The title is the same as the book by David Bentley Hart and this post and the next will contain quotes from his work along with some commentary. I liked the book overall but it took awhile to get used to his very long sentences, some a paragraph in length. I do not know much about the author as the book and amazon site are very sparse in giving out any information upon him. For the first quote I am going to go out of order and start with the last one first then switch back to the beginning of the book and go from there.
#1. When, therefore, Christianity departs, what is left behind? (pg. 230)
To answer the question, and we already have an example of what is left behind with Noah’s flood, what is left behind is simply sin and debauchery. That is it. No one will be safe, no one will have justice, the innocent and the poor will be abused even more so than they already are today and on it goes. When the light in the room goes, all that remains is darkness. The same happens when the light of Christianity disappears. The city, the country the civilization is left with nothing but the darkness of sin.
#2. Rather than court absurdity… let us graciously grant that there is indeed such a thing as unthinking religious conviction just as there is a great deal of unthinking irreligious materialism. (pg. 12)
In other words, those who complain about the lack of knowledge amongst believers cannot really throw stones because their side is filled with the same type of people.
#3. Moreover, I am fairly certain that Dennets would not be so feeble of intellect as to abandon his faith in democratic institutions simply because someone of no political philosophy whatsoever had emerged from the forest and told him in tones of stirring pomposity that politics is divisive and violent and therefore should be forsaken in the interest of human harmony. (pg. 14)
This was written by Dr. Hart in response to those atheists who make the claim that Christianity is divisive, violent and should be abandoned so that there can be peace on earth. He is right though, no atheist or unbeliever would forsake their cherished institutions based upon the words of someone who doe snot understand them nor is open-minded enough to see the whole picture. Their views on Christianity are purely hypocritical.
#4. It is pointless… to debate what it would truly mean for Western culture to renounce Christianity unless one first understands what it meant for Western culture to adopt Christianity and this one cannot do if one is content to remain fixated upon fruitless abstractions concerning religion rather than turning to the actual particularities of Christian history and belief. (pg. 16)
In other words, those atheists and unbelievers who demand that the west give up Christianity only focus on abstract issues that can never be changed nor altered. For example the Crusades and the Salem Witch trials. They do not look at the total picture of Christian belief, its influence, its work or the true picture of the fruits of the faith.
Christians really need to learn more about their history than just the disciples or Paul’s travels and see for themselves what has actually transpired in their faith’s history so that they will not wilt when unbelievers pull out of context these absurd and abstract examples meant to only to protect their unbelief and not reach the truth about the faith.
#5. Many of today’s most obstreperous critics of Christianity know nothing more of Christendom’s two millennia than a few childish images of crusades and sadistic inquisitors, a few damning facts and a great number of even more damning legends; to such critics… Christians ought not to surrender the past but instead deepen their own collective memory of what has been in human history. (pg. 17)
The last point covers this one as well
#6. There are, after all, a long tradition of monastic Christian hospitals for the destitute and dying going back to the days of Constantine and stretching from the Syrian and Byzantine East to the Western fringes of Christendom, a tradition that had no real precedent in pagan society. (pg. 30)
In other words, in stead of fretting about how to defend our faith over such events as the Crusades, the inquisition and other failures of the people claiming to be Christian, we believers need to learn about the other part of Christianity that helped the sick, fed the poor and hungry, took care of other important matters and compare those efforts with the unbelievers’ track record.
We would probably have a better view of our faith if we did that over taking the blame for things we cannot change.
#7. And the term post-Christian must be given its full weight here: modernity is not simply a postreligious condition; it is the state of a society that has been specifically a Christian society but has lost the faith. (pg. 32)
What he is saying here is that believers should not get hung up on intellectual terminology and simply see the ideology as it is–sinful behavior and false teaching.
#8. What, after all, doe sit mean for a society to be truly modern?…I have already given a partial answer to this: It has a great deal to do with a society’s understanding of freedom (pg. 32)
Right now western society in general, and America specifically, view the idea of ‘freedom’ as there is no such thing as evil or wrong. Everything is ‘good and right’. We see that philosophy in the most recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
#9. For one thing, unless some long-lost catalogue of the Library of Alexandria has recently turned up in a pawn shop in Cairo, the list of works that Kirsch claims the library possessed is sheer fantasy. (pg. 37)
I had a book on ancient libraries by Lionel Cassel and even he placed its contents in the one or two million volume range but it is safe to say that we have no idea how many books that library actually owned and had on its shelves. Historians and other people tend to exaggerate when there is no chance of verifying their numbers.