THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT AND ITS EFFECTS ON CHRISTIANITY
Influence of Voltaire on Christianity
Enlightenment attack on Christians
Reaction of religious affiliations to conflictin Europe
Separation of the church and state
Impact of enlightenment on Christians
During the seventeenth and eighteenth century,there was a wave in Europe that was known as the enlightenmentperiod1.During this era, there was hostility towards Christians such thatphilosophers, politicians, and scientists defined various theoriesthat seemed to undermine the work of the church. Imperatively, mostof the philosophers were not in any form of agreement but theyviciously attacked the tenets of Christianity and argued againsttheir belief. In most of the occasions, individuals used reason asthe pillar of human existence such that they had various points thatwere supported by the thoughts of humankind. For instance, theystarted to advocate issues such as progress, liberties of the people,tolerance, and separation of the church from the state. For instance,the philosophers in some countries such as France were concerned morewith the liberties that should protect the residents of thecountries. Ideally, there were religious affiliations that had toconsider their faith and make additional encounters to ensure thatthey were not annihilated. For this reason, most of the leaders ofthe Christian fraternity were opposed to the absolute monarchy asthis was against their beliefs. On this note, they stated that theadministration was equated to God and this would undermine theteachings of the Christians2. Additionally, there was reliance on scientific methods since theycould prove the existence of the world. For instance, the theoriesthat were developed to assert that God did not create the world, itwas rather formed by reactions, and formulations were in directattack to the Christians. More so, there was an attack on thereligious orthodox and this would be a threat to the existence ofChristianity if it sufficed. On the other hand, the Christians usedthis negative publicity as challenge to extend their views about theexistence of the world and attract more people to support their questto follow the religious practices. Thus, this paper focuses on theenlightenment period with critical review on the progressions inpolitics, science, and philosophy, as well as provides the impactthat the period had on the Christians.
The Influence of Voltaire on Christianity
During his tenure as a philosopher andplaywright, François Marie Arouet, also known as Voltaire wasperturbed by the activities of the church. Imperatively, he alsonoted that there was formulation of a totalitarian government thathad immense control over the people such that they would use brutalcontrol over the residents. Ideally, he noted that the church wasalso under the direct control of corrupt leaders and this underminedtheir faith in failure to control bribery and illegitimate amassingof wealth. On this note, he decided that it was imperative toconsider the best approach that they could use to ensure that thechurch was pure. Apparently, his work can be compared to that ofMartin Luther who was in a quest to reform the church. However, it isevident that Voltaire decided that the best strategy that wouldannihilate the corrupt leaders was to extend the gap between thepeople and the church. During this period, he stated that there was aneed to change the minds of the citizens such that they would beobstructed from following the church with the main aim being thatthey would doubt the doctrines that the leaders of the religiousaffiliations use. Consequently, this would have an effect on thedivine authority since the church would not be in control over thefollowers. Incidentally, it is noted that the works of thephilosopher had immense influence in the world such that there was awave of changer even after his death. In particular, it is notedthat the mainstream church was under attack and the reason offeredwas that the beliefs that were used by the Christians were hindranceto the extension of the teachings of Christ to the people.
According to the writings of Voltaire, it isnoted that the divinity of Jesus Christ is in question. He statesthat the Christian fraternity has spent three centuries trying tounderstand the reasons a man can be a holy spirit and this does notmake sense to rational being3. Although the influence on the church was subtle, it was effectiveand widespread such that it attracted sentiments from individualssuch as Mark Twain yet it is indicated that Twain may have borrowedsome of the arguments from the predecessor. Apparently, it is notedthat the attacks on the church were ideological and they weredirected towards the divinity and trinity that the church believes.Nonetheless, most of the leaders of the church indicated that theywere not interested in the argument and they were concerned with theteachings of Christ. As such, they ignored the sentiments and focusedon ensuring that they expanded the population that believes in thereligious doctrine4.For instance, the Catholic Church did not revisit the allegations asit was concerned with the development of their followers. Ideally, itis noted that the archaeological evidence and manuscripts had sortsof evidence that proved the doctrines were not entirely correct butthis did not deter the Christians and other religious affiliationsfrom supporting their beliefs. Innately, it is noted that theassertions by Voltaire were intense such that they have had influenceto the current state of the world. For instance, the liberal,post-modern Christians, and the neo-orthodox derive their foundationsfrom the writings of Voltaire. In any case, he was an attack on theside of the Christians that use orthodox theology and this hasaffected the progress of the Christian fraternity for over threecenturies although the commitment of the religious affiliations seemsto be undeterred to continue enlightening the people with theteachings of Christ.
