A Book Review … Rodney Stark’s ‘Bearing False Witness; Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History.’

I completed Rodney Stark’s ‘Bearing False Witness; Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History.’

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Stark takes a battleax to modern embraced narratives and hacks them to shreds by  examining revisionist historical evidence and by citing the best and brightest scholars in each respective field.

This book necessitates that Protestants understand that our Church in history is the Roman Catholic church before it excommunicated itself upon excommunicating and casting out the Reformers. As Protestants we are in error when we don’t understand that the Church in History is our Church and it’s history thus should be defended. We should be careful defenders when we can be of the Church’s actions in history that goes behind the Reformation.

Stark does just that in this volume by demonstrating that the modern narratives surrounding the “guilt” of the Christian faith for this or that unconscionable activity as capture in some false narrative is pure bunkum.

Stark gives us evidence that the being based is Church history by exposing the falsity of modern narratives against Christianity in chapters dealing with,

1.) The Church being anti-Semitic.

Stark does admit that the Church did discriminate but he (rightly) insists that any social order in order to maintain its hegemony must discriminate. Stark teaches the idea that the Church was hunting down Bagels in order to kill them is just ridiculous.

2.) The Christian faith persecuted the tolerant Pagans after Constantine legalized Christianity.

Stark gives the historical account demonstrating that such a narrative is pure fairy tale. The Christian Crown was quite tolerant of pagans as long as pagans did not seek to overthrow Christianity. This chapter gives us a glimpse on the life and failure of Julian the Apostate.

3.) The idea that any thing called “the Dark Ages” ever existed. Stark explodes the myth that the time of the burgeoning Christian social order following the fall of Rome was backward and dull. Stark demonstrates that this was a time of great learning and advancement. Stark demonstrates that it was the Christ hater later writers that dubbed this time “The Dark Ages,” and then the later time periods of “The Enlightenment,” and “The Age of Reason.”

4.) Stark demonstrates that Christianity opposed slavery thus denying modernists to cast in the teeth the idea that Christian were always slavers. I do think that we need to distinguish here the sin of man stealing for slavery which requires the death penalty, and the fact that Scripture supports the idea of slavery as Biblically conducted. However, Stark’s chapter here demonstrates that the Christian faith never countenanced man stealing.

5.) Stark demonstrates that the Church has not historically supported naked Authoritarianism. He cites the experts who note that if and when the Church supported Authoritarians (such as Franco) it was because those who opposed the Authoritarians they were supporting had been trying to snuff out the Church. Here Stark cites the Church’s support of Franco against the Communist “Republicans.” Stark in this chapter also goes out of his way to explode the myth that Pope Pius XII was in any way ‘sreltiH Pope. In this chapter Stark recites the record of the oppression of the Church by the State during Revolutionary France, Spain, and Russia during their Revolutions.

6.) Stark takes on the idea that Capitalism didn’t exist before the Reformers. Stark seems to think modern Capitalism is a good idea. He can have that idea. Stark notes how interest and capitalism goes way back behind the Protestants to the 11th century. Stark insists that the early Monastic movement was quite capitalistic. Stark notes that usury was not uncommon prior to the Reformation even citing Aquinas in support of usury. (Stark does say Aquinas spoke out of both sides of his mouth on the issue. I was quite glad for this chapter because I’ve met many Roman Catholic who has insisted that usury started with the Reformation. Stark puts the lie to that idea.

7.) Stark demonstrates that the Crusades were a defensive maneuver on the part of the Church in order to defend itself from the offensive marauding and land stealing of the Muslims. Stark spends some time explaining the connection between Christian piety of the time and going on Crusade. Stark spends some time talking about the quality of the character of many of the Crusaders. He also spends time demonstrating that the Christians were not more bloodthirsty than the Muslims whom they were defending Christendom from. In brief, the Muslims were animals and the Crusaders in order to defend human life from these animals had to be brutal themselves in many instances. Stark clears the Crusaders and crusading from the false witness of the Christ haters who maintain the modern narrative.

8.) Stark demonstrates that modern science could not have existed without Christendom producing Christian scientists. Stark demonstrates that the whole idea that Christianity was and is against science is a creation of those who hate Christianity.

Stark cites medieval scientist scholar after medieval scientist scholar to demonstrate that these men were faithful and pious Christian men.

He cites;

“The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and the harmony imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.”

Johannes Kepler

In his last will & testament, the great chemist, Robert Boyle (1627-1691) wrote to the members of the Royal Society of London, wishing them continued success in their ‘laudable attempts to discover the true Nature of the works of God.”

Rodney Stark
Bearing False Witness – p. 162

Stark reveals how only Christianity, with its concept of a personal and logical God alone could examine the cosmos. It was the presuppositions of the Christian faith that made modern science possible. In this vein, Stark notes regarding about false faiths and science;

“For Islam, the orthodox conception of Allah is hostile to the scientific quest. There is no suggestion in the Qur’an that Allah set his creation in motion and then let it run. Rather, it is assumed that he often intrudes the world and changes things as it pleases him. Thus, through the centuries, many of the most influential Muslim scholars have held that all efforts to formulate natural laws are blasphemy in that they would seem to deny Allah’s freedom to act. Thus did their images of God and the universe deflect scientific efforts in China, Ancient Greece, and Islam (as they held to pagan notions of God.”)

Rodney Stark
Bearing False Witness — p. 162-163

Stark also has a chapter demonstrating the absolute falsity of recently discovered “Gospels.” Stark does so in order to put the lie to the idea that these “new” Gospels have anything to add to the Christian faith.

Finally, Stark puts the lie to the now givens of the fantastical horrors behind the Inquisition. All that really needs to be said here is that when one compares the Inquisition (and burning of witches) to the real horrors of Secular governments like those of the French Revolution, Russian Revolution, and Mao’s Revolution suddenly one begins to understand that in comparison the Inquisition was a day at the park.

Stark has done the Church a great favor by exposing these ridiculous narratives that continue to plague the Christian Church today. Genuine Biblical Christianity has nothing to apologize to secularists, atheists and Christ haters.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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