Christianity in the 19th century
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Characteristic of Christianity in the 19th century were Evangelical revivals in some largely Protestant countries and later the effects of modern scientific theories such as Darwinism on the churches; modernist theology was one consequence of this. In Europe, the Roman Catholic Church suffered a schism after the First Vatican Council, leading to the founding of Old Catholic churches. In Europe there was a general move away from religious observance and belief in Christian teachings and a move towards secularism. The "secularization of society", attributed to the Age of Enlightenment and its following years, is largely responsible for the spread of secularism.
- 1 Modernism in Christian theology
- 2 Second Great Awakening
- 3 Third Great Awakening
- 4 Oxford Movement in the Anglican communion
- 5 Roman Catholicism
- 6 Russian Orthodox Church
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Modernism in Christian theology
As the more radical implications of the scientific and cultural influences of the Enlightenment began to be felt in the Protestant churches, especially in the 19th century, Liberal Christianity, exemplified especially by numerous theologians in Germany in the 19th century, sought to bring the churches alongside of the broad revolution that modernism represented. In doing so, new critical approaches to the Bible were developed, new attitudes became evident about the role of religion in society, and a new openness to questioning the nearly universally accepted definitions of Christian orthodoxy began to become obvious.
In reaction to these developments, Christian fundamentalism was a movement to reject the radical influences of philosophical humanism, as this was affecting the Christian religion. Especially targeting critical approaches to the interpretation of the Bible and trying to blockade the inroads made into their churches by atheistic scientific assumptions, the fundamentalists began to appear in various denominations as numerous independent movements of resistance to the drift away from historic Christianity. Over time, the Fundamentalist Evangelical movement has divided into two main wings, with the label Fundamentalist following one branch, while Evangelical has become the preferred banner of the more moderate movement. Although both movements primarily originated in the English speaking world, the majority of Evangelicals now live elsewhere in the world.
After the Reformation, Protestant groups continued to splinter, leading to a range of new theologies. The Enthusiasts were so named because of their emotional zeal. These included the Methodists, the Quakers, and the Baptists. Another group sought to reconcile Christian faith with modernist ideas, sometimes causing them to reject beliefs they considered to be illogical, including the Nicene creed and Chalcedonian Creed. These included Unitarians and Universalists. A major issue for Protestants became the degree to which people contribute to their salvation. The debate is often viewed as synergism versus monergism, though the labels Calvinist and Arminian are more frequently used, referring to the conclusion of the Synod of Dort.
The 19th century saw the rise of Biblical criticism, new knowledge of religious diversity in other continents, and above all the growth of science. This led many Christians to espouse a form of deism. This, along with concepts such as the brotherhood of man and a rejection of miracles led to what is called "Classical liberalism". Influential in its day, Classic Liberalism suffered badly as a result of the two world wars and fell prey to the criticisms of postmodernism.
Liberal Christianity—sometimes called liberal theology—has an affinity with certain current forms of postmodern Christianity. Liberal Christianity is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically informed movements and moods within 19th and 20th century Christianity.
Despite its name, liberal Christianity has always been thoroughly protean. The word liberal in liberal Christianity does not refer to a leftist political agenda but rather to insights developed during the Age of Enlightenment. Generally speaking, Enlightenment-era liberalism held that people are political creatures and that liberty of thought and expression should be their highest value. The development of liberal Christianity owes a lot to the works of philosophers Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher. As a whole, liberal Christianity is a product of a continuing philosophical dialogue.
Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening (1790-1840s) was the second great religious revival in United States history and, unlike the First Great Awakening of the 18th century, focused on the unchurched and sought to instill in them a deep sense of personal salvation as experienced in revival meetings. It also sparked the beginnings of groups such as the Mormons and the Holiness movement. Leaders included Asahel Nettleton, Edward Payson, James Brainerd Taylor, Charles Grandison Finney, Lyman Beecher, Barton W. Stone, Peter Cartwright, and James Finley.
In New England, the renewed interest in religion inspired a wave of social activism. In western New York, the spirit of revival encouraged the emergence of the Restoration Movement, the Latter Day Saint movement, Adventism, and the Holiness movement. Especially in the west—at Cane Ridge, Kentucky and in Tennessee—the revival strengthened the Methodists and the Baptists and introduced into America a new form of religious expression—the Scottish camp meeting.
