This week I write upon returning from a nine day trip with friends to England, where much of my visit centered on an examination the English Reformation. I was fortunate to be exposed to the lessons of history through two groups, Christian Heritage Cambridge and its spinoff, Christian Heritage London. These groups focus on reminding Britons and their guests of the influence of Christianity on Western civilization and inspiring and equipping Christians to demonstrate the reasonableness and transforming power of their faith. Since my wife and I worship in an Anglican Church here in the States, I was particularly interested to learn more about the history of our "mother church," the Church of England. What I found was an incredibly rich history that testifies to the breadth and depth of Christian influence upon the British Isles and upon western civilization as a whole.
We spent most of our time exploring Cambridge, Oxford and London, where Christianity’s influence and impact is abundantly evident. Cambridge and Oxford are homes to centers of learning with names like Jesus College, Christ's College, Emmanuel College, Magdalene College, All Souls College, and Corpus Christi College. These colleges were inspired by the Christian notion that since the universe was created by a rational being, it would be worthwhile to investigate the principles underlying its order. Sir Isaac Newton’s life and career is a testament to the power of this belief. A devout but unorthodox Christian, Newton studied at Trinity College in Cambridge and became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. A renowned physicist and mathematician, he formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation and put to rest the mistaken notion that the earth was the center of the universe.
Then there are the churches and cathedrals that dominate the landscape. The most prominent of those houses of worship is St. Paul's Cathedral, the architectural masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, which sits atop London’s highest point, Ludgate Hill. It was designed to glorify God and to draw the gaze of worshippers to the Transcendent. St. Paul's is to London as St. Peter's Basilica is to Rome. Recognizing its central importance in English History, Hitler sought, and failed, to bomb it into powder during World War II. In so doing, he only reinforced the will of Britons to resist the Nazi menace.