The Renaissance of the 1500s: A Focus on “Myself”

The Renaissance stretched between the 1500s and 1600s. The focus of the “rebirth” of interest in Greek and Roman history, literature, and art, was just that – INTEREST. Previously, people had studied Greek and Roman antiquity in order to better understand the current culture – but in this particular Renaissance, people studied it in order to better understand the OLD culture – and to, in effect, change the current culture.

Humanism was one major facet of the Rennaissance. In those days, the term “Humanism” had a different connotation than it does in modern times. Humanism is a lens through which some view the world, with a focus on MAN, and what MAN can achieve. Today, humanism is seen as an opposite of Christianity, but back then, humanism was seen as compatible with the Catholic Christian viewpoint. Their argument held that man did not need to try to “hide” himself, or be seperate from the world, in order to live a life that honors God. People became more focused on individualism – signing their names to their works of art, attempting to attain earthly fame – and held that it was possible to be both a Christian and a humanist.

One such Renaissance thinker was a man named Petrarch, a philosopher who embodied the humanist spirit of the Renaissance. He professed to be a believer in God, but His Catholic leanings did not keep him from pursuing things of the world – happiness, fame, poetry, self-acknowledgement. He was forced to enter law school, but when his father died, he left Law and entered what he’d wanted all along – Greek, Literature, Poetry, source texts, etc. In his romance poetry, he presents a surprising angle; a focus on himself, and HIS love, and HIS pain, as opposed to the love they share, or much of an emphasis on the object of his love. Eventually, he chooses between two offers (from Paris and Rome) to become poet laurate, deciding on Rome.

One of the major innovations from the Rennaissance was the development of the printing press. The printing press not only made books and literacy more available to the middle class, (who before could never have afforded painstakingly hand-copied literature,) but also ushered in a new and sudden revolution within the church – Luther’s protest against indulgences, which led to a greater and more expansive movement than he had ever intended. His works were circulated wider than they ever could have without printing, and not only him, but others, also got the opportunity to spread their ideas through the new method of copying books.

Thanks for reading!


Power in Perspective – Popes and Emperors

What were the reasons behind the conflicts between the emperors and the popes during this period?

Throughout western civilization, a conflict which has always been current news is the disagreement of “who has the authority”. It doesn’t matter how long the authority has existed, questions continue to arise, and rebellion is always a possibility. One of the most interesting conflicts to study, is the tension that exists between religious and political authorities.

Political authorities claim ultimate power because they have taken on the role of protecting the public. Their power extends as far as the public is willing to give them conrtol – in some cases, it has descended into the depths of communim and marxism. Power-hungry individuals can never be satisfied.

Although religous authorities do not object to the protection that political authorities offer, they do have an issue with government powers encroaching upon religous freedoms, such as the freedom to celebrate their religon however they see fit. Religous authorities in general, operate under a system of rules, traditions handed down by their mentors, and tend to lean toward the side of hypocritical thinking.

The problem with the battle of these two entities, is that the struggle will never be over, because there is no resolution. The key thing to remember, is that religous and political authorities operate under totally different mindsets. Political authorities operate under the power which they think has been given to them by the people, but religous authorities operate under the power they believe has been given to them by God.

In the case of the conflict between the Pope and the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the issue centered mainly on control. Barbarossa was interested in capturing Italy. Althought the Pope was in control over the Papal states which had been seperated from Italy, The Pope wasn’t stupid. He knew that men like Barbarossa would not be content to leave the small papal states alone, if they were just sitting there tempting him. The Pope tried to arrange a deal with Frederick in order to try to keep him away from Rome, but it backfired on him and turned into a “big mess”.

The Pope didn’t want to be ruled by the emperor, and he knew that it would be a real possibility if Frederick came to power in Italy. Beforehand, if an emperor had jurisdiction in the same area as the Pope, he would get involved with church affairs which were not rightfully his, like electing bishops and cardinals to church offices.

