MARTIN LUTHER AND
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION
Martin Luther (1483-1546) lived in Germany at a time when nationalism was cresting, and its tide would pick him up and sweep him along like a piece of flotsam. Like many in his day he was schooled in the new philosophical method of independent thinking. Luther’s zeal for philosophy is reminiscent of Augustine’s infatuation with philosophy, and Luther’s fellows at the University of Erfurt often referred to him with Aristotle’s honorary nickname, “The Philosopher”, which shows how much Christianity had been leavened in a thousand years: Liberal philosophy-loving Bible scholars like Philo, Justin, and Origen had been despised as heretics in the early centuries of Christianity. But when the Catholic Church built schools all over Europe, liberal scholars like Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, and Peter Abelard began quoting to their students the works of those long-dead heretics as if they were authorities whose Enlightened teachings could be used as doctrinal precedents! This resulted in those old liberals, who’d been despised and executed by early Christians, being increasingly viewed as respectable “church fathers” and trustworthy doctrinal experts by modern Christians! This illustrates the gradual and subtle beginnings of religious traditions and corrupt doctrines.
Luther had no desire to lead a religious life, but one day in a frightening thunderstorm he impulsively made a vow to a dead woman: “Help me, Saint Anne, and I’ll become a monk!” Two weeks later in preparation for entering the Spartan life of a monastery he sold many of his possessions including most of his books. Among the few books he kept were his treasured pagan classics. But remember, even though I’ll continue calling it pagan philosophy, it was now Christian philosophy. So Luther was keeping his Christian philosophy books because they would help him as a monk. And, predictably enough since he was a zealous espouser of Reason, he chose to enter the Augustinian Order. After a year as a lowly plebe he was promoted to monk, and a year later was ordained a priest and said his first mass in May of 1507. A year later he was selected for advanced studies and went to the University of Wittenberg, which had only been founded six years earlier. There he was taught by professors who were, like many Germans, fans of the Enlightened English champion of German independence from the pope, William of Ockham, who lived and died in Germany.
Martin Luther, too, became a fan of the excommunicated escaped convict who lived in Germany on the lam. In fact, the two people who would have the most influence on Luther’s life were Ockham and Augustine, which contributed to Luther’s also opposing the pope, being excommunicated, and living on the lam in Germany under the protection of German nobility. Because both Augustine and Ockham publicly denounced the pagan philosophers, Luther demonstrated his loyalty by also denouncing them. But because Luther’s hero, Augustine, used philosophy, and because Saint Aquinas had made philosophy part of Christianity, Luther, like most Christians today, may never have realized he was Hellenized. He was in way over his head and was swept along with the flood of rebellion.
All of the Protestant reformers were Enlightened, even if, like Luther and Augustine, they denied it. John Calvin, for example, was a dedicated humanist with a strong Roman Catholic background in philosophy. Ulrich Zwingli, also a reformed Catholic priest, was a noted humanist who wanted the Protestant Church founded on democratic principles. Zwingli even paid tribute to the pagan philosophers (and may even have accepted Dante’s idea that they were too “good” to go to hell) by saying he’d prefer “the eternal lot of a Socrates [the suicidal homosexual philosopher] or a Seneca [a suicidal Roman philosopher] than of a pope.” The Protestant reformers hated Romanism, not philosophic Reason.
When Luther graduated from Wittenberg he was asked by his professors to fill a teaching vacancy. Young Professor Luther proved to be more aggressive than his fellow professors, and he became an outspoken advocate of Thomas Aquinas’ “biblical humanism”, something many were still hesitant to publicly embrace. He also wanted to implement Ockham’s idea of eliminating the direct influence of pagan philosophy on Christianity! (Like I said, he was in over his head.) He adopted Ockham’s “sola Scriptura” slogan, not realizing his own heavy reliance on Augustine and Aquinas made the slogan empty. Like many Christians before and since, Luther relied on the traditions of other Christians, naïvely trusting that the works of those men were probably based on sola Scriptura. It was a big mistake and would result in many generations of Christians being led astray.
