World History – Chapter Twenty
The Enlightenment, the Great Awakening, & the French Revolution,
Now we are going to look at events which also helped mold modern intellectual thought in this era. The next great Humanistic revolution after the era known as The Renaissance is called The Enlightenment. Thomas Aquinas, the 13th century Catholic theologian, who glorified the logic of Aristotle and helped integrate that pagan philosopher’s thoughts into Catholic theology, was one of the early forerunners of both the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The intellectual elite that were born of this movement believed that they could improve mankind’s position by attacking Christianity, which they regarded as mere superstition, and the hereditary aristocracy of Europe, which they regarded as tyranny; both concepts holding back mankind’s progress toward some eventual “golden age”. Europe had been ruled by the Roman Catholic Church and by an elite of nobles who owned great land and even small states themselves and passed them onto their offspring by inheritance, often viewing entire people groups as nothing more than a large, private farm holding. One of the beliefs that kings held onto such as King James I of England and Louis XIV, the so-called Sun King of France, was called “the Divine Right of Kings”. This concept stated that Kings ruled at God’s command and under His authority and their power was not to be questioned by inferiors, as the King was accountable only to God. There is much more to this ideal but this simplistic explanation will help you understand the basic attitude.
Another forerunner of the Enlightenment was the scientist, Galileo, who challenged the Church’s Aristotelian and earth centered solar system with the sun centered solar system of Copernicus. The geocentric or earth centered view of scientists such as Tycho Brahe were completely overthrown and we now believe firmly that the earth revolves around the sun rather than vice versa without any observational proof. Again, another forerunner was Francois Rabelais, who challenged Church doctrine in his biting satire Gargantua and Pantagruel.
Michel de Montaigne argued that all morals are relative and we don’t really know anything absolute. Two of the most famous thinkers of the Enlightenment were Voltaire and Rousseau, both challenging the aristocracy and denouncing religion, all the while making a half hearted attempt to stay within the good graces of the Catholic Church and the nobility that supported them. Our founding fathers were influenced a great deal by these thinkers and it has been argued that many of our core principles as stated in our founding documents are based on Deism, the belief in a God who is not personally involved in the affairs of men, even if He eventually holds them accountable. The personal beliefs of our “Founding Fathers” are arguable as you can read as many accounts that they were fiercely Christian as you can accounts that they were Deists or Agnostics. I have an account that says the George Washington was baptized by an evangelical preacher and another that says he went to his grave not believing in salvation through Christ alone.
The Enlightenment’s inevitable result was the French Revolution where all religious faith was condemned as against reason. Of course, this supplanted one type of tyranny with another, just as atheistic religions like socialism and communism later would do by killing thousands and millions in the name of the best interests of human progress rather than in the name of God. Still, a dead person is a dead person, regardless of the reason they were murdered.
Another result of the Enlightenment was the advent of radical Communistic belief and the idea that a “perfect” state could be created without God being a factor at all, utilizing only human reason. Tens of millions of graves in the 20th century prove the fallacy of that notion. The windbags of the “Enlightenment” produced so many volumes of writing that you could devote an entire course to just studying their work and many have. Of course, this only leads one back to Protagoras and his “man is the measure of all things” nonsense.
As a counter strike from God to Satan’s Counter-Reformation and the Enlightenment and all they represent we have an event called “the Great Awakening”. Some religious historians claim that the event called the Great Awakening was a series of revivals along the Eastern Seaboard of the American Colonies that would one day be called the United States of America. Others believe it was one long revival. The Calvinism of the Anglican Church which was in control of the Virginia colony and the Puritans in control of Massachusetts Bay were hardly evangelical enough to keep the number of unchurched people from growing rapidly. The assumption that mankind can make no choice for himself and that those who were saved or who were damned was already set in eternity did not spur a great missionary effort toward recently settled colonists. Scattered homesteads in the wilderness made ecclesiastical control difficult as most of the population was too far from parish authority, something that the state-church concept required to survive.
