Voegelin's Israel and Revelation: An Interdisciplinary Debate and Anthology

By Eric Voegelin; William M. Thompson et al. | Go to book overview

POLITICS AND THE TRANSCENDENT: VOEGELIN'S PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL EXPOSITION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST

Bernhard W. Anderson

The task of government is to actualize the order within which people may live together in peace and justice. In our revolutionary period, when conservatives to the right defend established political structures by appealing to law and order and idealists to the left advocate the overthrow of political forms which are seen to impede human fulfillment, this political task evokes with new urgency the question of the source and basis of world order. The question becomes insistent at a time when technological society has developed massive centers of power, which frighten the imagination with apocalyptic visions of cosmic catastrophe. Yet today, as we well know, the search for a meaningful interpretation of reality must be carried out in a post-Christian age, when the Christian symbols that once endowed Western civilization with eternal meaning have lost their power. Charles West describes the current "Climate of opinion": "The structures of order, on which man has depended through the millennia to give his existence eternal meaning and direction, no longer control the reality in which we live. To put it in simple terms, God as the symbol of the unchanging transcendent being, the measure and the goal of all that happens in the transient realm, the ultimate reality in which all our partial realities participate, is no longer there . . . His place is taken by man and man's activity" ( West 1970, 277). Many social thinkers would swear that this is the truth--"honest to God!" If, however, it is difficult to believe in God in the modern world, it is equally difficult to believe in man--whether man the planner whose reason opens up new vistas of technological development, or man the revolutionary who shoulders the responsibility for his self-emancipation and the creation of the new order of the future. Indeed, "disenchanted intellectuals," for whom the spell of the Enlightenment has been broken, wonder whether man can create a social order without a recovery of transcendence, according to an illu

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