Reshaping America’s Relgions

The Great Awakening in America was not just a single event, but a series of events from the: 1720s – 1740s, 1790s -1840s, & the 1850s – 1900s.

“It changed their rituals, piety and identity” Sydney E. Ahlstrom

The first awakening reshaped the denominations of the Congressional, Presbyterian, Dutch Reform, German Reform, Methodist and Baptist churches and lead to America’s patriotism in the American Revolution! The problems facing all denominations at this time were a lack of pastoral care in the lives of the church members and boring sermons that went over people’s heads or caused them to fall asleep! The pastor also emphasized legalizim, which the revival emphasized the believers faith in Christ and grace. And others later promoted antinomialism. The churches at this time were led to create educational institutions of higher learning such as: Princeton, Brown, Rutgers, & Dartmouth universities which supported religious seminairies. This initial event pulled many denominations away from traditions and rituals. Christianity was brought to African American slaves, which led many to protest against slavery along with brethren in Britain such as William Wilborforce. The awakening created division between revivalists and traditionalists, Tores and Wigs! It brought people back to Christ, but also split people up over doctrines which eventually led to the decline of the Anglican Church and weakened the Crowns hold on the people. Church membership grew in revivalist churches with the preaching of Christ and his redemption for mankind. The Second wave of revivals started in the “Burned-over District and other parts of New York, which brought together church members to evangelize the unconverted! These revivals centered around the first camp meetings! Evangelism was fueled by “hell-fire” preaching. Later in the early 1800s, the various denominations partnered together to lead in the temperance, women’s rights, and abolition movements primarily in New England. The third awakening furthered the evangelical work of the first two but lead to more active missionary work such as the Chantauqua Movement, Freedman’s societies,  the Sanitary Commission, Holiness Movement of Dwight L. Moody, and the YMCA. At this time there was also a rediscovery in the Bible prophecies of the Books of Daniel and Revelation with the Millerite Movement!

Resources:

“A Religious History of the American People,” by Sydney E Ahlstrom

“The Revival of 1857-8: Interpreting an American Religious Awakening,” by Kathryn Teresa Long

“The Democratization of American Christianity,” by Nathan O. Hatch

“Politics & Religion in the U.S.,” by Michael Corbett, Julia Corbett-Hemeyer, & J. Matthew Wilson

1844, The Most Important Day In History

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Philadelphia

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“The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks are the Seven Churches.” Revelation 1:20

The first chapter of the Book of Revelation ends with God revealing to the Apostle John the Seven Churches which prophesied the future history of the Church from the Apostolic Period to the End!

  1. Ephesus meaning “Desirable or Permitted” (31 – 100)
  2. Smyrna meaning “Sweet Smelling or Myrrh” (100 – 313)
  3. Pergamos meaning “Exalted or Elevation” (313 – 538)
  4. Thyatira meaning “Odor of Affliction or Sacrifice of Contrition” (538 – 1517)
  5. Sardis meaning “Renewal or Red Ones” (1517 – 1755)
  6. Philadelphia meaning  “Brotherly Love” (1755 – 1844)
  7. Laodicea meaning “Justice of the People or Judgment” (1844 AD – the End)

Each church described in Revelation (“a revealing”) 2-3 describe the condition of the Church, each with a distinct description. The Church which was spread by the Apostles was already facing challenges in Ephesus with a decline in zeal for Christ. This was followed by the church of Smyrna which endured tribulation and those who were not completely converted. In Pergamos is where the seat of Satan was because from Pergamos came the title that was given to Caesar . There were more martyrs and those who did as Balaam and the Nicolaitans (meaning “destruction of the people”), whose doctrine was a thing which God hates! In Thyatira most did what was good and were faithful, but some did the works of Jezebel who promoted idolatry! The church of Sardis was a warning against doctrinal errors that would engulf the church! Some of the people would receive the light found in the Bible but others would forget in spiritual blindness. In Philadelphia, the church is strong and didn’t deny God! An open door of communication between God and the church has come but this church would eventually become a church of Satan where the members of God’s church turn away from God and become disobedient. God gives this church the warning that He is coming again quickly to save his faithful ones. God tells them to listen to what He says concerning the Seven Churches!