Although the Pope and the emperor both had the same goal – control – they were different in the way they wanted to act out that control. The Pope wanted control of the Catholic Church and of the people who had submitted to his authority. The emperor wanted control over everything, but only for the purpose of the expansion of His personal power and authority, not necessarily for the good of the believers in Rome.

Thanks for reading!

Power struggles and the Black Plague

(1) What was the significance of the conflict between Philip IV and Boniface VIII?
In the 14th century, the king of France (Phillip IV, also known as Phillip the Fair) and the Roman Pope (Boniface VIII) were at odds due to a variety of reasons.

The King had decided to levy taxes on the Catholic Church and the rest of the clergy, however Popes, bishops, and the owners of church property had not been previously taxed. Phillip had also failed to ask the Pope’s permission, and in doing so had undermined the Pope’s authority. Boniface reacted strongly to the new taxation, but Phillip merely retaliated with the declaration that money from the Church in France could not be transferred to the church in Rome. The Pope backed down and changed his mind on the taxation law, allowing him (perhaps grudgingly) to continue in his plan to tax the church.

Later however, Phillip imprisons one of Boniface’s appointed French bishops, which obviously would have angered the Pope. The tension continued to escalate. Pope Boniface wrote a letter to the French, clarifying the issue of the rights of the Pope versus the rights of the king. Whatever he may have said in the letter, did not get read to the public, or even to the King. Instead, the letter had been doctored by a group of people prior to it being presented to the public. The people understood the doctored letter to mean that the Pope believed himself to be the ultimate authority under God. They were confused and dissatisfied.

Regardless of the fact that the previous letter had been doctored, Bonficace then sent another letter, with his opinions stated in clearer terms: That the Pope is greater in authority than the King, and the King, in certain situations, must seek guidance and permission from the Pope. The King was very displeased with Boniface’s missive, and Boniface was prepared to excommunicate the king, when the angry Phillip sent men to harass Boniface, who soon died in 1303.

Conclusion: It all comes down to a power struggle. Neither the Pope nor the King actually cared about what was the right thing to do – They were more preoccupied with their own self-interests. The struggle was not new to Europe, and it wouldn’t end here – It’s the question of the ages. Who holds more earthly authority? A religious figure, or political figure?

(2) What were the effects of the Black Death on Europe?

The Black Death decimated Europe in the 14th century, killing between 1/4 and 1/2 of Europe’s population, although it’s often more specifically stated to be 1/3. Many people abandoned God and theology because, as they reasoned, He had abandoned them. (I explain this in more detail in another essay.) Of course, the plague disheartened the people so much that they despaired of ever getting out of it alive, and so they lived as though each day was their last, looting, drinking, and committing all sorts of crimes against the the State AND the ultimate moral code. However, the Black Death is only one of the contributing factors to a steady moral decline in Europe, a decline that has crept around the world and continues to grow to this day.

Gothic Architecture

What was a major innovation of the Gothic cathedral? How did the architecture of the cathedral reflect the prevailing idea of God?

The Gothic cathedrals differed from the Romanesque style of church-building in the methods they used to support the massive, heavy stone ceilings. Traditionally, churches would have to be small and sturdy, in order to hold up the heavy weight of thousands of pounds of stone. But an innovation called the “flying buttress”, an arch which distributed the weight of the roof to an exterior support, opened up a new world of architecture, the Gothic style, examples of which include soaring spires and elaborate engraving.

The architecture of Gothic cathedrals made it easier for larger windows to be put into churches, thereby letting in more light. With the imagery of Jesus as “the light of the world”, the increased lighting in cathedrals presented a spiritual dynamic for churchgoers. Additionally, since God was considered to be a God of order, and the “ultimate” mathematician, architects sought to show God’s character in the geometrically coherent structures that they designed to house the Church.

Thanks for reading!

PS – what do you think of the signout? I’ll be playing around with them a bit ’til I find one I like!

Paul in Acts 15 and 21

(This is a discussion of a missionary attempt by Paul, based on what is written in Acts (and in other books of the Bible.)

He was Paul, the Pharisee. He was the one who oversaw Stephen’s stoning. He was the one who hated Christians and what they stood for. He was the one who sought them out to imprison and kill them. He was the one who persecuted believers, and, in doing so, persecuted the Messiah.

