History in a Catholic Framework

Glenn W. Olsen

in Teaching the Tradition

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795307
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932894 | DOI:
History in a Catholic Framework

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Modern historians write with some framework of history, and the context is influenced by the Jewish and Christian notion of Divine providence. Historians accept or reject this basic framework. Christianity works in a theological framework, and many modern secular historians still use aspects of this theological framework. Early Christian historians wrote as if they knew what God's plans were in granting success to some leaders and defeat to others. Augustine rejected this approach, since after the New Testament no sure guide for interpreting events exists. During the Enlightenment the historical approach to God was Deism: God got things started, but then he let things unfold on their own. Now at Catholic universities the Enlightenment approach, though formally rejected, still holds sway in many important ways. Rarely do Catholic historians display a Christian humility expressing doubt about what can be known. The progressive view of history is now dominant, but clashes between good and evil have disappeared because good always prevails. Catholic colleges can present a modern, critical Catholic history that explores both secularization and religion in culture. Following Augustine, until its end history is a dramatic story, with no clear vision of the eventual outcome. Scientific objectivity in history is impossible.

Keywords: history; theology; framework; St. Augustine; progressive; Deism; pessimism; Christopher Dawson; science; secularization

Chapter.  9102 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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