“The Sixth Seal of Revelation – And behold he opened the sixth seal and there was a great earthquake; the sun became black, and the moon became red as blood.”

The Church of Philadelphia, “brotherly love,” is dated by Bible Scholars as starting in 1755 because of the Lisbon Earthquake, Fire and TsunamiOn ‘All Saint’ Day,” November 1, 1755, this record making even occurred in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon and was felt as far away as Greenland and Africa with about 50,000 to 90,000 people dying that day! The American Revolution brought the citizens of the Colonies together to for, the American Republic in “brotherly love!” In 18th-century America, dozens of churches were being built, with the denominations standing up for their religious freedoms! Twenty-five years later the next sign of Revelation 6:12 came on May 19, 1780, the Sun was darkened! Called the ‘New England’s Dark Day,’

“The extent of the darkness was extraordinary. It was observed as far east as Falmouth. To the westward it reached to the farthest part of Connecticut, and to Albany. To the southward, it was observed along the seacoasts; and to the north as far as the American settlements extend.” – William Gordon, ‘History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the U.S.A, vol. 3, page 57.

These signs came from God to warn Christians and to lead them to reform, the same reforms that eventually came to America!

“Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you” John 12:35

“He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life!” John 8:12

Resources:

 

Heralds of the Morning, Great Controversy

Religion in 18th-Century America

‘The Declaration of Independence,’ by Thomas Jefferson

The Great Awakening

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“The Age of Reformation proved again that faith and power are a potent brew. As long as Christians had access to power, they used it to compel conformity to the truth: Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. So men died for their faith, tens of thousands, until something general but very deep in man awoke to revolt. This led to the Age of Reason, an intellectual revolution, with a new way of looking at God, the world and oneself. It was the birth of secularism!” ‘Church History in Plain Language,’ Shelly, Chapter 34.

The Protestant Reformation changed Christendom forever, it created different denominations, each carrying a flame of truth about God and Scripture. America became a land with a church but no pope and a state without a king! The early immigrants, the Puritans had an apostolic type of faith. But slowly this faith declined by worldliness, lack of faith, and the holding of doctrinal errors that were not rectified by bible research! By the time of the Age of Reason, mankind was brought to a boiling point which led to revolutions! Secularism was born and so was the Great Awakening, a movement in the 1730s of Protestant Christians who sought reform in the Church and mankind’s hearts! There was a explosion of evangelism that spread again to foreign lands! America had no established Church which allowed the prosperity of different denominations who were mostly Protestant but had their own opinions on various religious points – unity in diversity. Ministers and citizens such as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, Phillis Wheatly, Sarah Osborn, Reverend Nathan Webb and Samuel Spring and others, all played important roles in these revivals which focused on Salvation in Christ and repentance. The Revivalists in American came to believe that if they could evangelized the nation to repentance and faithfulness to Christ, that American would become a Christian nation and that soon Christ would come again! But there were those opposed to religion and Christianity in the Colonies, many of which were the Son’s Of Liberty, who were influenced by the Enlightenment, Science and Deism. The Christian’s goal in life was the preparation for Heaven while the secularists goal was the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment in their short lived lives. The Reformers embraced humanistic principles of the Renaissance through the Scriptures, while others found it in the culture of ancient Rome and Greece! Years later, the people embraced humanistic themes through Reason and Science. The Founding Fathers were Enlightenment thinkers and revolutionaries, and although many were actually Deists, some had much respect for the Bible and Christ. They knew their history, they knew about the Reformation and how people died by the thousands for freedom of Conscience and Liberty, so they established the foundation of the American Republic on these principles:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

