Revisiting the Medieval Church: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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133 Responses

  1. bob1 says:

    Thanks, Duane! This is very helpful and valuable. Also appreciate the book references. Have a blessed day and week.

  2. Jon Bartlett says:

    Thanks, Duane. Could I also recommend “The Light Ages” by Seb Falk, that explores some of the scientific advances – mostly in the context of the monasteries – in the Middle Ages. Another good and easy read to convince one that “The Dark Ages… weren’t”

  3. JD says:

    ….forgetting what’s behind and reaching forward to what’s ahead….

    Duane,
    Forgive me if I don’t share your enthusiasm, but I have a lawn to mow.
    Respectfully yours with love in Christ, JD

  4. CM says:

    Duane,

    What do you think of the Ken Follett novel “The Pillars of the Earth” and its prequel “The Morning and the Evening” Likewise for the follow on books “A Column of Fire” and “World Without End”

  5. CM says:

    Jon,

    Then there is the book “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Jon,

    Good suggestion! The monastic achievement is very much worth exploring…

  7. CM says:

    Or if you prefer, the science fiction novel “A Canticle for Leibowitz”.

  8. Duane Arnold says:

    CM

    Both Follett and Cahill are very much worthwhile. I think Eco, however is streets beyond Follett.

  9. Jean says:

    There’s an expression: Eat the meat and spit out the bones.

    The Lutheran Reformers (I can’t speak for other traditions) were familiar with Medieval Roman theology because they grew up in it and studied/taught it before realizing the gross errors in it. They retained what was orthodox while spitting out what was not.

    The Medieval church that Luther encountered was in a very dark state. It included the following (just examples, not a complete list):

    Papal infallibility;
    A Papal government which directly or indirectly ruled temporal governments and wielded the sword;
    A Bible and liturgy in the Latin language which was not accessible to the average lay Christian;
    Inquisitions resulting in torcher and killing;
    Burning of men who resisted the Pope, such as Huss and Tyndale;
    Farcical priestly celibacy resulting in gross sexual immorality;
    Limiting Holy Community to one kind for the laity;
    Selling indulgences. “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.”

    In the West, once the Bible and liturgy began to be translated into country languages that the masses could hear and understand, it would not be an exaggeration IMO to say that the Holy Spirit was freed to work on a much broader scale than during the Medieval period. Ordinary people to hear from God directly and not through the glosses of a deeply corrupt Papacy.

  10. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    You view history through the lens of your own tradition… and that not always correctly. It is expected…

  11. CM says:

    Duane,

    Understood.

    Of course Follett’s historical fiction covers the gamut of periods from the Middle Ages to WWII.

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean,

    Papal Infallibility – Not a dogma until 1870… 300 years out on this one.

    The Papal States were a vestige of Byzantine rule on the Italian peninsula and proved an embarrassment. Temporal power, by the way, was also exercised in Reformation England where the monarch was also head of the church.

    Latin was a uniting language until the development of the nation states of Western Europe. Even today, many liturgies use a liturgical language that is not the vernacular – certain of the Orthodox, Copts, Assyrians, etc. Not saying right or wrong…

    The use of violence is not limited to the Medieval Church or the Inquisition (which was less violent than Protestant polemics imagined). What then shall we say of the Protestant Wars of Religion? What about the Lutheran troops under Charles V that brutally sacked Rome and engaged in wholesale murder and rape? What shall we say about the brutal suppression of the Peasant’s Revolt?

    Clerical celibacy is still practiced, and not only by the RCC. Celibacy is also required of Orthodox bishops. Not saying right or wrong…

    Reception of Holy Communion in one kind was an aberration which was corrected, and should have been corrected as even the Council of Trent admitted.

    Indulgences were an offense… even Erasmus acknowledged it.

    There is more to Medieval Church history and practice than is allowed by Protestant polemics. So, I would ask, what books have you read on Medieval Church history and theology? What areas of interest have you researched?

  13. Linn says:

    Good article, Duane! Another,series of novels that shed a lot of light on this period are the Hillary Mantel novels about Thomas Cromwell and the state of the church in England, where religious reform was more about breaking away from the political power of Rome. There were people in England that sincerely wanted ecclesiastical reform, but the government was much more about Henry VIII’s political issues. All three books are a great read.

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    Linn

    Many thanks! I have to admit, I cheated and watched Wolf Hall on PBS… Mea culpa… (But I really enjoyed it!)

  15. josh hamrick says:

    When you say Medieval, are you including, say 500-1500AD?

  16. Em says:

    Ahh, yes. Our Lord cautioned us to beware of wolves in sheepskins…… ( not academic sheep skins – LOL)

  17. Linn says:

    Duane-I’ve watched WH three times and always enjoy it. The books have more detail and are well-written.

