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“a New Evangel”


Mike’s comments reminded me of an instructive passage I read in First Things recently. It appears toward the end of David Hart’s review of the latest volume of Maurice Cowling’s history of religion in England’s intellectual culture: “Nothing could be more important for an understanding of modernity (even if it is reached through a study only of the intelligentsia of England) than to recognize that we are not living in an age in which religious adherence has simply withered away before the parching wind of Enlightenment reason, but in one in which a new evangel has—over the course of a few centuries—displaced the old, and with it the cultural energy and rationale of Christian Europe: a new religion, whose most devout believers are as zealous, intolerant, and absolutist as any faith has ever produced, and whose vast silent constituency is as unreflective, passive, and pliant as any enfranchised clerisy could desire. It is good for Christians to grasp that, even in this hour, we struggle not simply with disillusion and demystification, but with strange gods.”


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