The Christian Foundations of Western Civilization

The importance of Christianity to the history of Western civilization is being increasingly overlooked, which is why I was so delighted to come across a rather lengthy summary of a new book: For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch‐Hunts, and the End of Slavery by Rodney Stark (Princeton University Press) [see the Amazon page].

Dr. Stark is a solid academic writing within his field, so this book is extremely credible.

Here’s an excerpt from the summary: Stark doesn’t argue so much the virtues of Western civilization as the fact (yes, fact, not theory) that you cannot understand Western civ without reference to Christian theology and the way that it fertilized the soil in which those “extraordinary episodes” grew. The book focuses on four episodes: (1) the efforts at church reform that culminated in the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter‐Reformation, (2) the rise of modern science, (3) the fabled witch‐hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries, and (4) the abolition of slavery and the slave trade.

In each case, Stark shows that a belief in a great God who makes moral demands and who rewards and punishes in the afterlife is an essential component of what happened.

This is information Christians on campus desperately need! Read the whole summary (or read a slightly less charitable review, although if you read that you should also read this unrelated review with the last paragraph of the Post review in mind).

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