The Second Great Awakening made its way across the frontier territories, fed by intense longing for a prominent place for God in the life of the new nation, a new liberal attitude toward fresh interpretations of the Bible, and a contagious experience of zeal for authentic spirituality. As these revivals spread, they gathered converts to Protestant sects of the time. The revivals eventually moved freely across denominational lines with practically identical results and went farther than ever toward breaking down the allegiances which kept adherents to these denominations loyal to their own. Consequently, the revivals were accompanied by a growing dissatisfaction with Evangelical churches and especially with the doctrine of Calvinism, which was nominally accepted or at least tolerated in most Evangelical churches at the time. Various unaffiliated movements arose that were often restorationist in outlook, considering contemporary Christianity of the time to be a deviation from the true, original Christianity. These groups attempted to transcend Protestant denominationalism and orthodox Christian creeds to restore Christianity to its original form.
The Restoration Movement sought to restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament.":54 The movement developed from several independent efforts to return to apostolic Christianity, but two groups, which independently developed similar approaches to the Christian faith, were particularly important to the development of the movement.:27–32 The first, led by Barton W. Stone, began at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, and called themselves simply Christians. The second began in western Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia) and was led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell; they used the name Disciples of Christ. Both groups sought to restore the whole Christian church on the pattern set forth in the New Testament, and both believed that creeds kept Christianity divided. In 1832 they joined in fellowship with a handshake.
Among other things, they were united in the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; that Christians should celebrate the Lord's Supper on the first day of each week; and that baptism of adult believers by immersion in water is a necessary condition for salvation. Because the founders wanted to abandon all denominational labels, they used the biblical names for the followers of Jesus.:27 Both groups promoted a return to the purposes of the 1st-century churches as described in the New Testament. One historian of the movement has argued that it was primarily a unity movement, with the restoration motif playing a subordinate role.:8
The movement has since divided into multiple separate groups. There are three main branches in the United States: the Churches of Christ, the Christian churches and churches of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Some see divisions in the movement as the result of the tension between the goals of restoration and ecumenism, with the Churches of Christ and Christian churches and churches of Christ resolving the tension by stressing restoration, while the Disciples of Christ resolved the tension by stressing ecumenism.:383 A number of groups outside the U.S. also have historical associations with this movement. In Canada, this includes the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, the Churches of Christ, the Evangelical Christian Church in Canada, and Christian churches and churches of Christ. In Australia, among Churches of Christ in Australia there are congregations that identify with the Disciples of Christ and those who identify with the Christian churches and churches of Christ.
Adventism is a Christian eschatological belief that looks for the imminent Second Coming of Jesus to inaugurate the Kingdom of God. This view involves the belief that Jesus will return to receive those who have died in Christ and those who are awaiting his return, and that they must be ready when he returns.
The Millerites, the most well-known family of the Adventist movements, were the followers of the teachings of William Miller, who, in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in c.1843. They emphasized apocalyptic teachings anticipating the end of the world and did not look for the unity of Christendom but busied themselves in preparation for Christ's return. Millerites sought to restore a prophetic immediacy and uncompromising biblicism that they believed had once existed but had long been rejected by mainstream Protestant and Catholic churches. From the Millerites descended the Seventh-day Adventists and the Advent Christian Church.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest of several Adventist groups which arose from the Millerite movement of the 1840s. Miller predicted on the basis of Daniel 8:14-16 and the day-year principle that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on October 22, 1844. When this did not happen, most of his followers disbanded and returned to their original churches.
A small number of Millerites came to believe that Miller's calculations were correct but that his interpretation of Daniel 8:14 was flawed. Beginning with a vision reported by Hiram Edson on October 23, these Adventists (as this group of Millerite believers came to be known) arrived at the conviction that Daniel 8:14 foretold Christ's entrance into the "Most Holy Place" of the heavenly sanctuary rather than his second coming. Over the next decade this understanding developed into the doctrine of the investigative judgment: an eschatological process commencing in 1844 in which Christians will be judged to verify their eligibility for salvation and God's justice will be confirmed before the universe. The Adventists continued to believe that Christ's second coming would be imminent, although they refrained from setting further dates for the event.
The Methodists of the 19th century continued the interest in Christian holiness that had been started by their founder, John Wesley. In 1836 two Methodist women, Sarah Worrall Lankford and Phoebe Palmer, started the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness in New York City. A year later, Methodist minister Timothy Merritt founded a journal called the Guide to Christian Perfection to promote the Wesleyan message of Christian holiness.
In 1837, Palmer experienced what she called entire sanctification. She began leading the Tuesday Meeting for the Promotion of Holiness. At first only women attended these meetings, but eventually Methodist bishops and other clergy members began to attend them also. In 1859, she published The Promise of the Father, in which she argued in favor of women in ministry, later to influence Catherine Booth, co-founder of the Salvation Army. The practice of ministry by women is common but not universal within the denominations of the holiness movement.