In 1679, sermons by Solomon Stoddard of Northhampton, Massachusetts, led a series of small revivals to erupt. One of the great preachers of the Great Awakening was Jonathan Edwards, who preached, among others, the sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which is probably one of the greatest, most powerful sermons ever preached anywhere by anyone and should be read by all. This sermon, first preached in 1741, is free on the internet, available to everyone. Although a Calvinist in his beliefs, Edwards pushed the responsibility for choosing Christ clearly into the individual’s hands.
Another important figure of the Great Awakening was George Whitefield, friend of John Wesley and Ben Franklin, whose voice was so loud and clear, that in his sermons, heard by tens of thousands, people reportedly fell to their knees and begged God to save them from over a mile away. Even more than Edwards he stressed the experience of conversion. He might be considered a moderate Calvinist. He attacked traditional clergy, who were often supported by tax money and who often led dead churches with little enthusiasm for Christ or the Bible.
These men and others like them alienated the “Old Lights” of the Puritan and Anglican Church and helped give American Christianity a distinctive, emotional side that went
beyond the dry formalism of the Reformation churches. Some church historians trace the rise of Unitarianism, a rejection of Christ’s deity and His salvation’s uniqueness, to the “Old Lights” and the modern Charismatic movement to preachers such as Edwards and Whitefield.
In the South, one of the principle leaders of the Great Awakening was Samuel Davies, a Presbyterian. Another was Samuel Morris who would read Whitefield’s sermons aloud beginning in 1748. Thousands of people were converted to Christianity and churches were filled to overflowing. Shubal Stearns, a Baptist, was another influence in this revival movement that swept the South, particularly the frontier.
One of the results of this movement was the democratization of faith. The established state churches of Virginia and Massachusetts began to fall apart as the church could no longer control the faith of the people. Religion became more and more an independent matter and this resulted in the birth of many new denominations, so many that it would, for a long time, become impossible for one religion to dominate others in the USA, as in no other country, in a church-state setup.
With the Enlightenment attacking faith in God and the Great Awakening bringing faith to the people away from the established state-churches, America began to move in distinctly its own path of religious involvement. The Christian faith of the United States became, for the most part, evangelical and personal, a sort of Reformation within the Reformation.
In 1735, John Wesley, an Anglican priest, went with his brother, Charles, to the American colony of Georgia to work for John Oglethorpe, the colony’s founder. During his stay in the colony he was deeply affected by Moravian missionaries and experienced salvation in 1738. Thereafter, he became an influential preacher of the gospel and as an evangelist and founder of Methodism, preached an estimated 40,000 sermons and traveled 250,000 miles. Unlike Edwards and Whitefield his beliefs tended toward, not John Calvin’s, but Jacob Arminius, in that he gave mankind more input into his own salvation and also gave him the opportunity to lose it. A classic “must read” sermon of Wesley’s is The Almost Christian which, like his other sermons, can be found free on line. This sermon and Edwards’ previously mentioned sermon should be read in Christian churches at least once each year, in my opinion.
While Christianity in America was undergoing a massive overhaul something else was happening in Europe. The Enlightenment called into question all previously held absolutes such as the state-religion and the aristocracy. Liberal thought held that these two things were holding humanity back. Louis XIV’s intolerance and absolutism, essentially the concept of “the Divine Right of Kings”, was undermined with each generation. The final victory of the new USA in 1783 also helped overthrow beliefs in
what was called the Ancien Regime. There were three classes of people in France; the First Estate consisting of the Clergy, the Second Estate of the Aristocracy, and the Third Estate which was everyone else. (We call the news media the Fourth Estate but it was not a big factor in those times). The Third Estate consisted of the peasants, the urban poor,
and the emerging middle class called the Bourgeoisie. Beginning in 1789, under the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the monarchy was overthrown under the Estates-General and the royal couple were executed by a beheading device named for French doctor and revolutionary Ignace Guillotine although similar machines had been in use for centuries such as the Scottish Maiden, first used in the 1300’s to behead political opponents of kings. Early forms of capital punishment apparatus can be called gibbets.