A principle adopted from the example of Roger William’s colony of Rhode Island. At the time of the American Revolution, the people who fought, secular and Christian, were joined on the principles of religious freedom!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”            2 Corinthians 3:17

‘The Great Awakening,’ By Thomas S. Kidd

‘Religion and the American Mind: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution,’ By Alan Heimert

‘Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic,’ By Matthew Stewart

The U.S.A. Constitution

‘1491New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,’ by Charles C. Mann

‘Rulers of Evil: Useful Knowledge about Governing Bodies,’ F. Tupper Saussey

Religion in Colonial America

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Part II

“I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world!” John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

With the Puritans came the establishment of the 13 Colonies of America, which were influenced by the religious affiliations of their founders. With many groups of men and women coming together, it was inevitable that conflicts about religion would arise. Besides Roger Williams rediscovery of religious freedom and it’s requirement in the Christians’s life, there was controversy over the state of grace and the law or Antinomianism. In the same colony of Roger Williams, were men and women who advocated against the Law, because we are under grace. But antinomianism promotes the lie that we are saved in our sins instead, neglecting what the New Testament says concerning the law.

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 Romans 3:20-26

Romans 7:12 – Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Romans 8:1-39 – [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Galatians 2:16 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Over and over the disciples emphasized the need to walk in the way of Christ, keeping the Sabbath and the doing what is good and holy! How can we do what is good and holy if we seek to break the law? These are part of the issues that have plagued the Church and a complete lack of Sabbath keeping, and many wonder why there are no works like many witnessed in the Apostolic Church period! We need to read the Bible with an open heart and mind to know what God says! The Colonies soon filled with mostly Protestant Christians: Anglican, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, Puritans, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jews and other “dissenters.” There was a Catholic presence in America, mostly in Maryland colony. Although many truly loved God, the men in control of the individual colonies, connected the Church and the State by forcing people to attend Church or be imprisoned! Most had to pay taxes that payed for ministers’ salaries. In 1692 the Salem Witch Trials began culminating the arrests of 200 people and the deaths of nineteen people. Some believe that their was no practice of magic, just the accusation of witchcraft to steal someones property by false accusation or slander! William Penn arose in Pennsylvania Colony at this time and promoted some of the same ideals as Roger Williams. The Colonies also endured the religious and political controversies of Britain, who had been Protestant since the time of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I! When Elizabeth I died, her heir was her nephew James I. His son James II, tried to bring Protestant Britain back under Catholicism. But that didn’t sit well with the people who revolted in what is called the Glorious Revolution in 1680s. Then came the Great Awakening period with Puritan revivals and evangelism spreading all over the colonies! Then came the American Revolution!

Resources:

Map

‘America’s True History of Religious Tolerance,’ by Kenneth C. Davis, Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2010.

