Christianity’s Unique Intellectual Opportunity
LETTER FROM ENGLAND
There is now an opportunity available to Christians to have an impact on secular society which has been virtually impossible during three centuries of modern secularism.
The 18th century marked the death of special revelation (deistic representatives of the misnamed Age of Reason threw out the Bible’s supernatural content, substituted a “God of Nature” for the trinitarian God, and reduced Jesus to an ethical modeb+ the 19th century was characterized by the death of God — including the deists’ God of Nature — as evolutionary naturalism replaced divine teleology; and the 20th century has displayed the consequential death of Man (slaughtered by his fellows in numbers exceeding the total of all the fallen in all the prior wars of recorded history).
Why has modern man nonetheless remained committed to secularism? Roger Garaudy helps us toward an answer with his aphorism, “Nous tous, nous sommes nés vieux“: All of us are born old (i.e., we enter life already weighed down by a heavy load of cultural baggage). For the last century that baggage has consisted especially of the ideas of those Paul Ricoeur has termed the “three modern masters of suspicion”: Nietzsche, Marx, and Sigmund Freud, each of whom is now a fallen idol.
Nietzsche gave literary form to the death of God and the possibility (indeed, necessity, in light of His death) of transcending all values. If God is dead, all is permitted. The Übermensch (“Superman”), whether a Hitler, a Stalin, or an Amin Dada, can create whatever world he is capable of imposing on others. The results of such a loss of absolute value have been so traumatic that ever since the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials the human rights movement has been searching desperately for a solid basis for inalienable rights. Few today display the naïveté of a recent dating ad from the Washington, D.C., area: “Democrat & Atheist [seeks companion] with comparable values.” Nietzsche fell from his pedestal because atheism offers no values.
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