The French Revolution saw the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the First Republic which was overthrown by Napolean and for the next 75 years France wavered between a republic and an empire. The French Revolution, the violent overthrow of the existing government, and the even more repressive tyranny that followed would be repeated several times over the next two hundred years. The establishment of dictatorships under the guise of serving “the people” would become one of the great threats to the world throughout the 20th century.
The political events of this era, between 1600 and 1800, were chaotic and complicated. The Thirty Years War started as a religious war between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. Eventually it also became a struggle by the Hapsburg Dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire trying to gobble up as much of Europe as possible in opposition to France’s Bourbon Dynasty and Protestant states. On the Catholic Hapsburg side was Austria, most of the German Catholic princes, and Spain. Opposing them were the Protestant princes of Germany, the Protestant kingdoms of Denmark and Sweden, and Catholic France. As war raged across Europe, from Poland to the Netherlands, the population was devastated and not since the Mongol invasion had there been such carnage on such a wide scale. In 1608 the Protestant princes of Germany led by Frederick IV, Elector Palatine, and Christian of Anhalt, combined in protest to form the Evangelical Union against the occupation by Maximilian of Bavaria of the free city of Donauworth. Maximilian then created the Catholic league along with other Catholic princes to oppose them in 1609.
In 1609, King Rudolph of Bohemia declared religious freedom for his Protestant subjects protected by a body of men known as “the Defenders”. As a result, he was deposed by his brother Matthias in 1611 and the freedom was reversed. In 1612 Matthias was elected Holy Roman Emperor. In 1617, because he was childless, his councilors elected Archduke Ferdinand of Styria as heir but he was faced with a refusal to be recognized by Protestants led by Matthias of Thurn. On May 22, 1618, two of the king’s most trusted councilors were thrown from the windows of the Castle Hradschin in what is called the Defenestration of Prague, which led to open rebellion. The Thirty Years War started with a Bohemian Period between 1618 and 1625, ending with the siege of Breda, the year after Cardinal Richelieu of France brought his country into the war. Richelieu,
the king’s chief minister from 1622 to 1642, is also famous in history for promoting the idea that religion was a means of promoting the interests of the state.
As centers of power moved, the next period of the Thirty Years War between 1625 and 1629 was called the Danish Period after Christian IV of Denmark invaded Germany. This
period lasted until 1629 when Cardinal Richelieu arranged a truce between Poland and Sweden, allowing Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden to enter the fray in Germany. The Swedish Period lasted from 1630 until 1634. As the Protestant forces fought against the Catholic forces under Count Albrecht Von Wallenstein, victory seesawed between the forces, ravaging Germany. The French Period began in 1634 when Catholic Cardinal Richelieu assumed control of the Protestant forces due to the war going badly for them. After Richelieu and Louis XIII died in 1642 and 1643 respectively, a Spanish Imperial Army invaded France but was repulsed. The war was finally ended by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 which gave France Alsace and Lorraine through the Treaty of Munster between the empire and that country. Sweden, Denmark, and the German Protestants signed the Treaty of Osnabruck which guaranteed equality within the empire of Catholic and Protestant states. France and Spain continued to fight. The peace is termed “Westphalia” because of the location of both treaty cities 50km apart in the present day states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.
