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Is ‘Christian Humanism’ Gone Forever?

The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis, Alan Jacobs, Oxford University, 280 pages [1]

Though the term is rarely employed in our time, “Christian humanism” is one of the noblest movements of the last century. It’s a concept much older than the 20th century, of course, dating back to St. Paul’s visit to Mars Hill in Athens. There, Paul had challenged the Greek Stoics to discover and embrace their “unknown god.” A few decades later, St. John the Beloved sanctified the 600-year-old Heraclitean concept, logos (meaning fire, imagination, word), at the beginning of his Christian gospel.

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Following this ancient tradition, many of the greatest of Western thinkers—from St.Augustine to Petrarch to Sir Thomas More to Edmund Burke—had inherited and breathed new life into Christian humanism during their own respective ages. In the 20th century, two men—T.E. Hulme in the United Kingdom and Irving Babbitt in the United States—reclaimed the 1,900-year-old concept, believing it the only possible serious challenge to modernity, the exaggeration of the particular, and the rise of ideologies and other inhumane terrors. From the grand efforts of Hulme and Babbitt a whole cast of fascinating characters arose, embracing Christian humanism to one degree or another: T.S. Eliot, Paul Elmer More, Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward, Willa Cather, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, J.R.R. Tolkien, Nicholas Berdyaev, Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Theodor Haecker, Aurel Kolnai, Bernard Wall, Sigrid Undset, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor, and Russell Kirk.

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After the latter’s immense success with the 1953 publication of The Conservative Mind, the young author worried that conservatism could serve only as a critique of the previous age, not as blueprint for a way forward. Conservatism, after all, was the “negation of ideology,” challenging more than answering. If one considered himself a conservative, Kirk believed, he must prudently understand what needs conserving. To this, Kirk argued, only human dignity and a well-ordered society—rooted in eternal virtues and principles—were worth preserving. Such vital things, he determined in 1954, could only happen with a revival of “Christian humanism” and not merely through conservatism. Christian humanism alone was timeless, while conservatism was a momentary response to the immediate past. Though Kirk returned once again to “conservatism” as the central focus of his writings in the late 1950s, his books, essays, lectures, and periodicals (Modern Age and The University Bookman) never strayed far from his own understanding of Christian humanism.

It must also be noted that “Christian humanism” could almost as easily and appropriately—at least by its advocates and allies in the 20th-century—be called “Judeo-Christian humanism.” It’s primary American founder, Irving Babbitt, for example, certainly did not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and he wanted thinkers such as Aristotle, Cicero, and the Buddha to have equal standing with the Nazarene. Other essential Christian humanist allies, such as Eric Voegelin, held heterodox views, believing, for example, that St. Paul was a Gnostic and a Manichean, too quick to dismiss the physical side of life. Still others, such as Leo Strauss, were somewhat Jewish and utterly Zionist. A proper Christian humanism could, most of its advocates believed, not only incorporate any who believed in the dignity of the human person, but also transcend whatever differences existed in the name of dignity.

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Admittedly, I was absolutely thrilled when I first learned that Baylor University scholar Alan Jacobs would be writing on the subject—and taking it seriously. Indeed, Jacobs is not only serious about Christian humanism, he repeatedly identifies himself personally with the idea. The book becomes so personal at times—with language employed such as “I suspect” and “I think”—that the reader has the feeling he is sitting in an intimate seminar room with Jacobs as the scholar meditatively pontificates on works he has lovingly read and absorbed over years of careful scholarship. As it is, then, The Year of Our Lord 1943 is as much about Jacobs’s own ideas as it is about 1943. Jacobs even writes parts of the book in the present tense, making it even more personal and immediate.

Relying almost entirely on primary source material but filtered through the rather personal thought, intellect, and soul of the present author, Jacobs considers the fears and desires of five major but seemingly disparate figures in 1943 as they envision a post-war world after an Allied victory: W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, and Simone Weil. These are not the only figures who make an appearance, though they are the central five in Jacobs’s study.  

Tellingly, perhaps, each of Jacobs’s five was a writer of significance, though their modes differed dramatically, from prose and philosophy to plays and poetry. They were also not uniform in their faith. Maritain is the only Catholic, while Auden, Eliot, and Lewis were faithful members of the Church of England, and Weil, though raised in a secular Jewish family, embraced what might be called a liturgical form of evangelical Christianity. Nor did they all get along. Lewis, famously, despised Maritain and Eliot, though he and Eliot reconciled in the late 1950s while revising the Book of Common Prayer.

