All posts from "April 2009"April 29, 2009
Two donors have helped create a new patristics program at Wheaton College.
When theologian George Kalantzis returned to the Wheaton College campus last fall after spending the summer in the Holy Land, he had a very pleasant surprise. While he was out of the country, two donors had approached the college administration about funding a program that would encourage interaction between Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism over their mutual legacy from the early church.
No one at Wheaton knew just how much these donors would fund, but George and his colleagues decided to dream big: they envisioned a Center for the Study of Early Christianity, with a vertically integrated program from undergraduate courses up through master's and doctoral studies.
Their big vision was rewarded.
Two physicians from San Diego, Frank and Julie Papatheofanis, have now made that dream possible. (Julie Papatheofanis is a Wheaton alum.) You can see the beginnings of this vision at the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies website.
Evangelical Christian interest in the early church has been growing for about 30 years. Much of the impetus for that interest can be traced to the work of the late Robert Webber, who was teaching at Wheaton in 1978 when he wrote Common Roots about the importance of the early church for evangelical life. "Without the work of Bob Webber, this would not be possible," George told me over coffee in Wheaton's Beamer Student Center. "He plowed the ground," George continued, alluding to 1 Corinthians 3:6.
There seems to be a real hunger for the systematic study of the early church. Wheaton College has not yet begun to advertise this program and already, George says, he has close to 30 students engaged with it. On his desk are about 10 applications for the master's program, a similar number for the undergraduate certificate program, plus a number of students applying for the doctoral program (only one doctoral student can be accepted each year).
A handful of teachers at the conservative Protestant colleges and seminaries have specialized in patristics. Dan Williams at Baylor University is a leading light. Others George mentioned to me include Bradley Nassif at North Park University, Bryan Litfin at Moody Bible Institute, and Jeff Bingham at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Students interested in patristics can take courses here and there, but Wheaton is the first to offer such a concentrated and structured study opportunity.
What does George Kalantzis hope to accomplish? He is very clear that this should not be a nest from which students can swarm to Eastern Orthodoxy. It is not what the donors had in mind (although they are themselves Greek Orthodox). Instead, this program is about seeing the early church tradition as the common roots of evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox.
"By studying the early church," George says, "we are studying about our commonalities much more than our differences.
"Our goal is to understand our common tradition, explore it, live with it, be with it, instead of just going back and plundering it - finding the eight quotes to justify whatever I want to do."
One reason for George's emphasis on the tradition we hold in common is his own biography. He was born in Greece in a Greek evangelical home. As a fourth-generation Greek evangelical, he is unwilling to surrender the Great Tradition to the Orthodox, as if it were their exclusive property.
The Tradition belongs to Protestants as well, he reminds us. Without the story of the early church, the Protestant Reformation would make no sense. The Reformers appealed to the pattern of the early church. We cannot be true Protestants without knowing that history.
A few other facts about George:
- He came to America to study medicine, but after his first year of medical school, he says, God opened his eyes to a different calling, the study of history and theology.
- He chose to do his doctoral work at Northwestern University in order to stay in Chicago and relate to the Greek evangelical community here. While at NU, he wrote his dissertation on Theodore of Mopsuestia's Christology.
- After his doctoral work, he taught at Garrett Evangelical Seminary for 10 years. If you visit ratemyprofessor.com, you'll see what his students thought about him. One student from 2006 wrote: "George is FABULOUS and his lectures are brilliant. He doesn't coddle anyone but has very high expectations."
Well, we think Wheaton College and the Doctors Papatheofanis are FABULOUS for opening a new Center for the Study of Early Christianity. And we have very high expectations. Congratulations to all on a ground-breaking move.
Image credit: Icon of the First Council of Nicaea via Wikimedia Commons.
Wrinkle cream becomes the latest in a long, long line of products sold to support monastic communities.
A tiny band of Teresian Carmelites in Massachusetts made the news recently with an unusual business plan: to sell a high-end wrinkle reducer online. "My first thought was, ?What are people going to think about nuns and monks making cream for your face?'" Sister Nancy Connors told AP reporter Stephanie Reitz. "But it's a good product, I use it every day and I believe it will help people."
