Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West by Kevin Swanson
“Epistemology is the study of what is true and how one determines what is true. When any philosopher of epistemology wants to develop a theory of knowledge, he must seek an ultimate authority, since there must be some final standard by which all claims of truth may be tested. For the humanist, the final standard is man himself. For the Christian, the standard is God. The Christian recognizes that this is God’s world, planned and implemented by the mind of God. Therefore, God’s truth is the only possible standard for truth.” This book is written from the Christian worldview, acknowledging that God is the author’s source of truth.
Western civilization was built upon a set of ideas expressed over 2,000 years ago with the advent of Christianity. Establishment of such a culture was not an easy thing to do, especially when ideological opposition was present from the beginning. Greek and Roman philosophies were polytheistic and man-centered. You might even go so far as to say that humanism was birthed, or at least well expressed, through Aristotle and his contemporaries. Christian thinking gradually replaced pagan thinking from AD 475 through AD 1200. It was a war of ideas…a war of culture. But the tables turned and humanist ideologies began to overcome Christian thought over the next 800 years (from AD 1200 to AD 2000).
“Philosophers…dismantled the Christian faith in the Western world and replaced it with humanist ideas and institutions. As always happens to empires built on man-centered ideas, these humanist empires will soon collapse. Insofar as Western civilization remained a Christian worldview at its base, the foundations were sound [at first]. But when the philosophers of a new humanism introduced dry-rot into the foundations…they planted the seeds of their own destruction. By the end of this book, I hope the reader will fully understand how this happened.”
The author identifies three stages in which apostates of the Christian worldview participated in the dismantling process. The first stage involved philosophical ideas foreign to biblical truth. He introduces to the reader eleven men of “renown”, ones who are considered “great” thinkers by the modern educational elite: Thomas Aquinas – forming the humanist synthesis; Rene Descartes – forming the humanist philosopher; John Locke – forming the humanist theologian; John-Jacques Rousseau – forming the humanist society; Jeremy Bentham – forming the humanist ethic; Ralph Waldo Emerson – forming the humanist person; Karl Marx – forming the humanist political state; Charles Darwin – forming the humanist scientist; Friedrich Nietzsche – forming the humanist psychology; John Dewey – forming the humanist education; and Jean Paul Sartre – forming the humanist culture. Each chapter is dedicated to examining each person’s philosophy and
personal life. The author then explains how each influenced institutions such as the universities which at the time trained men for the ministry. These men moved their ideas from the universities to the pulpits and on to the ears of the congregants.
The second stage of the deconstruction of the Christian worldview addresses the arena of literature. “Since education is typically centered on literature and reading, we conclude that this is a critical, though oft-neglected battlefield in the war of the worldviews. Therefore, any treatise that intends to grapple with the disintegration of the Western Christian mind and culture must address the field of literature.” Kevin Swanson chose to examine five literary giants: William Shakespeare – Macbeth; Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter (severing the heritage); Mark Twain – Huckleberry Finn (rejecting the faith); Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck (20th century literature). “Every author begins somewhere; he works off a baseline and a heritage. But his work also follows a trajectory that reflects his heart direction.” And wherever the heart direction leads, that is where the literature will attempt to lead its readers.
While the first stage of deconstruction began in the 1700’s with the philosophers of the Enlightenment period (Age of Reason) and moved into the 1900’s through the education system designed by John Dewey with the second stage repeating this pattern through literature, the third stage is pretty much unique to the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century. The third stage involved the cultural revolution through the use of mass media. With the advent of radio, television, and the computer and internet, culture changes moved swiftly when the emphasis shifted from literature to the music and entertainment industry. The philosophies formerly expressed for the educated “pillars of society” was now conveyed to everyone else through music and movies. The author dedicated the final two chapters of the book to this phenomenon.
My first reaction after reading the book was fascination at the array of unique information and approach to the theme of the deconstruction of Western Civilization. Then when the implications finally hit me, I felt awed at the patterns in history, the battle plans and the lines drawn in the sand. For the most part, this is an analysis of an invisible, silent battle, that has taken place over hundreds of years, in graduated steps. The author does a wonderful job of stepping back from the details of life and looking at the big picture over the past 800 years of history. His approach is well organized, logical, thorough, and fairly easy to understand especially for those of us who align ourselves with the Christian worldview. Then I felt dismay at the scope of the battle, how like dominoes once one structure started to tumble others began to topple as well, until I remembered that “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
I found it helpful to keep a glossary of terminology that I created myself as I read. Some of the terms I was only superficially familiar with and needed to consult a good dictionary to get the historical context as well as the complete meaning of the term. I think a short glossary should have been included in the book. I would have loved to have had this text to use with my two home-schooled high school students. I can easily see how this would have lent itself to the development of a one year history, literature and philosophy course. Like the author, I want my children and grandchildren to understand how our civilization became unraveled.
A complimentary review copy was provided to me by Generations with Vision (publishers) and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
- Book Review : Apostate; The Men Who Destroyed The Christian West (stevenruff.wordpress.com)