A Christian History
Universities, having grown out of cathedral schools, have ever been pillars of the Church. In this country these “seats of learning” are even more bigoted and reactionary than the rest of the ruling class. Here is an example.
There is now being published by the Cambridge University Press, a new work called “The Cambridge Medieval History,” in the words of a familiar advertisement, as a supreme product of a great university. If past experience of a bulkier product from the same source is a guide, copies are already being specially reserved for us, and soon we may expect the postman’s knock to herald the avalanche of Yankee swank inadequately describing its merits. It is not, however, the marriage of medieval thought with bustling methods of advertisement that need concern us here. Perpend.
“The Observer,” an influential Conservative organ, has reviewed the first volume of this eventful history, and some of its remarks are worthy of note. It said:—
“After a glance at the table of contents one is not surprised to find that the hook has a strong theological bias. . . . Whereas Gibbon assailed Christianity with the most subtle reasoning, the present volume assumes (an assumption which the facts of the period show in a peculiar light) that the rise of Christianity was the steady conquest of good over evil: fine theology, doubtless, but a little presumptuous, perhaps, as history. This is seen, too, in the importance given to the actual creed of Christianity as apart from its importance as a political factor or organisation.”
Your theologian is ever the greatest falsifier of history. He writes “history,” invents an Atheist shoemaker, and imagines a death bed scene of a Darwin, with but a single aim —the greater glory of his trade. And “The Observer” goes on to say : —
“It is Professor Gwatkin (The Rev. H. M. Gwatkin, one of the editors) who is the most marked partisan; he writes of ‘the heathens’ with a scornful unction, seen in his description of Constantine’s anxiety to unite Paganism and Christianity. . . . And he writes a little later: ‘After all, Christianity is not a monotheistic philosophy, but a life in Christ,’ a definition which is, of course, clear as sunlight to the initiated, but is the kind of phraseology which is better suited for a British Weekly than for a European History. After all, Christians and not ‘heathens’ scraped the philosopher Hypatia to death with tiles in the church called Caesariitm, A.D 115.”
“In consequence, however, of such ideas as those expressed by Professor Gwatkin, one turns back to the wider view of Gibbon or of Dill with an added recognition of its value. Whatever the influence of religion may be upon individuals, it is generally the authority a nation gives itself for doing what is profitable.”
The Italics are our own.
It would appear that, in the best informed capitalist circles — as distinct from the bigoted medieval obscurantism of the theologians — a dim recognition of the essential truth of the Socialist case against religion cannot be suppressed. Like murder, it will out.
F. C. Watts