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    Linn,

    My wife has read them and loves them.

  19. josh hamrick says:

    When you think of a 1,000 year period, that’s half the life of the church. Certainly the Holy Spirit was at work during the time, even with scandal and error. I’ve only read overviews of this time in Church History, just enough to pass my seminary classes, but I do have a particular affinity for Aquinas and Anselm. Especially Anselm.

    We usually think of Punk Rock beginning with The Clash, Pistols,and Damned in 1977 England. However, a few years earlier, the Ramones were doing something very similar in NYC, and a few years before that, The Stooges were making some of the same sounds in Detroit. Honestly though, listen to the Kinks in 64. Structurally, everything that became known as Punk Rock was already there in “Girl You Really Got Me”.

    All that to say, sometimes we plant artificial landmarks in History. Usually, there were movements already taking place, shaping the environment for the flag that would one day be planted and dated as the Genesis. I’m sure this is the case with Luther and 1517. You can see the thoughts playing out through different writers from the medieval period, at least back to Augustine. Because of several distinct things that happened around the time, and the massive changes afterwards, we tend to plant the flag in 1517. I propose that those thoughts weren’t foreign to a great many in the medieval church.

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Exactly! The Brethren of the Common Life, the Franciscan movement… so many contributed. I might add, the there have also been errors on this side of 1517 among Protestants…

    BTW, I agree with your music analogy and would add Patti Smith and the MC5!

  21. josh hamrick says:

    “there have also been errors on this side of 1517 among Protestants”

    Naahhhh 🙂

    Yes to Patti Smith and MC5. Could almost include Velvet Underground. There was just so much that built up to the point, but the history books will tell ya 1977. It makes for a good tattoo.

  22. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    You should write an essay on the development of doctrine using the music analogy…

  23. josh hamrick says:

    That would be interesting. May do it.

  24. Michael says:

    I like the analogy…I once had a punk tell me that his music started with rockabilly…

  25. Linn says:

    I remember talking with a friend who was condemning everything “high church” that we wouldn’t even have the Bible if it wasn’t for the monks who diligently transcribed it over many centuries.

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    Linn

    The Bible, the classics of antiquity and so much more. Carolingian script, the basis of our system of writing; the study of architecture; the sending of missions to northern Europe; the list goes on and on. That, of course does not even touch on the theology of Augustine, Anselm and Aquinas as mentioned above… And what of Bede writing the first Church History, or Julian of Norwich…

  27. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “Papal Infallibility – Not a dogma until 1870… 300 years out on this one.”

    I didn’t say it was dogma. I said it was used against men like Luther and and in his excommunication. It was an argument used in favor of Rome’s belief that the Pope was the Vicar of Christ over all churches worldwide.

    “What shall we say about the brutal suppression of the Peasant’s Revolt?”

    If you’re talking about the Peasants Revolt in Germany in around 1524-26, we shall say that it was a temporal police action against anarchy. It was not carried out by the evangelical church, but by the princes who governed the various principalities. Luther was very clear, against Rome, that the church does not have the sword and does not rule by the sword.

    “Clerical celibacy is still practiced”

    It may be still practiced, but hopefully not the way Rome practiced it. To condemn children as bastards (which was a big deal) because priests and Bishops couldn’t accept responsibility as the father is an abomination.

  28. Jean says:

    “Latin was a uniting language until the development of the nation states of Western Europe. Even today, many liturgies use a liturgical language that is not the vernacular – certain of the Orthodox, Copts, Assyrians, etc. Not saying right or wrong…“

    If nations or universities want to use Latin for diplomacy or other temporal reasons, it’s none of the church’s business.

    If churches wish to offer a Latin mass on a voluntary basis, it’s adiaphora.

    But if the church mandates, under penalty of excommunication or death that the liturgy be performed in a language the vast majority of the laity do not understand, that is heinous error.

  29. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    This is the same old Lutheran polemic and, to be honest, you really need to read about the period in question… On some of this you simply are out of your depth.

  30. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Once again, you are way off base…

  31. josh hamrick says:

    Michael – That is so true. The predominant beat in puck is lifted directly from Rockabilly. Gene Vincent was a surprisingly large influence on a lot of those early punks.

  32. Michael says:

    Josh,

    There are exactly two of us here who know who Gene Vincent is…my punk friend wanted to know if I had an album that was rare back then…Jerry Lee Lewis at the Star Club from 1964…said it was his hymnal…

  33. Michael says:

    “If you’re talking about the Peasants Revolt in Germany in around 1524-26, we shall say that it was a temporal police action against anarchy.”

    Kind of like Bull Connor…

  34. Jean says:

    Was the civil rights movement in Alabama in the 60s violent anarchy?

