The Curriculum Journey – The Mind
On April 19th 2019, I did a Facebook Live. You can view it here. In it, I shared an overview of the re-vamped curriculum which I am developing. This curriculum represents about 10 years of researching and collecting information about the Christians who impacted Canada for God’s glory. It is Canadian History but from a decidedly Protestant, Christian perspective.
In a previous Facebook Live, I explained that when I first started teaching Canadian History to our son and his friends during their high school years, all the information I had read pointed to Canada’s history beginning in New France (Quebec). Coming from the West Indies, I did not know any better, because that’s what the textbooks said.
In 2018, I was ready to launch a curriculum on the 10 Christian Fathers of Confederation working my way from the Atlantic Provinces to Ontario and Quebec, when a news story burst on the scene in Toronto, and indeed the rest of Canada, changing my direction. A sixteen year old Native Indian youth was leading the charge to ‘decolonize’ the schools. In his mind, that meant getting rid of Sir John A Macdonald from the textbooks, from buildings and schools named after him, and expunging his memory from Canada’s public places.
Sir John A Macdonald has been caricatured as a horrible man who called the Natives ‘savages’ and treated them as such. That has resulted in his statue being removed from the City Hall in Victoria British Columbia and his face from the $10 dollar bill. He will get his fair hearing in this curriculum at the appropriate time.
The Issue Behind the Issue – The Heart
The issue behind the issue, as I read it, was the terrible treatment given to the Natives by some of the European settlers and its trickle down effect to their lives today. Some of the perceptions are justified, but this narrative leaves much to be desired. This issue will be dealt with as the curriculum unfolds.
Having been made aware of the issue, I decided to look at our history from a different perspective to answer the question, ‘What was the initial relationship between the Natives and the European settlers, and when did it change?’
That question led me to the first settlers of Acadia and New France – The Huguenots – French Protestants who were persecuted in France. I wondered how they got here, and what their first interaction with the Natives were.
This led me to King Henry IV and the Edict of Nantes. As more and more questions were asked, I was led to The Reformation in France as the nucleus, and seed of Canada’s history. The French Wars of Religion in response to the Reformation, was at the heart of our history.
So the question posed in the recent Facebook Live was: What were the doctrines which polarized Protestants and Catholics to trigger the Protestant Reformation in France (and the French Wars of Religion) at that time, and which ones still do?
So here are a couple of responses from that question:
John said: The two differences between Catholics and Protestants that came to mind for me was the selling of indulgences for one’s self or departed loved ones, and papal infallibility, which I don’t think became doctrinal until the 19th century. I believe indulgences, though rarely used or promoted, is still a Catholic doctrine.
Ruth said: Another one may have had to do with judgement after death, indulgences and the belief that you can buy your way out of hell. She also said: I think one of the doctrinal differences was salvation by grace through faith vs. salvation by works.
YES. The doctrines of indulgences, papal infallibility, purgatory, and salvation by faith vs. salvation by works, were all very important beliefs at the time of the French Wars of Religion.
I encourage our Catholic readers to please engage with the information presented, by leaving a comment or asking a question. I will do my best to give an answer. And if I do not know the answer, I will refer you to someone who might be able to answer.
Why Is This Important? – The Heart and Mind
As I tell the stories of the Huguenots and the Catholics, you will see the extent to which people were willing to die for their doctrine or kill another because of it. I would tell the stories of the characters and events as I find them, with as little editorializing as is possible.
So just for the record, I will identify the Protestant Doctrines so you can see how they relate to the answers given above.
In terms of indulgences and getting your loved ones out of purgatory, It is fair to say that protestants responded to that with the doctrine of Sola Gratia (Grace Alone). This says that “Salvation is the free gift of God to man. It is given by God’s Grace alone and not through any merit on the part of the Christian”. It just can’t be bought at any cost. Here’s an acronym that embodies it: GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
The Scripture referenced for this is: Ephesians 2:8-9
With respect to the works vs faith doctrine, Protestants responded with doctrine of Sola Fide (Faith Alone). This has to do with being judged as righteous in God’s sight based on our faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Even though we are still guilty of sin against a holy God, He gives us Christ’s righteousness declaring us as righteous and not worthy of eternal death. This is the doctrine of justification (made just as if we did not sin) by faith alone.
Martin Luther defined it as, “…the chief article of the whole Christian doctrine, which comprehends the understanding of all godliness.”
With respect to papal infallibility, the Protestant doctrine has more to do with the role of the Pope and his representatives. The doctrine of Solus Christus (Christ Alone) should be noted here. Put simply, it states that Christ is the ONLY mediator between God and man. Every believer thus becomes a priest before God, with immediate access into his presence for forgiveness of sins, because of his faith in Jesus Christ.
The two other Protestant doctrines were: Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) held that the ONLY infallible source of all divine revelation is found in Scripture ALONE. In all matters of faith and practice, it is the final authority. This doctrine also maintains that everything that one needs to know about salvation is found in Scripture alone, and that we don’t need a priest to interpret Scripture, because the Holy Spirit helps a believer to interpret Scripture responsibly. See 2 Timothy 3:16
This was an important touch stone as you will see from the stories you will hear. The Pope mandated, and the priests carried out the burning of Protestants at the stake for possession of the New Testament translated in their own language. Eventually, the French monarchs decreed both the burning of the Scriptures and the Huguenots.
Soli Deo Gloria (To God’s Glory Alone) was the doctrine that maintained every area of a Christian’s life should be lived for God’s glory. This doctrine was in response to what the Reformers saw as giving undue glory to Popes, the clergy, saints or Mary. Romans 11:36 1 Corinthians 10:31
Where do We Go From Here?
Our mission here at ChristianRoots Canada, is to dig as far back as we can to unearth the Christian Roots of Canada. It is important to recognize that both Catholics and Protestants share the same common root – that of the direct eyewitness accounts of the apostles, and the faithful teachings of the Early Church Fathers.
But, like Israel, and like the church in this modern age, apostasy creeps into the worship of the body of devout worshipers of God. Just like in Biblical times, not all Jews were faithful to the teachings of the Law and the Prophets; not all of them were good and sought after justice.
The Old Testament (especially in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel) is replete with warnings about the disappearance of justice and righteousness from the land of Israel, with the prophets warning the Jews about God’s coming judgement.
Likewise, in the days of the Reformation in France, there were the faithful followers of Christ who agreed that the Church had fallen into apostasy and left the Church (The Reformers); there were the faithful followers who recognized that the Church had fallen into apostasy but wanted to reform the Church from within (The Moderates); and there were those who were dogmatic in wanting to keep the status quo (The Loyal Catholics).
These are the general categories which existed in the religious sphere in France, creating the environment for the French Wars of Religion. You will see from the lives of the people who influenced France one way or another, that they generally fell into these categories.
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Author’s Note; Lynette is the owner of ChristianRoots Canada. She spent almost 3 years in Pittsburgh where her husband attended The Reformed Presbyterian Seminary. They are back in Canada for an undetermined period of time while God works out exactly where they ought to be serving Him in His kingdom. They have been experiencing many challenges in this journey back to Canada. She is blogging about them to keep perspective. Thanks for joining her on this journey.