Two things however lie decidedly within the range of our interest i.e. within that area where religious faith or unbelief becomes relevant. First the direction which is given to the use of these creative powers; and second the place and rank which is given to them within our whole system of values and our conception of the meaning of human existence at large. By being a Christian or a pagan or an atheist one does not become a person of greater or smaller talent. Faith unbelief a world-outlook on this or that order neither enhances nor diminishes genius. But certainly the fact of being a Christian or a non-Christian a true believer or an atheist expresses itself in the direction which creativity takes. And further faith or unbelief world-outlook of any kind must and will emerge in very different conceptions and evaluations of the creative element within the totality of human life. These then are the two problems with which we have to deal in trying to grasp the relations between Christian faith and cultural life.
X: The Problem of Creativity
All culture lives by the creative powers of the human mind. For culture is that which man does beyond biological necessity. It is the sum of the new things which nature does not and cannot furnish. This creative power—talent or at its maximum genius—is in itself something bestowed. Man cannot produce talent or genius. Talent or genius cannot be made by education. Either you have this power or you do not have it. Education training schooling of any kind may assist the talent and the lack of these or other unfavourable conditions may hinder or even destroy the creative powers; but in themselves they are as the word genius indicates given by birth. You cannot decide to be or to become a genius; either you are one by birth or you will never be. This factor then—the factor of creative power talent or genius—belongs to those nature-given elements of civilisation or culture which from the beginning we have been leaving out of our consideration.
It is only in a comparatively late phase of the evolution of the human mind that man becomes conscious of his creative powers. At first and for a long while it is only his physical creativity which attracts his interest. In the Phallus- and Lingam-cult he venerates his sexual creativity as a divine power. Later on it is the formation of the state and legislation in which he sees the manifestation of supernatural divine forces. Again in a later stage he becomes conscious of the different τέχνη the crafts and arts the use of fire the handling of metals agriculture and finally the liberal arts as being expressions of specifically human nature of his creative powers.
But now it is striking and most significant that the evaluation of this cultural creativity is not naively positive but reflected and complex. The myth of Prometheus is a characteristic expression of this complex view. Certainly Prometheus the titanic hero who taught men the crafts and arts and brought them the fire from heaven out of compassion is a benefactor but at the same time he is a rebel against a divine order. He had to steal the fire from the gods and for that underwent terrible punishment. That is according to this view the rise of the creative capacity of man is looked at somehow suspiciously as if there were something unlawful about it. It is somehow a product of usurpation. Although man is delighted to have all these faculties he is still conscious of a tension which because he has them exists between creative man and the divine order. A similar feeling seems to be expressed in Germanic mythology where it is the dark demi-gods of the underworld who possess the secret of technical arts and from whom man acquires his knowledge. Again a similar idea glimmers through the oldest tradition of Old Testament history. Cain is distinguished from Abel the mild shepherd as the offensive cultivator who cannot please God. In the Genesis story of the Fall there is discoverable a remnant of an older tradition probably a Babylonian idea that the acquirement of knowledge is a sacrilege against divine property severely punished by God. And even the present version of the story of the Fall emphasises that there is a limit set by God to man's knowledge.
But above all it is the story of the Tower of Babel which is most significant for our problem. Men have united in order to make a name for themselves they want to build a city to keep them together and make them powerful they want to build a tower whose top “may reach unto heaven”. But God steps in and prevents them from perfecting their tower by confounding their language. In this stupendous symbol of timeless validity a number of elements are united. The creative power and activity of man represented by architecture at one and the same time expresses his will to make a name for himself to acquire fame and also his unsuccessful attempt to keep human society together by co-operative action. In the third place and most significantly this creative ability expresses man's tendency to withdraw himself from the divine power and to exalt himself into the divine heights.