  35. Michael says:

    Nope…and neither was the peasants revolt…

  36. Philistine says:

    Eco’s book TNOTR is profoundly wide and deep. He was widely hailed as the best mind in semiotics and infused much of his insight and wisdom into this novel. Don’t bother with the movie, though Sean Connery stars.

  37. Nathan Priddis says:

    I expect the Medieval Church to be graded as superior to the reformation or modern eras. I refer here to the judgment that comes after the Resurrection of the dead.

    This concept is based on the teaching..to whom much is given, much is required. While I expect a believer to be judged on their conduct, I expect additional mitigating factors will be weighed.

    To give this concept a simple name, Relativity. The Medieval Church was largely illiterate, and did not benefit from ready access to information. A massive consolation prize considering the suffering of a typical human during this time.

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    “If you’re talking about the Peasants Revolt in Germany in around 1524-26, we shall say that it was a temporal police action against anarchy.”

    Over 70,000 peasants were killed. Luther encouraged and justified the brutal suppression.

  39. Duane Arnold says:

    “If churches wish to offer a Latin mass on a voluntary basis, it’s adiaphora.”

    Yes, and Luther’s first written Mass (1523) was all in Latin and his so-called German Mass (1526) retained Latin portions. More than a comic book version of history is needed in looking at this subject…

  40. Jean says:

    “Over 70,000 peasants were killed. Luther encouraged and justified the brutal suppression.”

    After Luther had worked hard to prevent the violent revolt that threatened the nation of Germany. Before the peasants began to murder and pillage, Luther defended them against the nobility in: Advice For Peace on the Basis of the Twelve Articles of the Peasantry in Swabia. It’s an excellent read and informative for how Luther applied theology to temporal matters and governments. Here is a link:

    http://www.godrules.net/library/luther/NEW1luther_d17.htm

    Once the peasants turned to violence and murder, Luther wrote a second pamphlet: Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants. It also is an excellent read.

  41. Jean says:

    Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants:

    http://www.godrules.net/library/luther/NEW1luther_d18.htm

  42. Jean says:

    “Yes, and Luther’s first written Mass (1523) was all in Latin and his so-called German Mass (1526) retained Latin portions.”

    Unlike the so-called Radical Reformers, Luther was always concerned for the laity. He did not wish to give the weak in faith an uncertain conscience with radical changes in worship imposed without proper teaching first. So Luther took a slow deliberate approach.

  43. Duane Arnold says:

    “So Luther took a slow deliberate approach.”

    Apparently so, as Latin was used in some Lutheran churches for over 300 years… that’s “slow and deliberate.”

  44. Duane Arnold says:

    Yes, people should read ‘Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants’ for themselves… it is horrific. 70,000 dead, leaders of the peasants publicly drawn and quartered…

  45. Jean says:

    “Apparently so, as Latin was used in some Lutheran churches for over 300 years… that’s “slow and deliberate.” “

    Adiaphora

    Regarding your 6:25am, it is written somewhere that all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

  46. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I might add, at the time of the Reformation, there was not a singular Latin Mass. There were a wide variety, some including the use of the vernacular similar to Luther’s efforts. A singular Latin Mass was not promulgated until 1570, 24 years after Luther’s death.

    So, as you are presenting your comments as being authoritative (which clearly they are not) I will say again: “There is more to Medieval Church history and practice than is allowed by Protestant polemics. So, I would ask, what books have you read on Medieval Church history and theology? What areas of interest have you researched?”

  47. Linn says:

    Duane,
    Just looking at some of the comments from Jean regarding Luther-there are very few heroes of the faith that don’t have their down sides, going back to the NT when Paul had to rebuke Peter about not eating with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11ff). I never like finding out something unpleasant about anyone I once idolized, but it reinforces in the fact that all saints are sinners saved by grace, and our flaws may become fewer, but we won’t be perfect until heaven. It also makes me lean more towards self-examination and repentance of my own issues. Particularly at the time of the Reformation, not all Protestants were kind to their religious rivals, often meting out the same horrible punishments that the Catholic church did. Then, throw in all the religious wars that resulted because a kingdom had to be Protestant, and you could become more disillusioned-or relieved that, through it all, Christ is still building his church.

  48. Duane Arnold says:

    Linn

    I agree. The important thing is being honest about the history. “Facts are stubborn things”. Moreover, the history is there. We can read it, weigh its importance, and even disagree with how the history is interpreted. What we can’t do is to make up our own version of history based upon “how we want it to be” regardless of the facts or without doing the work…

  49. Michael says:

    “Luther’s Last Battles” by Mark U. Edwards Jr. is a good read on the last years of Luther…

  50. Michael says:

    I have a large collection of books on the history of the Reformation and many biographies of the major players…especially Luther and Calvin.

    I preferred Calvin’s theology, so I have a bit more on him.

