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History 2: Modernity

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  1. Lesson 1: Orientation
    11 Steps
  2. Lesson 2: The Great Stage: Introduction to the West
    13 Steps
  3. Lesson 3: Ideas Have Consequences: The Enlightenment
    11 Steps
  4. Lesson 4: The Sacred & the Secular: Empires, Pirates, and Rulers
    11 Steps
  5. Lesson 5: Royal Science: The Scientific Revolution
    11 Steps
  6. Lesson 6: The Creators: Pascal, Vermeer, Johnson, and Bach
    11 Steps
  7. Lesson 7: The Devil Has No Stories: The French Revolution
    12 Steps
  8. Lesson 8: I Am The Revolution: Napoleon Bonaparte
    13 Steps
  9. Lesson 9: Deus Ex Machina: The Industrial Revolution
    11 Steps
  10. Lesson 10: The Antiquary & the Muse: Scott, Austen, and the Romantic Poets
    12 Steps
  11. Lesson 11: No Vision Too Large: Wilberforce & Chalmers
    10 Steps
  12. Lesson 12: Culture = State: Nationalism
    12 Steps
  13. Lesson 13: Eminent Culture: Victorianism
    11 Steps
  14. Lesson 14: The West and the Rest: Victorian Missions
    13 Steps
  15. Lesson 15: The New Priesthood: Scientism and Darwinism
    11 Steps
  16. Lesson 16: The Square Inch War: Kuyper and Wilson
    12 Steps
  17. Lesson 17: The Pity of War: World War I
    11 Steps
  18. Lesson 18: Domesticity Versus Tyranny: Versailles, Dictators, and America’s Roaring Twenties
    12 Steps
  19. Lesson 19: Modern Art and the Death of Culture: Art and Architecture
    11 Steps
  20. Lesson 20: I’ll Take My Stand: The Thirties
    11 Steps
  21. Lesson 21: The Lost Generation: Literary Converts
    12 Steps
  22. Lesson 22: The Wrath of Man: World War II
    11 Steps
  23. Lesson 23: The Cross and Perseverance: World War II, Bonhoeffer, and Churchill
    13 Steps
  24. Lesson 24: Personal Peace and Affluence: The Fifties
    11 Steps
  25. Lesson 25: The Great Divorce: The Sixties
    11 Steps
  26. Lesson 26: The West Like the Rest: The Seventies and the End of Modernity
    11 Steps
  27. Lesson 27: The Triumph of the West: The Fall of Communism and Postmodernity
    12 Steps
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The following transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar. It is provided for assistance in note-taking and review.

Welcome to a new lesson. We actually have quite a bit to talk about this week. Our title, you can go ahead and write that down, this is going to be called “The Sacred and the Secular.” and I’ll unpack that idea in a moment. Our topic for this week, actually I have four major things I want to address this week. I want to address some of the great empires of the day and the time. I want to address the missions, especially of the Jesuits. I want to address the whole issue of piracy and pirates of the time, as well as some of the rulers, what were known as the enlightened despots at the time.

But for this very first lecture, we’ll of course take a look at the principle. Now before I unpack the principle or even explain the title, I want to go back to the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who we talked about back in the Enlightenment lecture.

Specifically his famous work, The Social Contract. It was in The Social Contract that he actually explained his whole philosophy of what a perfect state looked like. Now his primary question that he was asking was, “How can a man be united to every other man?” In other words, how can you have this ideal or even perhaps a perfect unity in the state, in the government, kind of this peaceful, amicable, get-along society?

How can you have that and at the same time still have freedom and liberty for all who are involved in this? Rousseau’s solution to this was very one-sided. If you recall from our previous lesson, it was Rousseau who said a man must either be holy himself, meaning he kind of has to be that noble savage out in his own, or he has to be given holy to the state.

That was his solution. He said that men must give themselves wholly to society, to their government. They must give themselves wholly to what he called the whole community. That was his solution. What he argued, therefore, was that no individual must have any rights that another individual does not have. So this could apply to how much money someone has. It could apply to how much property someone has. It could even get down into details such as how much education someone has, or whether or not they’re married, or whether or not they have children, or how many children they have. That’s where you really get into these problems. But still, he argued that everyone should essentially be equal in what they have, particularly in rights, but also, as I mentioned to you, in what they actually possessed or owned.