By 1680, France under Louis XIV was attempting to secure hegemony (dominance of one state over others) over the continent of Europe. Its population of 19 million was three times that of England or Spain and its army, organized under Minister of War, Louvois, was the strongest in Europe. The French Navy was the most powerful in the Mediterranean Sea. France’s economy was not dependent upon foreign colonies like the Dutch (aka the Netherlands) and the English. This time, the Protestant princes of Germany allied themselves with William of Orange of Holland against Louis as his supporters were also attempting to overthrow James II of England. Louis revoked the Edict of Nantes promising tolerance to Protestants so it was easy to create a Protestant alliance against him, called the League of Augsburg. A revolution in England brought William of Orange to the throne there. The ensuing war is called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg and lasted from 1688 to 1697 with fighting mostly in the Netherlands. It was ended by the Treaty of Ryswick in which the combatants agreed to return almost all of their gains back to the original owners.
Before we move to England, let’s look at a very brief history of the English parliament. It had its origins in Anglo-Saxon times as a council advising the kings. William the Conqueror ruled as an absolute monarch but depended upon a council of nobles and clergy for advice. The royal council slowly developed into a Parliament with members being voted in by citizens who owned land. By the reign of Edward III, in the 1300’s (14th century) the parliament had formed two houses, one for the upper nobility and higher clergy and one for knights and lower knights and freemen of a borough or small political division. These freemen were called burgesses. There was a constant tension between Parliament and the King over time and many civil wars resulted from this
tension. Today, the Parliament is the supreme legislative institution of the United Kingdom, thereby asserting the rights of elected government over the authority of the royalty.
James I of England, known also as James VI of Scotland, ruled from 1603 to 1625, overseeing history’s greatest Book, peace with Spain, and the unification of Britain. He
did participate in the Thirty Years War on a small scale with disastrous results including renewed hostilities with Spain. His son, Charles I, reigned from 1625 to 1649. He sent an expedition to fight for French Huguenots (Protestants) besieged by Cardinal Richelieu, which led to an Anglo-France war between 1626 and 1630. In 1628, Parliament issued the Petition of Right asserting grievances such as protests against royal taxation without parliamentary assent, the imposition of martial law in times of peace, and the mandatory billeting of troops in private homes. After peace was made with France and Spain in
1630, there was a rebellion in Scotland over the imposition of the Anglican liturgy into Scottish Presbyterian services called the First Bishops War ended by the Pacification of Dunse in which Charles compromised on the issues. In 1640 there was a second uprising in Scotland, called the Second Bishop’s War during which Charles called a “short parliament” to vote funds. When the commons refused to vote funds for the war he dissolved parliament. Scottish troops in Northern England and a lack of funds made him agree to the Triennial Act which permitted Parliament to assemble every three years without royal initiative.
In 1641, there was a slaughter in Ireland we have discussed and the Irish War which was the prelude to the Great Rebellion due to Charles desperate need of money to pursue the war. Puritan dissidents in Parliament, in an attempt to resist the formation of a standing army, compiled a list of grievances called the Grand Remonstrance. Charles’ bad handling of this resulted in Parliament raising an army to oppose the army that Charles was raising. The First Civil War raged between 1642 and 1646 with commander Oliver Cromwell rising to prominence and Charles being defeated and surrendering to a Scottish force rather than the Parliamentary one. During a brief interlude between 1646 and 1648 Charles obtained support of the Scots by promising to support Presbyterianism and then war broke out again in what is known as The Second Civil War. This ended with Cromwell’s parliamentary forces being victorious over the king and with Charles being beheaded on January 30, 1649. The struggle in Ireland continued through 1650. Crom- well’s military reforms created the New Model Army, consisting of professional soldiers led by veteran generals and known for their Puritan religious zeal.
The monarchy was restored in 1660 with Charles II. The period in between saw the Parliament even at odds with the new army and a maritime or sea war between the British and the Dutch. Then, with the rule of James II came Protestant unrest over his attempts to restore Catholicism to equality leading to the takeover by William of Orange and Mary for which the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia is named in what is called the Glorious Revolution. There was another Irish War as James attempted to defeat
William with a French force between 1689 and 1691. James lost this effort and it is said that if he had had the full help of Louis XIV history would have been quite different.