He was Paul, the apostle. He was a man whose vision changed his life. He was a man who went to nations near and far to preach the story of the God of Abraham and the Messiah. He was the one who loved all people and desired to help save them, who wrote meaty letters to them to admonish the growing churches. He was a man who endured all sorts of set-backs, persecution, and physical hardships, in the name of Yeshua. He was a martyr who died for Messiah.

Can you believe he was the same man? There was a drastic difference between the Paul he used to be and the Paul he became.

(Note: Paul’s Hebrew name was Sha’ul. However, Paul is the name most people recognize, so for this essay I will refer to him as ‘Paul”.)

After Paul first started talking about Jesus, it seemed that you couldn’t get him to stop! It didn’t matter if you imprisoned, shipwrecked, or tried to stone him, the guy just wasn’t at all fazed!

One scenario I would like to cover in this essay is the reason for the Jerusalem Council, (which was held in AD 50,) and the result of said council. The reason I want to discuss this is because I disagree with my teacher in his interpretation of the Jerusalem Council verdict. He believes, (as do many Christians), that the decision meant that Christians no longer have to obey the Law of God as given at Mount Sinai. (The Law is documented in the first five books of the Bible.)

In the beginning of Acts chapter 15, we see that there were people telling new converts that they must be circumcised in order to obtain salvation. Obviously, this idea was seen as incorrect by the apostles. Getting circumcised cannot give you salvation. We are saved by faith, like Abraham, whose faith (belief and obedience) made him righteous. (see Genesis 15:6 and Hebrews 11:8.)

Therefore, the council convened to discuss their response to the mislead congregation. They decided that in their letter, they would tell the people to “abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:26.) At first glance, it would appear that these are the only rules by which believers have to abide.

But let’s back up a bit.

Why would the apostles tell the new Christians to abide by these rules? They didn’t say anything about not murdering. They didn’t say anything about not stealing. So why only these four rules?

Well, the new Christians had just come out of a pagan system of worship, in which they would offer animals to their gods as bloody sacrifices, then drink the blood of the offerings. They would eat meat from animals which had been strangled to death, and then they would engage in sexual immorality with both male and female temple prostitutes. This was a very gruesome reality of the pagan religion. It was similar to the time when the Israelites were at Mount Sinai, sinning against God by worshipping the golden calf, and “sat down to eat, and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:6.) So basically, the apostles were telling the people to give up their specifically pagan temple worship.

“But there’s more to being a Christian than just giving stuff up.”, you might say. I agree, and so did they. In verse 21, the apostles land the clincher in their reasoning. “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:21.)

What does it mean when it says “Moses” is read? At the time, believers would meet in the synagogues on the Sabbath to read the law (which was called “Moses”, because it was given to Moses at Mount Sinai) and the prophets (the Bible books of the Old Testament.) If the new believers would give up their pagan practices, then when they went to the synagogues, they could learn to study and obey the Law from the teachers and other believers.

God does not want us to worship him in the way the pagans do. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32) New believers must discard the pagan ways of worship and learn to obey God in the way he has commanded them.

Although salvation does not come through circumcision, does this mean that circumcision is unimportant? Of course not! It is a way we can show love to God by our obedience.

Some people believe that when Paul went to deliver the letter, he would tell the Christians that they did not have to be circumcised. If this was true, then why did Paul circumcise Timothy just before taking him along in order to tell the gentiles that they did NOT have to become circumcised? (Acts 16:1-3) The theories don’t match up.

We must therefore conclude that although circumcision is not necessary for salvation, it is a way to obey God in a way he has commanded us to. It is a way to show others that we believe in Yahweh.

This brings up the issue of ‘circumcision of the heart’. Physical circumcision does no good without the circumcision of the heart, as we see in the prophetic times. Israel strayed from Yahweh in their hearts yet continued to offer Him sacrifices. He hated that they were only serving Him outwardly, while inwardly they worshipped others. (Isaiah 1:11-15, Jeremiah 4:4.)