Others who appear in the book include Christopher Dawson, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mortimer Adler, Reinhold Niebuhr, Hannah Arendt, Karl Barth, Henri De Lubac, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Thomas Merton, J.H. Oldham, and even Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd). The main five, therefore, are all English (Eliot being an American expatriate and Auden being the reverse Eliot) or continental European, though many of Jacobs’s supporting characters are American.

From the beginning of the book, Jacobs admits that one might readily regard his choice of these five—Maritain, Weil, Lewis, Auden, and Eliot—as unusual ones. They often disagreed with each other, as noted above, and sometimes they did not even like each other. Yet they each believed that the Western civilization of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had paved the way for the ideologies of National Socialism and communism to arise. Each, after all, had developed not only under the shelter of Western civilization, but around westerners working to undermine Western civilization itself. Simultaneously, no one in the West was providing a counter to these ideologies, but rather other forces were moving civilization toward despair, nihilism, and meaninglessness; the Western tradition seemed impotent to answer the threats posed by national and international socialism.

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It was certainly healthy to be anti-Nazi and anti-communist for the vast majority of westerners, but what exactly did a good member of Western civilization believe? That is, what positive thing motivated him to defend the work of his ancestors? Would Americans of the 1930s still rally to the cry of Leonidas or even Davy Crockett? Decades of liberal progressivism, pragmatism, and positivism had neutered the citizens of the West, rendering them incapable of clear and objective thought.

As legendary University of Chicago president and Great Books editor Robert Maynard Hutchins so poignantly asked in 1940, as the country was on the brink of war, “What Shall We Defend?” Hutchins never doubted science or scientific progress. What he doubted was the capability of mid-20th century citizens of Western civilization to engage in moral reasoning. Only in the ability to seek and find truth in the moral sphere, Hutchins argued, could true human flourishing occur. Thus Jacobs muses after his summation of Hutchins, “only a clearly articulated and rationally defended account of true justice can resist totalitarianism.”

In one of the best chapters of The Year of Our Lord 1943, “The Humanist Inheritance,” Jacobs writes penetratingly about the concept and lineage of Christian humanism. Though “humanist” was coined, originally, as a term of 16th century student slang, it was a course of liberal academic study that placed its greatest hopes in literature rather than philosophy, and “on the wisdom to be gained from pagan classical writers and thinkers.”

Echoing much of the work done by Christopher Dawson as well as that, more recently, by James Hitchcock, Jacobs clearly analyzes the tension between the more literary and Augustinian humanism and the more rational and Thomistic humanism, noting that each has much to offer and each is equally Christian, whatever its particular adherents might have claimed. Rather than beginning his story of modern humanism with Babbitt’s and Hulme’s works of the 1890s and 1900s, however, Jacobs starts with the profoundly influential 1920 work, Art and Scholasticism, by Jacques Maritain. As Jacobs sees it, Maritain properly called for “not a rejection of humanism but a reclamation of it.” In this sense, it would follow closely in the line of the humanism of St. Paul’s day, not by destroying the pagan inheritance of the liberal arts, but by sanctifying it.

While each of the other four central figures of 1943 might ignore or despise Maritain, Art and Scholasticism began a series of questions that would dominate the efforts and ideas not only of Maritain himself, but also those of Eliot, Weil, Lewis, and Auden. As World War II demonstrated a crisis of humanity, so only a “restoration of the specifically Christian understanding of the human being” could solve it, Jacobs notes. Additionally, “this restoration will not be accomplished only, or even primarily through theology as such, but also and more effectively through philosophy, literature, and the arts.”

Though Jacobs does not make the following claim explicit in his book, one might readily add “politics” to the list of things that will not restore the world to sanity and order.

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The second-best chapter in 1943 is “Demons,” in which—at least somewhat surprisingly to this reviewer—Jacobs makes a convincing case that the five major figures of his book feared demonic influence and intrusion into the world of the 20th century as not just symbolic, but possibly as quite real. With such an assertion, one immediately is reminded of the story of Pope Leo XIII’s 1884 vision of demons wandering and ravaging the face of the earth. Whether tangible or corporeal or not, the concept of the “demonic” certainly offers the perfect descriptive for the end of a humanism not rooted in the good, true, and beautiful—whether Platonic, Stoic, Mosaic, or Christian.

At times, some of Jacobs’s views are simply shocking, if not somewhat scandalous. Without any hesitation or qualification, Jacobs calls T.S. Eliot’s 1939 book, The Idea of a Christian Society, “a masterpiece of vagueness and evasion.” Or again, on Eliot’s famous lecture to the Virgil Society, “What is a Classic?,” in which the Anglo-American poet elaborated on works of Virgil—The Aeneid, The Eclogues, and The Georgics—as the touchstone of all post-Roman literature. Jacobs believes that it is “Eliot’s prose at its worst; and that means that it is very bad prose indeed.” One can only imagine what the generally unrufflable Russell Kirk—or the equally gentle souls of Flannery O’Connor or Thomas Merton—might write in response to such pronouncements.

