New Book: ‘Rethinking the Enlightenment’

Proposes Strategies for Strengthening Christianity in an Anti-Christian Culture

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Many scholars claim that the Enlightenment permanently dethroned Christianity and installed “reason” in its place, but this is only a myth.

In “Rethinking the Enlightenment,” Dr. Joseph Stuart, an associate professor of history and fellow of Catholic studies at the University of Mary, masterfully reexamines the relationship between the Enlightenment and Christianity, uncovering the time-tested strategies that Christians today must employ for their faith to flourish in an anti-Christian culture: conflict, engagement, and retreat. If Christians follow these strategies, a tough, intellectually sophisticated, and evangelically oriented Christianity can emerge, just as it did during the Enlightenment.

“This book will help you understand what preceded the issues which bedevil modern man, and what — in the Enlightenment — was gained and lost . . . and perhaps can be regained by thoughtful readers,” commented William Fahey, fellow, and president of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

Stuart’s analysis reveals that the same Age of Reason that violently overthrew the Catholic Church in France also ushered in a wave of genuine Christian inspiration and reform and opened vast new avenues for the Faith to flourish. Indeed, it brought forth many Christians — including “the Enlightenment Pope,” Benedict XIV, and groups of coffee-drinking monks, who embraced both faith and reason as powerful tools for strengthening church and society.

Other culture-changing Christians, such as John Wesley and St. Louis de Montfort, chose to retreat from the Enlightenment to build up Christian culture from within — a strategy that led to the explosion of powerful evangelical movements across the world.

In his appraisal of “Rethinking the Enlightenment,” Fr. George W. Rutler wrote: “The intelligence of Dr. Stuart’s analysis lies in its balanced perspective which understands religion and the so-called Enlightenment not as ‘either/or’ contenders for truth, but rather as complementary interpreters of the fact that Christ, the living Word, is the light of the nations.”

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