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A Christian (Adventist) Attempt to Integrate Faith and History


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A Christian (Adventist) Attempt to Integrate Faith and History

  1. 2. What Is Faith-Learning Integration? The scholarly project whose goal is to ascertain and to develop integral relationships which exist between the Christian faith and human knowledge, particularly as expressed in the various academic disciplines (HISTORY).
  2. 3. Why? <ul><li>Church administrators and parents expect it </li></ul><ul><li>It is the major justification for operating a </li></ul><ul><li>parochial school system </li></ul><ul><li>Most historians have been trained in secular </li></ul><ul><li>programs where faith was not a component of </li></ul><ul><li>historical studies. </li></ul>Difficulty: <ul><li>“ Thinking Christianly&quot; about HISTORY, we are trying to relate </li></ul><ul><li>two different areas: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Our faith as expressed theologically </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The field of history based on documents </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>To integrate faith and learning successfully, we must understand clearly the nature of both. </li></ul>
  3. 4. <ul><li>Except for those events explicitly identified in </li></ul><ul><li>the Bible and Ellen White's writings, God's </li></ul><ul><li>activity in history is difficult if not impossible to </li></ul><ul><li>identify. Such an effort would be largely </li></ul><ul><li>speculative. </li></ul><ul><li>The supernatural aspect of the divine influence </li></ul><ul><li>cannot - by definition - appear in the </li></ul><ul><li>documentary evidence. </li></ul>In the 60’s, when I stared teaching our leaders insisted that we teach student about all the divine interventions in history. Some even asked for a list of divine actions Divine Intervention. Knowable? Divine Intervention. Knowledge Limited
  4. 5. <ul><li>“ Christian historiography refers not simply to history written by Christians , nor to historical studies of the church and theology , </li></ul><ul><li>but to an historiography which it-self examines the history of peoples, societal structures and institutions, ideas, mores, patterns of life, </li></ul><ul><li>according to the sorts of: </li></ul><ul><li>insights and </li></ul><ul><li>values provided by a Christian view of people, society, norms, history, the world and the whole of created reality.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>C. T. Mcintyre, &quot;The Ongoing Task of Christian Historiography.. In A Christian View oj History? George Marsden and Frank Roberts, eds. (Grand Rapids: William B. EerdrnansPublishing Co., 1975). p. 53. </li></ul></ul>What is to be Done ? “… not a mind occupied with specifically “religious” topics, but a mind which could think about even the most secular topics Christianly”, ie. from a CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE …It is a mind trained, informed, equipped to handle data of secular controversy within a framework of reference which is constructed of Christian presuppositions Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind (1963)
  5. 6. Strategies for the Integration of Faith and History
  6. 7. <ul><li>Some Component of a Christian World-view: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There is a God </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>God is active in history but beyond revelation, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>our knowledge is limited. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the earth, the heavens, and everything in them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>were created by God and pronounced good by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>him </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>man is created in the image of God, but humans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are fallen, sinful creatures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>History has Meaning </li></ul><ul><li>History is Linear and moves toward an End </li></ul><ul><li>Each Event is Unique (ex. Exodus) </li></ul>1. Develop a Christian World-view (theology, philosophy) <ul><li>Source for Christian Word-view Formation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scripture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ellen G. White </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Christian Tradition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decisions of the General Conference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theologians and Christian Thinkers </li></ul></ul>
  7. 8. Historian Student <ul><li>FIRST RECORD </li></ul><ul><li> Stuff (facts) </li></ul><ul><li>HIDDEN SECOND RECORD </li></ul><ul><li>Historian’s Christian Concepts & Theories </li></ul><ul><li>FIRST RECORD </li></ul><ul><li> Stuff (facts) </li></ul><ul><li>HIDDEN SECOND RECORD </li></ul><ul><li>Student’s own concepts & theories </li></ul><ul><li>Hidden </li></ul><ul><li>Visible </li></ul>Hidden Backdrop of the Integration of FAITH & HISTORY
  8. 9. 2. Confront the Assuptions or Theories in the History Discipline <ul><li>Reject particular schools or movements within history which are </li></ul><ul><li>incompatible with our faith </li></ul><ul><li>Transform other schools or movements which are compatible with one’s </li></ul><ul><li>faith or affording insights which can be incorporated into a transformed </li></ul><ul><li>discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Some aspects of the secular discipline will frequently have to be </li></ul><ul><li>maintained </li></ul>Compatible Non-Compatible Aspects Maintained Cyclical Theories Great Men Theory Evolutionary Theory Creation Science dependents on many aspects of standard biology
  9. 10. <ul><li>ex.: </li></ul><ul><li>Exodus, </li></ul><ul><li>Conquest of Palestine , </li></ul><ul><li>Clash with Philistines, </li></ul><ul><li>Hebrew Monarchy </li></ul><ul><li>Babylon & Babylonian Captivity </li></ul>3. Study of revealed actions of God in History
  10. 11. Hebrews 11:26-27 [26] He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of the people than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the great reward that God would give him. [27] It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt. He was not afraid of the king. Moses kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.
