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In the centuries which followed its recognition by the Roman Empire, the Church had gradually developed a body of doctrine by which to interpret its faith and answer its critics. Once that doctrine was firmly established, those Christians who held contrary beliefs could be branded as heretics. In spite of this, the Western Church was never completely without its critics: Arians, Donatists, and many others. As soon as one doctrine was approved, questions were raised about some other aspect of the faith. The very interpretation of life which the Church offered, with its division into the secular and heavenly levels, seemed to foster this almost continual questioning and criticism. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section III: The Medieval Church. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.