The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West

Mark Lilla (Knopf, 2007)

Lilla argues that, due to a crisis in Western Christendom nearly five hundred years ago, a novel intellectual challenge to political theology arose in Europe. By portraying religion as an expression of human nature, not a divine gift, modern Western thinkers found a way to free politics from God’s authority and build barriers against destructive religious passions.  But the temptations of political theology are always present, even in the West.  The urge to reconnect politics to religion remained strong and took novel forms in modern European thought.  By the Second World War a forceful political messianism had arisen, justifying the most deadly ideologies of the age.