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Central to the medieval Church and the ultimate source of its power, both spiritual and temporal, was its possession of the sacraments. The sacraments were based on the belief that what man could not do for himself God could and would do for him. Medieval man believed that there were at least two things that it was impossible for him to do: he could not create himself and he could not save himself. But the same God who had created man stood ready to snatch him from the terrible consequences of his sinfulness. This great favor was accomplished through the sacrament. [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.