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Recognize features of the Catholic Reformation (counter-Reformation). (Sect. 38)
The Reformation did not destroy Rome. On the contrary, it gave Rome such a shock that it reformed itself. The corruption and indifference of the late medieval church disappeared in a new fervor, mysticism and self-confidence.
By 1600, Roman Catholicism, which had been reduced to a southern European faith, had recovered with astonishing power.
38.1. This Catholic recovery is widely called the counter-Reformation.
38.2. It vigorously opposed the Protestant Reformation, often politically as well asdoctrinally. But it would be erroneous to imagine that this movement was onlyconcerned with opposing Protestantism.
38.3. It was a genuine movement of revival, which brought a badly needed new life to theCatholic Church.
38.4. It is also important to note that the Catholic Reformation preceded the ProtestantReformation, though the advent of the latter gave it a new character.
38.5. Three main agents brought about the Catholic recovery
38.5.1. Reform-minded popes
38.5.2. New religious orders, especially the Jesuits
38.5.3. The Council of Trent (1545-63)
Understand and recognize the two questions regarding the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) and their associatedreformer or church tradition, and recognize the reformers’ and church traditions’ positions on the Eucharist.(Sect. 39)
Different reformers and church traditions asked different questions
39.1.1. The traditional question (Catholics and Lutherans): What happens to the bread and the wineelements upon consecration?(Consecration happens when the priest speaks the Words of Institution of the Eucharist.)
39.1.2. The new question (Zwingli and Calvin): What happens to the believers (the celebratingcommunity) during the Eucharist?
The Churches’ Positions
39.2.1. The Roman Catholic Church: Transubstantiation (upon consecration). Real Presence.Transubstantiation: the elements change into the Body and Blood of Christ during consecration.
39.2.2. The Orthodox Church: Transubstantiation (metousiosis).Transubstantiation: the elements change into the Body and Blood of Christ during consecration.
39.2.3. Luther: Real Presence (sacramental union).The bread and wine remain fully bread and fully wine while also being fully the body and blood ofJesus Christ. The body and blood of Jesus Christ are objectively present “in, with, and under theforms” of bread and wine.
39.2.4. Zwingli: Memorialism; elements are viewed as symbols. This view is very common inProtestantism today.
39.2.5. Calvin: Instrumentalism. Believers are transformed into Christ’s body.
39.2.6. The Anglican Church: Deliberately ambiguous. Embraces elements of real presence andmemorialism.
39.2.7. Methodists: The Eucharist is a holy mystery.
Recognize, regarding the expansion of global Christianity, features of the social paradox .
The Sociological Paradox of Our Time
40.1.1. During the last four decades, the center of gravity of Christianity has shifted from the West to theglobal South. According to the mission scholar David Barrett: At the turn of the twentieth century, 77% of the world’s Christians lived in Europe and NorthAmerica. Today, only about 37% of the world’s Christians live in that area. Barrett further predicts that by 2025, nearly 71% of the world’s Christians will live in Asia,Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific.
40.1.2. If we consider the church in Africa specifically, the figures are equally astounding.By some estimates there were 10 million African Christians in 1900, 143 million in 1970, and nearly400 million in 2000.
40.1.3. In short, Christianity is experiencing formidable reverses in the West (except among conservativeevangelical and Pentecostal groups) and prodigious expansion in the global south.
40.1.4. Why is Christianity expanding so rapidly in the global South in general and Africa in particular?
Analyze why the African church is growing phenomenally, and the implications of the demographic shift. (Sect. 40)
Why the African Church is Growing Phenomenally
- 40.2.1. Aggressive evangelism/witnessing:African Christians (ordained and lay) seize every opportunity to share the gospel with their neighbors:individual
- witnessing, cell groups, open air meetings, denominational missionary
- associations etc. The irrationale: “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them… (Romans 10:14-15).
40.2.2. Christianity meets the needs of the African people
126.96.36.199. African approach to religion is holistic and pragmatic.For the African, religion fulfills spiritual, intellectual and physical needs. It is viewedfunctionally, as a means of attaining an abundant life – good health, wealth, power etc.Christianity is immensely popular because it is deemed to fulfill these functions. Of course theAfrican has a deep sense of the sacred as a supernatural and transcendent reality. However, onthe whole he/she views Christianity in very functional terms.
188.8.131.52. In addition, many African Churches have established institutions that seek to minister thewhole person. Examples: Christian Community Services supplement government services by providing primary healthcare, clean water, vocational training for the youth etc. Revolving funds provide loans to people who wish to start small scale businesses. Orphanages: a more recent development.
40.2.3. Prophetic ministry: meant to hold African leaders to accountIn a continent where freedom of expression is severely curtailed, the clergy are widely perceived asdistinct champions of the voiceless. A good example is Desmond Tutu in Apartheid South Africa.
40.3. Implications of this Demographic Shift
40.3.1. Christianity can no longer be identified with Western culture.It is now a universal or global faith with a global character. Each community brings its special anddistinctive contribution to the body of Christ.
40.3.2. As the center of gravity of Christianity shifts southwards, the churches of the south will have thepower and will to shape the theological direction of world Christianity.
40.3.3. Increasingly, the theological and ecclesiastical agenda of the universal church will not be set in theWest but in the global South.In fact this has already begun to happen. In the last Lambeth Conference (a ten yearly gathering ofAnglican bishops), southern agenda found its way into the debate. Issues of international debt andpolygamy were discussed at length while Western agenda was thoroughly scrutinized, and evenquestioned.
Doubtless the West will have influence for a while, at least: the Western churches havelarger bank accounts and more institutional resources.
But the Western influence is beginning to wane.There will probably come a day when Western students wishing to do doctoral research will find it necessary and helpful to learn African languages and study in African institutions. And that day mightnot be far off!
TEXTBOOK LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recognize Luther’s final response to the Diet of Worms’s request to recant (retract) some of his writings and recognize his response’s implications for the foundations ofProtestantism.
(Chapter 7, pp. 153–155, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, byMark A. Noll).
" Unless I am convined by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason( for I do nto turst either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erredand contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against concience. "
* You may want to read the pages suggested because there is more involved.
9. TEXTBOOK LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recognize the main issues that most Protestants agreed on and those they disagreed on.
(Chapter 8, Protestantisms section, pp. 192–194, Turning Points: Decisive Momentsin the History of Christianity, by Mark A. Noll).
- Justification by faith
- Sola Scruptura, the Bible has ultimate authority
- The priesthood of all believers
- Does the finality of Scripture mean that it's the "only" authority?
- Scrupture interpretation