• Michael Martin

Post-Christianity: How Christianity Failed and Continues to Fail


I think I surprised an interviewer recently when I was asked about the prophetic vocation of Sophiology in my own work and the role Nikolai Berdyaev has in such a project. The last chapter of my recent book Sophia in Exile is on Berdyaev and I think the scathing critiques of Christianity he delivered in the 1930s and 40s are just as salient today as they were when he issued them. In fact, seeing that we are now in an unapologetically post-Christian era, I’d say his criticisms are even more cogent; especially since they were so accurate. The following few paragraphs are excerpted from the book:


For Berdyaev, though, the rise of the technological colonization of man did not simply happen by accident. Rather, it is the result of the breakdown of culture and the failure of Christianity to transfigure society. Influenced by Solovyov’s conviction that Western Christianity, while it created a culture, did not create a Christian culture, whereas Eastern Christianity failed to create a culture at all, though its society was Christian, Berdyaev lays the blame at the feet of a Christianity mired in its many sins and more invested in preservation of the past than concern about the future. His critique is scathing:


We are witnessing a judgement not on history alone, but upon Christian humanity…. The task of creating a more just and humane social order has fallen into the hands of anti-Christians, rather than Christians themselves. The divine has been torn apart from the human. This is the basis of all judgement in the moral sphere, now being passed upon Christianity.” [1]

Christianity, furthermore, failed to save culture, because it failed to be Christian:


In this visible world there is no external unity in the Church; its œcumenicity is not completely actualized. Not only the division of the Churches and the multiplicity of Christian confessions but the very fact that there are non-Christian religions in the world at all, and that there is, besides, an anti-Christian world, proves that the Church is still in a merely potential state and that its actualization is still incomplete.” [2]

In addition, Christianity, for Berdyaev, is too enamored of its own past, thereby neglecting its true vocation:


In historical Christianity the prophetic element inherent in it has become enfeebled and this is why it ceases to play an active and leading role in history. We no longer look to anything but the past and to past illumination. But it is the future which needs lighting up.” [3]

And not only has the prophetic element become enfeebled, but, because it has, so has Christianity tout court:


Christianity in the course of its history has too often been submissive to brute facts; the leaders of the churches have too often adapted themselves to various political and social orders, and the judgement of the Church is only pronounced after the event. The result of this has been a loss of messianic consciousness and an exclusive turning towards the past.” [4]

Even the accommodationist approach to Christianity’s “engagement with the world” focused on the present proves sterile: “The adapting of Christianity to the social structure and to the forces which dominated it has disfigured Christianity in the course of history and naturally provoked resentment. The spiritual depths of Christianity are no longer to be seen.” [5] The picture he paints is a dire one rendered in a pallet of grey.


Faced with the realities of Christian history and culture and the impending demonic technicization of man, Berdyaev can only conclude that, “Either a new epoch in Christianity is in store for us and a Christian renaissance will take place, or Christianity is doomed to perish,” though he knows full well that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [6] Berdyaev wagers on behalf of the Church Triumphant, but he condemns degenerate Christianity when he sees it because he knows a failure of culture is at its core a failure of Christianity. He recognizes the paradox.


The paradox is that only Christianity can save the world from Christianity. Thus Berdyaev prophesizes the arrival of “the new Christianity” which will “rehumanize man and society, culture and the world” because “[o]nly in Divine-humanity, the Body of Christ, can man be saved.” [7] But such regeneration is not without conditions:


The future depends upon our will and upon our spiritual efforts. This must be said about the future of the entire world. The part to be played by Christianity will certainly be enormous on condition that its old fictitious forms are left behind and that its prophetic aspect is revealed as the source of a different attitude towards the social problem.” [8]

Unfortunately, people have a hard time releasing themselves from the fictitious forms that enthrall them.


My interviewer, I think, was surprised that I was not more optimistic about the future of Christianity. But I have been cursed by the gift of clear-thinking. And while I am more than convinced that only Sophiology can save Christianity from its long, slow, and more or less tragi-comic death, I also realize that most of those who go by the name of Christian are not only content to ignore Sophiology whole-cloth but are even more at home with the technocratic paradigm now enveloping them with darkness and the promises of a golden age of security. The leaders of nearly every church or religion have adopted one or another version of the “Build Back Better” chicanery and their followers have traded Christianity for a palliative Utilitarianism in which everyone belongs to everyone in a wash of insipid sloganeering and pop-compassion. It’s The Church of Bono.


So, no, I am not optimistic. I take no pleasure in watching this decay and take no pleasure in watching these various caricatures of Christianity choke on the vomit of their own absurdity. The technocrats are winning. I guess that’s how it’s going to be. Christians like convenience; and technocracy promises all kinds of convenience. I still listen to other voices, however, just as Berdyaev did before me. Like William Butler Yeats, Berdyaev was attentive to the tragic nature of revelation as it destroys the falsity of our various temptations and our bourgeois complacencies; for, “Surely some revelation is at hand; / Surely the Second Coming is at hand.” It is so strange to watch all this unfold, to see Christianity absorbed into the technocratic realm of Ahriman. Only a god can save us.


Michael’s latest book is Sophia in Exile. He can be reached at director@thecenterforsophiologicalstudies.com See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine. Watch for his Sophia in Exile, due momently from Angelico Press.

1. The Fate of Man in the Modern World, 118 and 122.

2. Freedom and the Spirit, 348.

3. Towards a New Epoch, 36.

4. Ibid., 117.

5. Ibid., 37.

6. Freedom and the Spirit, 46.

7. The Fate of Man in the Modern World, 129.

8. Towards a New Epoch, 117.

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