The earth we inhabit not only has a physical dimension that we see, but also an unseen spiritual one, where warfare is waged daily. This awareness of the spiritual battle going on around us has helped me to better understand the world and the part we play, or are played, in it. Looking at historical or current events, and studying human behavior from a spiritual perspective can be very “enlightening”― my segue to the eighteenth century.
I believe it’s no accident or coincidence that two competing worldviews, “The Age of Enlightenment” and “The Great Awakening”, the unseen spiritual conflict, took place during the same period.
“That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5 KJV
Spiritual battles are waged in the mind and in the heart.
The Intellectual Battle:
The Age of Enlightenment, or The Age of Reason, was a philosophical and cultural movement of intellectuals in the eighteenth century stressing the importance of human reasoning over blind faith and obedience to prevailing religious beliefs. It promoted a critical reappraisal of existing ideas and social institutions.
The Enlightenment exalted human reason and celebrated science, advanced logic over absolute truth, challenged orthodox Christianity, and extolled cultural relativism. Its champions were Voltaire, Rousseau, John Locke and even Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were somewhat influenced by the movement. The Enlightenment brought about many changes, some good, others debatable.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-26 KJV
The Spiritual Battle:
The Great Awakening refers to several periods of religious revival in the eighteenth century. These eras brought about increased interest in faith and religious freedom, repentance and redemption, revival and evangelism. Some who influenced these movements were John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, and Jonathan Edwards.
This period saw the initiation of new religious movements as well as denominations, advocacy for a free press, and the development of democratic concepts that eventually led to our American Revolution.
Many people of faith discovered that religion was more than in intellectual pursuit, but one that was changing hearts and attitudes. While the Enlightenment advocated stratified social orders, the Bible taught that the value of mankind is God given and not determined by class.
Historians will find valid reasons for each movement, and both of these events had an enduring and powerful impact on our culture. Studying history from an intellectual perspective is fascinating and important, if for no other reason, history tends to repeat itself, and we would be wise to learn from those who have gone before us. Evaluating history from a spiritual vantage point is equally interesting, and I believe increases our awareness of the presence, power, and provision of God.
A Prayer Warrior ~ now with the Lord
Ephesians 6:10-18 KJV