If theology is the highest of all the sciences, as was commonly believed in the Middle Ages, then shifts in theology must correspond to changes in culture, politics, art, philosophy, etc. The Spanish statesman Juan Donoso Cortes makes this significant observation in his Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism. Theology involves everything in the world, just as God is present in all that exists since it is His creation.
If all is explained in God and by God, and theology is the science of God, in whom and by whom all is explained, theology is the science of all. If it be, there is nothing beyond that science, which has no plural, because all, which is its subject, has none. ~ Donoso Cortes
This point, along with others that Donoso Cortes makes in the very first chapter of his great Essays, must be considered when observing past, current, and future events as well as our general goals as reactionaries.
In the ancient pagan world, warfare was often seen as a sort of clash of gods, and therefore theologies. The gods decided the fate of nations, who would triumph and who would be subjugated. A victory over one’s enemies also meant the victory of one’s gods over those of the opponent. No wonder, then, that sacrifices were given to please the gods that they may grant the power to conquer. If the gods lent their ability, then they themselves would most likely survive; if not, then they could very well perish. The Romans, for example, upon conquering a foreign people would often scratch out the names of their enemy’s gods from history or assume those they found worthy into their own pantheon, and then force their new subjects to offer sacrifice to Roman deities. Thus, we see that war concerned more than just the material world in these “barbaric” times.
The position of theology means that any threat to faith is ultimately a threat to an entire civilization. The appearance and spread of Christianity was a challenge to the Romans’ very way of living. This is why they accused those who would not sacrifice to their pagan gods with atheism; it did not matter if they worshipped some other god, they were not worshipping Roman gods. Christians, who in the vast majority of cases were nonviolent, were a danger to the pagan empire and they needed to be extinguish in order to secure the survival of Roman society as it then stood. Of course, the Romans failed and their theology was torn down and succeeded by Christianity. Here begins the start of the Middle Ages, monarchy, feudalism, and so on. An entire shift in the paradigm of civilization accompanies a seemingly insignificant triumph of one theology over another.
Why and how Christianity took over the West is not something that will be considered in this article. Rather, my intent is to show that we must recognize the fact that theology affects everything below it and an alteration of faith means much more than the words imply. Because of this, heresy was an extreme offense that resulted in many being burned at the stake or finding themselves a head shorter than they used to be.
Let us then look at how theologies have come to change previously in the history of Europe. To start, Mohammedanism dominated a wide part of the Mediterranean through a violent and quick usage of force. All was decided in one battle in which the Byzantines lost control of the entire situation. The Levant was lost, and the Arabs were generally free to start taking city after city, enslaving, looting, and spreading their new religion; faith spread by the sword. Nearly a millennium later and the same sort violent imposition of belief happened in central and northern Europe. The chaos of the Reformation led to Catholics and Protestants slaughtering each other, the sacking of churches and monasteries, and an adjustment of theology. All of this culminated in the disastrous Thirty Years’ War where clear battle-lines of faith were drawn and, in some cases, remain to to this day. Later still, we have the eruption of a new theology with the advent of Revolution and Enlightenment. Liberal theology generally supplants Protestantism and attacks Catholicism with terror and brutality. And now it sits atop a pile of skulls reigning over practically all of Europe.
On the other hand, apostolic Christianity rarely resorted to such tactics. In the Roman Empire, as mentioned above, the faith proliferated peacefully under suppression and attack from the state, pagans, and Jews. It took time and patience (and men like St. Paul) for early Christian theology to be widely adopted. Likewise in the areas which were reconverted after the Reformation. Entrenched Protestant communities in Catholic nations required decades of work, often by saints, to finally revert back to their old theology. Obviously, there were exceptions to this peaceful conversion, such as the Baltic Crusades, but it holds as a general rule.
So, history shows us two main ways by which theologies have come and gone in the West. It is either swift and dynamic or a centuries long process of laying foundation and building up.
What, then, can we do in order to play a part in the eradication of the current stranglehold of liberal theology? Time will tell, but history has its course that it will take no matter what we desire or predict. Liberalism may very well run itself into the ground. This seems much more likely than some competing force engaging with it in combat. The foundation for the theology that is to come must be laid down now so that it may flourish after the dissolution of the current order. However, this process means that some theology, or at least some basic theological principles, must be agreed upon by those engineering the substructure. Without an agreement, little work can be done. The process may take decades or even centuries but could be successful in the end. Naturally, one spontaneous war might defeat liberalism all the same.
The eagles of Rome were heard screaming wildly. Rome was seen without Caesars and without gods; the cities depopulated and the deserts peopled; as the governors of nations, men who did not know how to read, and were clad in skins; the multitudes obeying the voice of him who said at the Jordan, “Do penance,” and of the other who said, “He who wishes to be perfect, let him leave all things, take up his cross, and follow me;” and kings adoring the Cross, and the Cross raised on high in all places.
What is the cause of these great changes and transformations? What is the cause of this great desolation and universal cataclysm ? What has occurred? Nothing; only some new theologians are going about through the world announcing a new theology. ~ Juan Donoso Cortes