They Called for the Revival of the Spirit of Early Christianity


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2 Samuel 22

37 You clear the way for me,
    and now I won’t stumble.

Isaiah 36

36 Hezekiah had been king of Judah for fourteen years when King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded the country and captured every walled city except Jerusalem. The Assyrian king ordered his army commander to leave the city of Lachish and to take a large army to Jerusalem.

The commander went there and stood on the road near the cloth makers’ shops along the canal from the upper pool. Three of the king’s highest officials came out of Jerusalem to meet him. One of them was Hilkiah’s son Eliakim, who was the prime minister. The other two were Shebna, assistant to the prime minister, and Joah son of Asaph, keeper of the government records.

Exposition of the Divine Principle
3 Color Edition-The Red part

Chapter 5

The Period of Preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah

The period of preparation for the Second Advent of the Messiah was the four-hundred-year period from the Protestant Reformation in 1517 to the end of World War I in 1918. With respect to the providence of restoration, this period is divided into three periods: the period of the Reformation, the period of religious and ideological conflicts, and the period of the maturation of politics, economy and ideology.

THE PERIOD OF THE REFORMATION (1517-1648)

The 130-year period of the Reformation began in 1517, when Martin Luther raised the banner of the Protestant Reformation in Germany, and lasted until the wars of religion were settled by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.  When the purpose of God’s providence through medieval society was not fulfilled, the direction of providential history shifted and God worked to establish anew the foundation for the Second Advent of the Messiah through the Renaissance and the Reformation. 

In the late Middle Ages, man’s original mind was repressed, its free development blocked by the social environment of feudalism and the secularization and corruption of the Roman church.  The social environment of the late Middle Ages blocked the path through which the original nature of the people could be restored. Fettered by such circumstances, medieval Europeans were prompted by the impulses of their innermost hearts to break down their social environment to open the way for the restoration of their original nature.

Medieval Europeans were to restore their original God-given nature by first severing their ties to Satan, who had defiled the society when the papacy failed its internal responsibility to restore the foundation of faith and sank into immorality. As people pursued the recovery of the internal and external aspects of their original nature, the thought of the age branched out into two movements to recover the heritage of the past, which we distinguish in relative terms as Abel-type and Cain-type. The Cain-type movement began as a revival of Hellenism, the culture and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome. It gave rise to the Renaissance,7 whose core value was humanism. The Abel-type movement began as a revival of the Hebraic heritage of Israel and the early Christian Church. It gave rise to the Protestant Reformation, whose core value was faith in God.

1.1 THE RENAISSANCE

 It was explained above that the Renaissance grew out of the external pursuits of the original nature. The movement to revive the ancient heritage of Hellenism caught fire. Renaissance humanism thus rose to prominence. The Renaissance came to life in fourteenth-century Italy, which was the center of the study of the classical Hellenic heritage. Though it began as a movement imitating the thought and life of ancient Greece and Rome, it soon developed into a wider movement which transformed the medieval way of life. It expanded beyond the sphere of culture to encompass every aspect of society, including politics, economic life and religion. In fact, it became the external driving force for the construction of the modern world.

1.2 THE REFORMATION

As medieval Europeans sought to realize the external aspirations of their original nature, they also began to pursue its repressed internal aspirations. They called for the revival of the spirit of early Christianity, when believers zealously lived for the Will of God, guided by the words of Jesus and the apostles.

To raise funds to build St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Leo X began selling indulgences, which Catholic doctrine affirmed would remit the penalty for sin due in the next life. When this indulgence was proclaimed in Germany in 1517, a movement to protest this abuse ignited a fuse which exploded in the Protestant Reformation under the leadership of Martin Luther (1483-1546), a professor of biblical theology at the University of Wittenberg. The flames of the Reformation grew strong and soon spread to Switzerland under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531), to France as led by John Calvin (1509- 1564), and into such nations as England and the Netherlands. The wars of religion which swirled around the Protestant movements continued for more than one hundred years until 1648, when the Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years’ War.

View slides 1 to 19 below for an illustrated presentation of the above content:

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