In fact, Deuteronomy 30 itself refers to circumcision of the heart, so this is not a new concept.

What if Yahweh wanted us to circumcise physically … and circumcise our hearts … at the same time?


10 years later, Paul came back to Jerusalem, and they rejoiced at the many new believers. But the elders told Paul that there were some people saying “Paul teaches that the new believers MUST NOT circumcise their children.” (Acts 21:17-26.) Were these reports true? Or were the people lying?

In verse 24, James gave Paul advice on how he ought to respond.

“Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.”Acts 21:24, NIV (emphasis mine)

So the reports were NOT true! Paul was in fact living in obedience to the law. As we know, Paul believed that leaders should set a good example for the believers, as he said when he advised Timothy in his first letter. (See verse below.)

“…. But set an example for the believers, in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Paul set a good example for the believers in his life, by “living in obedience to the law.” He, an apostle of Christ, was following the Law even twenty-nine years after the resurrection of Christ!

Conclusion …

Contrary to common Christian thinking, the narrative in Acts 15-21 does not mean that the apostles decided against new Christians following the Law. In fact, they were in full support of it!

However, you cannot gain your salvation through following the law, and THAT is what Paul and the apostles were concerned about.

All throughout the Bible, it is written that the Law is good, reviving the soul, sweet, righteous, a lamp and a light … and it is true. (1 Timothy 1:8, Psalm 19:7, Psalm 119:103, Romans 7:12, Proverbs 6:23, psalm 119:142.) God’s law is not a burden or just a bunch of rules. It defines the boundaries for a healthy life and a strong walk of faith.

Let me know your thoughts!


Musings on a selection from the Koran

[The Koran is considered by the Muslims to be Allah’s words given to Mohammed.]

47: 37. The life of this world is but a sport and a pastime, and if you believe and be righteous, HE will give you your rewards, and will not ask of you your wealth.

Source: Internet History Sourcebooks, excerpts from The Koran

The above passage seems to imply that man’s righteousness will earn him rewards, and ensure that he will keep his wealth. When I read this passage, I couldn’t help but compare it to Yahweh’s principles. See the Bible verses below …

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Mathew 5:10-12, NKJV (emphasis mine.)

So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Mark 10:29-30, NKJV (emphasis mine.)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Mathew 6:19-21, NKJV (emphasis mine.)

So, what’s the difference?

Whereas Islam teaches that a man’s righteousness will lead to gaining and retaining earthly wealth, Yeshua teaches that righteousness entails earthly poverty, but rewards in heavenly treasures that will last beyond death.


Procopius’ summary of Justinian’s character

According to Procopius, there was no greater depravity than Justinian. He was the epitome of evil … there was no good in him whatsoever. To summarize a few of Procopius’ points, Justinian is described as one who was cruel, untrustworthy, a liar and a sneak, twisted and changed the laws to his own advantage, and a grievous murderer.

My teacher Tom Woods describes Justinian as “full of ambition”, but Procopius is of the opinion that this ambition would be better described as a thirst for blood, looting, and the glory of the conquer.

From what we know about the 532 AD Insurrection from Procopius’ “History of the Wars”, Justinian was cowardly enough to think of fleeing rather than fighting. His wife’s advice that he and his council defend themselves rather than run likely saved them from either death or ruin.

No Roman emperor truly knew God … therefore, no emperor could ever be as perfect as our One True King. No emperor was completely moral, unselfish, or acted solely in the best interests of the Roman people. Some were better than others, and some we know less about because of scholarly and historians’ prejudices. That being said, were I to merely take into account the selections I have read from Procopius, I would gather that Justinian was a murderer. Perhaps other historians have a different opinion than that of Procopius.

Thanks for reading,


Source 1:

Source 2:

Significance of the Carolingian Renaissance

The Carolingian renaissance was the rebirth of interest in the writings and concepts of the ancient world. It lasted from the beginning of Charlemagne’s reign (768-814 AD) to the reign of Louis the Pious (814-840 AD.)