Ultimately, what he did was he de-emphasized the individual, and he said that no single person should be given over to another. In other words, his ideal was that every single person in the entire community would essentially govern every single other person, which of course sounds like confusion or chaos.

Of course, his solution to this was an extreme democracy, where the will of the people, whatever the people vote on at any given time, that determines all laws, that determines all course of action.

But of course, Rousseau was also practical. He had to figure out, okay, how does this actually look? And so he did believe there had to be a sovereign power, which he called the people, but this still meant that there had to be an actual group, a limited group of people who guided everything, who were ideally going to be chosen by the people or perhaps gotten rid of by the people.

Now keep that idea filed away because that’ll help explain the French Revolution when we get to it and how you see the cycle of leaders appear and then disappear as violently as they came in usually.

And that has a lot to do with the French Revolution using Rousseau as their ideal thinker. Anyway, Rousseau goes on in “The Social Contract” And his basic argument to kind of make all of this work is that individuals are essentially allowed, in a sense, to have their own opinions and so forth.

But ideally, all individuals will have one great agreement. They will all be of one mind. They will all share some kind of common affection or love together. Now, I mentioned to you that in Christendom, the common affection that united people was often the faith. It was actually a common love of Christ himself. But when that goes away with modernity, or at the very least is de-emphasized with modernity, something else had to be chosen to replace that common affection.

And most of the Enlightenment thinkers, especially Rousseau, chose the state to be that actual replacement. He ultimately argued that man should really try to keep his private opinions to himself. and he should divorce especially his religious beliefs from his social life, from his civic life, from his public life. This really is kind of the crutch of what we’re looking at today, which is the whole division between the sacred realm, that realm of faith, that realm of worship, that realm of belief, from the secular realm, that realm of civil government.

Many of the Enlightenment philosophers and many of the thinkers of the day, and you’re gonna see this progression throughout modernity, began to argue there should be a very strict separation between those two areas. Almost like the separation of church and state, but much broader than that. See, when the founding fathers talked about the separation of church and state, they were often referring to the idea that those two different realms should be just that.

They should be two different realms. They should have separate leaders. They should have essentially separate rules and laws and separate powers. But it didn’t mean that the two should influence each other. When Rousseau talks about these two realms, he really means that the realm of the individual, the realm of private belief, and so forth, should not influence the realm of society, because the individual should surrender even his own worldview, even his own thoughts and opinions to the greater good of the state.

Let me give you an example, as I can actually just read to you from Rousseau’s Social Contract. He says this, “In fact, each individual may, as a man, have a private will, dissimilar or contrary to the general will which he has as a citizen.

” So he acknowledges the fact that people are going to have different opinions than sometimes society as a whole or other people. “His own particular interest may dictate to him very differently from the common interest. His mind, naturally and absolutely independent, may regard what he owes to the common cause as a gratuitous contribution, the omission of which would be less interest to others and the payment would be burdensome to himself, and considering the moral person, which constitutes the state as a creature of the imagination, because it is not a man, he may wish to enjoy the rights of a citizen without being disposed to fulfill the duties of a subject.

” What he’s basically saying is that if you’re going to be a citizen, it’s all or nothing. You either have to be entirely sold out to the society, to the worldview of the state, and to the power of the state, or you really can’t be a citizen at all. He says, he goes on, he says, “An injustice which would in its progress cause the ruin of the body politic.” So if someone is actually not in full agreement, it would totally break apart his idea, or his ideal I should say, of a perfect society.

He goes on, he says, “In order therefore to prevent this, to prevent the social compact from becoming a vain form, to prevent men from really having a free market of ideas and so forth, it tacitly comprehends this engagement which alone can give effect to the others.

That, here’s the key, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to it by the whole body, which is in fact only forcing him to be free.

For this is the condition which guarantees his absolute personal independence to every citizen of the country, a condition which gives motion and affects a political machine, which alone renders all civil engagements legal, and without which they would be absurd, tyrannical, and subject to the most enormous abuses.

” In other words, what a society really has to do is it has to compel the individual to agree with it. And in other words, he says this really isn’t taking away liberty at all. It’s kind of this interesting turn of phrase that he uses. He says you’re forcing someone to be free. In other words, you use force, sometimes violent force if necessary, to force someone to experience liberty and freedom. Kind of reminiscent of when my brother used to dunk me in the pool. I was the younger brother, so I often was at his mercy. And when my mom would say, “Hey, why are you doing that?” And my brother would say, “Oh, he likes it.” I didn’t actually like it, but my brother was trying to force me, I suppose, to like it in a way because he certainly seemed to enjoy it.

