Reflection and Analysis of The Unintended Reformation

Subject: Religion
Type: Critical Analysis Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1123
Topics: Theology, Book


It is undeniably true that Brad Gregory is among the best scholars who have made greater contributions to the debate on the relationship of the Reformation to the modern western world. In chapter six the author examines the modern African education system. He fathoms that it has been assumed that religious truth is pegged on faith, however, he refutes arguing that they are matters of subjective opinion and personal choices and thus cannot be components for claims of objective truth ascertained by similar epistemological standards. The author has examined different aspects of how knowledge has been secularized. This paper seeks to offer an extensive analysis and reflection of secularizing knowledge chapter of the book The Unintended Reformation.

From the chapter, it can be ascertained that what happens in academic research and universities is that what is transferred as knowledge is only what is objective and testable. Issues regarding the purpose and meaning are controlled based on religious faith and are considered as personal and private opinions. Academicians are considered as individuals specialized in a particular area, but there has been least effort to look into how specialized knowledge fits into the larger picture of existence.

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The assembly effect of learning

I concur with the author’s argument that indeed every academics is an expert in his or her specialized area, but less precedence has been placed on determining how this knowledge fits in the bigger picture of existence. Academics is integral, but the basis for the lack of correlation of these various disciplines can mainly be pegged on the concept of ‘Truth’ as determining the meaning and purpose has been neglected. Failing to draw a correlation between various disciplines is adverse as different make contrary arguments on various issues and things. Gregory postulates that this makes it difficult for students to make evaluations of contrary claims in different disciplines. He further adds that the resultant impact of this is like a consumer choice in the marketplace in the sense that knowledge of truth in the marketplace of ideas will be a matter of whatever they want to get by individual preference (Gregory, 2012p. 302). I think that this is unfortunate and should be addressed with greater precedence since there will be an accumulation of testable data and facts, however, they will wither away gradually and replaced by an attitude that argues, ‘I think it is good because it excites me and I prefer it.’ Impacts of this, is already present in the society especially in the political arena where politicians make ambiguous promises and arguments, but some small number of people have stepped back and made an evaluation to ascertain the genesis of those claims and their long-term impacts (Gregory, 2012p. 303). 

The current learning system does not place precedence on critical thinking which should not be the case. The primary purpose of education was to gain knowledge and also become an all-rounded individual to contribute to the society by solving societal challenges from different areas. However, today, people primarily go to college to get a degree, and then later get a good job to make good money, and no attention is given to the challenges across academic disciplines. Gregory fathoms that this has made scholars as well as academicians to only focus on their areas of specialization. 

The inability to think across different disciplines has brought great impacts on the Evangelical work. Darwin has played a great role in this. During the first quarter of the 20th century, there was a dramatic shift in the     American education. Fundamentalists throughout the nation after the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 were persuaded that the evolution was the biggest enemy of Christianity. There was this common be4lieve that when one was subjected more to the western education and the scientific discoveries, one was potentially being swayed away from Christianity. This meant that they Fundamentalists opened up scores and scores of Bible colleges in the entire nation and a lot of them were committed to the biblical literalism and mostly in the dispensationalist theology. After John Whitcomb and Henry Morris brought The Genesis Flood in 1963, the aftermath was that there was a generation of Evangelical Christians that were brought up on a steady diet of outright lies and they did not have the ability to intellectually interact with ideologies from different academic disciplines and especially evolution (Minnich, et al. 2012). This is what has created a lot of modern-day preachers and the raised generation to come up with phrases such as they are not the best, but they love Jesus. The result is clear that there were a lot of contradicting theological statements that were being made.

A clear analysis of Chapter 6 shows that there is various kind of knowledge. At the center of evolution, the main challenge was that the religious fundamentalists such as the Ken Ham and atheistic fundamentalists such as Richard Dawkins have similar challenges. They believe on one kind of knowledge which is the scientific, historical facts. What is taught in the Liberal arts education in most Catholic universities stresses on the point that when all the truth that is being said led to some knowledge of God’s intelligible creation in time and space (Minnich, et al. 2012). However, it is of the need to note that keeping in mind the different kinds of knowledge at that particular time will help to show how God created the world and the kind of interaction that was there. For instance, interpretation texts needed particular techniques to its discipline. This entails a different kind of knowledge, and they also contribute to the understanding of the bigger picture of God’s creation and all the interaction that was involved. This shows that regarding the scientific method as the only way of determining the truth will not only make one to not understand the world but also have a lot of misinterpretation on a lot of things. This is the main problem with Ham’s and Dawkins.

All these can be traced back to the reformation. The divided understanding of knowledge that is so common in a lot of evangelical churches and the American Universities can be dated back to the unintended impacts of the reformation. By not conforming to the rules of the Roman church, the reformation eliminated any shared framework for the integration of knowledge. It was Martin Luther’s who began the reformation by nailing 95 of these on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral which was a common thing. In conclusion, it is evident that Gregory shows the manner in which the early church was able to bring about a sense of unified worldview using a liturgy. Gregory also shows that what took place in the universities in Europe was in light of the French revolution.

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  1. Gregory, B. S. (2012). The unintended Reformation: How a religious revolution secularized society (p. 74). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 
  2. Minnich, N. H., Benson, J., Hillerbrand, H. J., Ditchfield, S., Grendler, P. F., & Gregory, B. S. (2012). The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. The Catholic Historical Review, 98(3), 503-516.
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