“Of course there is no God. But we must believe in Him”—Eric Voegelin (1901-1985)
|One of the shady benches where I sat and read today|
|Ducks in the shade|
In a memoir entitled The Professor and the Profession, recently published by the University of Missouri Press, Professor Heilman reported that Voegelin, on one memorable occasion, said to him: “Of course there is no God. But we must believe in Him” (p.8).
Despite this a majority of Voegelin's supporters still seem to hold that he was a Christian. As Poirier says it is, therefore, interesting to note that
His atheist opponents also think this to have been the case, despite the fact that Voegelin is much more in accord with them than they realise. The fact is that he differs from his “atheist opponents” only to the extent that he wishes to draw on his immanentised understanding of Christianity—read solely as a civil theology—to mitigate what he sees as the disastrous effects of the civil theology that is modern millenarianism. In short, he is more prudential than they, but he is not less an atheist (n. 8, p. 6)
I found myself also responding positively to Poirier's point that "the motive behind Voegelin’s advocacy of an immanentised Christianity [was to have] “his” Christianity act as the basis on which to erect a new civil theology, a civil theology that would be less millenarian than were the civil theologies that issued out of the Enlightenment" (n. 12, p. 7). This practical pragmatic approach to Christianity seems very close to the position I have adopted in my own thinking and teaching here at the Memorial (Unitarian) Church in Cambridge and so the following paragraph also resonated strongly with me.
|A general view of the trees|
All in all, then, a very challenging but exceptionally interesting and fruitful day which was only added to by the lovely, hot and shady surroundings in which I continued my exploration of Vogelin's thought.