The New World & The Pilgrim Fathers

Part One

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The Reformation touched the United States of American in the 1600s, after explorers such as Leif Eriksson, Christopher Columbus, and Admiral Zhen He discovered North America. The East Coast of America was mapped out by Portuguese explorers who created the Cantino planisphere in 1502. In 1585, the first American colony on the continent was established on Roanoke Island, but the colony was attacked and lost. In 1607, Jamestown and Popham colonies were established in Virginia and Maine. Spain had claimed North America, calling it New Spain, fighting retain it and establish colonies of it’s own, but ultimately failed, the British took over under Queen Elizabeth I! North American was divided into various territories by Spain, France, Britain and the Netherlands. The Dutch chartered the Republic of the Seven Netherlands in 1614 in what is now Manhattan, NY and New Jersey, but the area was captured by the British in 1664. New Sweden colony was established in 1638 in the Delaware River Valley, but eventually succumbed to British conquest in 1656. In 1620 the Pilgrims who were Puritan separatists, sailed to the New World on the Mayflower, landing in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Non-separatist Puritans settle in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629. Puritanism was a product of the Protestant Reformation, where men and women sought to worship God in the Anglican Church, by getting rid of all Roman Catholic forms and ceremonies and live a moral and pure Christian life. According to Perrin Pat’s, ‘Crime & Punishment: The Colonial Period to the New Frontier,’ the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1647, passed a law prohibiting Jesuits from entering the colony by it’s jurisdiction! The Pilgrims eventually became overly legalistic, invading upon personal rights and freedom of conscience, so Roger Williams, who was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, established the colony of Rhode Island. Roger Williams became a Reformed Baptist, establishing the first Baptist Church in America and was an abolitionist against slavery. The Rhode Island colony, was founded in 1636, it gave freedom to anyone who wanted to practice their religion freely, separating church and state! As more colonies were established in America, more people from all over Europe uprooted themselves to come to a land where they could be free from religious persecution! One such group were the Baptists which was founded by John Smyth in Amsterdam in 1609and in England by Thomas Helwys in 1612. The Baptists believe in being baptized like Christ, by immersion. About the 1650s, in England a Baptist denomination, the Seventh-day Baptists, began worshipping God on Saturday, because of Exodus 20:8-10 and Deuteronomy 5:12-14 states that God made the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th day. Jesus, the Twelve Disciples, the Early Christian Church all kept the seventh day as the Sabbath day or Day of Rest! So these Bible readers, the Baptists, decided to keep the Lord’s Day in Britain and eventually brought their addition to the Reformation cause to the New World when Stephen Mumford came to Rhode Island in 1665! We shall find out more of the Reformation’s influence on American society, culture, politics and history in the posts to come!

“Roger Williams died sometime during the early months of 1683. Some of what he said and wrote during his lifetime belongs to the seventeenth century. But much of his historical and philosophical record speaks to us across the centuries.”
― Alan E. Johnson

Resources:

‘Roger Williams,’ By Edwin S. Gaustad

‘Roger Williams: The Church and the State,’ By Edmund S. Morgan

The Story of Roger Williams (1952), TV

‘Roger Williams: Freedom’s Forgotten Hero,’ Vimeo

‘Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America, Volume 1,’ by Francis J Bremer & Tom Webster

Metaphrasis

2004fall_revisiting-the-dead-sea-scrolls_1920x1080_0The Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum in West Jerusalem.

“The most influential version of the most influential book in the world, in what is now its most influential language” – 400 Years of the King James Bible, The Times Literary Supplement 9 February 2011