At the Tuesday Meetings, Methodists soon enjoyed fellowship with Christians of different denominations, including the Congregationalist Thomas Upham. Upham was the first man to attend the meetings, and his participation in them led him to study mystical experiences, looking to find precursors of holiness teaching in the writings of persons like German Pietist Johann Arndt and the Roman Catholic mystic Madame Guyon. Other non-Methodists also contributed to the holiness movement. Asa Mahan, the president of Oberlin College, and Charles Grandison Finney, an evangelist, promoted the idea of Christian holiness. In 1836, Mahan experienced what he called a baptism with the Holy Spirit. Mahan believed that this experience had cleansed him from the desire and inclination to sin.
The first distinct "holiness" camp meeting convened in Vineland, New Jersey in 1867 and attracted as many as 10,000 people. Ministers formed the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness and agreed to conduct a similar gathering the next year. Later, this association became the Christian Holiness Partnership. The third National Camp Meeting met at Round Lake, New York. This time the national press attended, and write-ups appeared in numerous papers. Robert and Hannah Smith were among those who took the holiness message to England, and their ministries helped lay the foundation for the Keswick Convention.
In the 1870s, the holiness movement spread to Great Britain, where it was sometimes called the Higher Life movement after the title of William Boardman's book, The Higher Life. Higher Life conferences were held at Broadlands and Oxford in 1874 and in Brighton and Keswick in 1875. The Keswick Convention soon became the British headquarters for the movement. The Faith Mission in Scotland was one consequence of the British holiness movement. Another was a flow of influence from Britain back to the United States. In 1874, Albert Benjamin Simpson read Boardman's Higher Christian Life and felt the need for such a life himself. He went on to found the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Latter Day Saints
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of restorationist religious denominations and adherents who follow at least some of the teachings of Joseph Smith, who published the Book of Mormon and founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1830. Throughout his life Smith shared and later wrote of an experience he had as a boy having seen God the Father and Jesus Christ, as two separate beings, who told him that the true church had been lost and would be restored through him, and he would be given the authority to organize and lead the true Church of Christ. Smith and Oliver Cowdery also said that John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John had visited them in 1829 as resurrected angels and given them authority to reestablish the Church of Christ.
The first church within the Latter Day Saint movement was formed in April 1830, consisting of a community of believers in the western New York towns of Fayette, Manchester, and Colesville. They called themselves the Church of Christ. On April 6, 1830, this church formally organized into a legal institution under the name Church of Christ. By 1834, the church was being referred to as the Church of the Latter Day Saints in early church publications, and in 1838 Joseph Smith announced that he had received a revelation from God that officially changed the name to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In 1844, William Law and several other Latter Day Saints in church leadership positions publicly denounced Joseph Smith's secret practice of "plural marriage" in the controversial Nauvoo Expositor, and formed their own church. Following Smith's death by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, some prominent members of the church claimed to be Smith's legitimate successor resulting in a succession crisis, in which the majority of church members followed Brigham Young's leadership; others followed Sidney Rigdon. The crisis resulted in several permanent schisms as well as the formation of occasional splinter groups, some of which no longer exist. The largest group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), migrated to Utah Territory. Other groups originating within the Latter Day Saint movement followed different paths in Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The largest of these other groups, the Community of Christ (originally known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), was formed in Illinois in 1860 by several groups uniting around Smith's son, Joseph Smith III.
Third Great Awakening
The Third Great Awakening was a period of religious activism in American history from the late 1850s to the 20th century. It affected pietistic Protestant denominations and had a strong sense of social activism. It gathered strength from the postmillennial theology that the Second Coming of Christ would come after humankind had reformed the entire earth. The Social Gospel Movement gained its force from the awakening, as did the worldwide missionary movement. New groupings emerged, such as the Holiness and Nazarene movements, and Christian Science. Significant names include Dwight L. Moody, Ira D. Sankey, William Booth and Catherine Booth (founders of the Salvation Army), Charles Spurgeon, and James Caughey. Hudson Taylor began the China Inland Mission and Thomas John Barnardo founded his famous orphanages.