Jacobs’s very short conclusion—simply the final paragraph of the book—makes it clear that he believes the last moment for Christian humanism in the West existed just prior to and just after 1943. Courageously, Maritain, Eliot, Lewis, Auden, and Weil “put forth every effort to redeem the time,” Jacobs writes in Pauline fashion. “If ever again there arises a body of thinkers eager to renew Christian humanism, they should take great pains to learn from those we have studied here.”

It is unfortunate that Jacobs leaves his fine—if not extraordinary book—on such a dour note. For a counterpoint, one might turn to Pope John Paul II, who called for an open and full revival of Christian humanism in a late 1996 address:

The mystery of the Incarnation has given a tremendous impetus to man’s thought and artistic genius. Precisely by reflecting on the union of the two natures, human and divine, in the person of the Incarnate Word, Christian thinkers have come to explain the concept of person as the unique and unrepeatable center of freedom and responsibility, whose inalienable dignity must be recognized. This concept of the person has proved to be the cornerstone of any genuinely human civilization.

A massive number of websites and works of scholarship have since emerged on Christian humanism, all taking inspiration from John Paul II. Though Jacobs does not state it explicitly, perhaps he is attempting to renew the same call, 22 years later.

Bradley J. Birzer is The American Conservative’s scholar-at-large. He also holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and is the author, most recently, of Russell Kirk: American Conservative [3].

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36 Comments To "Is ‘Christian Humanism’ Gone Forever?"

#1 Comment By charles cosimano On October 4, 2018 @ 9:56 pm

All this reminds of me one definition of Conservative I heard years ago, “a person who worries about things no one else cares about.”

In retrospect, all the concern expressed over whether the West could defend itself against Nazism and Communism seem pretty silly. It managed both with no intellectual difficulties at all.

#2 Comment By Donald On October 4, 2018 @ 11:03 pm

I didn’t know Lewis despised Maritain ( not that I know much about Maritain). Anybody know why?

#3 Comment By Donald On October 4, 2018 @ 11:08 pm

Nevermind. Found the link.

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#4 Comment By Phil On October 5, 2018 @ 12:32 am

The answer to the question in the title is obviously no.

The reason is simple: the age of mass immigration has brought concerns about ethnicity front and center. The focus of TAC articles and editorials in past two years is a prime example of this. This is the dawn age of a new age of tribalism.

Magnanimous, universalist forms of Christianity, and especially Christian humanism, are uniquely ill-suited to such times.

#5 Comment By paradoctor On October 5, 2018 @ 12:53 am

You call conservatism the negation of ideology. But what now calls itself conservatism is instead the ideology of negation.

#6 Comment By mrscracker On October 5, 2018 @ 9:48 am

“Still others, such as Leo Strauss, were somewhat Jewish and utterly Zionist.”
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How are you “somewhat Jewish” if you are raised in a conservative Jewish home by Jewish parents?
And from what I’ve read, Strauss had some issues with the way Zionism was conducted in Israel.
Many Christians would describe themselves as Zionists. I would, too. But I also can’t endorse every single policy that Israel enforces.

#7 Comment By TJ Martin On October 5, 2018 @ 9:52 am

A question well worth asking that was answered in more depth and detail by ;

1) Alan Jacobs article in Harpers ; ” The Watchmen ; What became of Christian Intellectuals ”

along with ;

2) Gregory Wolfe’s article ; ” The Erasmus Option ” in Image Journal .

Both mandatory reading for anyone reasonably intelligent claiming faith in Christ ..because the reality is christianity today in the US ( small case ‘ c’ intentional ) has become a mere pawn for the politicians and the Super PAC’s sacrificing the Truth for power knowing less about the Bible they claim to adhere to than they do about quantum physics

Dr TJ Martin PhD ; Reformation Theology – Philosophy of Religion – Apologetics ( retired )

#8 Comment By TR On October 5, 2018 @ 10:02 am

I don’t want to contest Birzer and Jacobs at the same time but the word “Christian” never is used before “Humanism” in discussing the Irving Babbit led movement in literary criticism. And Eliot, notoriously, disowned it as a proper critical stance.

I would not cast my net nearly as wide as Professor Birzer, but I’m glad he has brought these figures and a movement to the pages of the most appropriate journal I can think of.