Enlightenment attack on Christians
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenthcentury, Christians felt that they were under attack from variousindividuals including philosophers and politicians. Apparently, someof the professionals in the field indicate that at times this was notan intentional attack but it was a way of thinkers and writers toexpress their thoughts. In particular, this would have been the bestapproach to use so that they could reconcile the Christian fraternitywith other groups. On the other hand, some researchers affirm thatthis was an explicit and focused attack that would undermine theprogress of the Christian fraternity. Apparently, this had variousconsequences on the cementation of the doctrines of the religiousaffiliations to the population. For instance, it is noted that atthis time, there was a wave that the people in the world thought thatthey had achieved better thinking capacity such that they could solvemost of their problems through science and philosophy5.As a result, many people believed that they were comfortable withoutany religious inclination since they could understand the worldbetter. Additionally, the thought that the religious affiliationswere inclined to superstitious ideologies made it easy for people tobelieve that religion was an inconsequential strategy that wouldenhance the control of the church over the people. Ideally, thecontinued expressions and writing by the influential people in theplaywriting, science, philosophy, and politics was a threat to theexistence of the religious doctrines. Importantly, the individualsthat were in opposition of the church had formulations and evidenceto hold their findings yet the Christians supporting point was thatthe people should believe and have faith.
It is evident that there were a number ofdiscoveries in science as promulgated by various scholars and theycreated an understanding of nature. In their ideologies, they statedthe various claims and proposed factual information that waswidespread to the world. In the initial stages, science was aformulation by people to understand the nature of God and provideanswers to the Christians on their quest to extend their dominance inthe world6.However, there were various changes that acted against the religionsdoctrines. For instance, the people believed that science was morepractical to explain occurrences as opposed to Christianity.Additionally, some of the questions that remained unanswered byChristians would be answerable by the scientific research. For thisreason, it is noted that many people started to believe that sciencewas a better option since it had the capacity to unearth many of theunexplained activities in the world.
It is evident that there were numerousconflicts and religion was at the center of all these occurrences. Infact, many people believed that the church was the cause of all thedisagreements and they started to question the legitimacy of theaffiliation. Incidentally, the population understood thatChristianity was the helm of preaching peace and the followers shouldlive in harmony yet this was not evident. Notably, most of thereligious disputes were centered on leadership and the need tocontrol the followers. Although the leaders were in quest to increasethe dominance in the regions, they were annihilating theireffectiveness to spread the doctrines. For this reason, many peoplelost their belief in the church and they had to be involved in otherideals.
During the enlightenment season, there werevarious allegations that were created by philosophers, writers, andscientists and they mentioned various aspects that the religiousaffiliations were not able to answer7.For instance, the readers indicated that there were manifestationsand miracles that were recorded in the bible yet there was noarcheological evidence to support these claims. Consequently, it isnoted that scholars started to question the authorship of the biblesince there is no mention of the people that wrote the scriptures.More so, it is noted that there were internal contradictions in thewritings such that people may not understand the actual meanings dueto ambiguity. Nevertheless, the scientists stated that there weretextual conflicts that undermine the validity of the Christiandoctrines. For his reason, there was more evidence that humans weremore enlightened such that they would not believe the beliefs of thechurch and other religious affiliations, and this created a driftbetween the Christians and the instigators of the claims.