Though the before and after photos on the website are impressive, there's nothing particularly miraculous about the cream's origins. Several years ago, scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School stumbled across a substance in human hearts that happens to revitalize the skin. A friendship between one scientist's wife and the monk on the other end of the monastery's prayer line led, eventually, to the business partnership. The cream is exclusively promoted on the monastery's website, alongside offers for Spiritual Enrollments and Adopt-A-Carmelite.
Contemplation and commerce have existed side-by-side since the beginnings of monasticism.
The sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict, considered the founding document of Western monasticism, states, "Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore the brothers must be busy with manual labor at specified times, and also with divine reading at specified hours ? for they are really monks when they live by the labor of their hands, as our fathers and the Apostles did." Women began to live in communities under Benedict's order by the seventh century, so "real nuns" work with their hands as well.
The first beneficiaries of this labor were monks and nuns themselves, for once monasticism shifted from being a largely solitary affair to a largely communal one there were many more crops to tend, meals to prepare, dishes to wash, and so on. The next beneficiaries were monastery guests - Benedictines are renowned for their hospitality - and recipients of monastic charity. (In addition to paying their own bills, the Teresian Carmelites will use proceeds from the face cream sales for their "work serving the needs of the poor and marginalized.") Beyond meeting such immediate needs, many monasteries over the years became economic powerhouses, controlling fertile lands and vineyards, amassing precious goods, and influencing local politics. Periodically internal or external critics suggested that fantastic wealth wasn't quite what Benedict had in mind, which is how we got reformed orders and, a bit less directly, Protestantism.
Early monastic products included food, beverages, and household products like baskets. Some were consumed on-site, some shared, some sold, and a legendary few destroyed - Abba Paul, a figure in John Cassian's fourth-century Institutes, lived too far out in the desert to attract customers for his baskets, but he believed in the value of manual labor, so every year he would weave a cave-full of baskets, burn them, and start over again.
Common monastic wares today include beer and wine, cheese, baked goods, preserves, CDs, candles, bath products, cards, and books. But wait - there's more. The Monks of New Skete make dog biscuits complete with peppermint for fresh breath. St. Gregory's Friary bottles garlic hot sauces in three levels of spiciness. (Maybe it ought to partner with the Monks of New Skete to create bad breath-fighting products for humans.) The Trappists of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina sell "tea bags" of organic plant food. And the LaserMonks of Wisconsin offer deep discounts on ink and toner.
Lest Protestants chuckle, when was the last time your church held a bake sale, raffle, pancake breakfast, or car wash? Besides, in these tough economic times, congregations of all sorts might need to get more financially creative. I once attended a church that involved members in farming church land, selling strawberries in summer, and chopping wood for winter heat. At the church I attend now, a narthex table regularly features extra produce from members' gardens, offered free but placed next to a donation cup for a relief organization, and a farm couple sells fresh organic eggs after the service. I couldn't begin to recall all the Christmas gifts I've purchased at Ten Thousand Villages and similar shops. Opportunities abound for those so inspired.
Public domain image, head of St. Benedict, detail from painting by Fra Angelico, Crucifixion with Weeping Mary and Saints at the Foot of the Cross, from the Cloister of San Marco, Florence, via Wikimedia Commons. Image reversed.
The history of Christian relationships with the Jews has both its bright spots and its dark corners.
Today was Holocaust Remembrance Day (or Yom HaShoah in colloquial Hebrew). On this day, Jews do not have a uniform ritual for memorializing those who died as part of the Nazi genocide. The observance was established too recently (inaugurated only in 1951), for any genuine tradition to have developed. Jews marked the occasion in different ways today. I have even less sense of what I should do, but I decided this morning to wear my kippeh (yarmulke) to work as a sign of solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters. It gave me a number of opportunities to remind my Christian coworkers of today's significance.
The key issue Christians face is trying to grasp the degree of Christian responsibility for the Nazi genocide. Clearly, many German Christians were utterly complicit, but certainly not all. Clearly, there are cultural links between this history of Christian anti-Semitism and Nazi anti-Semitism. But there is more to the story than that.
Here are three things to remember and to help us have a balanced, accurate view of Christians' relationship to this great horror.