#9 Comment By BasileosPetros On October 5, 2018 @ 10:36 am

λόγος can mean a lot of things, but never have I heard someone say it could mean fire or imagination, and I could not find those in this exhaustive list of definitions.

It can mean reason, an accounting, a speech, an explanation, a formula, or many other related meanings. Fire, especially, a long with imagination do not seem to be among them.

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#10 Comment By Cavin On October 5, 2018 @ 10:43 am

The notion of Christian humanism relies on the existence of a kind of generous orthodoxy. That sort of Christianity largely fell away with the rise of a more socially assertive brand of Christian fundamentalism, often called evangelicalism, and the movement’s concomitant initiation of the Culture Wars.

This strategy served evangelicalism well for a generation or two, and perhaps an additional generation or two in the South. But evangelicalism’s program is principally concerned with addressing the grievances and social anxieties of middle-class whites in the latter decades of the 20th century. I grew up in that movement, and witnessed that first hand. Even now, evangelicalism thrives in areas that have the largest non-white populations, and where such anxiety persists. But kids of my generation have largely made our peace with the declining social status of being a white Christians, and have largely jettisoned the movement.

Mainline Protestantism failed, in many ways, to take the evangelical threat seriously. In many ways, the movement largely embraced the values of upper-middle-class whites. In many ways, the movement allowed itself to become an extension of the local country club. But the upper-middle-class culture of the 1960s and 1970s bears few resemblances to upper-middle-class culture today. Although mainline Protestants were not focused around grievance in the way that evangelicals were, the movement seemed to focus more on defending a particular way of American life in the late 20th century than defending anything distinctly Christian.

In short, Protestantism, in both its evangelical and mainline forms, hitched itself to particular sets of social practices that characterized life in the late 20th century. There was certainly more leeway to be a scholar within the mainline church, but the the movement had become so disembodied of the mythos of the Christian faith that it lacked the capacity to give life to anything resembling Christian humanism. Evangelicalism is equally disembodied of that mythos, having reduced the Christian faith to a serious of rigid propositions, many of which serve more as apologetic defenses of fundamentalism and it’s social grievances than as expressions of Christian orthodoxy.

The Catholic Church could have filled the gap. But two decades of sex-abuse scandals have made it unlikely that it can be taken seriously as an institutional alternative.

I have some hope that the movement initiated by Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York will grow its own wings and rise above the Culture Wars. But its leaders, including Keller himself, seem to be charting a path that intentionally avoids offending the sensibilities of older, white evangelicals. This may make some sense for people of Keller’s generation, but not for anyone under 50. Despite growing up within evangelicalism (both in the SBC and PCA), I have little social contact today with people who still affiliate with the movement. And that’s intentional. I don’t want to be around people whose principal concerns in life center around the declining social privilege of straight, white, Christian men in our society. I would identify myself as being a Christian humanist. But I don’t see any overlap between that and the ressentiment that’s a central feature evangelicalism. I’m not interested in rescuing evangelicalism; I’d rather just see it die off and go away, along with its racism, misogyny, and homophobia. In fact, that’s what seems to be happening. Younger people who share the social grievances of older, white evangelicals are today shedding their parents’ pretense of Christian virtue and embracing Trumpism.

I do recall that there was a brief period in the 1980s where evangelicalism seemed to be making space for the emergence of a kind of Christian humanism. With the election of Ronald Reagan, many of the social anxieties that shaped the movement subsided, and room emerged to embrace a broader vision than a narrow fundamentalist one. Keller’s project emerged from that period. But as social anxieties increased since the 1990s for middle-class whites, evangelicalism veered in a much more fundamentalist direction. But Keller seems reluctant to break ties to the movement, even lending credence to misogynistic and homophobic groups like the Gospel Coalition. But people of my generation missed that period of perestroika that Keller keeps trying to recover. Our recollection of evangelicalism is the full-on Culture Wars of the 1990s. Most of us want nothing to do with that movement whatsoever, believing that it’s vain to think that white evangelicalism could ever provide a home for Christian humanism. That’s especially true in the age of Trump, where Trump’s approval ratings hover at around 80% for white evangelicals. I’m sorry. I have no friends who voted for Trump, or who approve of him in the slightest. And I have no interest in trying to make the round peg of Christian humanism fit into the square hole of white evangelicalism.

#11 Comment By Paul Grenier On October 5, 2018 @ 12:19 pm

Thank you for this, I am greatly looking forward to reading the book. It seems increasingly clear that there is no very distinct line between Christian humanism and reasoned public argument as such. The decline of the one has led to the decline of the other, at any rate. Where, after all, today, are public intellectuals of the stature of a Hannah Arendt? She may not have been a Christian humanist, but she lived in the same neighborhood, so to speak. Reason and the good either hang out together, or they hang separately, as we can see every day.

