Church in England. Spilsbury had no formal education. His occupations were being a cobbler, a weigher of hay, and knitter of socks. He married in 1627. John pastored for 23 years. He died between 1663 and 1668. In additions to his pastor duties, he also put effort toward the London Association of Particular Baptists which still remains today. Spilsbury’s church still exists today, Church Hill Baptist Church.
It is assumed that John Spilsbury was the main author of the First London Confessional, 1644. Seven leaders from his and other particular Baptist churches signed the document. The primary purpose of the document was to make more clear the doctrine of the particular Baptist compared to the Anabaptists. Many in England were calling the particular Baptist group Anabaptists, and John wanted to make clear that his church’s doctrine was in alignment with orthodox Christian doctrine of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists: mainly the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and Calvinistic doctrine regarding salvation.
At that time there were three major groups of Baptists: Anabaptists, General Baptists, and Particular Baptists. All three groups believed in believers’ baptism, and they were against the practice of baptizing babies as the Catholics, Anglicans, and Presbyterians. However, there were several differences between the groups. Some of the Anabaptist groups denied the Trinity and were pacifists. The General Baptists believed in general atonement. This aligned them with the Arminian view of salvation that Christ’s atonement was general and could potentially be received by anyone whose will cooperated with God’s grace. Particular Baptists believed in particular atonement, or limited atonement, which aligned with the Calvinistic view of salvation that Christ’s atonement was only for the Elect who God chose according to the council of His own will who would receive God’s grace only after being born again from their dead spiritual state.
In the Anglican Church there were many Puritans. They desired to purify the Anglican Church to operate more biblically. However, some Puritans separated from the Anglican Church and became known as Separatists. Churches started by Separatist were illegal. Both the general Baptists and particular Baptist churches in England were made up of separatists. Spilsbury’s church met in secret, and he was imprisoned briefly in 1641.
B – Baptism
In addition to being an author of the First Baptist Confession, 1644, John Spilsbury also wrote defenses of believers’ baptism known as, Treatise Concerning the Lawful Subject of Baptism, and God’s Ordinance, the Saint’s Privilege. Spilsbury argues against the idea that infant baptism is a substitute for old covenant infant circumcision. He believed only those with faith should be baptized which is not possible with an infant. He said there is no example or command in scripture to baptize infants. The church should be made up of believers not of those baptized into it as infants of whom many will never be believers and will corrupt the church. Baptizing infants will allow people to be easily confused by thinking that baptism is for salvation. It makes void the possibility of personally obeying Christ’s command for baptism if baptized already as an infant. Infant baptism goes against the sign itself, which is a willful dying, burying, and rising with Christ though faith. He argues if infant baptism is the substitute for infant circumcision, then why are children refused the Lord’s Supper which could be seen as a substitute for the Passover from which ancient Israel’s children partook.
Within John Spilsbury church were three men who would later become better known in church history than Spilsbury: William Kiffin (1610-1701) who is the only person to sign both the first and second Baptist London Confession; Hanserd Knollys (1598-1691) who left the English Church, went to America, and started a Congregational Church and America’s second Baptist Church; and Benjamin Keach (1640-1704) who also signed the second Baptist London Confession, compiled what is known as Keach’s Catechism, and compiled Hymns for singing in the churches.
Ignatius of Loyola and his Rules of Thinking with the Catholic Church, 1522
P- Confess sins to a Priest, also His views on predestination.
R – His views on relics.
I – His views on Images
E – His rule on the Eucharist and Mass.
S – His rule on veneration and invocation of the Saints.
T – His rule on FasTs, such as those done during LenT.
Pope Clement VI and His Bull of Unigenitus 1343
P – About the Pope.
P – About the black Plague.
P – About the Treasury of Merit as the bases for Indulgences for reducing time in Purgatory
Erasmus of Rotterdam and his banned book, Praise of Folly, 1509.
B – About Erasmus, his name meaning, Beloved
B – About his Greek text of the New Testament as the basis for Luther and Tyndale’s Bibles
B – About his Banned Book, Praise of Folly.
Ignatius of Loyola
Sources: Class Notes, and Documents of Christianity – Rules of thinking with the Church (1522).
