Robert W. Strayer
Ways of the World: A Brief Global
History with Sources
Cultural Transformations: Religion and Science,
Copyright © 2013 by Bedford/St. Martin’s
The Globalization of Christianity
A. Western Christendom Fragmented: The Protestant Reformation 1. Martin Luther: German priest who combined widespread criticism of Roman Catholic hierarchy and corruption with a theological message that faith—not works, acts, or rituals—was the path to salvation. Most Protestant movements offered little agency for women and in some cases even limited women’s participation in the church.
2. The power of the written word: Luther and others emphasized common people reading the Scriptures in their own language, not priests interpreting the Latin texts for the masses. Combined with the new technology of the printing press, Luther’s message spread throughout Europe in the form of pamphlets.
3. Wars of Religion: Intense popular religious disputes led to cases of popular unrest and mob violence in France and Germany. Many political actors (kings & other nobility) found common cause with Luther’s theological revolt against Rome. As religious, political, and economic tensions became intertwined, peasant revolts broke out in the German lands in the 1520s, Catholic-Huguenot violence tore France apart from 1562 to 1598, and finally the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) pitted the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire against Protestant kings and princes throughout Europe who sought independence from Rome and the Emperor. While the Peace of Westphalia brought an end to the fighting and established the modern state system in Europe, it recognized the end of Catholic religious unity in the continent. 4. Counter-Reformation: Faced with widespread revolt, the Roman Catholic Church called the Council of Trent (1545–1563) to reaffirm its authority over doctrine and ritual. While there was an effort to end corrupt and abusive practices, the church took a hard line against heresy and dissent, approving militant orders such as the Society of Jesus.
I. The Globalization of Christianity
B. Christianity Outward Bound
1. “In search of Christians and spices”: This phrase was Vasco da Gama’s response to Hindu South Asian merchants and princes who asked why the Portuguese had sailed to India. The phrase indicates the close connection between Iberians’ imperial expansion (which was a combination of feudal, crusading, and merchant activity) and the spread of Christianity. In the sixteenth century, Catholicism became a world religion, but it was also an imperial religion. 2. Missionaries and pilgrims: Christianity spread through the world via colonization, but the specific individuals who spread the faith were missionaries and religious dissenters seeking to build their own communities. While Catholic missionaries dominated the first group and found success in the New World and the Philippines, Protestant pilgrims fled to North America and established settler colonies in New England.
I. The Globalization of Christianity
C. Conversion and Adaptation in Spanish America
1. Conquest and Conversion: The spectacular collapse of the Aztec and Incan empires led many Spanish and indigenous people to believe that the god of the Christians must be stronger than the traditional gods of the Americas. Millions converted and were baptized throughout the New World. While this was nothing new as conquest in the Americas had long been associated with the right to impose the conquerors’ pantheon of gods, the intolerance of the monotheist Iberians (seen in their refusal to recognize the existence of pagan deities or allow local rituals) was a break with precedent.
2. Resistance and Revival: In response to foreign conquest, resistors often used the revival of pre-Hispanic religious tradition as a method of mobilization. In Peru in the 1560s, the Taki Onqoy (dancing sickness) movement including...
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