Luther’s idea of “biblical humanism” was to study the Bible while also accepting as dogmatic and binding the teachings of the “old Fathers” (Luther’s term for the Church Fathers), especially St. Augustine. In reference to his program of biblical humanism Luther wrote, “our theology and that of St. Augustine reign.” As you can see, “sola Scriptura” was a great slogan but, alas, it was only a slogan.
Father Luther made a trip to visit the papal see at Rome, and the result was very similar to Father Ockham’s trip to the papal see at Avignon – he was disgusted. He returned to Wittenberg and in 1517 nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the bulletin-board door of his church to publicly express his doctrinal differences. If he had published it in Latin or Greek so only the educated elite could read it, or done anything but let the ignorant masses know about it, there would have been no trouble. But he went public. And that was the moment Luther unknowingly lost control of his life.
Father Erasmus (1469-1536) was an Enlightened Dutch Roman Catholic priest in Luther’s Augustinian Order who agreed with Luther and supported his arguments for reforming Roman Catholicism. Erasmus was an intellectual humanist who hated the corruption in the Church and quietly and gently espoused the use of the new Rationalism to restore moral and doctrinal purity to the Church. He said post-Aquinas Christianity had improved, becoming “a religion of the spirit based on confidence in human Reason.” But, like many humble intellectuals who also have high character, he naïvely assumed most men were also of good character, because God created us all in His image by putting Equal amounts of Natural goodness in each of us so we all might tune in to His Natural Law. Erasmus therefore believed the Roman Catholic Church and its doctrines would eventually be reformed from within. And he thought priests like Luther could be catalysts for this internal reformation.
In order to reach the intellectuals with his arguments Luther also published a manuscript in Latin. The scholars of Europe, including the pope, read it and discussed it with others. At this point there was no real problem. Yes, Luther had publicly posted his Ninety-five Theses, and, yes, that was a no-no because you were not supposed to expose the populace to concepts it couldn’t handle because a dim-wit – whether he be a nobleman or a commoner – armed with a concept he doesn’t understand can be a dangerous thing. But there was no real problem here, so all the pope did was benevolently and fatherly instruct Father Luther’s superior to lightly reprimand this feisty young pup for his indiscretion. As far as the Vatican was concerned that ended this very minor incident. And in all probability Luther would have beat on his chest a little bit and groused about it and written one or two more papers in Latin and then settled down and lived a normal life. But he had publicly opposed the Vatican with his Ninety-five Theses. And that had attracted the attention of dim-witted nationalists.
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German Catholics were beginning to feel different from their Italian Catholic masters as the appeal of religious and nationalistic independence grew. Behind the scenes there were German nobles who, for their own political reasons, decided they could use a bold, charismatic, and naïvely-idealistic man like Martin Luther who had delighted locals with the brazen challenge of his Ninety-five Theses. These nationalistic nobles pursued Luther with flattery, and they encouraged the masses to view him as a champion of righteousness. Even the relatively mild professors at Wittenberg actively rallied behind Luther, and he found himself to be somewhat of a celebrity. His celebrity and his natural tendency to use bluster in an attempt to save face when reprimanded caused a couple of meetings with Church officials to go badly. All the officials wanted to do was lightly reprimand him, but when Luther reacted with cocky defiance the officials were indignant at the flagrant disrespect and insubordination with which he treated people who were just trying to do their jobs by quieting down a situation that was rapidly becoming a public spectacle. The issue for the Church now became Luther’s defiant and sinful treatment of the very Church authorities to whom he’d made vows of submission and obedience before God (Ec 5:4,5).
Seeing that things weren’t going well for him in the Church, and since his Latin manuscript was being met with silence, Luther, empowered by the nobles and by the masses, went on the offensive by making his feud very public. He published numerous tracts in German in order to rally the masses. And Luther was no dummy; he knew the masses of pewsters didn’t care about doctrine so he appealed to their nationalism and their greed. He wrote that the Italian hierarchy in Rome was selling indulgences, relics, etc., and thereby lining Italian pockets with German money. His “them vs. us” theme nicely fit the nationalistic mood. Because they were incapable of dealing with words and concepts and doctrine, the masses failed to notice when Luther’s tracts, which were passed out by the thousands, referred to the economic issues by saying, “We here come to the heart of the matter”, that he was contradicting the doctrinal emphasis of his Ninety-five Theses. Another of Luther’s tracts, Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, was wandering and poorly written but it did pit “the German people” against “Rome”, and it did use the same philosophy Ockham used in defense of Emperor Louis IV to justify “the secular arm” of the Church rising against “the spiritual arm” whenever the secular arm thought it appropriate. It was very well received. Another of his writings even called upon the ecclesiastical “spiritual arm” to start a revolution in the Church, which shocked, offended, and alienated many clerics like Erasmus who had previously supported Luther but now properly viewed him as a rabble-rousing advocate of rebellion against authority just like Lucifer. For its part the Vatican, now that Luther had publicly defied and attacked the authority of his superiors, had no alternative but to respond in the same way God did when His subordinate, Lucifer, rose in rebellion against His authority – it excommunicated him.