As for the comment by Cosimano, I am startled that he misses the point: the question that has been raised is something quite different. It is whether or not ‘the West’ can defend itself against its own folly.

At any rate, am grateful for this fascinating review.

#12 Comment By Donald On October 5, 2018 @ 2:06 pm

Cavin— thanks for that. I had a very muddled version of that position floating around in my head, but you clarified things for me.

I have a slightly different impression of the timing. For me, the 90’s was the period where I had the illusion that evangelical Christianity was shedding its allegiance to rightwing bigoted jingoistic tendencies, but in hindsight this was just because of the people I was around. After Bush’s election and especially after 9/11 I realized I had been fooling myself. White evangelical Christianity is just a branch of the Republican Party or perhaps Fox News.

#13 Comment By Bradley Birzer On October 5, 2018 @ 4:46 pm

TR, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I include Babbitt because it’s impossible to look at any Christian humanist in America without seeing his influence. Almost every one of his students became either Roman or Anglo Catholic. According to one of his students, he had a sort of death bed conversion, but I’m skeptical. Regardless, what a great mind and soul. Yours, BB

#14 Comment By Cavin On October 6, 2018 @ 12:42 am

Donald,

That may have been true in the early 1990s. I didn’t live in the US at the time. By the time my family moved back to the US in the late 1990s, it was clear that the Overton window was closing on those who wanted to pursue any kind of intellectual curiosity within evangelicalism. By the 2000s, the window had been slammed on their fingers.

#15 Comment By PostTenebrasLux On October 6, 2018 @ 9:14 am

There is a third option among Protestantism, and that is Confessionalism. This is where you are more likely to find “Christian” Humanism. Evangelicals and the Mainline are really just anti-confessional (I.e. anti-denominational) movements that infiltrated Christianity thanks to Americanized civil religion or German Idealism. They are fraternal twins of Pietism. The middle road of confessionalism was the answer to Statist Rome and Radical Anabaptism. It is still the answer to the same extremes which are now purely political in form: Progressivism and Libertarianism. Christian Humanism will not return until we actually return to Christianity and stop confusing Christianity with its concessions to Evangelicalism and Theological Liberalism.

Thought provoking essay Mr. Birzer. Much appreciated.

#16 Comment By Edward C. Taylor On October 6, 2018 @ 9:41 am

Christian Humanism is not gone, it is still here and going strong along with Humanism today. I am a Christian Humanist myself. There is nothing wrong with Christian Humanism, it is a good thing. There are thinkers of Christian Humanism today. Christian Humanism and Humanism are here to stay.

#17 Comment By Jeremy Wagner On October 6, 2018 @ 11:31 am

I loved this review, and I want to read the book, but I offer a comment. Christian humanism isn’t gone at all. It is alive and well. Perhaps not in academia, but certainly at a grassroots level. The ideas of C.S. Lewis in particular have leavened an entire generation of intellectual-leaning conservative Christians. I and many of my friends are proof of this. The burgeoning renewal of Christian classical education in this country is evidence of the scope and potency that Christian humanism still wields, and I would argue increasing wields in Christian circles, even as the pool of Christians in general is steadily decreasing.

#18 Comment By Arrigu On October 6, 2018 @ 12:46 pm

“Weil, though raised in a secular Jewish family, embraced what might be called a liturgical form of evangelical Christianity.”

I totally understand what you mean there, referring to Weil’s very personal, idiosyncratic and informal relationship to Christ. The choice of “evangelical” though is slightly misleading in the American context though. Weil was not in close contact with clergymen, pastors or faithful of the Reformed churches but with Roman Catholic ones (notably when in Marseille before leaving France), notably Father Perrin.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 6, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

I think if one steps out of the intellectual arenas of thought, they will discover and be reminded that Christianity has but one purpose the righting of humanity’s relationship to God. And in that endeavor Christians are ever present on the ground floor of feeding, housing and providing services, even to unbelievers in fostering right relationship.

The intellectual pursuits are to those in the intellectual arena in need of Christ as the nonintellectual so the men referenced above have their place — God desires intellectuals to know him as much as he desires the same for the rest of us.

But as the secular has grown and as the intellectual has become a means for justifying all manner of Christlike belief, and practices even in the name of Christianity — the thinnest layer among christian believers — intellectuals will also lose their effectiveness towards pointing to a living God — of order and rightness of intellectual thought. Humanism is rapidly challenging if not over shadowing Christianity. And it seems to make sense that it would out pace and out produce on the intellectual front — merely by the sheer number of christian intellectuals amongst a sea far greater of secular humanists.