First, not all German Christians collaborated or quietly stood by. German Christians are counted among the ranks of the righteous Gentiles who resisted and protected Jewish lives. The most famous is, of course, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (See Christian History issue 32 for a full exploration of his heroism. And if you want to investigate the topic of righteous Gentiles even more, try to find a copy of the 1994 book by former CT columnist David Gushee, Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: A Christian Reflection.) The stories of righteous Gentiles display how the fundamental Christian command to love our neighbors as ourselves motivated many to take great personal risks.
Second, Christian anti-Semitism was historically different in several key ways from Nazi anti-Semitism. One of those ways is the distinction between placing an accent on race (as the Nazis did) or on religious identity (as the medieval church did). Even in the church's teaching of contempt, the focus was on the spiritual blindness of Jews who refused to recognize what God was doing in Jesus of Nazareth. Baptism and conversion (and thus a changed religious identity) were always open doors for Jews who wished to escape prejudice and oppression. For a more detailed list of such contrasts, see my 1998 National Review essay about the Washington, DC, Holocaust Memorial Museum's handling of the topic. Also, my 1998 Christianity Today editorial, "Did Christianity Cause the Holocaust."
Third, without Christian activism, there would not be a Jewish homeland today. More to come on that in a few weeks when Christian History will publish the story of British Christians who wanted to show their love for the Jewish people in marked distinction from the history of medieval Christianity and its teaching contempt for the Jews. (These British Christians saw their efforts on behalf of the Jews as part of their Protestant departure from historic Catholicism.) They were responsible for the British government's 1917 Balfour Declaration, which laid the foreign policy and legal groundwork for the eventual establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In that forthcoming article, Donald Lewis of Regent College reports: "Seven of the ten members of the war cabinet that issued the declaration were from evangelical homes; six of the seven were from Calvinist backgrounds, including Balfour (the foreign minister) and Prime Minister David Lloyd George."
So on Holocaust Remembrance Day, please recall that the history of Christian relationships with Jews has both its bright spots and its dark corners. We bear the shame of our fellow Christians whose long teaching of contempt toward the Jews and whose complicity with Nazi policies led to the deaths of millions. But we also claim as our own the righteous Gentiles who stood up to the horror and the Christians who laid the foundations for a Jewish homeland. Today, we honor them.
Church history books are full of resurrection stories. But Jesus is still different.
It's actually kind of easy to believe in resurrection, at least in SOMEONE coming back to life, isn't it? How many times have we seen a movie or TV show with some declaration of love to a flatlining patient followed by new beeps on the heart monitor? And then there's the resurrection scenes in The Matrix and Lord of the Rings and Narnia and Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica and Lost. In sci-fi and fantasy stories, nobody stays dead!
But it's not just in the world of make-believe. The Bible is full of stories about the dead coming back to life. Elijah prays to God to bring a boy back from the dead and God does it. Elisha does the same thing: prays to God to bring a boy back from the dead and God does it. (As I noted in an earlier blog post, even Elisha's bones bring someone back from the dead.) Peter brings Dorcas back from the dead. Paul brings Eutychus back from the dead. Jesus brings the daughter of Jairus back from the dead. And then of course there's Lazarus and the "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep" that were raised at Jesus' crucifixion. (Mt. 27:52-53).
In saints' hagiographies, raising the dead is a big deal. But it's pretty common. Try to find a hagiography without a resurrection. It's awfully hard. Read a dictionary of saints and you'll start with St. Anastasius, a heathen by raised by St. Julian of Antioch who "told such a mournful tale about the way to Hell as never came to man before nor after since. Anastasius and Julian were later reportedly martyred together around the year 311. Shortly thereafter you'll meet St. Archelides, who came to life for the span of one sentence, settling a dispute between his fellows over whether his mother could be buried next to him even though she was a woman.
Hundreds of resurrection stories later, as you near the final pages, you'll encounter St. Winifred, beheaded around 650 by the son of a prince for spurning him. She was reportedly raised to life by the prayers of her uncle, St. Beuno.
Want only the resurrection stories? Track down Albert J. Hebert's extremely credulous Saints Who Raised the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles, in which even the most unreliable hagiographic accounts of resurrections by Patrick, Joan of Arc, Francis of Paola, Stanislaus of Krakow, and other saints are treated authentically.