Luther was summoned before Church officials at the 1521 Imperial Diet, which was convened by the young new emperor, Charles V, at Worms. Luther was escorted and protected by a large cavalcade of German knights all the way to Worms. It was a huge spectacle with throngs of people cheering Luther. Luther and the church officials argued in Latin, therefore the massed spectators couldn’t understand a word. But that turned out to be to Luther’s advantage: The language barrier kept the masses from understanding how badly the proceedings went for the thirty-six year old rogue priest who had no way to counter the Church officials’ Scriptural and legal arguments against both his blatant disrespect for authority and his public attempts to foment rebellion. As a practical matter, however, the arguments were a charade; neither the nationalistic nobles nor the masses were there to listen with keen discernment to discussions about Biblical and legal concepts and doctrines like authority and rebellion – they were there to take a stand against their church no matter what happened to Luther.
As the proceedings drew to a close Luther was extremely frustrated: His gut told him the “just cause” theory of the Greek philosophers justified his rebellion. And yet these smug clerics had just used the Bible and Church and civil law – none of which he thought applied in his case – to humiliate him like a little schoolboy. His undisciplined hot temper and his frustration caused Luther to lose control of himself: He began hysterically screaming at the officials at the top of his lungs with red-faced apoplectic anger. And he did something interesting; he switched to German so the people would understand. One of his supporters also began yelling, and order ended. An early Protestant historian, in an effort to make a hero out of a screaming hysterical loser, and to use literary whitewash to create a dramatic and principled beginning to the Protestant Rebellion, portrayed Luther as proudly declaring with calm, disciplined resolve: “Here I stand. I can do no other.” It is now known to be a fabrication – Luther said no such thing.
Appalled and probably somewhat frightened by the erupting pandemonium, the young emperor quickly terminated the proceedings, at which point Luther turned and strode toward the cheering throngs with his arms raised in defiant triumph. Luther was neither a hero nor a lone warrior taking a stand on sola Scriptura. He was largely a puppet of the nationalistic nobles who had not escorted him to Worms only to have him apologize and ask for forgiveness. Luther knew if he did that the very knights who escorted him would have killed him. In fact, had the emperor not terminated the proceedings when he did the bloodshed might have started then instead of later. Yes, it had already been decided that blood was going to flow.
Luther was now an outlaw. He fled into the protective arms of the nationalist groups and went into a life of hiding. He lied about his name and told people he was “Junker Georg”, grew a beard to change his looks, illegally wore the attire of a knight, and grew very fat. He was shocked and horrified by how quickly the population became violent revolutionists, and he made a few hypocritical efforts to tell people rebellion is a sin – just as Erasmus had been telling him all along. As a result, many of his followers, called Martinians, denounced and ridiculed him and joined other groups or started their own. Luther’s cries for peace were ignored and the bloodshed began. Under the leadership of several other Catholic priests who started their own Protestant denominations, the Protestant Reformation forged ahead without him.
Luther continued to write and turned out some pretty good hymns. His writings were later used when a Protestant denomination was started that used his name. His writings have let us know that, while he was successful at dodging the law, he couldn’t hide from Satan. Presumably because Luther’s doctrines were so pure, Satan personally declared war on this fat outlaw, appeared several times to him and began to harass him. The Bible tells us Christ’s disciples had trouble dealing with devils, but Martin Luther wrote that he did not. When Satan launched a fart at Luther, Martin beat him at his own game by sending him running “mit einem furz” (with a fart). (Whether it was because Luther’s considerable girth greatly amplified the sound and frightened the Prince of Darkness or if his gas terribly offended Satan’s snoot the Protestant leader didn’t record.) But Satan did not give up easily. And Luther quickly found himself earnestly contending for the faith – even when Satan began fighting dirty.