    The histories and the men have to be considered within the context of their times and situations, not ours.
    There was much to celebrate about both men…and much to disavow as well.

    What is rarely considered is that both men suffered from very ill health…and that affects the mind as well as the body.

    I cannot say that I have profited greatly from studying this time for so long…in fact, it has borne little fruit in my own spiritual journey. I have a nice looking book collection, however.

  51. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Edwards’ book is very good.

    I think the point that I’m trying to make, is the debt they all owed to the Medieval Church. There is a continuum that cannot be ignored or explained away…

  52. Jean says:

    “I might add, at the time of the Reformation, there was not a singular Latin Mass. There were a wide variety, some including the use of the vernacular similar to Luther’s efforts. A singular Latin Mass was not promulgated until 1570, 24 years after Luther’s death.”

    Duane,

    My point has never been that Latin is bad. My tradition defines adiaphora as follows:

    “ceremonies and church rites which are neither commanded nor forbidden in God’s Word, but are introduced into the Church with a good intention, for the sake of good order and propriety, or otherwise to maintain Christian discipline”

    and

    “Therefore we believe, teach, and confess that the congregation of God of every place and every time has, according to its circumstances, the good right, power, and authority in matters truly adiaphora to change, to diminish, and to increase them, without thoughtlessness and offense, in an orderly and becoming way, as at any time it may be regarded most profitable, most beneficial, and best for preserving good order, maintaining Christian discipline and for eujtaxiva worthy of the profession of the Gospel, and the edification of the Church. Moreover, how we can yield and give way with a good conscience to the weak in faith in such external adiaphora, Paul teaches [citation omitted], and proves it by his example, [citations omitted].”

    If a church exercises its Christian freedom to have Latin parts or liturgies, they are free to do so, provided, they teach their people what they are saying and hearing, because Paul has commanded that in the Church language should be used that the people understand (1 Cor. 14:2-9).

    What Luther rejected is the Roman Church forbidding the liturgy to be conducted in the local language and the Bible to be translated in the local language. It wanted to be the sole interpreter of God’s will and law with even the power to make laws not in the Scripture. This is why some of the Reformers considered the Papacy the antichrist.

    Here are two of the 41 statements of Luther that the Pope demanded Luther recant upon threat of excommunication (which he did not recant):

    25. The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in
    blessed Peter.

    27. It is certain that it is not in the power of the Church or the pope to decide upon the articles of faith, and much less concerning the laws for
    morals or for good works.

    It was the the Reformers’ translations of the Bible from the original languages that opened their eyes to the false teaching permeating the Roman Church (where were indulgences; where was purgatory; etc.). No wonder the Roman Church burned people for doing it; its very hegemony over Western Christendom depended on the people not learning what their religion really was about.

  53. Duane Arnold says:

    This is not history… it is a tribal polemic…

  54. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    As you wish to be considered authoritative on the subject of the Medieval Church, I will repeat:
    “There is more to Medieval Church history and practice than is allowed by Protestant polemics. So, I would ask, what books have you read on Medieval Church history and theology? What areas of interest have you researched?”

  55. Xenia says:

    Luther and Calvin are considered heretics in my world.

    That doesn’t mean those who find themselves in the denominations they fathered are heretics, though, for whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.

    From my extremely limited and therefore pretty meaningless reading of both, it seemed to me that Calvin was a very pious man and Luther was a jerk.

    If anyone is interested in a Church that has retained all the good parts of medieval-style Christianity without the bad parts, you know where to look! (She said with shameful triumphalism.)

  56. Jean says:

    History:

    “However, it was illegal to have a “vernacular Bible,” or a Bible in the common language. You could be put to death for producing, reading, or even memorizing Scripture in English.

    One day in 1519, a woman and 6 men were publicly burned at the stake for teaching children the Lord’s Prayer and the 10 Commandments in English!”

    https://reasonabletheology.org/william-tyndale-reformer-translator-martyr/

    The site is run by a Reformed Baptist

  57. CM says:

    Duane,

    I agree that there was much of a continuum. Another example would be Anselm of Canterbury and his contribution to scholarship, the ontological argument for the existence of God and the like.

  58. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    “If anyone is interested in a Church that has retained all the good parts of medieval-style Christianity without the bad parts, you know where to look! (She said with shameful triumphalism.)”

    Shameless!😁

  59. Duane Arnold says:

    “History”

    Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is not reliable “history” as any competent historian knows…

  60. Duane Arnold says:

    It may surprise some to learn that Jerome’s Vulgate Bible was the vernacular Bible of its day… it was in Latin the common language of literature of the period. Other vernacular versions of the Bible appeared throughout the Medieval period. The Roman church imposed no limits on vernacular translations of the Bible until 1570 at the Council of Trent. For more information consult ‘Cambridge History of the Bible’…(Vol. 2, pp.338-491)

  61. CM says:

    Xenia,

    Though he more late-Roman / early Medieval in history, and not a theologian, I do give a hat tip to Emperor Justinian. Ask any legal historian as well.

