Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Real Criterion of Success

“Excerpts” is a feature of Sky View which takes passages from old and dusty books because of some insight they offer or light they shed on current events.

Christopher Dawson, The Kingdom of God and History 1938

“The liberal optimism which has been so characteristic of Anglo-Saxon religious thought the last half century [i.e. second half of the 19th century] led men to believe that the days of persecution were over and that all men of good will would agree to set aside their differences of opinion and unite to combat the evils that were universally condemned- vice, squalor and ignorance.

But from the standpoint of the Christian interpretation of history there is no ground for such hopes. Christ came not to bring peace but a sword and that the Kingdom of God comes not by the elimination of conflict but through an increasing opposition and tension between the church and the world. The conflict between the two cities is as old as humanity and must endure until the end of time. And though the church may meet with ages of prosperity, and her enemies may fail and the powers of the world may submit to her sway, these things are no criterion of success. She wins not by majorities but by martyrs and the cross is her victory.

Viewing history from this standpoint, the Christian will not be confident in success or despondent in failure...She [the Church] has been the guest and the exile, the mistress and the martyr, of nations and civilizations and has survived them all.”