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Modern morality-worshipping Christians who translated Luther’s accounts of these face-to-face battles with Satan saw something in Luther’s writings that caused them to react with the cartoonish absurdity of a woman who sees a mouse – their eyes grew wide and their hands flew to their faces as they danced on tippy-toe and screamed in horror. (This reaction is viewed with disdain by real soldiers of Christ who stand calmly, unmoved and unshaken, secure in the knowledge that in Christ they have the strength to handle even this crisis. They know the flighty, wimpy, immature reaction of these shrieking parade-ground soldiers who have never left the comfort of their padded pews shows they have not only never been in combat, they don’t even know what this spiritual war is all about.) What did these tradition-bound translators see in Luther’s writings that not only horrified them but also made them decide it was better to lie than translate it correctly? It was just a bunch of shit! You see, it wasn’t “ink” that Christian translators claim Satan hurled at Luther and Luther threw right back – it was shit. The great reformer said Satan would pick up some shit (which was presumably lying around on the floor in Luther’s abode) and throw it at Luther in an attempt to defeat him. Remaining undaunted though he was now soiled with shit (“bescheissen”), Luther, in the heat and fury of this desperate combat with the Devil, scraped the splattered shit off of himself and threw it back. In response Satan mooned Luther by baring his ass (“steiss”). (This makes Martin Luther the only known Christian in history who has seen Satan’s asp hole.) Luther, blood up now, told Satan to “kiss my steiss” and threatened to “throw him into my anus where he belongs” and “scheiss in his face.” There were multiple encounters, but one day Luther finally defeated the Devil by threatening to take Satan’s own pants off of him, shit in them, and hang them around Satan’s neck. It cannot be determined from Luther’s account if Satan was wearing the same trousers that he, in the earlier encounter, pulled down in order to moon Luther, or if it was a different pair. But we do now know that Satan wears trousers.
Some people have felt that the drama of these encounters and the fact that there were a number of them not only make Luther a Christian hero, but also make David’s brief encounter with Goliath, and Michael the archangel’s encounter with this same Devil (Jude 9), pale in comparison. Other people think these encounters may indicate the Protestant reformer was a low-life liar.
Doctrinally, Martin Luther was a product of Roman Catholicism and pagan philosophy. He never once questioned where Augustine got the immortality of the soul – in spite of the huge drama surrounding the issue during the time of Albertus and Aquinas. Luther did get rid of prayer beads and other trivia, but, by all accounts, never bothered to examine this major doctrine that had so shaken the Roman Catholic Church, and never attempted to establish it as Scriptural. He simply accepted it. He also accepted Reason as a fount of truth, and believed the three most important areas of Christian life were the church, political involvement, and the family.
Like other Catholics of his day, Luther never questioned Augustine’s teaching that sex is evil. Since sex and nudity were believed – among educated Catholics – to be sinful, anything that would cause someone to think about sex or nudity was added to the growing list of Catholic sins. Not only should women cover themselves, but they should do so with clothes that concealed their shape. Chaucer, for example, in The Canterbury Tales wrote about “hypocritical” Christian women: “God knows that the faces of some of them appear properly chaste and debonair” but at the same time their clothing was an “outrageous array” because of its “horrible disordinate scantiness.” And a man’s reproductive organ went from being a “penis” to a “member” to a “private member” to a “shameful private member.”
Harlots were, just as they were in the Bible, a respectable part of society. These courtesans, or companions, were popular, wealthy, and often prestigious members of society because they had contacts in high places. Anal and oral sex were common because there was no risk of pregnancy. Moves to suppress prostitution were both rare and unpopular because the unbiblical arguments against it made no sense.
