Thursday, January 19, 2006

A little more salt...

I think that Alan Wolfe may have missed the big story implicit in the fact that such a book as this one by Rodney Stark is being written by a Baylor University professor.

Why do I say that?

Because it means that the Protestant Reformation is finally over.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. But listen to what I mean. Back in the late 70s, when I was an undergraduate at Baylor, the place still had something of the rank oder of anti-Catholicism about it. To be sure, Baylor was changing with the times, but it was distinctively Southern Baptist and assertively Protestant.

What do we now see? That a man who coulld write The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success holds a distinguished position at Baylor as a special "University Professor."

So, why is this significant? Because the book -- so far as I can judge from having read about it -- could easily have been titled The Victory of Reason: How Catholicism Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success.

This signifies an enormous turnaround among Protestants, especially Evangelicals (who happen to be the Prostestant church's future). They are embracing the history of the pre-Reformation Western Church where they used to denigrate it as an age of corrupt Catholic obscurantism, darkness, and oppression. This doesn't mean that they'll all be converting to Catholicism (though some are), but it does mean more cooperation of the kind that we see in groups such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

That is the big story.

6 Comments:

At 7:45 PM, Blogger The Root said...

My interest is piqued. I need to check this book out. However, if there are any indications that it will turn into a diatribe on "how the founding fathers were Christians and based this country on its principles", I will stop reading it immediately. In the bible belt, I heard far too many of those speeches...

 
At 8:19 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The Stark book? I don't think that it's about the United States, but about the long history of the West, so you're probably safe.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:22 AM, Anonymous john said...

The following review gives a pretty good rundown of Stark's book and the claims he makes.


http://www.taemag.com/issues/
articleid.18905/article_detail.asp

 
At 3:59 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, John. I've just now quickly read the review, which is certainly a lot more positive.

Actually, it's too positive, or seems so since it offers no critical analysis of the book.

Between Alan Wolfe's angry review and Kate Campaigne's glowing report, there expands a great gulf to be bridged.

Or filled in.

To be frank, I think Stark's basic thesis likely has merit. Modern science, technology, capitalism, democracy, and rights developed within a European Christian culture.

Why?

On the face of it, one would think that Christianity might have played an influential, facilitating role.

But when I look at the details of history, I find a mixed record, with Christianity, at times, setting itself against science, technology, capitalism, democracy, and rights.

So, it's not entirely clear to me that Stark's thesis is correct, despite its plausibility.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:25 PM, Anonymous john said...

Hello Jeffery,

you wrote:

<< To be frank, I think Stark's basic thesis likely has merit. Modern science, technology, capitalism, democracy, and rights developed within a European Christian culture.

Why?

On the face of it, one would think that Christianity might have played an influential, facilitating role.

But when I look at the details of history, I find a mixed record, with Christianity, at times, setting itself against science, technology, capitalism, democracy, and rights.

So, it's not entirely clear to me that Stark's thesis is correct, despite its plausibility.

Jeffery Hodges >>

Well, as they say; The Devil is in the Details. In light of you uncertainty, maybe you should just read his book and see if the details check out.

Regards,
John

 
At 3:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

John, yes, I probably should. Have you had a chance to read it?

Jeffery Hodges

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