Ignatius was a soldier in Spain. Oddly he was short with red hair – not your typical Spaniard. As a soldier, he was hit by a cannon ball in the legs. He survived several surgeries due to the cannon ball injury. During his recovery, he believed he had a vision of Jesus and Mary. He spent much time in a cave and practiced asceticism by praying for 7 hours a day. It was during this time that he wrote the Rules for thinking with the Church, Spiritual Exercises II in 1522 – only 5 years after Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis.
While in France, he co-founded a religious order called the Society of Jesus with Francis Xavier. The Society of Jesus is also known as the Jesuits. The Jesuits are an educational order within the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually, the Pope recognized the order and Ignatius’ rules. The Jesuits spread through the world with an aggressive missionary movement. Some countries, such as, Britain banned the group. Today in my home town, Rockhurst College and High School are a result of the Jesuit movement. The Jesuits are considered a counter-reformation movement because they came after the reformation and defended much of the Roman doctrine and practices that the Reformers were against.
Below are a few of the rules in Ignatius’ Rules for Thinking with the Church, Spiritual Exercises II, 1522.
Ignatius affirmed private confession of sins to a Priest.
He acknowledges the elect are predestined, yet in the rules he warns against over emphasizing the teaching. He also goes on to warn against emphasizing Salvation by Grace and through Faith. He believed all three teachings could make the followers lazy when it comes to practicing good works, which he believed were efficacious, and in practicing Means of Grace.
One rule specifically mentions the veneration of Relics. Relics, many of which were fake, were a target by the reformers. Visiting relics were also a form of indulgence under the works of satisfaction in the Roman doctrine of penance. Martin Luther specifically targeted indulgences.
He has a rule for the veneration of Images. Yet he does say they should be used as they are intended. Many Catholics wrongly endow the images with special powers.
He has a rule on participating in the Eucharist at least annually, though he recommends more often, such as monthly or preferably weekly.
He has a rule on the veneration and invocation of the Saints.
He also has a rule on practicing fasTs. Specifically he mentions the Fast during the season of LenT.
Pope Clement the VI, Papal Bull, Unigenitus, 1343.
Sources: Class Notes and Documents of Christianity, Papal Bull Unigenitus, 1343.
- About the Pope.
- About the Plague.
- About the Bull which speaks of the Treasury of Merit which is the basis of the indulgences which are used to reduce time in Purgatory.
P – About the Pope.
Pope Clement the VI was the 4th Avignon, France Pope. His real name is Pierre Roger. He was awarded the name Knight Roger. Pope Clement was headquartered in France. He refused his invitations to headquarter in Rome. He used the Palace of Joan I. He offered to pay 80,000 Crowns for the palace, yet he actually never paid for the palace. He justified this because previously the palace was used as a brothel and now he was giving it a better purpose, and he did absolve Joan of sins. One quote about Pope Clement was, He was a patron of the arts, but he is not a Saint, when speaking about the character of the Pope. He did participate briefly in the Crusades by ordering a naval attack on Smyrna.
P – About the Plague.
During his time as Pope, the black plague was present. He did spend much time ministering in the plague. He never caught the disease himself. He ministered by organizing aid for the sick, those dying, and those who died. Many at that time blamed the Jews for the plague because they were not catching the disease as frequent as others. However, he put down this idea, and he believed the plague was caused by God’s wrath. He absolved the temporal sins of all who died in the plague.
The plague was called the black plague because of the black spots it would cause on the victims and because it was spread by black rats. Some estimate that the black plague resulted in the death of 60% of all Europeans. Many believe the black plague was indeed what we know now as the bubonic plague.
Pope Clement wrote the Papa Bull of 1343 named Unigenitus. Uni is Latin for, only. Genitus is similar to our word Genesis, it means begotten. So the name of the Bull is Only Begotten, a reference to Jesus Christ. The word Bull refers to the lead bubble that is pressed with the Pope’s seal. The bubble looks like a water bubble when water boils, which is the word, Bullire in Latin. The leaden seal shows that the document is authentic.
The first half of the Bull is very Biblical. It speaks of the blood of Jesus Christ. However, the second half then goes into Roman Catholic doctrine, such as the Treasury of Merit being dispensed by Peter’s successors, meaning the Popes.
Although the words purgatory or indulgences is not mentioned in the bull, Cardinal Cajetan, used the bull during Martin Luther in the Augsburg trial of 1518. The Treasury of Merit mentioned in the Bull is for the remission of all or part of temporal sins.