  62. Michael says:

    If you read the source material…what the Reformers actually wrote themselves and not a commentary interpreting what they wrote…you will find they were greatly indebted to some medieval theologions.

    It was a different age and attribution to sources was often ignored…so there are chunks of Calvin that are actually chunks of Bernard of Clairvaux…and many others…I discovered this when I was reading a modern polemic against Bernard and realized I had just read the passage in question in one of Calvin’s commentaries…

  63. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    Yes, and you only know it from either reading the sources, or if someone has gone through and referenced the sources for the modern reader…

  64. Xenia says:

    It was a different age <<<

    This is true across all of Medieval Lit. Most of the Old Norse sagas/ poetry are anonymous, for example, and no one felt they had to attribute snippets that they "stole" from someone else to incorporate into their new work. They didn't consider it stealing. People weren't as individualistic back then.

  65. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Excellent point…

  66. josh hamrick says:

    I’m guessing that there wasn’t much in the way of a publishing industry before the 1500’s, so ideas weren’t seen as profitable materials that needed to be protected.

  67. Jean says:

    One thing that may surprise some Protestants is the Roman rationale for why it didn’t matter if the lay people understood the language of the mass in Latin. Here is the Roman Confutation to the Lutherans at Augsburg:

    “Neither is it necessary that he hear or understand all the words of the mass, and even attend to it intelligently; for it is better to understand and to attend to its end, because the mass is celebrated in order that the Eucharist may be offered in memory of Christ’s passion.”

    The view of the Romans at Augsburg (1530) was that the laity would obtain the benefits of the mass based on the priest’s work even if the laity did not understand or pay attention to the liturgy. So, what difference would it make if the language was in an unintelligible tongue?

  68. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Recently read “The Bookseller of Florence” by Ross King, that traces book publishing from the early 15th to the 16th century. Book manuscripts were expensive and content protected… which then changed with printing…

  69. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    More tribal polemics… not impressed.

  70. Duane Arnold says:

    One might consider reading, ‘Corpus Christi: The Eucharist in Late Medieval Culture’ by Miri Rubin published by Cambridge for a more complete understanding of the practice and theology…

  71. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I believe Duane wrote this in his article…

    “All of this is not to say that there were not errors or abuses in the medieval Church.”

    The point is not that there were abuses, but that the entire time was not simply one of abuse and error.

    This extends to secular views about the “Dark Ages” as well…

  72. Duane Arnold says:

    It is probably worth noting that several Orthodox bodies still make use of Old Church Slavonic which is not a current spoken language…

  73. josh hamrick says:

    Jean makes a great argument for contextualization.

  74. Jean says:

    Michael,

    “The point is not that there were abuses, but that the entire time was not simply one of abuse and error.”

    I agree. But let’s not downplay the extent of the abuse and error either. Who would want to see Western Christendom return to such a state as existed at the turn of the 16th century?

  75. Jean says:

    I think that if more Christians studied the Medieval Church, I would hope one take away would be that they would reject Dominionism. Even though Dominionism currently is relatively small in American churches, it might only take one or a few charismatic leaders to birth a dangerous movement.

  76. Linn says:

    An example of how history can mess with your impression of someone:

    I first saw the film “A Man for All Seasons” when I was 11 (after getting a special dispensation from my parents to stay up late). Here you have this man with very strong beliefs standing up to the king and dying for what he firmly believes in. He is also declared a saint by the Catholic church. Ten years later, in a European history class, I learned how St. Thomas Moore also had Protestants tortured and burned at the stake. I still have a lot of respect for the guy, but I also understand that he had some of his own issues (which, unfortunately, were typical of the day). And, I still love “A Man for All Seasons.”

  77. Xenia says:

    It is probably worth noting that several Orthodox bodies still make use of Old Church Slavonic which is not a current spoken language…<<<

    True, but that is changing. Our Archbishop visited our little parish this summer and told us to use English, because that's the language of this country. Our parish was 100% Slavonic when we first joined them, but now it's more than half English, and the remaining Slavonic is mostly the rote stuff. Sermons all in English, Bible readings in both, etc.

    One rationale for the use of Old Church Slavonic was that all the Slavic people (Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Macedonians, Ukrainians, etc) could more or less understand it, as it was originally based on some kind of Old Bulgarian. But nowadays, it's too hard for most people to understand. The Russians in our Parish do love to say the Lord's Prayer in Slavonic, and the Creed, too.

    All to say, I don't think a church that insists on Slavonic Only is in the spirit of spreading the Gospel, and I am very happy this is changing. There are still some die-hards who seem so think Slavonic is a magic language or something.

