Illustration Credits. Funeral in Guinea, west Africa, drawn by a French painter, ca. Slaves baptized in a Moravian congregation, drawing entitled "Excorcism-Baptism of the Negroes" in a German history of the Moravians United Brethren in Pennsylvania, detail. Services being held in the church used by whites after their services on Sunday. The preacher must always act as a peacemaker and mouthpiece for the master, so they were told to be subservient to their masters in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
But the slaves held secret meetings and had praying grounds where they met a few at a time to pray for better things. Charlotte recalls how her oldest brother was whipped to death for taking part in one of the religious ceremonies. This cruel act halted the secret religious services. He heard one slave ask God to change the heart of his master and deliver him from slavery so that he may enjoy freedom. Before the next day the man disappeared.
When old man Ashbie died, just before he died he told the white Baptist minister, that he had killed Zeek for praying and that he was going to hell.
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A Gullah "praise house," a surviving example of slaves' secret meeting places, and its pastor, Rev. Henderson; St. The readiness of encounter or even cooperation of Christianity with non-Christian religions is a phenomenon of modern times.
Until the 18th century, Christians showed little inclination to engage in a serious study of other religions. He was subsequently arrested, and he and his publisher could be freed only through the intervention of Luther. Christian exposure to Asian religions also was delayed. Although the name Buddha is mentioned for the first time in Christian literature—and there only once—by St. Clement of Alexandria about ce , it did not appear again for some 1, years. Pali , the language of the Theravada Buddhist canon see also Pali literature , remained unknown in the West until the early 19th century, when the modern Western study of Buddhism began.
The reasons for such reticence toward contact with foreign religions were twofold: 1 The ancient church was significantly influenced by the Jewish attitude toward contemporary pagan religions. The conclusion of the history of salvation , according to the Christian understanding, was to be a final struggle between Christ and his church on one side and Antichrist and his minions on the other, culminating with the victory of Christ.
The history of religion, however, continued even after Christ. During the 3rd and 4th centuries a new world religion appeared in the form of Manichaeism , which asserted itself as a superior form of Christianity with a new universal claim of validity.
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- Conflicting Christian attitudes.
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The Christian church never acknowledged the claims of Manichaeism but considered the religion a Christian heresy and opposed it as such. Christianity faced greater challenges when it encountered Islam and the religions of East Asia.
When Islam was founded in the 7th century, it considered the revelations of the Prophet Muhammad to be superior to those of the Old and New Testaments. The religious and political competition between Christianity and Islam led to the Crusades , which influenced the self-consciousness of Western Christianity in the Middle Ages and later centuries. In China and Japan, however, missionaries saw themselves forced into an argument with indigenous religions that could be carried on only with intellectual weapons. The Jesuits also sought to adapt indigenous religious traditions to Christian rituals but were forbidden from doing so by the pope during the Chinese Rites Controversy.
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Philosophical and cultural developments during the Enlightenment brought changes in the understanding of Christianity and other world religions. During the Enlightenment the existence of the plurality of world religions was recognized by the educated in Europe, partly—as in the case of the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz —in immediate connection with the theories of natural law of the Jesuit missionaries in China.
Only in the philosophy of the Enlightenment was the demand of tolerance , which thus far in Christian Europe had been applied solely to the followers of another Christian denomination, extended to include the followers of different religions. Some missionaries of the late 18th and19th centuries, however, ignored this knowledge or consciously fought against it. The 20th century experienced an explosion of publicly available information concerning the wider religious life of humanity, as a result of which the older Western assumption of the manifest superiority of Christianity ceased to be plausible for many Christians.
Early 20th-century thinkers such as Rudolf Otto , who saw religion throughout the world as a response to the Holy or the Sacred , and Ernst Troeltsch , who showed that, socioculturally, Christianity is one of a number of comparable traditions, opened up new ways of regarding the other major religions. During the 20th century most Christians adopted one of three main points of view.
According to exclusivism , there is salvation only for Christians. The pope St. Within Protestant Christianity there is no comparable central authority, but most Protestant theologians, except within the extreme fundamentalist constituencies , have also moved away from the exclusivist position. Since the midth century many Roman Catholics and Protestants have moved toward inclusivism—the view that, although salvation is by definition Christian, brought about by the atoning work of Christ, it is nevertheless available in principle to all human beings, whether Christian or not.
The third position, which appealed to a number of individual theologians, was pluralism. According to this view, the great world faiths, including Christianity, are valid spheres of a salvation that takes characteristically different forms within each—though consisting in each case in the transformation of human existence from self-centredness to a new orientation toward the Divine Reality. The other religions are not secondary contexts of Christian redemption but independent paths of salvation. The pluralist position is controversial in Christian theology, because it affects the ways in which the doctrines of the person of Christ, atonement , and the Trinity are formulated.
A multitude of interreligious encounters have taken place throughout the world, many initiated by Christian and others by non-Christian individuals and groups. Article Media. Info Print Print.
Related The Old Religion in a New World: The History of North American Christianity
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