There are a great many more events; military and political, scientific and cultural that I have unavoidably, due to time, had to leave out of this class. There is almost continuous war at various locations in Europe with everyone involved in bloody disputes as outside of Europe, colonization by Europeans continues around the world. European culture and the European form of Christianity is spread everywhere on the globe.
In the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire is slowly declining but that doesn’t prevent it from engaging in several wars with European powers and trying to assert itself within Europe. There were wars with Austria, Persia, revolts by Kurds and Druses, a war with Poland, a Janissary revolt, a war with the powerful Italian city of Venice over the island of Crete, and in 1683 the Turkish Empire came close to taking Vienna, Austria. Were it
not for the relief by Polish forces under John Sobieski and his defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Vienna they might have been successful.
During this period, Russia expanded into Central Asia (in the 17th century) and then moved toward Siberia, finally clashing with the Chinese Manchus between 1653 and 1685.
China saw the emergence of the Manchu state between 1600 and 1615. Their struggle with the Ming dynasty was eventually successful after many setbacks as the Ming suffered many rebellions in the interior of China between 1635 and 1644. The Manchus conquered Korea and Inner Mongolia first before the Ming dynasty finally collapsed in 1644 after trying to get the Manchu’s help to defeat a rebellion. The Manchu’s used the opportunity of Ming weakness and dissension to consolidate their own hold over China by 1683.
Japan, since the late 1400’s had been rent by civil strife, beginning with the War of the Monks. The country had been ruled by a feudal military dictatorship under a Shogun under the nominal leadership of an emperor since the late first millennium AD. Still under a feudal society until the 19th century, Japanese society was assaulted by constant wars between the nobility and uprisings of peasants. In 1542 the Portuguese introduced the musket and Catholic Christianity with Jesuit Francis Xavier being one of the most important missionaries. Nobleman Oda Nobunaga began successfully reuniting Japan between 1560 and 1568 and his principal general, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a commoner, completed the reunification by 1590. In the 1600’s all foreigners were excluded from Japan and Catholic Christianity was banned. Japan remained almost completely isolated from the outside world for two centuries.
During the 1600’s North India saw the death of one great leader, Akbar, and the reign of another, Aurangzeb. The latter crowned himself emperor at Delhi in 1658 and conquered Assam in northeastern India. He began to persecute non-Moslems, alienating the masses of people who were predominantly Hindu. After many revolts and much
turmoil his bankrupt empire collapsed after his death in 1707. Hindu South India successfully repulsed Mogul incursions under the Maratha Kingdom after many setbacks and seesaw or back and forth decisions on the battlefield. The inclusion of European powers in Indian politics muddied the water but did not, at first, have a great influence on the outcome other than Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) isolating itself as Japan had done, only surrendering its coast to the Dutch. The government of Ceylon retreated inland by 1658. The British were the most influential, establishing a fort on the Indian island of Bombay in 1667 and fighting a war in Bengal with the Mogul’s in 1686 which resulted in building Fort William, or modern day Calcutta.
The 16th and 17th century saw an explosion in the arts and sciences. English dramatist Christopher Marlowe and poet John Donne write in the late 1500’s aka the 16th century. William Shakespeare, history’s greatest known playwright, begins writing and producing his plays in the last decade of that century, as well, with such titles as Titus Andronicus, Henry VI, and The Comedy of Errors. He will be known for his masterpieces; Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth, among others. The original Globe Theater opened in London in 1599 and eventually showcased most of his plays. It wasn’t until 1660 that women began to act in plays in London, all the female parts during Shakespeare times being played by men or boys. Drury Lane, London’s most famous theater, opens in 1663. Its fourth incarnation still operates today.
