Dominant Intellectual Themes Of The Enlightenment


1.                      Rejection of history and the past in favor of reason.

2.                      Institutions and traditions inherited from the past had to give way to reason and science.  Religion, marriage and the family had to be supplanted by the state.  The state became man’s vehicle of salvation.

3.                      The Christian doctrine of man as a sinner was abandoned.  Man’s nature was neutral, if not good and perfectible.

4.                      The rule of society must be in the hands of the enlightened ones, the elite.

5.                      Basic to this view, faith is that man and society must be humanistic, not Christian.

6.                      Science must replace religion as the source of judgment and authority (see esp. e.g. Reventlow, The Authority Of The Bible And The Rise Of The Modern World (Fortress Press, e.t., 1985).

7.                      Biblical view of sin and punishment are replaced with psychotherapy (see U.S. News And World Report, December 10, 1990 and march 25, 1991).

8.                      Conscription came in the French Revolution.  the professional army is replaced with a state created army and a hold on youth.

9.                      Foreign policy is given priority over domestic or internal affairs.  Hitler, George Bush, Gorbachev (before and after the coup, august 19-21) spoke of “new world order.”  the goal of politics has a world scope, not a local one.

10.               The new god is man, or humanity, and the goal is “to be truly human” which means to be stripped of all religious and moral standard and faith, derived from supernatural revelation, i.e., the desacralization and demythologization of reality.

11.               The world’s economic problem is seen as one of distribution, not production (cf. entitlement, rights and welfare).

12.               Power is centralized in the state (cf. coup attempt in Russia’s 70 hour plus coup, august, 1991).

13.               Reality is seen as basically impersonal, ruling out the Christian god, creator, and redeemer.

14.               The new established church becomes the state school (see Bloom, Hirsch, Nash, and my three essays on Western education).

15.               There is an increasing control over private property and a virtual confiscation by local and federal taxation, the goal of “the illumination.”


(Louis L. Bredvold, The Brave New World Of The Enlightenment (1961).


James Strauss, professor emeritus, Lincoln Christian Seminary, Lincoln, IL