  78. bob1 says:

    I’m far from a historian…

    but I’ve always thought when someone uses the term “Dark Ages,” it says at least as much about the individual saying it as anything else. Pretty judgmental and pejorative…

  79. josh hamrick says:

    All right, Jean and Xenia have convinced me that liturgy must be contextualized for the local context in which it is practiced.

  80. Duane Arnold says:

    “Who would want to see Western Christendom return to such a state as existed at the turn of the 16th century?”

    Eamon Duffy has made a cogent argument in “The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England 1400-1580” (Yale, 1992) that pre-Reformation popular piety was far more pronounced and evident than what followed the Reformation changes… Just sayin’ there is another point of view.

  81. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob1

    While the term “dark ages” was known before, it only became popular when used by Deists of the Enlightenment to describe the Medieval period…

  82. Em says:

    Luther a jerk? IMHO – he woke the then hardshell RCs to some of their mindless, nonscriptural doctrines….

  83. Xenia says:

    With the exception of indulgences, I have no serious issues with Medieval Catholicism.

    They had a corrupt leadership, but that is not unique to the RC’s.

    I am even willing to be convinced of the existence of a Purgatory of some form.

    They are over the top in their mariology, IMO, but they didn’t ask me for my opinion.

    My complaint with the RC today is they have gotten so modernistic it hardly seems like Catholicism anymore.

  84. Xenia says:

    The Dark Ages span from 476 AD, the official date for the fall of the western Roman Empire, and the year 1000 AD, a nice round number that gives a nod to the Norman Conquest of England the the Great Schism of the Church.

    There was only one Church during this time period. The Orthodox and the Roman Catholics were still One Church, as this was pre-schism. The Great Schism was in 1054. So when we talk about Dark Age Christianity, we are not exactly talking about the entities now known as Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy; it was The Church.

  85. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    I’ve heard others argue for 476 to 1453, as the fall of Byzantium brought Greek scholarship to the west precipitating the Renaissance. By the same reasoning, I’ve heard some argue for 476 to 1204 and the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade…

  86. Duane Arnold says:

    As to the RCs… In America and England (Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland) there has been anti-Roman prejudice for centuries. Much of that sentiment was transferred to the opinions of the pre-Reformation Church by Protestants. It has only been 60 years since JFK’s religion was an issue…

  87. bob1 says:

    In Philip Yancey’s new memoir, he writes about being raised in the Deep South (Atlanta area) and all the anti-Catholic hysteria that was common at his church during JFK’s run for the presidency.

    I mean, it got so bad that JFK had to hold a press conference to tell all the fundy Protestants, “No, I won’t take orders from the Vatican.” He said more than that, but to me, that was the gist of it.

  88. Jean says:

    My sense, here in the Midwest, is that among Evangelicals, Catholics are similar to Lutherans, in that we are both superstitious. Therefore, we are both prime targets for evangelism and conversion.

    I think that mainline type Christians see Catholics as another mainline.

    The biggest scandal that Catholics have to overcome in the broader culture IMO is the pedophilia problem and cover up by the clergy. Does anyone know if the Catholic Church has formally and in practice adopted full transparency, reporting to law enforcement, and a no tolerance policy regarding child sexual abuse?

  89. bob1 says:

    My sense, here in the Midwest, is that among Evangelicals, Catholics are similar to Lutherans, in that we are both superstitious. Therefore, we are both prime targets for evangelism and conversion.

    ?????

    Sorry…I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life and what you said makes no sense whatsoever.
    I’m trying to understand, but…

  90. CM says:

    Another thing is the so-called Dark Ages but really weren’t, much of this focus has been on western Europe and the Mediterranean. This is sharply contrasted with the Byzantine Empire, the various Islamic Caliphates, and China in the later part of the first millennium.

    Another thing is that the rise of the term Dark Ages was due to 19th century historians view that the Western Roman Empire was the pinnacle of civilization in western Europe and nothing really happened until the Renaissance.

  91. Duane Arnold says:

    CM

    Read a recent book in which the author contended that the Renaissance commenced in the 11th century!
    The division of periods is an artificial construct…

  92. CM says:

    Duane,

    And often in regional in nature. Much of Mesoamerica was in the Stone Age while other areas were in the Iron Age.

    As for the contention that the Renaissance commenced in the 11th century, I guess it depends how the term is defined. There was some technical innovation in that era (the introduction of the horse collar and widespread use of the cast bronze (and later iron) horseshoe with nailholes around 1000 AD for example). Interestingly, this led to increased food production, population, etc. Of course the Medieval Warm Period (c. 950 – c. 1250) helped.