I'm skeptical of most of these stories, as I am of several of the more recent resurrection claims I've been sent while overseeing Christianity Today's news functions. But I'm not dismissive of the phenomenon in total. It's hard to say something never happens when my Bible says it did.
But Jesus' resurrection isn't just one important resurrection story among several in the Bible. He's the first of a new kind of resurrection. Which may be why everyone seems to be so confused when they meet the resurrected Christ. Remember: Jesus' disciples had seen people come back from the dead before. They had seen Jesus raise Jairus's daughter. They knew Lazarus personally. But Jesus coming back? That was different. His resurrection was not like the others. Examine, for example, the attention John's gospel gives to difference between Lazarus coming out of the tomb bound in his burial clothes and Jesus leaving the tomb with his "linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth ? folded up in a place by itself."
Jesus reveals the key difference outside Lazarus's tomb.
"Your brother will rise again," he told Martha.
Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." (John 11:21ff)
Martha's declaration is dramatic: You are Lord; You are the Christ, You are the Son of God, who is coming into the world. But at the same time, it seems she doesn't believe that Jesus is going to raise her brother from the dead right then and there.
What's important isn't that Jesus really did raise Lazarus right then and there. It's that Jesus all of a sudden changed resurrection from a what-and-when question to a who question. He changed it from a passive verb - someone was raised from the dead - to an active and personal noun. I AM the Resurrection.
We're still waiting for the resurrection on the last day. But he still is that resurrection. Right now. Acting. Saving. Redeeming. Setting things right. Remaking creation into something better than ever.
And in remaking creation into something better than ever - in starting a New Creation made out of this one, a spirit-powered creation made from the dust of this first, fallen creation, like a stalk of wheat made from a cracked kernel - Jesus himself is where it starts. He is the firstborn of all creation, and the firstfruits of the new creation, the firstborn from the dead.
And even if we've seen people rise from the dead, like the disciples, we haven't seen anything like him.
Vincent Van Gogh's The Raising of Lazarus (after Rembrandt) (1889-1890) courtesy of Wikimedia.
The Practice of Piety by Lewis Bayly was the most popular book in Puritan England.
Still today, Christians around the world read John Bunyan's classic allegory The Pilgrim's Progress with profit. Yet Bunyan may have never embarked on his dynamic spiritual journey if not for the most popular book during his day. The Practice of Piety (published 1611) rarely grips readers the way Bunyan did. But its author, Lewis Bayly, set a lofty standard for Christian devotion that convicted Bunyan and inspired generations of his countrymen.
Bayly was an Anglican bishop with Puritan sympathies. His life's work reflects the Anglican attempt to maintain some continuity with medieval Catholicism and the Puritan plan to radically reform theology and practice. Thus, Bayly infused the Catholic devotional genre shaped by Thomas ? Kempis and Ignatius of Loyola with Puritan theology indebted to John Calvin.
Following the Reformation, Protestant clergy such as Bayly determined to meet the significant challenge of reworking devotional literature to reflect theological changes. Few lay Protestants could confidently and correctly pray without the aid of their Catholic primers. Bayly's theology-rich prayers and meditations filled this need. In the spirit of Holy Week, we'll look at a few of his meditations on the Cross and Resurrection.
"O Gracious God and merciful Father, who art our refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble, lift up the light of thy favourable countenance at this instant upon thy servant that now cometh to appear in thy presence; wash away, good Lord, all his sins by the merits of Christ Jesus' blood, that they may never be laid to his charge. Increase his faith, preserve and keep safe his soul from the danger of the devil and his wicked angels. Comfort him with thy Holy Spirit; cause him now to feel that thou art his loving Father, and that he is thy child by adoption and grace. Save, O Christ, the price of thy own blood, and suffer him not to be lost whom thou hast bought so dearly. Receive his soul, as thou didst the penitent thief, into thy heavenly paradise; let thy blessed angels conduct him thither as they carried the soul of Lazarus; and grant unto him a joyful resurrection at the last day."
"Comfort thyself, O languishing soul, for if this earth hath any for whom Christ spilt his blood on the cross, thou assuredly art one. Cheer up therefore thyself in the all-sufficient atonement of the blood of the Lamb, which speaketh better things than that of Abel; and pray for those who never yet obtained the grace to have such a sense and detestation of sin."