The first Ballet can be linked to the massacre of the Huguenots, amazingly. Catherine de Medici, in 1581, was creating a lavish entertainment for the wedding of her son’s (Henry II of France) sister in law. She commissioned court musician and dance master, Baldassare di Belgoioso, aka Beaujoyeuix, to design the spectacle. He, on October 15, 1581, staged the Ballet comique de la reine, considered to be the first Ballet. In 1652, King Louis XIV danced the minuet and this French country dance became fashionable beginning a revolution in popular dancing. The first opera is thought to have dated from 1597 and was called Dafne, an attempt to revive classical Greek drama with its chorus telling a story. Italian violin maker, Stradivari, begins making his benchmark violins in 1666 and the most prized violins in history become known as Stradivarius.
In 1590, Spanish painter El Greco painted his famous St. Jerome. Rembrandt paints The Binding of Samson in 1636. Italian marionette shows began to be performed in London in the 1600’s featuring a buffoonish character named Punch. In the 1700’s, he is joined by a wife, first named Joan, then named Judy. Punch and Judy shows are still played in English speaking parts of the world today.
In Iran the elaborate parades where people cut and whip themselves in elaborate mourning ceremonies begin in the 1600’s. In Japan, Kabuki theatre develops into a stylized and highly commercial art form. Many scholars claim that the Easter Island ancestor figures are being cut from volcanic rock at this time while others claim it is done much earlier.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes was published in 1615. English philosopher Francis Bacon publishes The Wisdom of the Ancients in 1619. In 1610, English Dramatist, Ben Jonson’s great work The Alchemist is produced. The poet John Donne writes Pseudo-Martyr in 1610. In 1641, English poet, John Milton begins publishing and publishes Paradise Lost in 1667. French playwright, Moliere, begins his rise to fame in 1658. English politician Samuel Pepys’ Diary is written between 1660 and 1669. John Bunyan publishes Pilgrim’s Progress in 1678.
Between 1643 and 1715, the Louis the XIVth style of decoration and architecture, known today mostly in furniture and characterized by formality is popular. The Palace of Versailles is constructed for him between 1669 and 1710. He was not just a great persecutor of Bible believing Protestants but a great patron of the arts and culture, both being reasons why the world and historians love him.
In 1651, English philosopher Thomas Hobbes publishes Leviathian, arguing that absolute obedience to supreme authority is essential to keep people from destroying each other. English architect, Christopher Wren, is at work on St. Paul’s Cathedral in London between 1675 and 1710.
In science, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy in 1564 and is considered to be the founder of the experimental method. He became famous for his dispute with the Roman Catholic Church regarding their insistence upon Aristotle’s theories (called Aristotelian) of a geocentric solar system (planets and sun revolve around the earth) and Copernicus’ early 16th century heliocentric theory (planets and earth revolve around the sun). We believe today, as astronomer Fred Hoyle who coined the term “Big Bang” has stated, that all motion is relative to the observer; however, most everyone accepts Copernican theory as true. In 1590 in a famous experiment dropping cannon balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa Galileo refutes Aristotle’s views on falling bodies although it is not certain if this actual event ever happened. Many of Galileo’s experiments have been questioned as to whether or not they were ever truly performed. By the way, the famous Pisa tower is actually the bell tower of Pisa’s Cathedral which began leaning almost immediately after it was constructed beginning in 1173.
Astronomer Tycho Brahe studies a supernova that is visible for months in 1572. He established an observatory in Denmark beginning two years later. Pope Gregory XIII reformed the calendar in 1582 and we still use the Gregorian calendar today. In 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh brings the deadly poison curare to England and in 1586 Sir Francis Drake brings the potato to Ireland which nearly three hundred years later has become virtually the only food planted which results in a blight and then a famine that drives tens of thousands of Irish to America.
In 1596 the water closet, a primitive toilet, is invented to replace the outhouse or privy and the chamber pot by English poet Sir John Harington. Mathematician Johannes Kepler becomes Tycho’s assistant when he moves his work to Prague around 1600. Around
1612, on advice from Native Americans Virginian colonists began planting tobacco on a large scale. King James I hatred of the weed and his first writing against it did not hinder the growth of tobacco’s use. You can find his Counterblast to Tobacco free online and you should read it.
