Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. The Significance of religious myth, symbolism, and ritual within life and culture. Trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harvest/Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1959). Eliade, late Chairman of the Dept. of History of Religions at the University of Chicago, argued that "the religious vision of life" is fundamental and essential to human existence; a "sacred understanding" of the world is essential to "organize the chaos" and "make orientation possible;" this understanding can be repressed in the unconscious, but never fully escaped or denied: "The sacred… founds the world [sic] in the sense that it fixes the limits and establishes the order of the world" (p. 30).
Eliot, T(homas) S(tearns). Christianity and Culture (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977). Eliot (1888-1965), an English poet, was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948. He has been widely considered one of the most influential literary figures of the 20th c. After a period of agnosticism and a deep experience of the emptiness of life, as expressed in his famous poem, "The Waste Land," he came into a deep and lasting Christian faith dating from 1927, when he joined the Anglican Church. This volume combines two separate, similar works, The Idea of a Christian Society (1939) and Notes towards the Definition of Culture (1948). In the first, Eliot argued that Christians need to develop a sense of "communal responsibility," and that they should resist the "de-Christianisation" of society by seeking social reform at three levels: (1) "the Christian State," which adopts a "Christian framework" of Christian "principles" (pp. 21-22); (2) "the Christian Community," which encourages and supports a Christian "way of life" (p. 24); and (3) "the Community of Christians," which functions as a creative minority "to form the conscious mind and the conscience of the nation" (p. 34). It is "the Church's business to interfere with the world," Eliot asserted (p. 72); and to "to say what is wrong…morally wrong—and why it is wrong;" and "perpetually to answer this question: to what purpose were we born?" (p. 77).
In the second book Eliot contended that "no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion" (p. 79); he described culture "simply as that which makes life worth living" (p. 100); and he asserted: "It is against the background of Christianity that all our thought has significance… If Christianity goes, the whole of culture goes" (p. 200). Eliot critiqued Liberalism as "a movement not so much defined by its end, as by its starting point; away from, rather than towards, something definite"—a movement which "can prepare the way for that which is its own negation: the artificial, mechanised or brutalised control which is a desperate remedy for its chaos"(p. 12). Eliot believed that culture is the "incarnation of a people's religion."
Ellis, John. Against Deconstruction (Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. Press, 1989).
Ellul, Jacques. The Meaning of the City, trans. Dennis Pardee (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1970); The Subversion of Christianity, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986). Late Professor of Law and the History and Sociology of Institutions, University of Bordeaux, Ellul (d. 1994) was a Christian, and a member of the French Reformed Church. In his book, Technological Society, Ellul analyzed the dehumanizing, autonomous and manipulative characteristics of the post-industrial world. Building on that study, in The Meaning of the City Ellul argued that the city symbolizes the supreme work of man, and for that reason symbolizes man's ultimate rejection of God. The city must be reformed, because it represents rebellion. Ellul warned against naïve idealism in urban reform, "as though man alone can negate the inherent diabolism of the city." He concluded that Christians: "have our job to do in the city. We have seen that down through history God's answer to the construction of man's closed world was to move in just the same. And if he is there by his hidden presence, he is also there by those whom he sends. Our task is therefore to represent him in the heart of the city" (p. 181).
In The Subversion of Christianity Ellul asserted that the distinctive, authentic Christian witness was subverted when it became identified with "the very term 'Christianity,' which … denotes an ideological or doctrinal trend deriving from a philosophy," as opposed to a living faith (p. 10). "At every point it was the theologians who made the mistakes" (p. 19), i.e. in accommodating authentic Christian faith to secular culture, and thereby: "abandon[ing] the radicalism of Jesus and the prophets" (p. 21). Furthermore, the Constantinian establishment of Christianity as the official state religion was deadly, because: "When all become Christians, the concept of Christianity is void… One can be a Christian only in opposition" (p. 35). Ellul's dependence upon Kierkegaard was evident. Cf. e.g.: "In the minds of most of our contemporaries, Christianity primarily means morality… [while] God's revelation has nothing whatever to do with morality. Nothing. Absolutely nothing… [because it reveals] that all conduct, including that of the devout, or the most moral, is wholly engulfed in sin" (pp. 69-70); "There is clear opposition between fruits (produced by the tree of faith) and works (produced by morality)" (p. 84). Ellul also expressed an Anabaptist view of secular government: "the biblical view is not just apolitical but anti-political in the sense that it refuses to confer any value on political power, or in the sense that it regards political power as idolatrous, inevitably entailing idolatry" (p. 113). Emphasizing the church's dependence upon God's Word and prayer, Ellul exhorted social involvement: "There can be revival only in relation to the world, that is, to society or politics… Christians should work out their own original approach to a given social situation" (p. 206).
Ericksen, Robert P. Theologians Under Hitler (New Haven, CT: Yale U. Press, 1985). This intriguing study demonstrates the vulnerability of the church when it idealizes the state, and embraces culture uncritically. Ericksen, an historian at Yale U., undertook a careful investigation of three distinguished Lutheran theologians who held respected university professorships, and who still fell under the spell (to a greater or lesser degree) of National Socialism: Gerhard Kittel, a New Testament scholar at Tuebingen; Paul Althaus, a Luther scholar and New Testament specialist at Erlangen; and Emanuel Hirsch, a systematic theologian at Goettingen. Al though none of the three "can be relegated to the radical fringe of Nazi fanaticism," yet "they each supported Hitler openly, enthusiastically, and with little restraint" (p. 1). Ericksen endeavored to learn how such sophisticated leaders could embrace a regime with such inimical values. He found that, like most Germans in the Weimar Republic, they perceived themselves to be living in a "crisis of relativism," disturbed by the "destabilizing elements" of the industrial revolution, and an increasing "pluralism" which challenged "traditional shared values" (p. 2-3). Frightened by "the nihilistic view that no values are valid," they hungered for a "common foundation of values" (p. 3).
Ericksen concluded: "Along with their uniqueness in style and stance, these three men shared certain values and concerns which determined their common political attitudes. Each opposed the unsettling impact of political, economic and cultural change in Weimar Germany. Each saw in that change a disintegration of traditional Christian and German values, and each opposed the democratic political system that facilitated that change. These men were nationalists to whom the defeat and humiliation of Germany during and after the First World War was personally painful, and they longed for a rebirth of unity, strength and pride in Germany, based upon the common values of a unified Volk" (p. 198). This study seems particularly relevant, with the parallel concerns of Christians today about the rapid pace of "cultural change," the loss of "shared values," and the moral disintegration of society. Ericksen warns Christians to beware of "anti-Jewish and anti-modern" emphases, and concludes: "A second warning in the German church experience lies in its failure to distinguish adequately between Christian values and German values, between inherently Christian concerns and inherently patriotic concerns" (p. 199).