Mary Baker Eddy introduced Christian Science, which gained a national following. In 1880, the Salvation Army denomination arrived in America. Although its theology was based on ideals expressed during the Second Great Awakening, its focus on poverty was of the Third. The Society for Ethical Culture, established in New York in 1876 by Felix Adler, attracted a Reform Jewish clientele. Charles Taze Russell founded a Bible Student movement now known as the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Oxford Movement in the Anglican communion
Shortly after the Oxford Movement began to advocate restoring Catholic faith and practice to the Church of England (see Anglo-Catholicism), there was felt to be a need for a restoration of the monastic life. Anglican priest John Henry Newman established a community of men at Littlemore near Oxford in the 1840s. From then forward, there have been many communities of monks, friars, sisters, and nuns established within the Anglican Communion. In 1848, Mother Priscilla Lydia Sellon founded the Anglican Sisters of Charity and became the first woman to take religious vows within the Anglican Communion since the English Reformation. In October 1850, the first building specifically built for the purpose of housing an Anglican Sisterhood was consecrated at Abbeymere in Plymouth. It housed several schools for the destitute, a laundry, printing press, and a soup kitchen. From the 1840s and throughout the following hundred years, religious orders for both men and women proliferated in the UK and the United States, as well as in various countries of Africa, Asia, Canada, India, and the Pacific.
Some Anglican religious communities are contemplative, some active, but a distinguishing feature of the monastic life among Anglicans is that most practice the so-called "mixed life", a combination of a life of contemplative prayer with active service. Anglican religious life closely mirrors that of Roman Catholicism. Like Roman Catholics, Anglicans take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Religious communities live together under a common rule, reciting the Divine Office and celebrating the Eucharist daily.
On February 7, 1862, Pope Pius IX issued the papal constitution Ad Universalis Ecclesiae, dealing with the conditions for admission to Catholic religious orders of men in which solemn vows were prescribed.
First Vatican Council
The doctrine of papal primacy was further developed in 1870 at the First Vatican Council, which declared that "in the disposition of God the Roman church holds the preeminence of ordinary power over all the other churches". This council also affirmed the dogma of papal infallibility, (declaring that the infallibility of the Christian community extends to the pope himself, when he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church), and of papal supremacy (supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope).
The most substantial body of defined doctrine on the subject is found in Pastor Aeternus, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ of Vatican Council I. This document declares that "in the disposition of God the Roman church holds the preeminence of ordinary power over all the other churches." This council also affirmed the dogma of papal infallibility.
The council defined a twofold primacy of Peter, one in papal teaching on faith and morals (the charism of infallibility), and the other a primacy of jurisdiction involving government and discipline of the Church, submission to both being necessary to Catholic faith and salvation. It rejected the ideas that papal decrees have "no force or value unless confirmed by an order of the secular power" and that the pope's decisions can be appealed to an ecumenical council "as to an authority higher than the Roman Pontiff."
Paul Collins argues that "(the doctrine of papal primacy as formulated by the First Vatican Council) has led to the exercise of untrammelled papal power and has become a major stumbling block in ecumenical relationships with the Orthodox (who consider the definition to be heresy) and Protestants."
Forced to break off prematurely by secular political developments in 1870, the council left behind it a somewhat unbalanced ecclesiology. "In theology the question of papal primacy was so much in the foreground that the Church appeared essentially as a centrally directed institution which one was dogged in defending but which only encountered one externally."
Before the council in 1854, Pius IX, with the support of the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic bishops, whom he had consulted between 1851 and 1853, proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Eight years earlier, in 1846, the pope had granted the unanimous wish of the bishops from the United States and declared the Immaculata the patron of the U.S.
Some 108 council fathers requested to add the words "Immaculate Virgin" to the Hail Mary. Some fathers requested the dogma of the Immaculate Conception be included in the Creed of the Church, which was opposed by Pius IX. Many French Catholics wished the dogmatization of papal infallibility and the assumption of Mary by the ecumenical council. Nine mariological petitions favoured a possible assumption dogma, which however was strongly opposed by some council fathers, especially from Germany.
The Industrial Revolution brought many concerns about the deteriorating working and living conditions of urban workers. Influenced by the German Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel Freiherr von Ketteler, in 1891, Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical Rerum Novarum, which set in context Catholic social teaching in terms that rejected socialism but advocated the regulation of working conditions. Rerum Novarum argued for the establishment of a living wage and the right of workers to form trade unions.
Veneration of Mary
Popes have always highlighted the inner link between the Virgin Mary as Mother of God and the full acceptance of Jesus Christ as Son of God. Since the 19th century, they were highly important for the development of mariology to explain the veneration of Mary through their decisions not only in the area of Marian beliefs (Mariology) but also Marian practices and devotions. Before the 19th century, popes promulgated Marian veneration by authorizing new Marian feast days, prayers, initiatives, and the acceptance and support of Marian congregations. Since the 19th century, popes began to use encyclicals more frequently. Thus Leo XIII, the Rosary Pope, issued eleven Marian encyclicals. Recent popes promulgated the veneration of the Blessed Virgin with two dogmas: Pius IX with the Immaculate Conception in 1854, and the Assumption of Mary in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. Pius IX, Pius XI, and Pius XII facilitated the veneration of Marian apparitions such as in Lourdes and Fátima. The Second Vatican Council highlighted the importance of Marian veneration in Lumen Gentium. During the Council, Paul VI proclaimed Mary to be the Mother of the Church.