It would however be one-sided and even false if we thought that this was all that the Bible has to say about the creativity of man. As a matter of fact the Bible reckons quite naturally with this cultural or civilising capacity and activity of man but without placing any specific accent on it. These creative powers are gifts of God and therefore good. Only their misuse is bad. I think it is legitimate to interpret the parable of the talents (from which our use of the word talent comes) as meaning that man is responsible before God for this as well as for all other gifts which he has received from his Creator and that he is bound to use them in such a way that the Lord can acknowledge the service of the servant as faithful. But it is true that the interest of the Bible in the New Testament as well as in the Old Testament never dwells on these creative elements as such but is entirely directed to the central motive of all this and any other natural activity: “Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do do all to the glory of God”.1
It is difficult to say whether this motive of the subordination of all human activity to the honour of God has been stimulating or has had the opposite effect within the sphere of Western humanity. But there cannot be the least doubt that this motivation has been a directing force of creativity in the highest degree. The history of culture in the early Christian in the mediæval in the Reformation and post-Reformation times is one great proof of that thesis. All cultural activity art and science music and poetry applied arts as well as social institutions the state the law the organisation of economic life customs of civic life in short everything capable of carrying the imprint of the human mind has been brought at least theoretically and symbolically under this highest category: deo gloria deo servitium. It is true that this deo gloria was understood all too often in a narrow clerical or ecclesiastical sense and that for centuries the Virgin or the angels and the saints overshadowed God's glory. But within these limitations the European life of these twelve or thirteen centuries from Constantine to the time of the Enlightenment is the great example of a civilisation which is dominated by the idea that all human creativity and action ought to be a service of God.
Now this positive relation between faith and culture is not the only one. There is also the phenomenon of Anchoritism with its radical denial of culture or civilised life. There is the monastic movement which particularly in its several initial phases was highly critical of culture even to the extent of radical denial. There are also the different sectarian movements that show a tendency toward withdrawal from the complexities of the cultural life into the so-called “simple life”. There is Puritanism with its distinctively narrow cultural interest and its mistrust of many forms of art and cultural life. There is the pietistic movement with its semi-ascetic outlook. Furthermore one cannot deny that in all these movements there is expressing itself a genuinely Christian motive a critical standing aloof from an all too optimistic identification of the spiritual and the cultural. This critical line must certainly be included in any discussion of the relation between Christian faith and cultural activity. But two things must be observed.
First in most of these movements we can discover apart from Christian faith another religious force which is primarily responsible for this negative attitude namely Neoplatonic mysticism within which there is inherent a dualistic metaphysics that has ascetism as its practical outgrowth. Second we should not deny that apart from the Anchorite movement which can hardly be called genuinely Christian all the other movements whilst critical in some parts are most positive with regard to some other features of human civilisation. We should not forget what the Benedictines have done for the transmission of the heritage of ancient classical culture. We cannot pass over the magnificent architecture of one of the most radical and austere monastic movements that of Cluny. We have to acknowledge with the highest praise the humanistic and scientific zeal of Puritanism the dignified style of middle-class architecture within the Moravian community and so forth.
Furthermore in this connection it is necessary to reject the wide-spread misunderstanding with regard to the cultural effects of the Reformation. Certainly the iconoclasm which resulted in some parts of the world from Reformation preaching and the abolition of the cult of the Virgin and the saints have to a considerable extent narrowed the range of ecclesiastical art.
The Reformation and the Puritan movements must not however be identified. Neither is the intensity of a Christian culture to be measured by the extent of art employed in the service of the organised Church. We should never forget that it was within the realm of the early Lutheran Church that one of the greatest cultural creations took place in the shape of German church music from Martin Luther to Johann Sebastian Bach and that it was on the soil of Calvinistic Holland that a development of painting took place equal to that of the Italian Renaissance and reaching in Rembrandt one of those highest pinnacles of art where only a few names are inscribed. Furthermore it should not be forgotten that Rembrandt is a painter who increasingly made the interpretation of Biblical history his main artistic endeavour just as Bach throughout his life had put his incomparable musical genius in the service of the divine Word and often expressed his conception of music as being nothing but an attempt of man to glorify God.
These examples of creativity being subordinated to a truly Christian view of life in the post-Reformation era have their parallels in other fields: in poetry in natural science in scholarship not forgetting the economic and political spheres. Names like those of Johannes Kepler Hugo Grotius John Milton William the Silent of Orange and above all the large share of Calvinistic theology in the formation of democratic institutions may be sufficient to prove that where Luther's and Calvin's interpretation of the Christian message had been accepted in living faith the creative mind never felt itself hampered but rather directed and even stimulated by that faith.
It can easily be understood that the progressive emancipation from Christianity which took place in the modern world also expressed itself in a different evaluation of creativity. We can trace this new temper back to the Renaissance. From then onwards the bright light of fame is directed on the creative individual as never before. Let us not forget that creativity is something relative and differential; even the average man has a certain measure of creativity modest as it may be; every one gives his personal stamp to his life his surroundings to his house. Creativity ranges from a minimum to a maximum. This maximum we call genius. While in the time when creativity was subordinated to the religious meaning of life this difference was not accentuated and even the highest genius remained anonymous now this differential character of creativity becomes important and the creative talent or genius sees to it that the artificer's name is connected with his work. The epoch of fame is beginning; or to be more exact the epoch in which fame is not reserved for great generals and statesmen but becomes something taken for granted within the spheres of art science and scholarship. It is the time when Vasari writes his lexicon of famous painters.