  11. 12. 4. A Christian world-view suggests topics, directs fact selection... <ul><li>Patrick Gardiner commenting on Marxist philosophy of History says: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Theories of this kind may indeed </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>be regarded in some respects as </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;pointers&quot; to types of historical </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>material which may prove relevant to </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the understanding of a particular </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>historical situation, from a certain </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>angle and for certain purposes. . . . </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Their significance lies in their </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>suggestive power, their directive </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>importance.” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 13. A Christian world-view suggests topics, directs fact selection... <ul><li>The Marxist worldview guides </li></ul><ul><li>them to give special </li></ul><ul><li>attention to economic factors </li></ul><ul><li>The behaviorist historians </li></ul><ul><li>regard environmental </li></ul><ul><li>influence of supreme </li></ul><ul><li>importance </li></ul><ul><li>The “Great Men” historians </li></ul><ul><li>focus on the historic impact </li></ul><ul><li>of great individuals </li></ul>The Christian historians will be more interested in religious issues. Ex.: He will not subordinate the influence of Protestantism in America He may focus more on the religious views of Pascal than a non-Christian historian
  13. 14. <ul><li>Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr says the Bible presents human </li></ul><ul><li>beings as free and yet limited. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Humans are often unwilling to accept their creatureliness, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>they become prideful, seeking to take God's place. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Human motives are mixed. Benevolent and selfish forces are often </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>present in our actions and the latter often destroy the former </li></ul></ul></ul>5. Christian understanding of human nature <ul><li>The Christian historians can explore the sincere morality of the abolitionist reformers who on the other hand had a great desire for power and control. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>William Lloyd Garrison strongly opposed slavery while at the </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>same time could not get along with anyone and thus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>undermined the effectiveness of the abolitionist cause. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Martin Luther would not work with Ulrich Zwingli and almost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>destroyed the Protestant cause. </li></ul></ul>vs.
  14. 15. CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN NATURE cont., more examples: Voltaire Christianity is “the Christ-worshiping superstition” which is responsible for many of societies ills. It would some day be destroyed “by the weapons reason.” Knowing about human pride - can cause the replacement of God with humans own knowledge and ideals Ex.: Enlightenment Voltaire Christian thinkers such as Joseph Butler and David Hartley developed rationalistic theologies that paralleled in many ways their more radical colleagues Ex.: Marxism Atheist – yet system parallels Christianity Struggle between good and evil (proletariat - History has end goal Heaven-Classless society Ex.: Darwinism
  15. 16. SOCIAL DARWINISM: Extension of Darwinism to society Herbert Spencer ROMANTICISM IDEALISM DARWINISM GOBINEAU “ Race alone is the Hero Volk deciding factor” Aryans Superior WAGNER CHAMBERLAIN ROSENBERG HITLER Crude Social Darwinist: “Nature is cruel, therefore we too may be cruel… I have a right to remove millions of an inferior race that breeds like vermin.” “The German race has been selected to dominate the Earth.” CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN NATURE cont., more examples: “ Survival of Fittest, Elimination of Unfittest” “ If they are sufficiently complete to live, they do- if not they should die.” “ War is the element of the order of the world established by God” Von Moltke “ The goal of human life is struggle” Th. Roosevelt
  16. 17. 6. Christian Moral Standards Christian morality embodied in the Ten Commandments and the Bible, may suggest possible clues as to the strengths and weaknesses of individuals and cultures. The admonishments of prophets can help us to see to how a given society treats its politically and economically weak members. This morality further teaches us to regard all people as important, regardless of class, race, or creed. No Eurocentric, elitist history &quot;Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.&quot; ( Matthew 25:40 ).
  17. 18. Christian Moral Standards The impact of industrialism in the 19th and 20th centuries, for instance, helps us to reflect upon its positive and negative influences Christian morality also offers a perspective for judging institutional and technical developments . It makes us aware that what is good for one class may be bad for another and what offers material advancement may harm the environment , limit social justice , and destroy spiritual values.
  18. 19. 7. Spiritual factors--especially the role of the Christian church Christian historians believe that God's principal activity is spiritual and that Christianity , however imperfect a human practice it seems to be, is the major embodiment of God's redemptive purpose on earth. Therefore, Christian historians will be particularly interested in spiritual factors--especially the role of the Christian church .
  19. 20. Spiritual factors--especially the role of the Christian church Stanley Wilberforce <ul><li>Born into a life of privilege, William Wilberforce would die a champion of the downtrodden--- </li></ul><ul><ul><li>slaves, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>orphans, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>chimney sweeps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>of eighteenth and nineteenth century England.  </li></ul>EX.: 19th-century evangelical Christianity and social reform in Great Britain and the United States, focusing on such individuals as William Wilberforce, William Gladstone, Phoebe Palmer, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
  20. 21. Spiritual factors--especially the role of the Christian church MANY MORE TOPICS Birth and Spread of Christianity Scholasticism (Integration of Faith and Reason) Reformation Title of Argument Content of Argument The Argument From Perfection It can be observed in the universe that there is a pyramid of beings (e.g., from insects to man), in an ever-increasing degree of perfection. There must be a final being who is absolutely perfect, the source of all perfection. This being is God.
  21. 22. Spiritual factors--especially the role of the Christian church Trust in his people has given the Fuhrer the strength to carry through the fight for freedom and honor of Germany. The unshakable faith of Adolf Hitler allowed him to do great deeds, which decorate him today before the whole world. Selflessly and faithfully he has struggled  for his people; courageously and proudly he has defended the honor of his nation. In Christian humility,… he gave God in Heaven honor and recognized his dependence upon God's blessing…. Only very few statesmen stand so brilliantly in the sun of a blessed life, and are so praised by his own people as our Fuhrer. SDA Morning Watch, 1940 <ul><li>What happens when the church fails in its mission? </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: </li></ul><ul><li>Southern Christians' defense of </li></ul><ul><li>slavery prior to the American Civil </li></ul><ul><li>War </li></ul><ul><li>The churches' accommodation to </li></ul><ul><li>Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. </li></ul>
  22. 23. OVERALL PROCESS OF INTEGRATION OF Faith and History Build Historical Explanation Actively construct the past Meaning Analyzing Sources Determining Significance Locate Evidence Change over time Causation Christian philosophy (theology) of History Christian philosophy (theology) of History