imperialism and missionary activity
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4.1 A History of Christianity

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Imperialism and Missionary Activity. 4.1 A History of Christianity. Who benefitted most from Christian Missionaries accompanying explorer and traders to the East and the New World? . Fertile Question. A Whole New World.

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fertile question
Who benefitted most from Christian Missionaries accompanying explorer and traders to the East and the New World? Fertile Question
a whole new world
A Whole New World
  • Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries not only faced a new church and many new ways of being Christian.
  • The Church and people alike faced a new social order: expansion of the known geographical world; explosions in knowledge, especially in science, and middle class wealth built on trade, including in human beings.
salvation and civilization
Salvation and Civilization
  • European exploration and discovery, especially of Africa, Oceania and the Americas operated out of a world view of cultural superiority.
  • It was motivated by a thirst for new ideas and knowledge, a lust for wealth and a genuine desire to bring (European) Christianity to these new worlds.
  • There existed no double standard in the minds of explorers, traders and missionaries between the twin intents to convert and enslave; to colonise and destroy existing cultures and replace them with a white, European, medieval version of Christianity.
cortez pious mass murderer
Cortez: Pious Mass Murderer
  • A good example of this dichotomy of the message of Love delivered at the point of a sword is Hernan Cortez, Spanish Conquistador, who with a handful of men destroyed the Aztec Empire which initially believed him to be the God Quetzalcoatl returned.
  • Cortez was a pious Christian who prayed daily, attended Mass and confessed his sins with tears in his eyes.
  • Yet he was also a mass murderer, thief and scheming opportunist in the name of God.
  • Everything in the new lands “discovered” and colonised by European explorers, including the peoples, were at the service of the conquerers.
  • Slavery of captured peoples, especially in the Americas, was common. In the New World, there were slaves in every colony.
  • The Dominican Friar Bartolome de lasCasas in 1514 wrote of seeing slaves worked to death, branded, murdered, roasted and fed to dogs.
  • Churchmen in Portugal, Spain, France, England, Holland and the American colonies stood by and did little about slavery.
the african solution
The African Solution
  • Fra de lasCasas did attempt a solution to native slavery: he suggested the use of African “prisoners of war” who had fought against their colonial invaders. This was considered more morally acceptable.
  • Millions of African slaves were imported into the Americas and were treated just as appallingly.
  • De lasCasas realised his mistake, and set out to have all slavery banned. But legal success in Spain was un-enforcible in the New World.
  • Slavery was officially abolished in Britain in 1833 and 1865 in the USA.
the great awakening
The Great Awakening
  • While Europe remained bitterly divided by the Reformation, in the American colonies, a more tolerant society was being forged.
  • George Whitfield was a powerful preacher who in the 1740’s took the American colonies by storm and ushered in what is known as The Great Awakening.
  • It was the beginning of the Evangelical movement in North America, which was more egalitarian and represented the difference between the Old Europe and the New Americas.
  • In 1607 the separating Puritans, Calvin followers, fled England and persecution, for the New World.
  • There, in New England, they hoped to build Calvin’s City of God, out of the “blank slate” of the New World.
  • Despite the intolerance shown to them in old Europe, they allowed no toleration in the New World- dissent was a threat to the City of God.
  • Initially in the colonies, each sect of Christianity- Puritans, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Catholics- was given their own territory.
freedom of worship
Freedom of Worship
  • The change from tolerance to freedom of worship in the American colonies came with two personalities: Roger Williams and William Penn.
  • Roger Williams came to America in 1631 preaching Freedom of Religion and in 1682 William Penn established Pennsylvania with an inclusive Constitution guaranteeing freedom of worship for anyone believing in the One God.
  • The Capital, Philadelphia- the City of Brotherly Love- became a refuge for all kinds of people.
equal status separation of church and state
Equal Status, Separation of Church and State
  • The War of Independence (1775-81) and the Writing of the Constitution (1791) not only guaranteed the separation of Church and State, but also went beyond tolerance to give all religion equal status- that is the freedom to practise all religions.
  • This attempt to avoid the religious wars of Europe did not result in chaos or rejection of religion, but rather an explosion of all kinds of religion and produced one of the most religious and Christian nations in the world.
  • The United States was first to divide Church and State and became a model for the world.
other british colonies
Other British Colonies
  • In other British colonies such as Australia and New Zealand, however, the nature of the settlements resulted in the old hostilities of Europe being transported with the colonists.
  • The Australian (penal) colonies, structured around Anglican British overlords and Irish Catholic convicts, resulted in bitter sectarian, social divisions which lasted well into the twentieth century.
the second great wave of missionaries
The Second Great Wave of Missionaries
  • The first wave of missionaries after the Reformation were the Catholics, led by the Jesuits.
  • By the 19th Century, the Church of Rome was in retreat from the world and under attack from rationalism.
  • The ascent of Protestants had begun. By the end of the 18th century, voluntary missionaries- laity, couples, families and entire communities flowed into Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Their message was of an accessible God; of freedom of thought, speech and religion.
  • Women were directly involved for the first time. They were respectable, adventurous and influential, especially with children.
same old problems
Same Old Problems
  • Protestant ideals became intertwined with colonialism and profit.
  • As with the Catholic Missionaries, the Missionary Movement became the other arm of colonialism – subjecting the natives and “civilising” them.
  • David Livingstone’s African dream of being a Missionary General was a perfect example.
  • Christianity’s inevitable association with the scandal of slavery and the superiority of European culture meant that there were very few conversions of African slaves.
the mormons
The Mormons
  • In the 1820’s in Utah, Joseph Smith founded the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.
  • It was a response to the modern world, which they believed was going to hell.
  • They were convinced the Kingdom of God on earth was immanent.
  • Banning tea, coffee and alcohol and promoting polygamy and tithing, the Church quickly gained power and wealth.
  • By the end of the 19th century, they numbered a quarter of a million and were present in 150 countries.
the church and the republique
The Church and the Republique
  • In 1793, the victors of the French Revolution placed a statue of a prostitute, named the Goddess of Reason- on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
  • It was a repudiation of the excesses of the Catholic church and a declaration of the backwardness of religion.
  • Churches in France were closed. Church land was requisitioned by the state to fund the revolution. This represented some 10% of France.
  • It represented the end of institutional Christianity in France.
the catholic church vs the state
The Catholic Church vs The State
  • In 1798 the French army marched into Rome and demanded a protection fee from Pius VI.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte took the Pope prisoner.
  • In 1799 the Pope died in a former sheep pen.
  • But within a year, the Papacy had risen from the ashes, in a church which now was anti-republican and against democracy and the equality of all citizens.