Hart: Christian Revolution

From the introduction to David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies: “In what follows, my prejudices are transparent and unreserved, and my argument is in some respects willfully extreme (or so it might seem).”

Atheists Delusions is significant, masterfully written, and as page-turning as a Robert Ludlum novel, with ideas that are insightful and compelling. The subject matter is “chiefly about the early church” and the “triumph of Christianity”, which Hart argues is the only shift in Western civilization “that can be called in the fullest sense a ‘revolution’.” This shift resulted in a “revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality” and “created a new conception of the world, of history, of human nature, of time, and of the moral good.”

Not only does Hart discuss each of these conceptual categories as he argues his chief claim, but he confidently rejects and frequently critiques the secular rewriting of the Christian past. Hart challenges, prods, and tramples ideas recently put forth by the proselytes of the “Gospel of Unbelief”, refusing to surrender our Christian past to the sensibilities of men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Philip Pullman, and Dan Brown. For instance, he argues that “Many of today’s most obstreperous critics of Christianity know nothing more of Christendom’s two millennia than a few childish images of bloodthirsty crusaders and sadistic inquisitors, a few damning facts, and a great number of even more damning legends.” Hart suggest that rather than Christians listening to the histories of the New Atheists, they ought to “deepen their own collective memory of what the gospel has been in human history.”