Long before the Protestant Reformation in the Middle Ages, back in Egypt under the rule of Ptolomy II, one of the four Generals of Alexander the Great; the Jews of Alexandria translate (metaphrasis) the Torah (OT) into Greek. This translation became known as the Septuagint meaning “seventy” and was translated into Koine Greek. In the 1st century AD, the Vetus Latina was created, the earliest collection of Biblical writings in Latin, from which was later derived in 382 AD, the Vulgate Latin Bible produced by Jerome. According to Theodore Beza the Waldensians, who live in the Vaudois Valley of Norhern Italy, started following Christ in 120 AD, they used the Vetus Latina. During the 3rd century AD, the Early church created what is called the Byzantine text-type, which consist of the largest collection of Bible manuscripts that survive, out of which comes the Textus Recepticus. The Gothic Bible and the Gothic Alphabet was written and translated by Wulfila or Ulfilas, a Greek from Cappadocia, into Gothic for the Goths in the 3rd century. Widely circulated in the East during the 5th century, The Peshitta was translated from Hebrew into Syriac. Around the same time of the Peshitta, came the translations of what is now the Ethiopian Bible, which was derived from Garima Gospels in the Ge’ez language which came from Greek manuscripts. In the 6th century, the Irish missionary St. Columba, born of a line of High Irish kings, translated 300 copies of the New Testament into Gaelic. Another of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland was St. Brendan of Birr, who studied at the Clonard Abbey. Brendan later established a monastery at Birr where the The Gospel Book of Macregol was created in 800 AD. From 1382 – 1395, John Wycliffe, Nicholas of Hereford, John Trevisa and John Purvey; translated the Latin Vulgate into Middle English, for the British people. In 1430, the Spanish Alba Bible, the Old Testament was translated and illustrated from Hebrew into Mediaeval Castilian. In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was published, a Vulgate version, and the first book to be printed with movable type on a printing press. In 1514 and 1522, the first New Testament was published in Greek by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, as part of the Complutensian Polyglot. Erasmus printed his Greek New Testament in 1516. Going into the Protestant Reformation, a explosion of translations take off! While hiding out at Wartberg Castle, Martin Luther began his translation of the New Testament from Koine Greek into Early New High German and later finished the Luther Bible with the help of other scholars by 1534. From 1526-1535, William Tyndale and Miles Cloverdale’s Bible, is the first to be published into English from Hebrew and Greek. In France, Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples translated the New Testament in 1523. In 1524, King Christian of Denmark-Norway had the New Testament published into the Danish language. In Sweden, the Gustav Vasa Bible was published in Swedish in 1526. The Matthew Bible, was published by John Rogers, under the pseudonym “Thomas Matthew” in 1537. In England, the first Bible version to be officially authorized by King Henry VIII was the Great Bible by Myles Coverdale and Thomas, Lord of Cromwell. The first New Testament translation into Finnish was published in 1548 by Mikael Agricola. In 1557, the Geneva Bible was published which was based primarily on the work of Tyndale and Coverdale. This book inspired the literary works of: William Shakespeare, (or as some believe to be Sir Francis Bacon), John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the poet John Donne. The Geneva Bible was the Bible the Pilgrims took with them on the Mayflower. In Basel, Switzerland another Spanish version of the Bible was translated by Casiodoro de Reina in 1569. Later in London, the Spaniard Cipriano de Valera published another Bible version in 1596. In 1502, the New Testament of the Douy-Rheims Bible was published followed by the Old Testament in 1609. Before this, in 1604, King James VI & I of Scotland, England and Ireland, brought together a conference at Hampton Court to produce a new authorized version of the Bible that would unite his kingdom, this version is the King James Version which was printed in 1611 by Robert Barker. The New King James Version was published in 1982. Jão Ferreira de Almeida printed his translation of the New Testament from Spanish into Portuguese in 1633. The Dutch pastor Jacobus op den Akker finished Almeida’s Old Testament version in 1694. The Statenvertaling was the first Dutch translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew in 1637. In 1833, Noah Webster published a revised translation of the King James Bible. The first woman and American to translate the Bible was Julie E. Smith Parker, completed in 1855 and published in 1876. The Scotsman Robert Young published his translation of the Bible in English from the Textus Recepticus from the Byzantine text-type, in 1862. There are more Bible translations which come from other manuscripts such as the:

The explosion of Biblical translations that took place during the Reformation, and the progress of society, science, medicine and industry owe much to the light the Bible shed on society!

Resources:

Watch: KJV – The Book That Changed The World, presented by John Rhys-Davies.

A Lamp in the Dark: The Untold History of the Bible, Adullam Films

The Dead Sea Scrolls, BBC

‘The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English (7th Edition),’ by Geza Vermes

France & Revolutions

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The French Revolution actualised the Enlightenment’s greatest intellectual breakthrough: detaching the political from the theocratic. Pankaj Mishra