In the Roman Catholic doctrine of Penance, the penitent must go through four steps:
- Confession of their sins to a Priest.
- Contrition – or genuine remorse and repentance for the sin.
- Works of Satisfaction
- The Priest can then absolve the penitent.
Within the Works of Satisfaction the penitent must make up for the sin he committed. However, if making up for the sin is not possible or was not done perfectly, then the believer must still suffer in purgatory for the temporal sin. Ultimately, they believe they will still go to heaven due to the Grace of God, but before entering, they must suffer in purgatory to be purged of their temporal sins. However, the use of an indulgence can be used to reduce the time in purgatory. The indulgence can be a work, a pilgrimage, purchasing an entrance to see a relic, or purchasing a piece of paper that states some time off from purgatory through monetary sacrifice. (During the time of Martin Luther, a Friar named John Tetzel was selling these indulgences. The money was being used to build St Peters Basilica in Rome. Luther believed the selling of them was being abused by Tetzel which led to Luther writing the 95 Thesis and writing directly to Rome about them. However, this resulted in his excommunication from the Roman church.) When an indulgence was obtained, the merit was withdrawn from the Treasury of Merit mentioned in the Bull. The Treasury of Merit contained the merit of Christ, Mary, and the works of all the elect from the beginning of time to the present time. Even today, the supererogation works of the saints are incrementally being added to the Treasury of Merit. Of course, the Reformers were against the abuse of indulgences, and they were against the doctrine of purgatory which they believed was against the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice.
Erasmus of Rotterdam, Praise of Folly, 1509
Acronym B. B. B.
B – Beloved
B – Bible
B- Banned Book
Class Notes, Praise of Folly, 1509
B – Beloved
Desiderius Erasmus Rotterdamus was originally known as Garard Gerardson. His parents died in the black plague. He was educated in a monastery. The name Erasmus means Beloved. He became a monk and a Roman Catholic Priest. He was Dutch and was from Rotterdam Holland. Erasmus lived during the time of the Reformation. He was controversial because he never took a clear side – Luther or Rome. However, he did believe the church needed reformed, but he could not agree with the methods that Luther used.
B – Bible
Erasmus compiled ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Before Constantinople was sacked by the Muslims in 1453, many ancient manuscripts were saved and brought to Northern Europe. During the Renaissance, Northern Europe desired to get back to the original documents and move aside the clutter of scholasticism. During this time, the only Bible that was legal was Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. This Latin Bible was the Roman Catholic Bible. They kept it in Latin so only the educated scholars could study and teach it. It was forbidden to translate it into common languages. Erasmus wrote many pamphlets explaining how the Greek text that he compiled and translated into Latin was better than the existing Latin Vulgate translation. Martin Luther and William Tyndale used later editions of Erasmus’ Greek text when they translated the Bible into German and English.
B – Banned Book
Erasmus’ most famous book was named, Praise of Folly, written in Latin in 1509. The book was later translated into several languages. He wrote the book to amuse his friend Sir Thomas More, the Chancellor of England during King Henry VIII’s reign. The book was banned on the index of banned books by Rome until 1930.
Folly is personified. She is praised in all the things gone wrong in society. Various subjects are mentioned, but the book is important because of the harsh criticism it makes from the monks all the way up to the pope.
Remember, Erasmus was a monk, so he remembers well their lifestyle. He criticizes them as follows: because they do not work, they fill up their day with foppish ceremonies, they seemed overly concerned about grooming their beards, they trust in their works for salvation, they pride themselves on their poverty and not speaking. He seems to imply that he would rather see them working and speaking to help others.
Erasmus really goes after the superstitions of trusting in Saints. In one place he mentions that if prayers are made to St Christopher, then people will feel safe the next day.
The harshest words were reserved for the Pope. He said they get their position through buying votes, and they keep their position by poisoning their challengers. They only appear to help people, but in reality they do not. He condemns all their foppish ceremonies. He condemns their excommunications and their roaring bulls. He said their life is a life of ease. He mentions their long trail of servants, even implying some servants being prostitutes.
The book added fuel to the fire for a society that was ready for change. Some saying, Erasmus laid the egg which Martin Luther hatched.