As evidence I would point to the growing collapse of christian educational giants to secular modalities: Notre Dame, Harvard, Georgetown, Villanova, etc. have caved under the weight of intellectual advocacy regarding traditional christian teachings. There was a time when religious/christian thought was part and parcel to education in general — most western great thinkers were trained were very familiar with such teaching or thought. But by 1950, the very idea of traditional objective truth — linked deeply to christian ethos was undermined by the tools of intellectual critical thought and post modern challenges not only undermined christian intellectuals, but with increasing speed has sought to remove them from educational platforms altogether.

Step into any rhetorical studies class and consider the names — they are not Augustine, De Cartes, Thomas More, William Penn — not any more.

#20 Comment By Ed On October 6, 2018 @ 4:34 pm

“Christian humanism” had its vogue in the 1940s because of a feeling that secularism, atheism, positivism, scientism and what we’ve come to call “humanism” failed, and that religious beliefs and constraints were necessary if mankind were to avoid the kind of catastrophes we saw in the forties. With a stronger fundamentalism and stronger secularism or atheism it’s not likely that there would be room for a revival of Christian humanism. People either want a more rigorous, demanding, dogmatic, self-certain faith or none at all.

Were Christians and others more generous in the Forties and Fifties? I don’t know. It’s likely that a more homogeneous society with shared memories of widespread poverty would have made people more charitable than we are today. But politically, policies and ideologies were formed around the necessity of defeating fascism and later countering Communism. There were practical reasons why people might listen to liberal arguments. Altruism wasn’t the only motivation.

And of course, people at the top and in the middle of society were more secure. American elites had made their peace with the New Deal, since they continued to be on top of the social pyramid. And those in the middle, while they may never have gotten over the anxiety ingrained by the Depression, were relatively certain that the social structure and social norms wouldn’t be overturned. Since then – and especially in recent years – Middle America is a lot less certain that existing conditions will continue or improve.

#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 6, 2018 @ 11:13 pm

Correction:

“But as the secular has grown and as the intellectual has become a means for justifying all manner of unChristlike belief, and practices even in the name of Christianity — the thinnest layer among christian believers — intellectuals will also lose their effectiveness towards pointing to a living God — of order and rightness of intellectual thought. Humanism is rapidly challenging if not over shadowing Christianity.

—–

The secular intellectual is even using Christ against the christian and their humanistic advance is to the end

immigration, christ did not violate immigration laws, he obsevred the payment of taxes . . . no apostle advocates invading space in violation of the law such as advocates blackmail christians

There is onloy one such environment — said laws prevent spreading the news of christ — but that is not the case with immigration regarding our southern border — we can pass back and forth spreading the goodnews at will —-

Intellectuals — are forever making a claim of no harm no foul and tagging christ to make their case. The humanists are on the secular plain having their day —

Note: most of the believing intellectuals you reference were very familiar with — The book,

I don’t think that is the case today.

#22 Comment By Fayez Abedaziz On October 7, 2018 @ 4:05 am

If you’re a Christian yet call yourself Zionist, you’re not a free thinking Christian, one that sticks to the beliefs of the faith, not into being a part of ‘the coming of the end of the world’ makers, that y’all are making it happen. The last time I was talking Middle East politics, it was with a couple young guys,that were in line, next to my table, at a coffee shop. I said how are you and joked about the line there. They got coffee and came and sat with me. Are you jewish, one of them asked. I said that I was a Palestinian. They laughed and said that they were Jewish. We had a nice and humorous talk
and we chatted very briefly about the situation there, in the holy land. When the talk turned to the American Christians that called themselves zionists, all three of us laughed a good one about them and agreed that these people are ‘kinda outthere.’ And weird.

#23 Comment By Al Snyder On October 7, 2018 @ 10:15 am

Except in Jesus Christ there is no salvation in humanity.

#24 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 7, 2018 @ 5:23 pm

“Keller’s project emerged from that period. But as social anxieties increased since the 1990s for middle-class whites, evangelicalism veered in a much more fundamentalist direction. But Keller seems reluctant to break ties to the movement, even lending credence to misogynistic and homophobic groups like the Gospel Coalition. But people of my generation missed that period of perestroika that Keller keeps trying to recover.”

I think it’s a good idea to understand or at least have a discussion about what evangelism is. it is the fundamental (basic) principle of spreading the good news. Paul says, Christ crucified, died and resurrected by believing in him — eternal life — that is it.