Reaction of Religious Affiliations to theConflict in Europe
After the religious conflict that occurred inEurope, there was a need to make counteractions so that there wouldbe restoration of the dominance of the church. Accordingly,Theologians had to include various reforms that would affirm theroots of the doctrines and convince the people to return to the waysof the church. For this reason, scholars had to define variouscrucial approaches that would not be undermined by the politics,science, or philosopher aspirations. For instance, there was the needto develop an organized religion in that the people were to work inunity and avoid internal wrangles. In fact, this was to ensure thatthe church would not be averted by the intolerant conflicts that hadoccurred in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. For this reason,there was the proposal that politics should be annihilated fromtheological teachings as this was the onset of the disagreementsbetween the leaders of the church. On this note, it was advised thatthe people should follow their thoughts and make decisions in thatthey should only be engaged in activities that they deem to be rightand convincingly follow the truth. Additionally, the churchindicated that it was critical to have morals that each individualwould support. Ideally, this stated that there would be no need forforce to maintain order but the supporters should believe in the actsof God and maintain ethical conduct that preserves dignity and humanlife. Additionally, the followers should not use logic in makingdecisions of the church but focus on building a greater impact in thereligion by following the teachings of Christ.
The church indicated that there was immensepressure to affirm its belief in God and this would only be achievedif the people were convinced. In a bid to aver this strategy, it isnoted that the Christians were encouraged to revert to the simplescriptures and have strong belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God.In particular, this approach would provide an understanding of thereadings to the original meaning in that people would not be misledby writings that the leaders misunderstood8.Consequently, it is noted that the passages that include miracles andsuper humans such as angels were avoided. Additionally, the death andresurrection of Christ was hardly read to the people, as this wouldinstigate detailed debates about the viability of the statement.Thus, there were critical changes that included practical extractionof teachings that could be understood by the audience such that theyrestored their faith in the church and followed the teachings.
John Locke, the instigator of Separation of thechurch and state indicates that the government does not have controlover the conscience of the citizens since the people may not relishthis to the administration. Additionally, he states that other peoplemay not have control over conscience of another being and this led tocreation of the right of conscience such that they are safeguardedfrom interruption by the government. Consequentially, it was notedthat the individual conscience was important as supported by socialcontract theory that was formulated by Locke9.Ideally, Thomas Jefferson used this during the formulation of theconstitution to distinguish the church and the nation. As a result,there would be annihilation of the government’s control over thechurch and the religious institutions were not allowed to influencethe decisions of the administration. In fact, this was a crucialpoint that the church would use to restore its control over thepeople since the government would not be involved, and this meansthat there would be no link between politics and religion.
Impact of Enlightenment on Christians
During the enlightenment period, the church wasimpacted both negatively and positively depending on the variables.For instance, the church lost its influence in the world since manypeople were forced to retract their faith and beliefs. On the otherhand, the political figures and philosophers gained prevalence sincepeople were focused on their denotations about the nature of theworld. Additionally, the scientific deductions insinuated thatindividuals work independently rather than depend on the church. Secondly, there was separation of the church and the state, and thisgave the religious affiliations the power to reform and enhance theirconnection to the people10.Thirdly, it is evident that the enlightenment period led to thediscovery of the printing press and many people were able to read thebible. However, their interpretation may have caused discord sincethey did not understand various events such as miracles, visitationby angels, and the resurrection of Christ. Additionally, there wasincreased skepticism in the world such that people did not understandthe God that is in the Old Testament and the one that is in the NewTestament.
In summation, it is noted that theenlightenment period had critical impact on the dominance ofChristianity in the world, as there was revolt from politicians,scientists, and philosophers. For instance, Voltaire was involved inthe formulation of ideologies that would undermine the doctrines thatare taught by the religious affiliations. Ideally, other philosophersargued against the revelations of the bible, especially in accordanceto the actual meaning of the phrases and other textual references.For this, they stated that there was no evidence that the miracleshappened since there was no provision of archeological support.Imperatively, the church has adversely affected since people startedto question its credibility in the society, especially with thewrangles that occurred between the leaders. To restore their faith,the leaders of the institutions decided that it was proper toinstitute union in the church such that all the departments wouldwork to instill discipline and spread the teachings of Christ.Additionally, the church decided that it was imperative to considerthe readings that they present to the audience. For instance, itmeant that they would use scriptures that would be understood by thepeople without further explanation. Additionally, the leadersindicated that they would not mention scriptures that explained theextraordinary activities such as the angles and resurrection ofChrist. Innately, the church received a boost when there was theseparation of the church and the state. In such an occasion, it waseasier for the church to dominate in the field of owning the souls ofpeople while the government controlled their acts. Accordingly, thepossible conclusions of the church indicated that there should beannihilation of politics from theological learning since this was thetrigger activity that led to the wrangles in the church.Consequently, the church has struggled to enhance its prevalence inthe world as it seeks to instill ethics and morals.