Because they did not understand what the Bible says about sex, marriage, and divorce, Catholic and Protestant authorities of the day, such as Erasmus and Luther, taught some confusing and contradictory things. It was said that in marriages in which the sex was not satisfying, it was better to obtain sex from someone else rather than commit the sin of divorce. Luther also taught that anyone who thought her husband to be impotent or infertile should secretly have sex with other men until she got pregnant and then say her husband fathered the child. If her husband found out about her activities and tried to stop her, she could divorce him because he was preventing her from being fruitful and multiplying (Ge 1:28). Luther lost more of his following when he declared, based on Dt 23:18, sex to be lawful only if you got it for free – in other words it was a sin to hire a whore. And, like the Augustine-influenced Chaucer, Luther was indignant because, in general, European society wasn’t offended by, and therefore tolerated, public nudity as part of life. He complained that the women of his day were “immodest, shameless” because at times they’d “go bare before and behind, and there is no one to punish or correct them.”
As this Augustinian prudishness spread, Christians ignored their Bibles and decided to make it a sin if a girl married before her twelfth birthday, and a boy before his fourteenth birthday. (The Bible neither discourages nor makes it a sin to become one of Christ’s brides at any age.) When explorers later sailed around the world they found that other societies in warm climes went naked some of the time. Teaching these “naked savages” that nudity was sinful became an immediate and major concern of missionaries. This self-righteousness peaked in the Victorian era as Christians heaped more tradition on top of what they’d already gotten from Ambrose, Augustine, and Luther: Hypocritically thinking the appetite for food was good but the appetite for sex was sinful, Protestants decided even food could cause their lust to conceive at the dinner table if they permitted the tasty limb of a chicken to be called a “leg”, so they coined the term “drumstick.” Then every time they said “drumstick” they congratulated themselves for not being “carnal.” Once this “doctrine” was accepted, Christians – who are normally loath to apply the principles behind true Bible doctrines – demonstrated an inventive zeal for morality by applying it to other things in life: Christians with money who could afford upholstered furniture demonstrated their moral superiority over Christians with “bare” or “naked” furniture by putting a skirt of fabric on their chairs to “decently” cover the sinfully-seductive curve of the wooden legs. Christians with money also covered their bodies with layer upon layer of fine fabric and jewelry and showed it all off by taking Sunday strolls or drives and made condescending remarks about the naked and grimy poor out toiling in the fields, because the elite thought God made it easier to avoid sin if you had money. But He made it just the opposite. Another example of the widespread Christian acceptance of morality as an authority in all matters of faith and practice can be found in the Presbyterian minister, Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), who invented the plain “graham cracker” because he believed spicy and heavily-seasoned foods sinfully increased sexual desire. And the moral Christian, John Kellogg (1852-1943), one of the founders of the breakfast cereal company, preached that all sexual activity was sinful carnality, even between husbands and wives (in over 40 years of marriage he never had sexual intercourse with his wife); and he became a vegetarian because he believed eating meat heightened the sinful desire to masturbate, which he called “Onanism” after Ge 38:8-10, which is covered in chapter D11. The zeal for morality would produce many “Crusaders against Carnality”, such as Anthony Comstock (1844-1915) who described himself as a “weeder in God’s garden.” He founded an organization to prevent the public from transgressing against the rapidly-growing number of “moral sins”, and in 1873 he succeeded in having the U.S. Congress pass a law against the sin of sending through the mail material that might inflame the prurient passions and imaginations of people by depicting or describing nudity or sexual acts. Sinful material that needed to be weeded from God’s garden included marital manuals and medical textbooks on anatomy, which started the long debate over what is “pornography”, an argument that was settled by creating a “standard” that was a blend of ever-changing morality and public opinion: “I’ll know it when I see it.” In that way “sins” in Martin Luther’s day were different from “sins” in the Victorian era and were different from “sins” today – because they are based not on what the Bible says but on the shifting sands of pagan morality and man becoming the authority in all things by “knowing” good and evil when he sees it.
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The real historical significance of Martin Luther wasn’t his doctrine. After all, most Christians don’t care about doctrine, which is why they prefer morality – you don’t have to study the Bible to learn the latest morals. Luther was important because he showed society – indeed, he inspired society – how to act. The Greek philosophers and Augustine and Aquinas had taught the elite in society how Reason can justify rebellion. Until now history had seen only a few instances of minor rebellion among the educated – such as when Emperor Louis IV and William of Ockham used Aquinas to justify their rebellion. And if commoners rebelled – such as the Peasant’s Revolt – it was always a relatively small number whose action was disapproved of by most of the rest of the masses. Martin Luther is the one who took “just cause rebellion” out of the scholarly realm of philosophic principle and made it – from that day forward – a part of morality. And that gave it to the masses who don’t want to have to read, think, and study in obedience to commandments like 2 Ti 2:15; they just want to know by letting their “conscience be their guide.” By his very public example Martin Luther did more to make Reason a part of morality than any other person.
