Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Since the Church in the Middle Ages claimed to teach "in all its fulness every doctrine that men ought to be brought to know," it was obligated to enunciate and propagate a set of definite principles for guiding medieval men as, in one way or another, they engaged in making a living. The Church did, in fact; enter the Middle Ages with a set of general presuppositions regarding economic activity, a legacy from its first five hundred years of existence. The way in which it sought to apply these presuppositions during the succeeding thousand years is a good example of the Church's method of handling secular problems. [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.