Christianity and Europe

I offer for you the following article by the ever prescient Fr. James V. Schall on Europe and its basis in Christianity:

 

http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2011/bellocs-infamous-phrase.html

 

 

The first element of the article that I found intriguing was his almost passing comment about Luther and Aristotle.  If, indeed, Europe is the result of the amalgamation of Judeo-Christianity with Roman and Greek culture, then the quip about Luther’s issue with Aristotle is quite enlightening.  An attack on Aristotle is not so much an attack on the past philosopher, that is not the significance of Luther’s objection.  Rather, the significance lies in the fact that Aristotle = Greek Culture.  Luther was claiming to be at issue with the very foundation of Europe.  What we are seeing today is the natural progression of Luther’s initial quip with Aristotle: to deny any element of the fourfold basis of Europe is to destroy the integrity of the European project itself.  Ultimately, Luther’s critique failed.  An attack on the Hellenism of Europe is an attack on reason itself, and the Church would have no part in the denial of reason, no matter how much trashy scholarship attempts to convince us otherwise.  Reason would prevail, both in the Church and in Europe.  Unfortunately, the Church focused so much on Protestantism for such a long time that it forgot to dialogue with the remainder of the world.  What the Church used to be in terms of her ability to engage the world she lives in is only beginning to come to life again, and thank God for that!

And that leads me to my second point.  The end of the article deals with the concept of reason, citing Pope Benedict’s increasingly important “Regensburg Speech” (Link is in the article).  The Church has never denied the importance and centrality of reason.  She has, in fact, exalted it and it is because of the exaltation of rationality that things like modern science were able to birth forth from it.  But, at the same time, she realizes that the Logos of God, the Reason of God, is deeper and a greater mystery (in the ineffable sense: there are always richer depths to go into).  Thus what is in man must be – due to the fact that sin so readily exists in the world – purified by the love of God so that the rationality of man becomes like the Creator in Whose image he is made.  In short, the rationality of man becomes love and is purified by the encounter with the God Who is Love.  Thus, when the Church enters missionary territory, she affirms what is good, but she also challenges what is false because it does not hold up to the reality of Love, it does not hold up to the reality of God and therefore denigrates the dignity and beauty of man.

As a last note, if you wish to read an excellent book on the clash between Christianity and Secularism in Europe, I can recommend to you George Weigel’s “The Cube and the Cathedral”.  It is a fantastic read and gives one great insight into the challenges we as a Western society are facing against the growing claims of secularism.

in Christ

-Harrison

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