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On Christianity as history’s villain

Summary

David Bentley Hart highlights two problems with the way we assess the wrongs of the church.

Summary

David Bentley Hart highlights two problems with the way we assess the wrongs of the church.

Transcript

In two ways; I mean, the myth is misguided in two senses. One, quite often it’s marked by an almost cartoonish historical oversimplification. And, of course, stories that aren’t true. It was popular from the 1970s onward to claim, say, that in the High Middle Ages, for instance, there were witch hunts and nine million women had been burned. Well, this, of course, is not the case. So when those sorts of stories are repeated, the effect is comical but also deeply damaging to historical intelligence.

But the other way, of course, in which the narrative fails – or succeeds in one sense and fails in another – is just that it doesn’t take into account the degree to which the very presuppositions of those who believe the story or make these accusations are utterly saturated in the moral grammar and the vision of reality that’s informed from the ground up by the very Christian tradition that they want to shirk off. Now, that’s fine, I mean one is under no obligation to continue to cling to things one doesn’t believe. But some degree of historical acuity would be welcome here.