Before I start, I want to give a quick and dirty definition of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is a philosophical movement that holds to a few key points:
- We are autonomous. We are self-governing, self-ruling individuals that do not need an outside authority to tell us what to do. On top of this, we should resist outside authorities, as they have no right to dictate our behavior or thoughts.
- Our thought is grounded on Reason. We have an ability to understand what is immutable, unchangeable and universal. We can run all of our thoughts, behaviors and beliefs through the filter of Reason and find what is really True.
- Reason is grounded in Nature. Everything that is True is True not due to human convention or language but because it corresponds to the Natural World free of the influence of the individual.
Now, this attitude towards Truth posed a problem for the Christian Church. The Enlightenment attitude, according to Livingson, gave the Church two options:
- The Church and theology could find itself "adjusting itself to the advances in modern science and philosophy and, in so doing," risk "accomodation to secularization." (Modern Christian Thought, Livingston, pg. 6)
- The Church and theology could resist "all influences from culture and" become "largely reactionary and ineffectual in meeting the challenges of life in the modern world." (Livingston, pg. 6)
Instead of jumping into the failure of the Church, we must see why the Enlightenment was attractive to the Church. What would make the Church and theology latch onto this thought process?