Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Faith in God and commitment to a religious community are central themes of Christianity. Christians believe first, then they understand. However, Koakowski approaches these themes not from the perspective of a personally committed Christian but from that of a philosopher. Once a Marxist, then a liberal Socialist, Koakowski came to see that all secular ways of ordering the world, be they scientific, Marxist, or Freudian, are not epistemologically superior to religious beliefs in a divine order. Furthermore, the God of the philosophers—René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Leibniz—is not the Christian God, who is both absolute being and eternal love. Granted that paradoxes exist about how providential divine grace and passionless natural laws coexist, Koakowski still urges faithful Christians to trust their God, whose existence cannot be scientifically ascertained and whose attributes and relationship to the world seem contradictory. Christians must also admit that their religion, which teaches the depravity of humankind, is opposed to Enlightenment humanism, which teaches human self-perfectibility apart from God.

Koakowski, who has been praised as a preeminent man of reason, nevertheless believes that humankind does not live by reason alone. In his former works he has manifested a profound interest in the Christian foundations of Western civilization, and in this book he expresses his admiration for Christians who are able to overcome the meaninglessness of the world through their belief in an eternal reality who is the source of purpose, who provides principles of good and evil, and who saves humankind from nothingness after death. Although the distance from finite creatures to the infinite God can never be bridged, Christians place their trust in Jesus Christ, who was sent by his Father to span the gap between contingent human existence and the endless fullness of divine love.