In that as in many other respects the Renaissance is indeed a renascence of Greco-Roman antiquity. We have seen already in previous connections how important a rôle the fame of the creative genius plays in the development of the idea of personality. But there is still a difference. In Greece the creative individual remained in the first place a member of his people a citizen of his polis. With the beginning of the modern era the meaning of individual fame becomes different. The 1500 years of Christian history had produced a sense of individual personality unknown to antiquity. The individual has an eternal destiny as an individual. This Christian personalism lies between antiquity and the modern epoch. But since the Renaissance a thoroughgoing transformation has taken place. It is no longer man as such but it is the creative individual upon whom this supreme accent is placed. The creative individual steps out of the general crowd and is illuminated by a spotlight of hitherto unparalleled intensity. The names of the great masters are spread abroad over the whole world and their fame is cherished with the greatest solicitude. In the realm of liberal art but even more in that of science the rivalry of great men is the order of the day not seldom taking the ugly form of disputes about priority. To be a man a human being is something; but to be a famous eminent creative man is much more.
This is only one aspect of the rising importance attached to creativity. More and more the creative element becomes the supreme criterion of that which characterises man as man the human as human. The development of the creative individuality becomes the guiding principle of education. Rousseau's Emile is educated in solitude in order to preserve his original individuality and to keep it from being spoiled by the conventionalities of society. Originality elemental primitivity individuality à tout prix becomes the slogan. The hero worship of great individuals becomes a feature of our modern life. As mediæval man made his pilgrimage to some sacred place where the bones of a saint were buried modern man makes his pilgrimage to the spot where the great poets or scientists lived or died; mausoleums of great geniuses are built where everything concerning that person his life and activity can be seen. The biographical material concerning the great poets musicians thinkers artists becomes immense. The smallest detail of the life of Goethe is piously registered and preserved. It is particularly in the epoch of Romanticism that the veneration of genius reaches its maximum. According to Schelling it is the creative mind the work of the genius in which the divine creativity of nature identical with God-head reaches its culminating point. In the creative work of the genius “the holy eternally-creating divine power of the world which engenders all things”2 breaks forth. Creative genius is the highest manifestation of creative deity. The man of genius so we read in the book of a late Romantic philosopher is a happy solution of the tragedy of human history.3 Genius is the manifestation of the world-spirit. “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy” says Beethoven.
Whilst this metaphysical interpretation of genius has become rare in our days we are certainly affected by that change within the hierarchy of values according to which human creativity talent and genius takes the highest place and is the measure and criterion of human value. The man of genius may do what he likes whatever seems necessary to his productive work; genius is an excuse for everything. To apply moral standards to the man of genius appears as a sign of the narrowmindedness of commonplace people. For the creative genius there exists a special decalogue the first commandment of which is: I am creative therefore I can do what I find good. Here we have a kind of Nietzschean power-morality. Morality may be good for the large masses but for the great exceptional man it has no validity. As a matter of fact Nietzsche's aristocratic doctrine of the superman has its origin just as much in this Romantic veneration of genius as in a naturalistic conception of political power. One merges into the other one helps the other. But it is not morality alone which is devaluated but also religion. One who is himself a god needs no religion; he is divine in himself. He must not bow his head. Creativity takes the place of the religious element. Is it not this which is expressed in Goethe's sentence: “Wer Wissenschaft und Kunst besitzt der hat Religion; wer sie nicht besitzt der habe Religion?” The creative spirit is a substitute for religion as well as for morality. Productivity becomes in itself the meaning and principle of life.
This shift in the order of values could not fail to produce fatal results. I would recall here what we said earlier that culture viewed from the standpoint of creativity as well as creativity itself is primarily a formal phenomenon. Creativity as such is indifferent to content; it can manifest itself in any content. If the work is original creative a work of genius its content is unimportant. The famous pear of Manet is first-class painting just as much as Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine. Creative genius can manifest itself just as well in a ballet-dancer of Degas as in Rembrandt's engravings on the parable of the prodigal son. Incontestable as this is this dissociation of the creative element from content indicates a fatal development. Creativity which follows its own logic of formalism and therefore despises any reference to content more and more loses content and becomes a trifling formalism. Certainly we believe in the full artistic earnestness of Manet painting his pear or of Goya painting his famous piece of raw meat. Both are works of the first rank filling everyone who is sensitive to painting with delight and admiration; and yet everyone who has not succumbed to the cult of genius in enjoying these masterpieces will be worried by the question: Where does this lead; must not this kind of art end in purest abstraction in lifeless formalism?