There is nothing in scripture that indicates being saved and a life in christ has anything to do with skin color, ethnicity, IQ, status, wealth or political party. If anything Christ makes it clear that being wealthy for the christian van make for a very tough row. I won’t pretend that millions of fundamentalists have tied Christianity to skin color, and class. Nor can I unravel those notions anymore than understand them myself. But the history of the US is that whites in general embraced this ethic and used in their stead. The fact that circumstance and timing oriented free blacks to the more liberal wing was a matter of a complex relationship primarily to with practical issues as opposed to any liberal ideology. It is not as if either party said we need to embrace our black citizens to ensure they have access to all things citizen. The policies that existed in plain view existed elsewhere in much subtler but effective form. Despite being a hefty voting black block for democrats, white women in the party have still managed to undermine blacks even as they lay claim to that history. And not a single democrat is embarrassed and blacks are forced sign on to every whim because they believe they will get more of what’s theirs as democrats — not because democrats embrace blacks as equal partners. Neither, even though Pres Johnson signed civil rights legislation the democrats were already undermining blacks by applying to populations and in ways not at intended – undercutting the entire process. And when it comes to the law and order mystique of politics — Democrat are just as quick to toss blacks under the proverbial buss of history. I thought the matter was a fine turn when Pres bill clinton admitted as much. The democrats are hard pressed to replace blacks with foreigners and do so with m ore vigor than republicans.I won’t get into the bankrupt practice of liberalizing and attacking the fundamental traditions on required for societies to survive and then blaming the plight of blacks for the same — to make it easier for them — when in fact, what whites liberals is make excuse for their wantonness on the backs of black populations. Still, that blacks have embraced this is their choice.

So this blaming evangelicals because some number of them wrap their faith in color politics is a very hard sell.

I would like to address your reference to to “homophobia”. Once a person accepts christ and has a life in him, the old ways, the old understandings of life fall away. And it is not possible for a person in christ to adopt or support a life that includes such behavior. Christ is love, and his love covers a “multitude of sins”. And the behavior you reference cannot be supported or engaged as one who lives in Christ. The reason is because it is wholly out of order with his being and established creation. The purging by democrats of people of faith on this issue has left citizens, evangelicals who might otherwise be democrats in a very tough position — if they want to engage in polity then the best choice is the republican party. The same holds true for evangelicals who find murdering children in the womb — outright forbidden. The democratic party has purged them.

It is on these two issues in which christian intellectuals have been beaten back. The inability to reconcile christ’s love with his rejection of murdering children and engaging in same sex behavior. They have fallen to the intellectual models provided by modern sociology, psychology, and the continued and growing embrace of asian philosophies with it nihilistic mysticism view of human nature, which over rides it’s communing with the one;s place of acceptance in the world — itself a bleak state.

Now the truth of Christ is in place regardless of skin color. And while i agree that many christians — many of whom are white see a life in christ as merely a system of rules and practices demonstrating that God loves them best —

real christian truth as I noted rooted in scripture and the very words of christ and the apostles sweep color and status and ethnicity aside and that means no embrace for child murder or the referenced behavior — in spite of the love of Christ that abides.

And I am not sure you have noticed that both of these issues are points of contention within the party. And I would note that the election of Pres. Trump is a clear indication of that. But to date Republicans are not yet purging christians who hold that line. And supporting the current executive as well as supporting the nomination of Justice Kavenaugh on at least one of these scores — was a very hard choice.

That includes all of the commandments not referenced — relations outside of wedlock, lying, theft, coveting, adultery etc.

#25 Comment By David Naas On October 7, 2018 @ 5:38 pm

Shockingly (!) the most thoughtful and provoking commentary is when the article in question is discussing a conservative principle, and not a political ranting.

Other TAC authors, please take note.

#26 Comment By mrscracker On October 8, 2018 @ 10:04 am

Fayez Abedaziz ,

Yes, I admit some Christians who embrace Israel are a bit “out there”. God will bring about what He wants to bring about without our trying to set up the stage.

But I still think Scripture’s clear about blessing Israel & I try to practice that.

Genesis 12:3
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

#27 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 8, 2018 @ 11:13 am

“But I still think Scripture’s clear about blessing Israel & I try to practice that.”

Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.

Doing the right thing for others isn’t always the same thing as what they want you to.

And truth be told, a number of folks want you to be their friend, while they are not yours.

#28 Comment By Fran Macadam On October 8, 2018 @ 11:24 am

Sounds like Cavin – caved in.