France is a country who has been influential in gastronomy, art, architecture, science, language, philosophy and historical figures! A country who has both been for and against Rome. The French Revolution the climax to the story of a proud nation! The country started out a very Catholic nation with some of the Papacy even holding a seat there for some time. The Norwegian king Rollo married a French princess and they had William I who invaded Britain in the Norman Conquest. Christianity had already come to France. The French Reformation took place around 1512 with a man named Lafevre, a professor of ancient literature at the University of Paris. He discovered the Bible and taught others by translating the New Testament! The Gospel in the language of the people came to France and exerted its influence, a flame was ignited! Then came John Calvin who preached door to door, risking his life to share the Bible. In Paris, God had sent Lafevre and Farel to the King, to preach in front of an audience of aristocrats. The King and princes opened the palace for Protestant ministers to preach the Gospel from the Bible in the peoples language! For two years this went on with the approval of the King of France until opposition and persecution came! Every house was searched anyone who were Lutherans were tortured and burned alive! Even printing was abolished in France by Francis I, there was no freedom of speech and the King betrayed the Protestant Christians! The Gospel of Christ was destroyed by those who were supposed to be Christians! There were other Bible believing groups in France who were also persecuted; the Waldenses of the Piedmont, the Albigenses, and the Huguenots! The greatest evidence of the influence of Satan, is seen in the St. Bartholomew Massacre in which, the Papacy and the King of France, murdered Protestants at night in cold blood culminating in the deaths of 15,000 or more people! 258 years later came the French Revolution! As all know, the Papacy didn’t like Protestantism, they told the monarchs that Protestantism would bad for their kingdoms, even though the reformers never used violence! A papal nuncio was sent to the King of France stating, “Sire, be not deceived. The Protestants will upset all civil as well as religious order… The throne is in as much danger as the altar… The introduction of a new religion must necessarily introduce a new government.” D’Aubigne, ‘History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin,’ b. 2, ch. 36. During the Protestant Reformation, the Counter Reformation and the Inquisition was under the control of the Jesuit order. In 1773, the Order were suppressed, the Inquisition given to the Dominican order. Before the Revolution, the major religion of France was Roman Catholicism, though King Louis XVI allowed Protestants and Jews to live in France and practice their religion. The Catholic church owned most of the land on which it received large sums of money from it’s surfs and tithe money! When the French Revolution came, it attacked all religion by instituting an atheistic state with the ‘Goddess of Reason” or Athena. During this time the “citizens” took over and reclaimed millions of dollars of money and land from the Catholic Church. They were fed up with slavery and poverty caused by the major religion!

So where did the Enlightenment thinkers really get their ideas from? The philosophers like Voltaire, Descartes, Weishaupt, Locke, were educated in schools which had been dominated by Jesuit influence! John W. O’Malley, S.J. stated in his article, ‘How the first Jesuits became involved in Education.’

“By 1773, the year the Society of Jesus was suppressed by papal edict, the Jesuits were in charge of some 800 educational institutions around the globe. The system was almost wiped out by the stroke of a pen, but after the Society was restored in the early nineteenth century, the Jesuits with considerable success, especially in North America, revived their tradition.” 

The Enlightenment thinkers got their inspiration for reasoning and logic from St. Thomas Aquinas. He revived the writings of the Greek philosopher Aristotle and other Greek philosophers. Aquinas and all the scholastics who followed after him used logic to advance and defend the teachings of Roman Catholicism. The men of the Enlightenment used it to attack the Roman Catholic Church and all religious belief itself, as being unreasonable. What many believe culminated in the French Revolution was: 1. The judgments of God on the Aristocracy for it’s suppression of the Bible and the Gospel. 2. The judgments of God on the Aristocracy for it’s neglect and enslavement of the poor. 3. The French Revolution was the hidden tool of the Jesuit order against Roman Catholicism and the Pope which resulted in the decline of the Papacy in 1798 and the birth of the United States of America in 1776! These philosophers also influenced positive progression of society that gave men and eventually woman, freedom, where once they had been slaves! Look as the freedom’s we all have now compared to 400 years ago: education, freedom of speech, right to vote, hold property, access to books and knowledge, health care, travel, entrepreneurship! In medieval Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, there was only a cast system were the majority served the rich and the few! Although these men under evil influence set out to go against God by promoting atheism, God is in control! 

‘The Enlightenment: History, Documents, and Key Questions,’ edited by William E. Burns

‘Life of Napoleon,’ by Sir Walter Scott

‘How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It,’ by Arthur Herman

The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment,’ By Roy Porter

The New Age Movement