This is not the only indication of coming decay. Once the belief is established that productivity is the meaning of human life none can prevent this point of view being transferred to the lower regions of human production especially since it is only a minority of people who are capable of taking part actively or receptively in art and science at least in the sense of a passionate interest or a total self-abandonment. The slogan of productivity being the true meaning of life directs the large majority of men to another field a field of production which is in closer connection with every-day exigencies and interests namely the field of mechanical or technical invention in the service of economic production.
It corresponds to a materialist quantitative conception of life by which the technical inventor becomes the adored symbol of creativity and new machinery the measure of progress. Edison is thought of as the greatest of creative minds. It is in this sphere of technical invention that man enters so to speak into human competition with the Creator of nature. By architecture and technics he produces a man-made world an artificial nature somehow re-surfacing and effectively hiding nature. It is here that the motive of the Tower of Babel story is most apparent. Man-creator competitor of God-creator. Certainly technics and building are first of all very matter-of-fact useful things. The multi-millionaire building titanic skyscrapers is as a rule no romantic but a realist who calculates exactly how much this building is going to bring in in dollars and cents. Furthermore his skyscraper is a form of architecture produced by the high cost of city property and the scarcity of space. But all the same it is in these architectural structures that something of that dangerous titanism finds expression which the narrative of the Tower of Babel has in mind. It is perhaps not so much the builders as individuals but the generation which sees these colossi rise from the ground and sees also the greatest rivers bridged the Atlantic ocean crossed in a day's flight and the city of Hiroshima destroyed by a single bomb—it is this generation which is tempted with a feeling of God-like power.
No doubt in all that man does he is fundamentally and in many ways dependent on the work of the Divine Creator. It is from nature that he gets his material and often also without knowing it the guiding ideas of his production. He can never free himself from the laws of statics and dynamics but has to adapt himself to them. However there is a great temptation to forget in the case of his own creations his dependence on that which God creates and to feel himself in his creativity as creator of his own existence. “Man is free only if he owes his existence to himself” we heard Karl Marx saying. The more man lives in his artificial man-made reality amongst man's structures and machinery the more strongly he receives the impression that he is the creator of his own existence. It is no accident that this is the statement of Karl Marx i.e. of a man who saw man only as an economic producer.
This does not mean that technics or productivity inevitably estrange man from God. Even the most creative mind and even the man who has to live entirely among machinery and within a man-made surrounding can remain God-conscious and can do whatever he does for the glory of God. Human creativity and the man-made reality is not the reason or cause but it is the great temptation to Godlessness. The more creative man is the more he is tempted to confound himself with the Creator. The danger is the titanism of the creative man who inebriated by his feeling of creativity and in a kind of mystic ecstasy thinks himself to be God. It is that old phenomenon of ὕβρις of man's forgetting his limits which brings him to ruin.
Thus far we have been speaking of creativity as such. But the detachment from the Christian faith as we see it taking place in the modern world has its results also in the relation of the different spheres in which man is productive. The phenomenon we are now dealing with is the tendency to autonomy of culture and civilisation. Modern man determined to free human civilisation from the tutelage of the Church thinks it necessary for that purpose to emancipate it also from the predominance of the Christian revelation and hence proclaims a programme of autonomy. This is the decisive step in the direction of secularisation of this-worldliness. The roots of culture that lie in the transcendent sphere are cut off; culture and civilisation must have their law and meaning in themselves.
Now what makes this problem particularly difficult is the fact that beyond all doubt every domain of human culture and civilisation does have its own immanent law. Every science like mathematics has its own principles norms and criteria which certainly cannot and must not be learned from divine revelation but are immanent in the subject matter and must be learned by entering into it. The same is true of every art every technique whether it be the liberal arts the technical arts or the arts of politics and economics. In each of these fields expert knowledge is necessary and this expert knowledge is the same for everyone whether Christian or non-Christian. Even the good Samaritan who cares for the man fallen among thieves has to do it with expert knowledge that does not come from Christian love but from practical experience. Faith and love do not make expert knowledge superfluous. In the good Samaritan they worked together without any conflict. It is love which is the inspiration of expert activity. There is a technique of good Samaritanship which he who earnestly loves wants to learn and to apply. The principle then of the autonomy of the sciences and arts is based on truth. But it is only half the truth.