Rubber is first introduced to Europe from America in 1615. The great French mathematician, Blaise Pascal; scientist and religious philosopher, is born in 1623. To Christians, he is best known for “Pascal’s Wager”, in essence, that believing in God has greater benefits than not believing in God, regardless of whether or not He exists. If you don’t have a day to day relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in dealing with your sin and answered prayer in connection with your Bible reading (God talking to you) and
prayer (you talking to God) then these philosophical speculations about God’s existence become important to justify your faith.
Inventor of the double convex microscope, Anton von Leeuwenhoek, is born in 1632 as is English philosopher, John Locke. Locke had a tremendous impact on America’s “founding fathers” and was the founder of British Empiricism that believed that all knowledge is based on experience thereby denying God’s unique revelations and Satan’s counterfeits of those revelations.
Sugar is first grown by the Dutch in Barbados in 1636. In 1637, French mathematician Descartes, known for his statement “I think, therefore I am” introduces analytical geometry. Irish chemist Robert Boyle discovers his famous law in 1662. Isaac Newton discovers calculus in 1665. Rice begins to be cultivated in South Carolina in 1671, the same year that Cassini, the Italian-French astronomer directs the completion of the Paris Observatory. In 1680 the last Dodo bird was exterminated by Dutch colonists on the island of Mauritius. In 1698, the London Stock Exchange opens, which is the same year that Champagne is invented by Dom Perignon. Of course, all of this is on the edge of the 1700’s when mentally ill people are to be displayed in “idiot cages” for the amusement of the public in England.
Now, for something completely different let’s turn to Pietism. This was a spiritual reaction against the dead orthodoxy of the state church (Lutheran) in Germany. The Pietist movement, with the Moravians, developed into a worldwide missionary movement. An Austrian, Baron Justinian Von Weltz, born in 1621, called for the organization of a missionary society and had pointed out the missionary obligations of his church. Failing in his attempts to arouse the spiritually dead Lutherans of his day, he volunteered himself for the mission field and died in Dutch Guiana in 1688. Another German, Peter Heyling, went to Egypt and Abyssinia and died a martyr’s death in 1660.
The leaders of the Pietistic movement were Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705) and August Hermann Francke (1663-1727). The leaders of the Moravian Brethren were Count Zinzendorf (1700-1760) and August Spangenburg (1704-1792). Francke set up the first Christian university in Germany not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church or state Protestantism. He also founded an orphanage which raised up Bible Believing mission-
aries and evangelists in Halle, near Leipzig. The Bohemian Brethren and the Moravian Brethren were trained by graduates of Francke’s school. Spener was strongly influenced by Puritan writers from England such as Richard Baxter, Calvin, and Dutch Pietists who followed the teachings of Menno (the Mennonites) Simon. In 1670 he began holding Bible Studies and prayer meetings in his home in Frankfort, Germany. The result of these meetings was a national revival among German Christians with regard to soul winning, preaching, and an emphasis on being “born again” or “born of the Spirit” (John 3; 1 Peter 1:23).
In 1694, the Elector of Brandenburg commissioned Christian Thomasius to set up a university. This school turned out thousands of missionaries in the next century. The
Dutch-Halle Mission began in 1705 and Bartholomew Ziegenbalg went to India and left a complete translation of the Bible in Tamil, a native language. Friederich Schwartz labored for 48 years in India.