"With one cross God maketh two cures - the chastisement of sins past, and the prevention of sin to come."
"If the rising of one sun make the morning sky so glorious, what a bright shining and glorious morning will that be, when so many thousand thousands of bodies, far brighter than the sun, shall appear and accompany Christ as his glorious train, coming to keep his general session of righteousness, and to judge the wicked angels, and all ungodly men and let not any transitory profit, pleasure, or vain glory of this day, cause thee to lose thy part and portion of the eternal bliss and glory of that day, which is properly termed the resurrection of the just. Beasts have bodily eyes to see the ordinary light of the day: but endeavour thou with the eyes of faith, to foresee the glorious light of that day."
The vision of John Comenius and the story of the Unity of the Brethren give us a good way to test a hypothesis.
History is a great place to go to test "slippery slope" arguments ? claims that "Questionable Belief or Practice A" will inevitably lead us to "Horrifying Situation B." One way to answer the argument is to appeal to precedent: "Let's look back and see whether things like 'A' have led to situations like 'B' in the past."
These days evangelicals with a heart for (1) ecumenical dialogue, (2) liberal education, and (3) cultural engagement are being told by fundamentalist watchdogs that they are leading good, faithful, Bible-believing people straight down the road to "liberalism."
Let's put this to a historical test.
Our focus: a small, persecuted, pietistic sect to which "father of modern education" and Protestant bishop John Comenius belonged in the 1600s.
This was the Unity of the Brethren, which descended from the pre-Reformation reformer Jan Hus. At a key point in their history, this pietistic Protestant group, exiled from its own lands (Bohemia and Moravia) during the Thirty Years War, made a decision NOT to pull in its horns and retreat into a culturally marginal fundamentalism. It decided instead to engage the culture around it.
It was this single decision more than any other that allowed Comenius to forge a highly effective Europe-wide program of Christian-based, ecumenical education that earned him the title "Father of Modern Education."
Comenius's educational plan transformed the way children were schooled, created an ecumenical vision for scholarship that inspired Britain's Royal Society (which fostered "fathers of modern science" like Isaac Newton), and today is honored by a pan-European educational initiative that is named after Comenius.
Comenius believed that we are often involved in strife with groups culturally unlike us because we have not been educated to understand one another. He understood that lack of education as part of a larger pattern of sinfulness. And he integrated into that educational vision a priority for godliness and a distinctively Christian morality. Essentially, he brought Europe a new and effective plan for Christian liberal education, from cradle to graduate school.
Comenius's Christian vision broke through what we might call "the Scandal of Confessional Education" that had contributed to the Thirty Years War, and contributed to the tolerant denominationalism that followed the Westphalian Settlement.
Now, in response to the fundamentalist "slippery slope" argument: To create this vision of Christian education, Comenius had to turn away from any bitterness he felt at his small sect's persecution and exile during the religious wars that marred his youth. He had to find the resources turn to his persecutors in Christian love and show them a better way. Where did he find the courage and vision for this?
In my forthcoming book Patron Saints for Postmoderns (IVP, September 2009), I conclude a chapter on Comenius with these words:
The second paradox of Comenius's life lies in reaction to the slaughter and exile of his small, fringe Christian community by others bearing the name 'Christian.' This sectarian leader certainly could have done what so many others persecuted Christians have done: retreated in rage and bitterness, licked his wounds with his people, and set up legalistic fences to keep outsiders out. Instead, he insisted on the ecumenical slogan: 'In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.' And he poured his life out for church unity and international peace.
Before his often tragic life was done, John Amos Comenius created a breathtaking vision of international peace and cooperation. At the heart of this vision was a comprehensive educational program that already, in his lifetime, began to transform the way Europe's children were taught. We have asked how Comenius could possibly do this, given his background in a small persecuted group who were hounded, killed, and exiled by fellow Christians. It seems a paradox that a persecuted, pietistic sect could form a person such as this!