  93. Duane Arnold says:

    CM

    This is the book in question: ‘The History of the Renaissance World: From the Rediscovery of Aristotle to the Conquest of Constantinople’ by Susan Wise Bauer. Not sure about her assigning such early dates, but interesting…

  94. Steve says:

    “Even though Dominionism currently is relatively small in American churches, it might only take one or a few charismatic leaders to birth a dangerous movement.”

    Jean, Not sure, how you are defining dominionism but I think the number of churches is actually extremely large that embraces some of the dangers you are probably referring to. How many churches play Hillsong and Bethel inspired Jesus culture music that has associations with the new apostolic reformation and flows from a theology of C. Peter Wagners foundations. It’s staggering and I’m concerned that when folks see these faulty foundations they will have no where to go and despair. I find myself here at times and sometimes I’m not sure where to go either. I’m not rejecting Americam evangelicalism just yet but I’m almost there.

  95. josh hamrick says:

    If a song is biblically and theologically sound, do we have to know every intricate belief of the author or the church that he may be associated with?

  96. Steve says:

    Josh, this is not about individual songs and the intricate beliefs of the author but about fundamentally different world views and where we source our worship music from.

  97. Michael says:

    I’m with Josh…if the song is sound…who cares where it came from?

    Guilt by association is always a slippery slope…

  98. josh hamrick says:

    Steve – most often, I don’t know the people who wrote a song. If it is lyrically solid, do I have to look up the authors and whatever church they came from?

  99. Steve says:

    With that thought, if a pastor preaches soundly who cares if he is sleeping with ladies other than his wife. We got to do better than that. I listen to all kinds of music but in a divine church service when we gather specially as a body, it should be Holy. Why source our music from a system that has radically different world views. I’m just asking the obvious questions.

  100. Steve says:

    Josh, I will never be a worship leader. I have zero talent but as I have expectations of a pastor, I also have expectations of a worship leader that is going to be leading us in worship that they have indeed done the hard work in vetting the worship songs to understand not only where the song came from but what it’s meaning is for us. If a pastor is consistently sourcing his sermons from heretic A’s commentary, we got a problem. Same with a worship leader unless a worship leaders only mission is to entertain.

  101. Jean says:

    Josh and Steve,

    I would like to answer “agree” and slightly “disagree.”

    I am very interested in the authorship and year that hymns are written. What I have found in hymnals are for example, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, in the Catholic hymnal, and in Lutheran hymnals, hymns by Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley, John Newton and Isaac Watts.

    So, it seems that at least two traditions will take what they consider the best hymns from traditions outside their own together with their own.

    On the other hand, at least in my tradition, all hymns are thoroughly vetted for doctrinal questions before they are approved for insertion in the hymnal. It may be that a song is included but a single verse from that song is not included because it teaches something at variance with the church’s teaching.

  102. Steve says:

    Jean, I have a lot of respect for your tradition that does this type of vetting. However, the bulk of American churches have ditched the hymnal into the trash bin and source their songs from the CCM dove awards and top 100 on the radio. There is no vetting at all other than whats popular.

  103. josh hamrick says:

    Steve, how do you know there is no vetting?

    Why is a book of hymns inherently better than words on a screen?

    AND, I vet ever word of every verse that is ever sung in our church, but no way I can navigate who is connected to what church. IF the words are good, we use it.

  104. josh hamrick says:

    From Jean’s example, we have Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley, John Newton, Isaac Watts, and Martin Luther.

    My church is not doctrinally aligned with any of those. We have pretty serious differences with Lutherans and Wesleyans. But if I cut out those, I don’t have much of a hymnal left.

  105. CM says:

    All,

    On a humorous note regarding hymns vs modern worship, I present this gem from the Babylon Bee (before they jumped the shark):

    https://babylonbee.com/news/bee-explains-hymns-vs-modern-worship

  106. Steve says:

    Josh,. I’m not judging anyone and I am certainly not judging you personally. My own church occasionally plays some Jesus culture music that is sourced from Bethel as well as plenty of Hillsong music. I’m conflicted about it personally and if I were on the worship team it would be even harder for me. Bethel church is the same place where the grave sucking practices exist hence the concern. I just feel really weird enjoying some of this music when we know where it came from.

  107. Steve says:

    Josh, I never said hymnals are better than words on a screen. I prefer contemporary music compared to Franny Crosby which I really don’t like at all. I’m just conflicted because theologically I see the problem.

  108. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve

    An honest question: What do you see as the function of the worship music offered in the context of a service?

  109. bob1 says:

    I’m sure the established denoms (PCA, PCUSA, etc.) certainly screen what goes into their hymnals. Lutherans are far from the only ones.

  110. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob1

    They do… even the Anglicans!😁

  111. CM says:

    Of course, one needs a psalter to properly pair with that hymnal book…

    You want the oldest lyrics of the faith, dust off your psalter.