With regard to the history of the Baptist churches in England the line of English churches that can be traced historically, who consistently called themselves Baptists, began in 1610 in Holland, according to some sources. This is not to say there were no Baptists in Britain earlier, but that this began a line of churches whose history can be traced. It began with a man named John Smyth who was a bishop in the Church of England. In 1606, after study of the New Testament he was convinced that the doctrines and practices of the Church of England were not Biblical, and thus he resigned his position as priest and left the church. Baptists, like myself, are fond of saying that we are not Protestants but from a much earlier line of Christians extending back to the apostles but the plain truth is that the churches that first called themselves Baptist can only be traced this way. There is a heresy called “Baptist Bride” which insists that only the Baptist church is the New Testament church, which is, of course, nonsense. Any church that follows the New Testament practices of the churches Paul taught is a New Testament church. Baptists were simply unique among Protestant churches in their opposition to the alliance between church and state until recently, and infant baptism. Apostolic succession is truly about belief being handed down, not an office.
Because of persecution by the Anglican Church of all who disagreed with it and who refused to submit to its authority, John Smyth had to flee England. In Amsterdam, he along with Thomas Helwys and thirty six others formed the first Baptist church of Englishmen known to have stood for baptism of believers only, rejecting infant baptism completely.
Smyth, believed that the only real apostolic succession is a succession of Biblical New Testament truth, and not of outward ordinances and visible organization such as the Church of England or the Roman Church. He believed the only way to recover was to form a new church based on the Bible. He then baptized himself (which is not biblical) and then the others of his congregation. In only a few years however, the church had dwindled to ten members losing many to the Mennonites and other groups in Holland.
Smyth died in 1612, and the church ended in Holland shortly thereafter with Helwy, Thomas and John Murton returning to England as persecution there had lessened. History records that the members of this Baptist church went back to England or remained in Holland and joined Mennonites. It did not produce a succession of other churches, but those who founded it went on to establish other Baptist churches in England.
Back in England these men, upon returning to England, formed the first recorded Baptist church on English soil. By 1626, the churches had grown from one to five churches and by 1644 there were forty congregations. The Baptist movement grew rapidly.
These first Baptist churches formed in England were Armenian in theology, which taught that all men could be saved. The Calvinistic or Particular Baptists were a different group and believed in limited atonement in which only the elect could be saved.
Particular Baptist had their beginnings around 1616, when some "dissenters" left the Church of England and were lead by the Rev. Henry Jacob. By 1644, these congregations grew to seven churches.
John Knox, a Scotsman who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland, took Calvin's teachings back to Scotland. Other Reformed communities developed in England, Holland and France. The Presbyterian Church traces its ancestry back primarily to Scotland and England. In Scotland it became the state sanctioned church.
The Lutheran church was primarily the state Protestant church of the Protestant princes of Germany. The Congregational Church, in at least one source, traces its roots back to 16th century dissenters in England.
The Episcopal and Methodist churches were formed in the 1700’s out of the Anglican Church.
There are two main points in bringing these little pieces of evidence up here at the end of this lesson. First, there are two parallel strains of history; one is Satan’s attempts to form and mold governments whose purpose is to one day stand against God as one voice, in one mass. This swirl of nations engaged in constant warfare and the slave trade, spiritually dominated by state churches, explodes in the 17th century, the 1600’s. Second, God uses the conquering impulses of Japheth, the European, who is “enlarged” (Genesis 9:27) to spread the gospel around the world and to create a Bible to be used in the effort. The Vaudois or Waldensians, as J.A. Wylie puts it in his History of Protestantism, did not cross oceans so God raised up and used the Reformation churches to move His word everywhere. When these churches arrive in America they will eventually lose their civil powers but as we will see in the next class that some painful lessons have to first be learned.
The strength of America is its diversity. The large number of religious denominations prevents any one from taking political control of the country. This is not to say that they are all doctrinally correct and I am not saying that Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, and Presbyterians are all exactly alike or that I agree with everything they all say. The point I’m trying to make is that here we have the freedom to go to Hell our own way or to go to Heaven God’s way and finding out which is which should be a main concern of our lives but none of the government’s business.
Next, we will discuss the 1700’s, known as the 18th century, and focus, as well, on the American colonial experience.