In scope and in vision Christopher Dawson’s historiography ranks with the work of men like Spengler, Northrop, and Toynbee. Several major themes run through Dawson’s work, but perhaps his most unique contribution was his insistence on the importance of religion in shaping and sustaining civilizations.
Religion, Dawson believed, is the great creative force in any culture, and the loss of a society’s historic religion therefore portends a process of social dissolution. For this reason, Dawson concluded that Western society must find a way to revitalize its spiritual life if it is to avoid irreversible decay. Progress, the real religion of modernity, is insufficient to sustain cultural health. And an ahistorical, secularized Christianity is an oxymoron, a pseudo-religion only nominally related to the historic religion of the West.
Dawson maintained that the hope of the present age lay in the reconciliation of the religious tradition of Christianity with the intellectual tradition of humanism and the new knowledge about man and nature provided by modern science. Dynamics of World History shows that though such a task may be difficult, it is not impossible.
“Dynamics of World History is a beautifully thought out selection from over four decades. . . . The title neatly captures another dimension of the author’s thinking. For Dawson, the cultural and particularly the religious element was the most dynamic part of human history.” —The Weekly Standard
“For breadth of knowledge and lucidity of style [Dawson] has few rivals.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This book, arguably the finest and most definitive summary of his thought, is recommended without the slightest reservation to historians, philosophers, artists, theologians, and lovers of letters.” —Touchstone
Christopher Dawson is widely regarded as one of the most important historians of the twentieth century. Commended for his sophisticated approach to history, Dawson focused much of his writing on the important relationship between religion and culture. He is the author of such seminal works as Religion and the Rise of Western Culture (Sheed & Ward, 1950), Religion and Culture (Sheed & Ward, 1948), and the Crisis of Western Education (Sheed & Ward, 1961).