  112. Steve says:

    Duane,. Theologically I see the worship music as a time to enter into the presence of God and worship him corporately. I view the first few songs in church as a time to prepare our hearts for the sermon in which the Word is preached and the song after the word is preached to rejoice in what what we just received. In our church the song of response is typically picked by the pastor that preached to coincide with the Word preached. We have many preachers and not a dedicated pastor so it varies a lot. Practically the songs before the sermon usually serves to quiet the congregation down and I usually use the song of response as a vehicle to get out of the sanctuary without too much attention because I usually have something else to attend to. Anyway, that has been my limited experience.

  113. CM says:

    And if you want to search hymns and hymnals, here you go:

    https://hymnary.org/

  114. Muff Potter says:

    If not for The Golden Age of Islam and the Mathematician Al-Kwarizmi , the math discipline of Algebra would not have appeared in Europe until much later.

  115. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve

    Would I be correct that your main objective is to, in some sense, link the worship with what is being taught (or preached)? If so, the theological content of the songs, IMO, is critically important.

    In my tradition it is much more linked to the Church Year…

  116. CM says:

    Muff,

    Reminds me of this sad but funny poll taken in 2019:

    https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/56-percent-of-americans-dont-think-we-should-teach-arabic-numerals-in-school/

    If one follows the Twitter feed, some of the comments make me ROFLMAO.

  117. Steve says:

    Duane, I think you are correct that if we were to think about it, our intent is to link to what is being taught, however that is on a good day. I think many weeks, little to no thought is given as we scrounge for resources just to pull a service together.

  118. Duane Arnold says:

    Steve

    When I was in a CC we finally got to the point of using more liturgical oriented contemporary music (think John Michael Talbot) and ultimately writing our own (our album, ‘Mystic Chapel’ is representative). Even back in the day, a good bit of the worship music was weak…

  119. Jean says:

    Steve,

    Something to think about: If on a given Sunday, the only thing someone remembered from the service are the words to one of the songs, would those lyrics make a good confession of the Christian faith?

  120. Steve says:

    Jean, I believe the best confession of the Christian faith is how we treat each other on all the days of the week besides Sunday. But to your point, yes sometimes I do remember certain lyrics from Sunday and that is a good confession in and of itself. Not always but sometimes.

  121. Jean says:

    Steve,

    “Jean, I believe the best confession of the Christian faith is how we treat each other on all the days of the week besides Sunday.”

    What would that treatment look like, and what about it would be distinctly Christian?

  122. Steve says:

    Jean, John 13:35 summarizes it. I think this can look very different in various cultures yet still be distinctively Christian. Don’t know if I have the capacity to put this to words although I know it is true.

  123. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    Have you ever put together a service in your life? Just wondering…

  124. Jean says:

    Duane,
    Feel free to PM me if you’re interested.

  125. The New Victor says:

    Interesting about The Name of the Rose. I read it about 30 years ago, I will reread it. I had read Focault’s Pendulum first which kind of freaked out my 18 year old mind until I understood Eco’s thesis (don’t attribute meaning where there is none, and such people are dangerous).

    Like the protagonist, it sent me on a search for Templars. I found the non fiction (yet fictional) book Holy Blood, Holy Grail in my college library. Eco quoted it in FP.

    Thus when Dan Brown seemed to capture the attention of the nation (the RCC has kept secret a lie! Jesus had kids!), I knew he was kind of a plagiarist, and unoriginal. He was sued for that (uncessefully), by two of the three authors of HB, HG. Leigh and Baigent… Leigh Teabing. Too obvious.

    I read Brown’s second book and was disgusted by his unveiled derision for the RCC and Christianity.

  126. josh hamrick says:

    That’s alot to ask of a 3 minute song, right? It should be true, and share some part of the Christian faith, but you’re going to have to sing all 73 verses if you want to get it to “Good Confession” territory.

  127. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    “Feel free to PM me if you’re interested.”

    I’ll take that as a “no”….

  128. Jean says:

    Josh,

    It is a lot to ask. Col. 3:16 connects the Word with Christian hymnody and refers to it as teaching and admonishing one another with thankfulness in the heart.

    Good hymns exalt Christ, His cross, His blood and the resurrection. They also do not shy away from our pitiful state.

    I know you know of these hymns, which are representative of strong theology in hymns, such as Amazing Grace, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross and O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing My Dear Redeemer’s Praise. If a aging Christian suffering dementia is losing his memory, remembering parts or verses of hymns like these might be something to cling to in troubling times. I would be happy to sing good hymns from any century, providing they are theologically sound and help keep the word of God dwelling richly in me.

  129. josh hamrick says:

    Jean – of course I agree on all counts. My first pushback was the idea that one song would would carry and adequate confession of the Faith. As we see in Col. 3:15 Psalms, hymns, and Spiritual songs are all plural.

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