Western Culture is in retroactive decline, like an unsure rocket yawing in orbit before plummeting to disaster. Whether this scientific civilization can yet be salvaged for meaningful survival is an open question.

According to some observers, Western society is doomed to nihilism (perhaps after a period of pragmatism), unless modern man heeds a fresh summons to the truth of revelation and thus recovers Christian perspective.

Others emphasize, and I think rightly, that the recovery of vital religion would not necessarily mean the rescue of the Western way of life as we now know it. Christianity is something more than the inner spirit of any culture, transcending even the noblest socio-historical features it inspires. In a discerning if over-due warning against the dangers of cultural Christianity, a Roman Catholic priest calls the conversion of Constantine the greatest single disaster that ever overtook the Christian Church. Western civilization is now so infused by the spirit of secularism, and so lacking in genuine Christian conviction and commitment, that no ultimate reason remains for linking the fortunes of Christianity to the survival of Euro-American culture.

Also an open question, however, is whether the death of Western culture would bring about a rebirth of true faith or global enslavement by totalitarianism. These alternatives, of course, are not decisive for the survival of the Christian Church; we have Christ’s Word that not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it, however sad may be the condition of twentieth-century Christianity in Germany, Great Britain, and America, let alone in Russia and China. But the accelerating secularism of the free world is so increasingly approximating the self-conscious materialism ...

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