Anti-clericalism and atheistic communism
In many revolutionary movements the church was associated with the established repressive regimes. Thus, for example, after the French Revolution and the Mexican Revolution there was a distinct anti-clerical tone in those countries that exists to this day. Communism in particular was in many cases openly hostile to religion; Karl Marx condemned religion as the "opium of the people," as he considered it a false sense of hope in an afterlife withholding the people from facing their worldly situation. Based on a similar quote, Lenin believed religion was being used by ruling classes as a tool of suppression of the people. The Marxist-Leninist governments of the 20th century were generally atheistic. All of them restricted the exercise of religion to a greater or lesser degree, but only Albania actually banned religion and officially declared itself to be an atheistic state.
In Latin America, a succession of anti-clerical regimes came to power beginning in the 1830s. The confiscation of Church properties and restrictions on people's religious freedoms generally accompanied secularist, and later, Marxist-leaning, governmental reforms. One such regime emerged in Mexico in 1860. Church properties were confiscated and basic civil and political rights were denied to religious orders and the clergy. More severe laws called Calles Law during the rule of atheist Plutarco Elías Calles eventually led to the "worst guerilla war in Latin American History", the Cristero War.
Only in the 19th century, after the breakdown of most Spanish and Portuguese colonies, was the Vatican able to take charge of Catholic missionary activities through its Propaganda Fide organization.
During this period, the Church faced colonial abuses from the Portuguese and Spanish governments. In South America, the Jesuits protected native peoples from enslavement by establishing semi-independent settlements called reductions. Pope Gregory XVI, challenging Spanish and Portuguese sovereignty, appointed his own candidates as bishops in the colonies, condemned slavery and the slave trade in 1839 (papal bull In Supremo Apostolatus), and approved the ordination of native clergy in spite of government racism.
By the close of the 19th century, new technologies and superior weaponry had allowed European powers to gain control of most of the African interior. The new rulers introduced a cash economy which required African people to become literate and so created a great demand for schools. At the time, the only possibility open to Africans for a western education was through Christian missionaries. Catholic missionaries followed colonial governments into Africa and built schools, monasteries, and churches.
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church held a privileged position in the Russian Empire, expressed in the motto Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Populism, of the late Russian Empire. At the same time, it was placed under the control of the tsar by the Church reform of Peter I in the 18th century. Its governing body was the Most Holy Synod, which was run by an official (titled Ober-Procurator) appointed by the tsar.
The church was involved in the various campaigns of russification, and accused of involvement in anti-Jewish pogroms. In the case of anti-Semitism and the anti-Jewish pogroms, no evidence is given of the direct participation of the church, and many Russian Orthodox clerics, including senior hierarchs, openly defended persecuted Jews, at least from the second half of the 19th century. Also, the Church has no official position on Judaism as such.
The church, like the tsarist state, was seen as an enemy of the people by the Bolsheviks and other Russian revolutionaries.
- History of Christianity
- History of Protestantism
- History of the Roman Catholic Church#Industrial age
- History of the Eastern Orthodox Church
- History of Christian theology#Modern Christian theology
- History of Oriental Orthodoxy
- Timeline of the English Reformation
- Timeline of Christianity#19th century
- Timeline of Christian missions#1800 to 1849
- Timeline of the Roman Catholic Church#19th century
- Chronological list of saints and blesseds in the 19th century
- Restoration Movement
- Matzko, John (2007). "The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 40 (3): 68–84. Presbyterian historian Matzko notes that "Oliver Cowdery claimed that Smith had been 'awakened' during a sermon by the Methodist minister George Lane."
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- Mystici Corporis, Lumen Gentium and Redemptoris Mater provide a modern Catholic understanding of this link.
- see Pius XII,Mystici corporis, also John Paul II in Redemptoris Mater: The Second Vatican Council, by presenting Mary in the mystery of Christ, also finds the path to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Church. Mary, as the Mother of Christ, is in a particular way united with the Church, "which the Lord established as his own body."
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- Abi Olowe, 2007, Great Revivals Great Revivalist, Omega Publishers
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- History of Christianity Reading Room: Extensive online resources for the study of global church history (Tyndale Seminary).
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