Unlike other renaissance periods, where the ancient writings are improved upon and new discoveries and concepts are born, the thinkers of the Carolingian renaissance mostly just modified the culture, histories, and texts of the Roman empire and Greek civilization.

One new innovation that came out of this period was the development of Carolingian miniscule, which is a form of handwriting intended to make it easier to read the ancient texts instead of reading them in their original form, which was cumbersome and slow.

Charlemagne was really determined to foster education for everyone, even the clergy. He started a school in his own palace, so keen was he on the growth of the minds and the preservation of culture during this renaissance. One of the great teachers of this time, who taught at Charlemagne’s school, was Alcuin of York. He wrote poetry and didactic literature, and was regarded as a very wise man.

~ Makayla

Thank you for reading this short essay! How do you other homeschoolers think I could expand and improve it?

Roman contributions and Saint Augustine

Rome was a significant empire in the history of western civilization, not only for its military power and the fact that it controlled unbelievably extensive borders, but also for its culture and government, much of which we see in the modern west today.

The language is our key inheritance from the Romans. The Latin languages gave birth to the romance languages, which include oft-spoken languages like French, Italian, and Spanish. Even English has a great percentage of its roots in Latin.

The architecture was largely copied off the Greeks, yet with a singular twist. We see examples of their Gothic architectural style in many American state buildings like the White House and the Senate. Their true achievements in architecture were their amazing roads, bridges, aqueducts, and dams.

The fame of ancient literature undoubtedly belongs to the Greeks, but the writers of ancient Rome, including Ovid, Horus, and Seneca, are still remembered and honored for their writings. Cicero was a brilliant Roman rhetorician and philosopher who shone like a star among the mostly military-minded Romans.

The greatest contributions the Romans gave us was their government system and the concept they had of natural law – an absolute standard of justice that is true forever. I believe, however, that the Romans missed something – the only absolute standard of everlastingly true law, is the law of God.

Augustine of Hippo began his youth in rash decisions with the wrong crowd, although his mother did not approve. He later turned eagerly to the religion of Manicheanism, but abandoned it when even the experts could not answer his questions. Dissatisfied, he eventually became a Christian. I believe this is because Augustine realized that truth and coherent answers are only to be found in the Word of the One True God.

After his conversion, he went on to become one of the most prolific writers in the history of apologetics. His most well-known work is “The Confessions”, a book proclaiming the glory of God and his goodness to sinners.) He wrestled with the deep questions of life and came up with Christian answers to counteract the conclusions of other religious groups. He is famously quoted for disproving Skepticism with the simple statement, “I doubt, therefore I am.”

~ Makayla

Thanks for reading, y’all! Stay awesome!

Comparing Christianity to Greek Thinking …

How would you compare the teachings of Christianity to the values cherished by earlier civilizations we have discussed (particularly the Greeks, and the values expressed in Homer’s works)?

Conversely, can you see anything in common between Christianity and some of the great ancient thinkers?

To compare Christian teachings to Greek philosophical teachings is to compare a religion with God as its center to a moral thought process that originated in a desire to eliminate deity. What I mean is this:

1. The Greek mindset differs extraordinarily from the Hebrew mindset. The two cannot be fused or reconciled.

2. Those who try to apply Greek thinking to Christianity twist the Hebrew mindset. Inserting a Greek mindset into the text of the Bible takes away the illustrative view of the message, and we miss the point of what Yahweh is trying to say.

The Bible was not intended to be read with a Hellenistic view of rationality and definitions. Hebraic thinking differs so much from Greek thought in so many ways. (When I learned to see the Bible through the eyes of the Hebrews, I learned so much more than I ever did before.)

However, it is important to point out a few differences to show you what I am talking about.

When I say simply “Christianity”, I am referring to what Paul calls “the Way, which some call a sect.” I am referring to the way that all true believers follow and believe.

When I say “Mainstream Christianity”, I’m not talking about the beliefs of Paul and the other apostles. I’m talking about those who twist the scriptures to their own gain and to the detriment of thousands of Christians who only want to follow God. The people are told that we can now follow God a different way than the people of Israel did. This is untrue.