The key to this paradox seems to be something that had happened to the Unity of the Brethren by the early sixteenth century. Now flourishing and increasingly influential, the Brethren were forced to confront the perennial question of the relationship between Christ and culture. Many devout Christians believe growth and cultural power cannot happen without compromising the radical nature of the gospel. The church must, such folks argue, forgo all attempts to 'transform culture,' for such attempts inevitably suck the life out of the church. Was this the case with the Unity and Comenius?
Certainly in the decades of their peasant origins, the Brethren had distrusted all people of other classes and all trappings of culture. But as a new diversity of folks - even nobles such as Count Zerotin - were drawn by these people's strong devotion and joined with them, the group moderated its views. Inevitably, some Brethren felt this moderation as a betrayal. They pushed the group to 'hold up its ancient standard' of enmity against all structures of worldly culture. But this group of world-renouncing conservatives did not win the day. Instead, a schism occurred, with the majority taking the progressive (though still theologically conservative and experientially pietistic) position.
? [H]ad this social widening not occurred among the Brethren, Comenius would likely never have developed his unique mix of deep piety and broad ('liberal') culture. Nor, very likely, would the European Union today be acknowledging Comenius as its teacher in this matter of international liberal education. But in fact, it is doing so: the European Commission of the EU has created a government-supported, pan-European elementary education initiative ?, named 'Comenius' after the Brethren bishop and educator. The program promotes the same values that drove its namesake's reforms of the 1600s: pedagogical innovation, transnational cooperation, and equal opportunity for all students. Comenius, and his Lord, seem still to be at work.
Now, fundamentalist watchdogs of today who would look back at that key moment when the Unity decided not to go in a fundamentalist direction would doubtless trot out a "slippery slope" argument: "Any denomination that went in this liberal, culture-engaging direction could not last as an evangelical, pietist denomination. It would become liberal in theology and disappear from history as an effective gospel witness."
So it's worth asking: What did happen to the Unity of the Brethren?
Answer: the ragged, exiled remnant of this group showed up on Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf's doorstep in the mid-1700s. Initially they found themselves not getting along at all with the other religious exiles at Zinzendorf's estate. But through a kind of "Pentecost experience," they joined with the German pietists and other exiles and formed the Moravian Church.
Was this a liberal denomination that sold out the gospel? Hardly. They started a 100-year round-the-clock prayer meeting, sent missionaries all over the world, and inspired John Wesley, who birthed evangelicalism in England. They did all of this while maintaining a strong ecumenical testimony. Zinzendorf used to talk about the many Protestant denominations as "facets of a gem."
The Moravians, anything but theologically liberal, held to the dictum Comenius's Brethren had espoused: "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity." And yet they believed and practiced an evangelical orthodox faith that affirmed Reformation essentials such as Justification by Faith and Sola Scriptura, and preached the need to be born again.
Engaging culture and opening the ecumenical windows are closely-related enterprises. Both require an openness to higher education and a desire to see our sons and daughters educated in a "liberal" mode - meaning not theologically liberal, but open to "all knowledge as God's knowledge," and seeking understanding across the boundaries that separate people and even drive them to violence.
Again, the heirs of the fundamentalists are criticizing evangelicals more and more for "selling the farm" theologically because they stick firmly to both an agenda of cultural engagement and an openness to finding true Christians within a broad array of denominations and churches - perhaps even among the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.
Such critics tell us that by such openness we will cut ourselves off from essential truths of the gospel and cease being effective for God's kingdom. Comenius's Brethren and Zinzendorf's Moravianism - two key genetic precursors of the evangelicalism that nurtured these very same modern fundamentalists - are proof that this critique is false.
And when we get to John Wesley, one of the two "fathers of evangelicalism," we see him furthering this same impulse. As he said in one famous sermon: "If your heart be as mine, then give me your hand."
A subtext of this fundamentalist critique: any attempt at liberal education will inevitably work against the gospel.
If this is true, then isn't it odd that Oxford-trained John Wesley could pick up the ecumenical, evangelical pietist vision, which had its roots in Comenius's vision of a liberal, educated, culture-engaged pietism, and start the most significant religious revival in modern history?
Did John Amos Comenius put us on a slippery slope?
Yeah, right down into evangelicalism.
Public domain image of J.A. Comenius via Wikimedia Commons and taken from Aug. Schorn and Herm. Reinecke, Pedagogikens historia (1895)