Cover

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Frontmatter

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contents

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preface

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pp. vii-viii

The following pages contain the text of the Erasmus Lectures, delivered at the University of Notre Dame during the academic year 2005–2006. For me the meaning of the occasion was enhanced by its occurring at an institute that bears the name of the father of Europe’s spiritual unity, a teacher at my alma mater. Erasmus...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-3

The title of this book might raise questions. Does man’s participation in the eternal ever change? Interpretations, rituals, even moral precepts become transformed over the centuries. Yet does the religious attitude not remain constant within the flux of time? It does, indeed. But the individual and social response to religion also...

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The Form of Modernity

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pp. 5-16

Until recent years some cultural historians restricted the concept of modern culture to the Enlightenment. They assumed that the main significance of fifteenth-century humanism, of the Renaissance, and even of the first part of the classical seventeenth century consisted in preparing the mental attitudes of the Enlightenment....

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Nature and Grace

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pp. 17-28

During the first two centuries Christians appear to have experienced no particular problem in integrating the idea of salvation with the vague notions of nature, mostly of Stoic origin, which were current in Rome at the time. Early Christians distanced themselves from the surrounding culture, but not so much from the idea of human...

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The Crisis of the Enlightenment

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pp. 29-40

Having sketched a general picture of modern culture as distinct from that of the preceding era and more specifically of the transformation of the religious consciousness at the beginning of the modern epoch, I now turn to that second wave of modernity, which...

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On the Intellectual Sources of Modern Atheism

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pp. 41-56

The term atheism is not new. Those who attempted to rethink the nature of transcendence have always been called atheists. Socrates was branded with the invective term for undermining the polytheist religion of his time and so, in a different way, was Epicurus. Yet both believed in God or the gods. Closer to our own time...

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God and the Poetry of the New Age

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pp. 57-74

Around the turn of the nineteenth century Western Europe underwent an extraordinary cultural change. After a long period of decline during the Enlightenment and a short but violent one during the French Revolution, religion once again came to occupy the center of personal and even of public life. The French Revolution had reverberated all over the continent. The horrors that had accompanied its...

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Schelling and the Revival of Mythology

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pp. 75-94

In the previous chapter I reported on the changes in religious attitudes as reflected in the classical literature of early German Romanticism. In the present one, I shall consider how these changes affected philosophy. The restoration of metaphysics enabled philosophy to discuss subjects which had long been banned from it, such as revealed...

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The Rebirth of Theology

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pp. 95-110

In the preceding two chapters I have sketched a fundamental change that occurred at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the attitudes toward religion as reflected in the works of poets and philosophers. How did the theologians, who dealt professionally with the Christian religion, accommodate the more comprehensive concept of religion within the restricted boundaries of that tradition?...

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Conclusion

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pp. 111-118

For a final assessment of the impact of modern culture upon religion we return to the very beginning, the point where the medieval synthesis of nature and grace fell apart. This, as I mentioned in the second chapter, occurred in the nominalist theology of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries when the term supernatural came to refer to a separate reality and the teleology of nature became detached

index of names

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pp. 119-122