In his submissions, Nicholas indicates the inseparable association between the church and history. The origins and proliferation of the various denominations present in the current dispensation can only be understood when their history is interrogated. The medieval church was marred with feuds, primitivism, and coerced subscription to Christianity and or metaphysical dogma. During this period Europe was at war. The war pitted Catholics, Protestants, and the Orthodox churches. Modernity in Christianity was not experienced not until the enlightenment period that was characteristic of the period after 1700 AD.
Holistically, historical modernity can be defined as the process by which humanity appreciate science and politics. Enlightenment came with the appreciation of science as an alternative for religion in addressing problems in society. With enlightenment came Primitive nationalism. Under this dispensation people no longer desired to be separated along religious and or family affiliations. There were drastic changes in peoples’ perception of life. Integration of scientific knowledge helped in the decolonization of the peoples’ mindsets. It influenced independent, autonomous thinking and developmental capitalism in society (Van Der Veer and Lehmann 121). Notably in the period before science came afore, knowledge was construed as a revelation from god. Science challenged these very tenets of knowledge. Science indicated that knowledge was a product of the human mind through critical thinking and analysis. It bred the foundations of humanism, away from spiritualism and metaphysically poised thought frames.
The speaker notes how deeply entrenched of religion is, particularly the church, in our societies. However, unlike mandatory religious subscriptions of the medieval, the nationalistic struggle guaranteed people of religious freedoms. Modernity has seen formation of breakaway factions from medieval churches. The Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church. These were often motivated by varied perspectives concerning the acceptability of some practices within the churches heralded by secular culture. With secularization of Christianity came denominations or splinter factions in churches (Van Der Veer and Lehmann 100). These were incited by the inability and or rigidity of religious organizations concerning liberalization of core values (Van Der Veer and Lehmann 98). Modernity can be compared to a radicalization schema within the church. Just like society has waded through various ages in time including the ice age, Stone Age and the industrialization age, critics agitate for the church to also exhibit similar tendencies with time.
The speaker depicts socio-religious leadership mirrored from the theory of atonement in idealistic fashion. He notes that conservative Christians use the life and death of ‘Jesus’ Christ often to exemplify God’s love for the people. The ‘truth’ he notes, motivates conservative Christians in their quest to ape biblical teachings of Christianity. Paradoxically skeptics capitalize on the inconsistencies and deficiencies of ‘blind belief’ to challenge supernaturalism associated with atonement. Their unanswered questions motivate their delving into science to resolve such quagmires. These skeptics and critics have then seen the relegation of religious inclinations to ‘opinion’ while science and mathematics has been elevated to ‘truth’ due to the reproducibility and empirical nature (Mbiti 112)of the latter as opposed to the former.
A deeper understanding of the historical impetus of Christianity unveils the competition that has bedecked science and religion. Science has always proven as religion’s arch nemesis. The speaker notes that historically, science and Christianity have been entangled in standoffs. These standoffs have pitted fundamentalism against modernism. Modernists vouched for a time-tailored religion while fundamentalists wanted the religious status quo maintained. The then arbitrator settled for a dollar fine in appreciation of the importance of both spheres in the growth and development of the human being.
Modernity has heralded a crop of individuals who study religious but do not subscribe to any religions faiths. Their reading is basically castigatory. They offer a basis for religious discourse. They challenge the consistency and authenticity of written scripture against known scientific principles. For instance separation of water in the Nile during the exodus was attributed to damming or channeling of the water by some quarters.
Mbiti, John S. Concepts of God in Africa. London/New York: Heinemann , 1970.
Van Der Veer, Peter and Hartmut Lehmann. Nation and Religion. New York: Princeton university press, 1999.