It is no longer a half truth but a fatal error if such an autonomy is understood to mean something that stands upon itself and calls for no subordination no fitting into a higher unity. The best Samaritan-technique is no use if love the will to help does not move man to use it. The detachment of culture from Christianity produced the fatally erroneous belief that culture or creativity needs no subordination to a higher unit but can live on its own resources. The vehemence with which the so-called Christian tutelage of culture is rejected is not incomprehensible considering how intolerably in past centuries Christianity has fettered culture. This is particularly obvious in the field of science. The narrow borderlines in which Church dogma kept scientific endeavour hampered scientific development for centuries. No wonder that the liberation of science from this theological tutelage took place in a violent manner revealing a deep resentment which lingers on to the present day. It was philosophy that led the way and cut the ice; the sciences the arts developments in economic and political thought followed. The tendency is the same everywhere: freedom from ecclesiastical theological and Christian presuppositions— autonomy!
This postulate of autonomy in its unconditional sense does not take account of a most important fact namely the unity of human life. There is a totalitarian character in the questions what for? what is the meaning? Meaning as we have seen in a previous lecture is totality. All domains of human life must be brought into the unity of meaning in order to be meaningful. This unity of meaning does not lie in any one of them as such; the unity of meaning lies only in that principle in which the totality of man and nature is grounded i.e. the divine will. In the first centuries of the modern age the spiritual leaders still knew that; they did not want to emancipate civilisation from God but only from the Church and also from the specifically Christian form of religion. They did not want to abandon theology as the basis of civilisation but they were seeking a rational or natural theology. It was only in the course of time that it became clear that such a natural theology offering a solid basis apart from Christian revelation does not exist. Each philosophical school produced its own “rational theology” and the metaphysical chaos finally became so great that the quest for a theological basis was deserted altogether. It was then that the programme of the autonomy of civilisation was understood in a radical in an entirely secular sense. What was the consequence?
First that the different domains fell asunder. The new age experienced the departmentalisation of cultural life. Science developed itself independently alongside art; so did the arts economic life and the state. The programme involved in the autonomy of civilisation produced a necessarily disconnected specialisation. But this was only the outward appearance of a more fundamental change: each domain gradually lost its meaning. According to the postulate of autonomy the meaning of science of art of economics of politics was sought each in itself alone. But meaning being totality the postulate of autonomy had resulted in each one of these domains trying to be the totality in itself. It is in this manner that the different “isms” were created: “intellectualism” as the scientific totalitarianism “æstheticism” as the totalitarianism of art “economism” and finally political totalitarianism as the most dangerous of all these.
Intellectualism and æstheticism still have a spiritual heritage and basis. Intellectualism is based on the total claim of science. Now since science is a great spiritual good the fatal consequences of its false autonomy of the totalitarianism of science do not appear so quickly. On the other hand science is the domain in which specialisation proceeds most rapidly. With its tremendous specialisation during recent centuries it became difficult to see a meaning in any one of these sciences. Furthermore scientific activity is based so entirely on one of our spiritual functions only namely intelligence that the progressive impoverishment and deformation of the human soul could not but appear most drastically. And finally it became clear in the progress of science that science as such is incapable of giving life a meaning. For science never declares what ought to be but only what is. Science only describes and explains facts it has no access to meaning.
Æstheticism in many ways had a better chance for art has such a manifold claim on the mind and soul of man and it can move the depth of his heart in such a measure that the destructive effect of its totalitarian claim does not easily appear. Art has never undergone such a process of specialisation as science. But æstheticism produced evils of its own. First of all only a small minority of people were capable of believing that art could be the meaning of life because the world of art is so detached from the problems of practical everyday affairs. Furthermore the more art proclaimed its autonomy in the principle “art for art's sake” and so detached itself from the rest of life the more empty it became. The separation of content and form which was the necessary result of this autonomy could not but manifest itself in an extreme formalism and therefore a progressive impoverishment. Finally æstheticism as a philosophy of life inevitably leads to moral and social anarchy and chaos. Is not this one of the roots of the weakness of France that country which more than any other was inclined to follow the doctrines of æstheticism?