#29 Comment By Delmas On October 8, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

These great writers are gone and the current generation of American students are unable for the most part to even read their great works.
The American HED, Black and Hispanic Education Associations should be so proud. They’ve succeeded in dumbing down the general American population to the ghetto level.

#30 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 8, 2018 @ 1:37 pm

“Yes, I admit some Christians who embrace Israel are a bit “out there”. God will bring about what He wants to bring about without our trying to set up the stage.”

1. Assuming you think that the Israel in question is the Israel referenced in scripture.

2. That the events of scripture have not already occurred

3. every US citizen already blesses Israel with defense and aid packages, not to mention a guarantor of their security.

4. the subjugation of christian faith to Israeli
misconduct is certainly not condoned by God and our support to that end isn’t either.

5. I am going to challenge this idea of a few or some — there’s an entire body politic that is pressing for laws that make any criticism of jews or Israel a crime.

As a follower of Christ or at least heavily leaning so — I have no doubt that this same body politic would toss in the klink for said criticism and his followers as well.

I love Israel, have some grasp of her place in christianity — fully comprehend the meaning and practice of blessing her —

But I am not unmindful that politically Israel has betrayed the US more than once and that betrayal has cost lives. Our trust in her intelligence services leaves a lot to be desired to the results.

Intellectually speaking — Christ desires Israel come to know him as savior —

#31 Comment By Cjones1 On October 8, 2018 @ 7:03 pm

Being not well read, I felt the 20th Century witnessed the replacement of God fearing based government with Socialist states inebriated on cults of personality. When the Nazis were destroyed, the Communists doubled down in their bluff of a benevolent state resulting in a hundred million or more slaughtered, starved, enslaved, imprisoned, disenfranchised, and forcefully educated innocents.
The vestiges of monarchal, slave/serf constructs allowed Progressive Socialists to plant their flag in Christian societies and abet the devilish designs of Communists and Sanger fed eugenics in instituting neo-moral paradigms. Thus we have enshrined Philistine-like human sacrifice in reproductive law as if we suffered from neolithic Zikaesque pathogenic outbreak. What were we thinking?
Perhaps with the Trumpian shake up of stagnant ideological forms, the shamanic rituals will succumb to one of those old time religious thought revivals that realigns moral direction with the compasses of the classics and apologetics.

#32 Comment By Cavin On October 9, 2018 @ 12:30 pm

Elite,

Who said anything about same-sex sex? If you want a good example of homophobia in action, take a look at the freak-out that occurred this summer among white evangelicals over the Revoice conference. The views on homosexuality promoted by mainstream white evangelical groups like CBMW, ERLC, and TGC, do not merely posit that gay sex is problematic. They go an extra step in declaring that one’s phenomenological experience of same-sex attraction—even if only of an emotional or aesthetic nature—are problematic. For that reason, I would stick by my assessment that the mainstream white evangelical position amounts to homophobia.

#33 Comment By Cavin On October 9, 2018 @ 12:36 pm

In thinking a bit more about this piece, I think that Christian humanism demands some overarching commitment to the project of classical liberalism. I don’t see where many Christians today have such a commitment.

Consider Rod Dreher’s work, which constantly decries the evils of classical liberalism because classical liberals have come to demand that he point to some objective harm to support the social and political marginalization of gay people. Dreher’s views are generally echoed throughout most corners of conservative Christianity.

#34 Comment By mrscracker On October 9, 2018 @ 12:52 pm

EliteCommInc. says:

“1. Assuming you think that the Israel in question is the Israel referenced in scripture.”
***************
I do.

I’ve visited Israel, as have several of my children, & I’m aware of some its deficiencies. I don’t agree with every single Israeli policy. Truthfully, European Israelis can be downright rude, especially the younger ones. Oriental Jews are much more mannerly & gracious-like their Muslim neighbors. But the Jews are God’s chosen people, not His perfect people.

And I agree that Christ wants Israel to know Him as Saviour. He came to them first. But sadly our actions towards the Jews are what caused them to flee back to Israel in the first place. So, for the most part we haven’t been very good witnesses for Christ in that respect.

#35 Comment By Lance On October 10, 2018 @ 8:09 am

Since the publication of the Humanist Manifestos I and II, the words “humanism” and “Christian” have become logically incompatible.
It would be more precise and consistent to use “humanitarian” with “Christian” than to continue to try to retake the meaning of “humanism” back from the Humanists.

#36 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 10, 2018 @ 10:53 am

“It would be more precise and consistent to use “humanitarian” with “Christian” than to continue to try to retake the meaning of “humanism” back from the Humanists.”

Or we could simply maintain the reference:

Christian charity.