For this reason the intelligentsia who had the ability to understand principles and concepts – like Erasmus – were horrified at what Luther had done and broke fellowship with him. Erasmus knew Catholicism had problems but he thought they could be fixed. The value of Catholicism, as he saw it, was its ability to unify Christendom the world over by being a social, governmental, religious, and moral authority that preserved order by setting and enforcing standards – something Europe lacked when the Roman Empire collapsed until the rise of the Roman Catholic Church brought it back. Erasmus didn’t think society would benefit from a bunch of divisive, independent, Protestant denominations and went to his grave convinced that none of the Protestant denominations would ever become the authoritative, unifying standard in Western civilization that Catholicism had been.
Protestants think Erasmus was wrong to believe his church could be reformed. And if you were to say, “I don’t think the Catholic Church would ever have reformed, and therefore I think the Protestants were right to ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins’” (Re 18:4), you’d be just as much of a humanist as Erasmus. God can straighten out any mess if His people would just repent. It is never right for us to try to straighten out the authorities over us by rebelling. If you think an organization, church, or nation is ungodly, or you want to escape unjust persecution Take a hike! When God saw that Joseph and Mary’s child was in danger from their government, He told them to Take a hike! and go live under a different – and pagan – government. That’s right; God told them to go live under the pagan dictator in Egypt. Another fairly good example of the way we are to be is the Pilgrims. When they thought the religious climate in England was getting worse, they decided to Take a hike! and go to North America. That’s what “Come out of her, my people” means. It does not mean, “Start a revolution, my people.” Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft according to God Almighty (1 Sa 15:23), so let’s stop applying moral principles to food and furniture, and learn to start applying Biblical principles to history so we can then apply them in our everyday lives: Your homework assignment is to figure out if Martin Luther and the other ex-Catholic “reformers” were practicing witchcraft (as in glorifying the Devil) when they started Protestantism. Your assignment is not to figure out if they had some good ideas or if Catholic doctrines sucked or if Robert Kennedy was right when he said, “If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.” And your assignment is not to figure out what I think; we all already know I think Luther should have quietly and respectfully resigned from the priesthood and preached the truth to those who had ears to hear. Your assignment is to figure out if what you believe is in accordance with the Book the Lord Jesus Christ is going to very strictly and literally go by when He has you stand, alone and naked, before Him at Judgment (Jn 12:48).
Because Martin Luther started the Great Religious Rebellion, also called the Protestant Reformation, he symbolizes the first fruits of the Age of Reason in the religious arena. It can be argued that this was Western society’s first practical philosophy-based step towards independence and egalitarianism. This also marked the Protestant doctrinal acceptance of rebellion against authority – a doctrine that exalted pagan philosophy and ignored the word of God, such as Ge 2:17 and Ro 13:1-5. It was a major and radical turning point in history. King Henry VIII would soon start the Great Political Rebellion by hypocritically following Luther’s example – just like another Englishman, Ockham, hypocritically adopted the teachings of Aquinas. But before we move on to the British Enlightenment, let’s briefly look at some of the practical changes in society that would happen as a result of Reason.
Explorers like Magellan circled the globe and proved Christians were wrong about basic things like the flat earth, and therefore might be wrong about religious doctrine, too. The explorers gave credibility to the wise old Greek philosophers who had, a thousand years before Magellan was born, decided the earth was spherical. They also found that God seemed to be blessing non-Christians, because pagan societies were flourishing all over the round world in spite of Christianity’s teaching that God was greatly upset that pagans weren’t following Him. And Christianity, which had been called into question by philosophy, lost more credibility as God’s one true religion when explorers reported how many pagan doctrines and practices closely resembled those in the Bible, which seemed to suggest all religions were acceptable to God because they all seemed to have a number of shared beliefs. People didn’t know the doctrinal similarities were a result of the division of the human race in Abraham’s day, so the similarities convinced them to accept the Greek teaching that all men really do have souls with eternal life and that all men really are connected via Reason and Natural Law to The Truth.
