Shadow of the Third Century, a Revaluation of Christianity

By Alvin Boyd Kuhn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
FROM RELIGION TO PHILOSOPHY

The matter of the antagonism of the low Christian personnel against philosophy and all learning may have far deeper involvements than those suggested by merely historical incidence. There may be the apprehension of a natural or at least inevitable hostility between good motive activated in uncultured minds and similarly good motives activated in minds given to prolonged and profound reflection and keen analytic thinking. Lothrop Stoddard book, The Revolt Against Civilization, has been quoted as establishing that there arises always an animosity on the part of the uncultured populace against the aristocracy of intelligence. It might be readily attributable in part to the envy of the possession by the learned class of that which gives its possessor decided advantages. Again it may be seen as part of the general reaction of those occupying inferior status and privileges against those enjoying the fortunes of a superior rank. Poverty looking across the great social gulf that has too generally separated the mansion from the hovel, comes to hate all the evidences and appurtenances of superiority. This would include its preoccupation with cultural objects such as philosophy. That which social superiority flaunts in the face of penury as an exclusive possession or activity will breed envy and hatred. It may cover the ground of explanation of the case in early Christianity to consider it in this light.

At any rate the point is deeply inwoven into the texture of a larger situation which must now be the subject of searching analysis. It becomes necessary to deal with another aspect of the relation of religion to culture, one that has the greatest need of being acutely diagnosed and brought into clearer focus. Continued study accentuates more and more dramatically the ineluctable fact that this cleavage and disparity of wisdom between esoteric students and the masses practically marks also the division of human thinking and feeling between philosophy and religion. It pronounces almost with final decisiveness the judg-

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