Some differences between “Mainstream Christianity” and Greek Hellenistic thinking

– Christianity has one supreme and perfect God (at least, that is the biblical principle.) The Greeks had a medley of gods who came and went, fighting and acting like spoiled children.

– The Greeks had only their gods and the philosophers to lead them. Christianity has the inspired Word of God to lead them.

Some similarities between “Mainstream Christianity” and Greek Hellenistic thinking:

– The concept of heaven is much the same, including immortality of the soul.

– The God(s) are changeable. The Greeks held that Zeus was changeable, and you could not rely upon him to do act in a pattern.

– You can decide to do what you want … there is only a loose moral code.

I have a hard time with the general Christian church on this because many of the Christians I talk to believe that God made a Law that no longer applies to Christians of this day and age. I disagree, because I cannot find a place in the Bible where God says that he has decided to retract a Law which he had established as an unchanging, eternal Command.


Yahweh does not Change. The Modern Christian church sometimes implies that He does. The Greeks’ supreme deity, Zeus, was also changeable. In this way and in many others, some sects of Modern Christianity is similar to Greek Hellenistic thinking.

“Test everything – hold fast to what is good.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21


Alexander the Not-so-great

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia and a great war general and hero. He ascended the throne at age 20, and in subsequent years he conquered enough land to form one of hugest empires ever. Even today, the military studies his tactics, hoping to gain a portion of the success he amassed during his lifetime. Growing up, Alexander had Aristotle as a tutor; one of the best possible teachers during those times.

Plutarch, an important Roman historian from 46 to 119 AD, details a scene from Alexander’s teen years, before his father died. Some men were trying to sell a fine stallion, Bucephalus, to the king. Prince Alexander told his father that he thought he could do a better job – his father, thinking him to be speaking rashly, suggested that he go and try it himself. Alexander then went up to the stallion, calming the horse by turning him away from his own shadow and speaking softly, then mounted and let him gallop to his heart’s content.

He returned to his father and the court, who had been worried for him, but his father, overjoyed and emotional, told his son that he was too great for their small kingdom.

In this account of a famous story about Alexander, Plutarch showcases Alexander’s main characteristics: tenacity, boldness, intelligence, confidence, bravery, and an eye for detail. All these must have so convinced Plutarch of Alexander’s superiority that he called him ‘a great man’.

After assuming the throne, Alexander began expanding the Macedonian empire … and never stopped. It grew and grew, and his name grew and grew, until the peoples began surrendering before they were killed, for Alexander was merciless in his conquests.

Alexander believed he was a god, and he may have assumed this for two reasons. One, that his mother believed she was a descendant of Achilles. She had also told him that his true father was the god Zeus-Ammon. The second reason Alexander may have assumed that he was deity was that in those days, it was believed that you could become divine through great acts, and obviously, Alexander had a host of those under his belt.

However, even though Alexander was brave and powerful, his prowess in war could not stop the internal conflict within his own kingdom. His men were resentful at his insistence to be treated like a god. Alexander had never been as successful at internal politics as he had in war, so there was bound to be an ultimatum very soon.

The details of his death are unclear because of so many inconsistencies in accounts, but the majority of sources record that he died of some form of poisoning in 323 BC. Formerly Alexander had been asked who would inherit his empire. He simply replied, “The strongest.”

After his death, his counselors fought for around ten years to gain the title of ‘the strongest’. Eventually his empire was split up into several different states under different leaders … so fell apart one of the greatest empires ever.

Was Alexander a great man? He was certainly a great general, ingenious in his tactics. But the ‘greatness’ of the inner man is relative, not definite, since greatness is a moral issue. I have a different code of morality than Plutarch – as do many others who might try to answer this question. In my opinion, worldly greatness is defined by others, but true greatness is defined by God.

Alexander was a master of worldly greatness … but is that the goal?

Wouldn’t you rather be the possessor of an inner fire, driven by a hope and a purpose?

Thanks for reading!

(Sources I used …)