Ways to measure time were invented – clocks – and Time became a new influence on society. The old wisdom of “antique civilizations”, which science was now “proving” to be more reliable than the Bible and Christianity, had always been theorized (based on Reason) to be “more reliable” because the corrupting ravages of Time had had a shorter span in which to influence the Ancient Ones. Even the Bible, which Christians had always considered to be the incorruptible and eternal word of God, was now deemed to be just as susceptible to the corruptions of Time as it would be if man had written it. For that Reason old Bible manuscripts, no matter how corrupt, would be used in the making of “modern” Bible versions and would be called “older” and “better” and “more reliable” because older and better were now believed to be synonyms.
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Because older was better, certain scholars, called antiquarians, devoted themselves to the task of finding the Truth of Natural Law by researching old customs and laws in the belief that older societies had been less influenced by Time and were therefore more prone to be in touch with Nature’s Laws. And because Christians now accepted Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas as legitimate “precedents” upon which to build doctrines (now that we knew pagan philosophers were at least as likely to be in touch with God’s Natural Laws as Christians), it must therefore be appropriate to research old pagan Roman laws and codes, old documents like the Magna Carta, old pagan tribal council rulings, old court cases, etc., in order to find “legal precedents” upon which to build Western civilization. These antiquarian methods were increasingly needed because the more Christians learned the more they realized philosophy – secular Reason divorced from the Bible – was the only way to avoid repeating the embarrassing mistakes of the past, which Christian societies only made because they narrow-mindedly relied on the Scriptures as not only the sole authority in all matters of faith, but as the sole authority in all matters of practical life as well.
Science, which by definition is knowledge derived from the secular/philosophical method, became a superstar. Superstitious Christians had previously speculated that God ran the universe, that He was the active “Prime Mover” of the Greek philosophers. But Isaac Newton observed the heavens through Galileo’s telescope, put together some of Pythagoras’ mathematical equations, and “proved” the Greeks were right about the universe being run by Nature’s Laws – in this case by the law of gravity (which is still not understood). But even though Newton was so much of an Enlightened Christian that he rejected the deity of Christ and thought science should be part of theology so science could “correct” religion, he didn’t want to leave “God” out entirely, so he declared that God was indeed Aristotle’s Prime Mover who started the ball rolling way back then but who leaves everything up to gravity now. Newton was widely acclaimed as “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived.” Buddha, Alexander, Christ, Zoroaster, Little Bo Peep, Aristotle, and Mohammed all contributed in their way, but Newton finally proved to all men of Reason that the Way of Truth was the philosophical way of humanistic Reason. He was called the “Prophet of Enlightenment.” Mathematics was validated as a great revealer of truth – just like the Greeks said. And as the years and centuries passed, science would never fail mankind. It would rapidly replace religion as the dominant influence on both government and society. Kings used to rely on religion to win their wars; now they would rely on science. Religion in general and Christianity in particular became and remain second-rate forces in and on society in the Western world.
It must be understood that science is not different from or separate from philosophy. Philosophy is merely using the carnal/secular mind in the pursuit of truth. Science is what you learn during that secular pursuit. By definition, religion cannot be involved with either philosophy or science. Since about 1900 the two words have polarized in usage so that many people think one has to do with vague mental concepts while the other concerns hard facts of life. In other words, today the specialized applications of the same philosophy have caused some people to incorrectly think science and philosophy are fundamentally different.
Until recently the courses in our educational institutions that we’d consider “science” or “mathematics” courses were called “natural philosophy” courses (look it up in the dictionary) because they are offspring of the philosophic method – which today is called the scientific method – of finding truths via the Natural mind as taught by the Greek philosophers. For example, in the 1850s T.J. “Stonewall” Jackson taught courses in Physics and Optics at the Virginia Military Institute. Those were called Natural Philosophy courses and he was a Natural Philosophy professor – titles that were relics from only a generation before when educated men still thought there was some validity to the Natural Law upon which the United States was founded.
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