Confronted by multiple religious possibilities, the rise of atheistic naturalism, and moral relativism, one can easily become perplexed about what matters most--or be tempted to conclude that nothing could matter most. As the first volume of A Post-Christendom Faith, a set of three interrelated theological works, The Long Battle for the Human Soul examines major historical developments that have led to our contemporary confusion--so that we might chart a way forward.
Philip Rolnick begins with a theological assessment of the Reformation, Enlightenment, and French Revolution, three movements that attempted, and to some degree accomplished, basic reformulations of humanity. After the shock of the Reformation, with its faith-based criticism, the Enlightenment's reason-based criticism more or less set faith aside. The radical nature of Enlightenment criticism in turn led to the radical anthropological reformulations of the French Revolution--and then devolved into the Terror. Separated from Christian faith, and oftentimes fiercely opposing it, early forms of secular humanism poured their energies into reshaping social and political structures, while the crescendo of critique profoundly altered the spiritual landscape of the West. With foundational certainties shattered, new movements arose that pulled in different directions, some of them dangerous and deadly. Rolnick maps this fracturing through Feuerbach's atheism, the excesses of Romantic literature, the rise of nihilism, the moral inversion of Marxism, Comte's positivism, and Nietzsche's all-out war against Christianity.
In this story of broken foundations, Rolnick is careful to show that the church and the gospel have never ceased to offer a very different foundation--trustworthy and eternally enduring. This first volume ends on a hopeful note, turning from the problematic humanism of recent centuries to a humanism grounded in incarnational faith. Its christological reflection looks beyond brokenness and toward the one who has never ceased restoring human wholeness.