Modernity without Restraint: The Political Religions, the New Science of Politics, and Science, Politics, and Gnosticism

By Manfred Henningsen; Eric Voegelin | Go to book overview

5
The Inner-Worldly Community

Nothing essential has changed in the basic characteristics of the European political-religious symbolism since the seventeenth century. Hierarchy and orders, universal and particular ecclesia, the empires of God and of Satan,Führertum and apocalypse, remain the expressive forms of the communal religion up until today. Yet, the contents are gradually changing toward those traced out in Leviathan. The ecclesia is increasingly breaking away from the association of the universal empire that has its hierarchical peak in God until, in some instances, it becomes independent and closes itself off in an inner-worldly way. There is no longer any sacral permeation from the highest source; rather, it itself has become an original sacral substance. Remnants of the old structure can still be found in formulae without significance: for example, the statement that the sacral, closed community “acted at the order of God” when it spread out. But “at the order of God” is synonymous with such inner-worldly formulae as “order of history, “historical mission, “order of blood, etc. We must, therefore, complete lines drawn even earlier and point out the symptoms of the new meanings, which are widely known as facts but rarely interpreted as expressions of political religiosity.

The tremendous foundation of the new inner-worldliness, which has been built in the centuries since the late Middle Ages, is the knowledge of the world as an inventory of existential facts about all stages and as knowledge of its essential and causal contexts. The knowledge of space and nature, of the earth and the peoples who live on it, of their history and intellectual differentiation, of plants and animals, of man as an embodied being and as a mind, of his historical existence and his ability to gain knowledge, of the life of his soul and his desires, fills up the new understanding of the world and

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