I am beginning this month's reflections with an extended quotation from Hilaire Belloc's The Battleground: Syria and the Seed Plot of Religion, which was recently highlighted on the Ignatius Insight blog:
The central thing in the business of Europe is the Doctrine of the Incarnation: the affirmation that God had appeared among men, and the denial thereof. From the first public announcement of that affirmation about A.D. 29-33, it has been the main issue dividing all men of the Graeco-Roman world, moulding and unmoulding our society. . . .I will post other quotes and excerpts from this month's ERI as time permits.
Let there be no error; the question is fundamental not only to that time but to our own. It remains the root question for those who ridicule the doctrine, for those who are indifferent to it, and for those who would defend it. With Jesus Christ as God incarnate there is one view of the world. With Jesus Christ as a Prophet, a model, or a myth, there is another: and the one view is mortal enemy to the other.
There had been presented before the world by this new thing, the Christian Church--this Ecclesia, this new society which . . . changed the values of human action, and the nature of social life. Despair, which the old pagan civilisation universally admitted, from which it turned away its eyes by following pleasure on the one hand, however shameful, or honour on the other, however sterile; despair, Epicurean or Stoic, was, by the Christian hope, denied its empire. . . .
If that claim to Divinity were abandoned by posterity . . . The hope was lost . . .