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We now proceed toward the modern era. In this lecture we take a look at the 17th
century, and in particular at the part played by the Puritans and Pilgrim Fathers


PART 4: The Modern Church


4.1. The 17th Century: Puritans & Pilgrim Fathers

a) England:

  • Different groups in the English Church
    • Anglicans
    • Puritans (Purify the Church of England of all Roman Catholic tendencies)
      • Salvation entirely by grace
      • Regulative authority of the Bible
      • State and Church: Society to be reformed as a unified whole
      • Covenants
    • Independents
  • Political pressures in England
    • James I
    • Charles I
    • Oliver Cromwell
    • Charles II
    • James II
    • William & Mary
  • Significant characters & movements
    • John Bunyan
    • George Fox & Quakers
    • William Penn

b) Scottish Covenanters

c) The New World

    • Pilgrim Fathers fleeing James I
      • Mayflower: 1620
    • The Puritan Migration fleeing Charles I
      • Massachusetts Bay Colony: 1630
      • John Winthrop: “A city set on a hill”
      • Roger Williams
    • Freedom of religion = freedom to create all kinds of new religion!


For further discussion:

a) Write out the definitions of these terms from the “Glossary of Terms”: Evangelical, Independents, Pilgrim Fathers, Puritans, Reformed Theology.

b) What were the Puritans trying to do in Europe? Why did some of them decide to leave Europe? What was their plan in coming to North America?



As we move into the 18th century, we meet three significant developments: Reason, Revival and Revivalism

4.2. The 18th Century: Reason, Revival & Revivalism

a) The Age of Reason

  • Reason in Science: the world as a machine governed by natural laws
    • Copernicus
    • Galileo
    • Isaac Newton (law of gravity)
    • Descartes
    • Francis Bacon: the only things that are true are the things you can prove by observation
  • Reason in Religion
    • Revised views of God
      • Theism: God created the world and controls it
      • Deism: God created the world but can’t control it
      • Atheism: God did not create the world becau
    • Revised views of man
      • Since Augustine: Man is a sinner and as a fallen creature needs grace
      • Enlightenment: Man is good and as rational creature can make good choices
  • Reason in Society
    • Laws governing human nature, society and political institutions, economics
  • Behavioural consequences in society

b) Revival – in Europe

  • Count von Zinzendorf
    • Moravians
  • George Whitfield
    • Oxford University – Holy Club
    • Travels to North America and throughout British Isles
    • Calvinistic Methodist Connexion
    • Conflicts with Wesley:
      • Wesley believed in an Arminian view of man
      • Wesley believed in perfectionism
  • John & Charles Wesley
    • Family background: mother Suzannah
    • Early attempts to earn salvation: Oxford (“Methodists”) and Missions
    • Salvation: “My heart was strangely warmed”
    • Preaching
    • Methodist societies (cells) and horseback circuit preachers
    • Hymns (written by Charles – about 7000) to teach people true doctrine

c) Revival in North America

  • Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 58)
    • The Great Awakening
    • Northampton Massachusetts
    • “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”
    • Ejected from his church
    • Writings and ministering to native Indians

d) Revivalism

  • Charles Finney (1792 – 1875)
    • Revolutionary ideas about who can preach and interpret scripture
    • Arminia
    • Methods to draw a response: Camp meetings / altar calls / emotionalism
    • Revival is a matter of human activity rather than divine sovereignty


For further discussion:

a) Write out the definitions of these terms from the “Glossary of Terms”: Arminianism, Evangelical, Independents, Liberalism, Methodists, Pelagianism, Renaissance, Theism

b) What was the basic point of the Age of Reason? In what ways did John Wesley differ from George Whitfield? Was Jonathan Edwards more like Wesley or Whitfield? In what ways did Jonathan Edwards differ from Charles Finney?


The 19th Century brought some wonderful advances for the Gospel, and some of the challenges that still face us today. We consider Missionaries and Modernism


4.3. The 19th Century: Missionaries & Modernism

a) The Intellectual Climate

  • Reason
    • Darwin
    • Marx
    • Theological liberalism
  • Romanticism

b) The Missionary Movement

  • William Carey
  • Henry Martyn
  • David Livingstone
  • Hudson Taylor

c) Social programs

  • Slavery (William Wilberforce)
  • Working conditions (Lord Shaftesbury)
  • Prisons (Elizabeth Fry)
  • Education

d) Church movements

  • Charles Spurgeon
  • Dispensationalism
  • Salvation Army
  • Brethren
  • Fragmentation


For further discussion:

a) Write out the definitions of these terms from the “Glossary of Terms”: Deism, Evangelical, Liberalism, Renaissance, Theism

b) What were the main forces opposed to Christianity in the nineteenth century? In what ways did these forces infiltrate part of the church? What advances did the church make in the nineteenth century?


As we draw our series to a close with the 20th Century, we have to ask an important question.
Is Church History in our day proving to be a matter of Restoration or Retrogression?

4.4. The 20th Century: Restoration or Retrogression?

a) Liberalism

  • Benevolence of God
  • Divine spark in every man
  • Jesus Christ is our perfect teacher and example
  • All religions are forms of the same religion
  • The Bible is human reflection rather than divine revelation

b) Fundamentalism

  • Inspiration and infallibility of Scripture
  • Deity of Christ
  • Virgin Birth and miracles
  • Christ’s penal death for our sins
  • Physical resurrection and personal return of Christ

c) Pentecostalism + Charismatic movement

d) Global evangelism

e) New Age and Post-modernism


For further discsussion:

a) Write out the definitions of these terms from the “Glossary of Terms”: Deism, Evangelical, Liberalism, Renaissance, Theism

b) What were the main forces opposed to Christianity in the twentieth century? In what ways did these forces infiltrate part of the church? What advances did the church make in the twentieth century?

Brian Watts is Pastor of The King's Community Church and lives in Langley with his wife Rosalind.
mail: church@tkc.com
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