Barnett, S. J. 2003. TheEnlightenment and Religion: The Myths of Modernity.Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2003. eBook Collection(EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed November 19, 2016).
Bulman, W. J., and Robert G. I. (2016). Godin the Enlightenment. New York:Oxford University Press. Oxford Scholarship Online.
Commager, H. S. (1997). TheEmpire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized theEnlightment. Michigan: MPublishing.
Grasso, K. L. (2006). "Christianity,Enlightenment Liberalism, and The Quest for Freedom." ModernAge 48, no. 4 (2006): 301+. GeneralOneFile (accessed November 20,2016).http://p2048ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA156802903&sid=summon&asid=b90ff9d263dca3805031202f6a039ed5.
Love, R. (2008). GreenwoodGuides to Historic Events 1500-1900: The Enlightenment.Westport, US: Greenwood. Accessed November 19, 2016. ProQuest ebrary.
Sheehan, J. (2005). TheEnlightenment Bible: Translation, Scholarship, Culture.Michigan: MPublishing.
Sweet, W. and Hart, H. (2011). ValueInquiry Book Series: Responses to the Enlightenment: An Exchange onFoundations, Faith, and Community (1).New York, NL: Rodopi, 2011. Accessed November 20, 2016. ProQuestebrary.
Taylor, C. (2011). Humeand the Enlightenment. London, GB:Routledge, 2011. Accessed November 19, 2016. ProQuest ebrary.
Torre, J. R. (2008). TheEnlightenment in America, 1720-1825.London: Pickering & Chatto.
Withers, C. W. J., Inc NetLibrary, and incEbrary. (2008). Placing theenlightenment: Thinking geographically about the age of reason.Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
1 Taylor, C. (2011). Hume and the Enlightenment. London, GB: Routledge, 2011. Accessed November 19, 2016. ProQuest ebrary.
2 Grasso, K. L. (2006). "Christianity, Enlightenment Liberalism, and The Quest for Freedom." Modern Age 48, no. 4 (2006): 301+. General OneFile (accessed November 20, 2016). http://p2048ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA156802903&sid=summon&asid=b90ff9d263dca3805031202f6a039ed5.
3 Barnett, S. J. 2003. The Enlightenment and Religion: The Myths of Modernity. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed November 19, 2016).
4 Withers, C. W. J., Inc NetLibrary, and inc Ebrary. (2008). Placing the enlightenment: Thinking geographically about the age of reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
5 Commager, H. S. (1997). The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightment. Michigan: MPublishing.
6 Love, R. (2008). Greenwood Guides to Historic Events 1500-1900: The Enlightenment. Westport, US: Greenwood. Accessed November 19, 2016. ProQuest ebrary.
7 Torre, J. R. (2008). The Enlightenment in America, 1720-1825. London: Pickering & Chatto.
8 Sheehan, J. (2005). The Enlightenment Bible: Translation, Scholarship, Culture. Michigan: MPublishing.
9 Sweet, W. and Hart, H. (2011). Value Inquiry Book Series: Responses to the Enlightenment: An Exchange on Foundations, Faith, and Community (1). New York, NL: Rodopi, 2011. Accessed November 20, 2016. ProQuest ebrary.
10 Bulman, W. J., and Robert G. I. (2016). God in the Enlightenment. New York: Oxford University Press. Oxford Scholarship Online.