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Modern scholarship often attributes to Eusebius of Caesarea (d. circa 340 AD) the view that God's heavenly kingdom had become manifest in the Roman Empire of Constantine the Great. Consequently, Eusebius is deemed significant in the development of Christian eschatological thought as the supposed formulator of a new “realized eschatology” for the Christian Roman Empire. Similarly, he is considered the originator of so-called “Byzantine imperial eschatology”—that is, eschatology designed to justify the existing imperial order under the emperors in Constantinople. Scholars advancing these claims most frequently cite a line from Eusebius's Tricennial Oration in which he identified the accession of the sons of Constantine with the prophesied kingdom of the saints in the Book of Daniel. Further supposed evidence has been adduced in his other writings, especially his Life of Constantine. This article argues that this common interpretation of Eusebius's eschatology is mistaken and has resulted from treating a few passages in isolation while overlooking their rhetorical context. It demonstrates instead that Eusebius adhered to a conventional Christian eschatology centered on the future kingdom of heaven that would accompany the second coming of Christ and further suggests that the concept of “Byzantine imperial eschatology” should be reconsidered.
This essay explores the ongoing debates about the character of early Cistercian monasticism, the dating of early Cistercian documents, and assumptions about the Cistercians’ place in eleventh- and twelfth-century monastic “reform.” It analyzes the Cistercians’ narratives of their foundation in relation to particular moments in the twelfth-century history of the order, drawing on and elaborating recent theories about the dating of these documents. Although the Cistercians often seem the quintessential example of “reformed monasticism,” this essay argues that the earliest Cistercians did not present themselves as reformers but only gradually developed a rhetoric of reform over the course of the twelfth century. Finally, it suggests that reform is less a specific set of changes than it is a rhetorical use of the past that authenticates current practices and affirms that these interpretations of the past must be right and true.
Following the English invasion of Scotland in July 1650, ministers and laymen in the Church of Scotland splintered between Protester and Resolutioner factions: The Protesters argued that the Church of Scotland required further moral reformation in order to appease a vengeful God, and the Resolutioners were more content to accept the reintegration of former royalists into places of trust following the civil wars. This article explores the profound ways in which this split fundamentally altered relationships in the unusually well-documented parish of Crichton in Midlothian. Unlike other studies that have emphasized the ways in which the Protesters moved toward a position of separation from the rest of the kirk, this article explores a group of Protesters who sought to actively reform the kirk from within. Godly agitation in parish affairs was characterized by three traits: it was coordinated, remarkably litigious, and disseminated in manuscript libels and petitions rather than print. Ultimately, while this godly elite was adept at agitating for further reformation at the parish level, it did so without seceding from the structures of the national church altogether.
This article examines British and American Christian apologists’ reinterpretation of the biblical account of the Canaanite conquest in response to concerns about natural rights and ethical behavior that emerged from the English Enlightenment. Because of Enlightenment-era assumptions about universal rights, a new debate emerged in Britain and America in the eighteenth century about whether the divine order for the biblical Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites was morally right. The article argues that intellectually minded Christians’ appropriation of Enlightenment values to reframe their interpretation of the biblical narrative (often in response to skeptical attacks from writers classified as deists) demonstrates that in the English-speaking world, Enlightenment rationalism and Christian orthodoxy frequently reinforced each other and were not opposing forces. Though many orthodox Christians repudiated traditional Calvinist interpretations of the biblical Canaanite conquest, they defended the authority of the biblical narrative by drawing on Enlightenment-era assumptions about natural rights to provide justifications for what some skeptics considered morally objectionable divine orders in the Bible. By doing so, they set the framework for the continued synthesis of natural rights and rationality with a biblically centered Protestantism in the early nineteenth-century English-speaking world and especially in the United States.
It is often assumed, particularly by outsiders, that the conflict in Northern Ireland—known euphemistically as “the Troubles”—in which some 3,600 people lost their lives, was an atavistic throwback to Europe's religious wars of earlier centuries. In 1979, by which time some 2,000 people had already been killed in the Troubles, Pope John Paul II proposed to pay a visit to Ireland and perhaps to cross the border into Ulster's sectarian cockpit. The idea provoked outrage from some Ulster Protestants and high anxiety for the British, concerned that the Pope might inadvertently inflame the situation or embarrass the British by raising difficult issues. But there were hopes, too, that an unequivocal condemnation of violence by the head of the Catholic Church might help to bring the conflict to an end. This article, based on extensive research in diplomatic archives, reveals deep divisions within the Catholic Church on the Irish question and points to the power and limitations of the British diplomatic reach into the Vatican. It reveals also, however, the powerlessness of prayer and pleadings in the face of terrorist violence.
The founding editors of Christianity Today spent more than a year planning the launch of their magazine. Carl F. H. Henry, L. Nelson Bell, and J. Marcellus Kik believed Christianity Today could “plant the flag” for evangelicalism. To do that, though, the editors had to decide what evangelicalism was. They had to decide where the lines were, who was in and who was out, which issues mattered and which did not. One key criterion, they decided, was whether or not someone liked evangelist Billy Graham. Historian George Marsden later offered this as a tongue-in-cheek definition of evangelicalism. More seriously, religious historians have used David Bebbington's quadrilateral definition, which says the basis of evangelicalism is conversionism, biblicism, activism, and crucicentrism. This article argues that Bebbington's definition is ahistorical, vague, and deeply unhelpful. Marsden's joking definition, on the other hand, is quite useful, as it directs historians to attend to actual relationships, historical affinities, and real-world conversations. Based on new archival research, this article tells the story of the launch of evangelicalism's “flagship” magazine, shows how evangelicalism's lines were drawn in 1956, and makes the case that evangelicalism is best understood as a discourse community which is structured by its communication networks.