Anyway, Rousseau’s idea is not actually that much different. You force men to be free because they simply don’t know what’s best for them. What this essentially means is it means that the state, led by these philosophers and these enlightened despots, the state itself becomes the parent and we are the children.

In other words, it’s a replacement for the family as much as it is a replacement for the church. Now in order to kind of understand where we’re going with today’s lecture, it’s going to cover many different things, let’s go ahead and talk about these terms of sacred and secular. Now sacred is a term that it’s really kept the same meaning throughout time. It simply means something that is holy or something that has been made holy, something that is consecrated, something that is set apart. In other words, it generally refers to issues of the church, it generally refers to issues of pastors and the priesthood, it generally refers to issues of worship, and so forth.

Secular is a very different word. If you go back to the Middle Ages, in fact, it’s been specifically traced back in the dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, that is, to the year 1290, that secular quote meant living in the world, not belonging to a religious order.

In other words, secular meant something like “of the state” or even sometimes “of a certain time” or a certain generation. It’s very curious, Johann Sebastian Bach, for example, had multiple pieces of music, multiple cantatas, for example, that he wrote. Most of them were considered sacred music, meaning most of what Bach wrote was meant for actual church worship to be used in a church service in an actual church building or cathedral for the express purpose of worship.

But Bach also wrote a couple of secular pieces. In other words, he wrote what we sometimes call secular music, which if you’re like me and you grew up in the 1980s, you might have been taught that secular music was bad and that Christian music was good.

What’s interesting about Christendom is you don’t really see that division. That’s kind of a modern division, which is my whole point today. Bach did have secular music. He wrote one piece about coffee and he wrote one piece about tobacco. That was his secular music. He saw it as not fit for worship properly, so I think we can understand why that would not be appropriate for worship in terms of congregational worship, but he did see those two things as being things that God had made and meant for man to enjoy, albeit in the appropriate form and in the appropriate moderation, but still he called those pieces secular because they simply weren’t meant for the church. What’s interesting though is that this term secular takes on a whole different meaning by the time we get to the 1800s. In fact, it’s in 1846 that the definition of secular shows up as being something like this, “doctrine that morality should be based on. It’s the well-being of man in the present life without any regard to religious belief or a hereafter.” In other words, the term secular by the time we get to the 19th century has a whole new meaning. And really when we move from the 13th century where we began with the definition of secular all the way to the 19th we’re looking at that transition called modernity. And that really begins in earnest kind of in the 17th century and moving forward from there. The whole idea the secular realm has nothing to do with the sacred. It was the whole divorce between religion on the one hand and everything else you do in life on the other hand. This is why modernity often sees Christianity and science at odds with each other. This is why modernity often sees faith on the one hand and a reason at odds with each other or perhaps faith and evidence with odds at each other or the whole idea of worship on Sunday as being completely separate from what you do in your calling or your work the rest of the week.

This is why modernity is often separated as firmly as it possibly can the church from the state, not just in the old Christendom sense of the two having two different authorities, but in the sense that the two really should not influence each other.

Or actually, in modernity, usually the state influences the church much more than the church actually influences the state. This is why you also see in modernity the whole separation between what is good for the soul from what is good for the body, which eventually leads to the denial that there even is a soul to begin with.

Christianity, however, never actually saw things this way. It’s It’s always seen the gospel affecting the whole of life. It’s always seen man’s chief end. Here’s your principle, taken from the Westminster Catechism. It’s always seen man’s chief end to be the glorification of God and the enjoyment of him forever. It’s a very covenantal view of life. This whole concept that Christianity affects all of who we are. It affects us because we are creatures that live in space. We live in time, we live in history, and all of those things are created by God. Everything we engage with, both time-wise and creation-wise or space-wise, all of those things were made by God. All of the things that we do are meant to be a worship of Him and an enjoyment of Him and the things that He has made.

And so it was a very foreign idea to take religion, at least a very foreign idea to Christendom and properly to the church, biblically speaking, it was a very foreign idea to take religion and to categorize it into this one area that was never supposed to break out from there.

Thankfully in modernity there are many, many rebels who do not go along with this idea. We’ll actually talk about some of these missionaries who understood that religion actually affects the culture around them in this week’s lesson.