It is fitting for us to wrap up our work here in Pennsylvania on Christian History by doing this issue on Bernard of Clairvaux. We have wanted to overcome the common imbalance—which many of you have pointed out to us—that would seem to suggest that worthwhile history, with a few exceptions, began with the Reformation. Bernard, a man Luther and Calvin greatly admired, defies such a notion, and he represents a long and deep tradition that has contributed a great deal to the Church. Though Bernard stands out as an exemplar of Catholic monasticism, his pronounced loving devotion to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and to the divine authority of Scripture transcends easy categories and gets to the heart of what the Christian faith is all about.

Bernard, the man of humility, is one of the great figures in Church history. He is nevertheless a figure who represents the “contradictions” of his age, and tensions that are still highly relevant today. He was a man of contemplative quiet, peace, and seclusion, a writer of the loftiest words on loving God who also vigorously promoted a Christian “holy war,” the Second Crusade, and who worked for political goals and the legal condemnation of heretics. It has been a key motif of our intention in publishing Christian History to encourage us all to realize that our collective heritage contains much to be thankful for, and much to be sorry for. We are all the body of Christ—or as Bernard might prefer to say, the Bride of Christ—and we all share in the glories and faults of our family. An important lesson to be learned here is that although we may regret many of Bernard’s actions, we should not judge him or any person, by the standards, values, and “enlightened insights,” of any age but his ...

Subscriber Access OnlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Already a CT subscriber? for full digital access.