Much more obvious and brutal is the effect of totalitarianism in the range of economics and politics. The emancipation of economic life led to that typical release of the economic motive which is so characteristic of the Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries particularly in the countries with a predominantly Germanic and Anglo-Saxon population. It is not only the mentality which we are wont to connect with the capitalistic system4 and with “Manchester liberalism” but also the reaction against it in Marxian pan-economism which is a clear manifestation of this evolution. Marxism and capitalism are twin brothers children of the same economic totalitarianism which having got hold of Western man within recent generations has so deeply damaged brutalised and impoverished Western society. The devastations of the soul and the deformity of human life produced by capitalist and Marxist pan-economism are indescribable.
Still they are surpassed by what political totalitarianism has done to us since the formation of totalitarian states began in 1917. What we nowadays call totalitarianism is but one of the forms of the totalitarian principle. It is the application of this principle to the state and to politics. It is necessary to see political totalitarianism in this larger context. It is one of the inevitable products of the principle of autonomy. But it is also the one in which the falsehood of that principle becomes most manifest. It is even more dangerous than all the other totalitarianisms because of an element connected with it alone the element of compulsion. The æsthete seeing the meaning of life in art does that on his own account; he can force no one else to share his error. The totalitarian state however possesses both the will and the power to force everyone to live as if the state were the meaning of life as if the state had that all-importance which belongs to God alone. But when we think of this monster the totalitarian state we should never forget whose child it is: it is the product of that programme of autonomy which was formulated as a consequence of the attempt to emancipate culture from Christian faith. If this principle of autonomy and totality is taken up by the state that state at once claims—and claims effectively—the monopoly of totalitarianism. The totalitarian state does away with those rival pseudo-religions intellectualism and æstheticism just as it tries to do away with its most dangerous rival true religion in order to establish itself as the only acknowledged and effective religion the pseudo-religion of political totalitarianism. The economic element however even a totalitarian economism it incorporates in itself creating the conditions which you may call totalitarian state-socialism or state-capitalism as you please. And this is the end not only of freedom and humanity but also of all true creativity. For spiritual creativity and collectivist tyranny are mutually exclusive.
Man cannot tear out of his life that unity which is in God alone without the gravest consequences. If he does so the consequence is the proclamation of autonomy and the totalitarianism of the different domains. But in the competition between these different totalitarianisms the political makes a prey of all the others because it alone has the power of coercion the power to prohibit and to annihilate what it does not like. It replaces arguments and the free competition of spiritual forces by machine-guns and concentration camps. In such a fashion it destroys all creative life the brutal automaton of power triumphing over the creative spirit.
Let us once more come back to the creative man as he is seen within the Christian faith. God the Creator having created man in His image has given him creative powers; where man acknowledges his Creator he knows that he cannot create from nothing as God does that therefore his human creativity is a mere imitation of God's taking place within the limits and according to the laws and dependent upon the materials which God gives. Where God is acknowledged as the Creator man knows that the ultimate meaning of His creatures is the same as the meaning of all life: the glory of God and the service of men. If he remains within this boundary every domain of human activity keeps its own rights and its own kind. Moreover each one then keeps within its limits. This is particularly true and particularly important in regard to the most dangerous of them all the state which is then placed under the control of the divine law and kept within the limits of its functions. The state is thus only a servant and not a master of human life. Its so-called sovereignty is strictly limited by the God-given purpose of the state and the “sovereignty” of the individual states is limited by the equal rights of every other “sovereign” state. That is to say the dangerous principle of sovereignty is limited by the sovereignty of God both internally and externally and thereby a due relation is maintained.
Where the principle of autonomy is substituted for faith in the Creator this unity and order in human life fall to pieces and finally the state as the substituted unifier usurps the rights of all and plays the rôle of God on earth. It can do so more effectively when it is combined with pan-economism and technocracy. It is then that man identifying himself with that state can believe himself to be God the creator of his own existence having in his hands unlimited powers and illimitable authority over other men. This totalitarian man is in all probability the monster of the Apocalypse who tramples down and devours humanity. And the totalitarian state is the most urgent problem of our civilisation at this present hour.
For it is precisely in this present generation that it should become obvious where the de-Christianisation of culture and civilisation—the main feature of the past few centuries—leads. Humanity therefore is facing in our time as at no time before this alternative: either to continue along this road of the modern age the road of emancipation from the Christian truth which leads to the total effacement of anything truly human and perhaps even to its complete physical annihilation; or to go back to the source of justice truth and love which is the God of justice truth and love in whom only lies the power of salvation.
From the book: