Rethinking the Enlightenment

Faith in the Age of Reason

Rethinking the Enlightenment book cover
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The expected release date is Oct 15, 2020.

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The Enlightenment was a complex cultural movement that radically transformed both religion and society — a movement Christians fended off when, in the name of “reason,” the Church in France was dethroned in a most bloody and utterly unreasonable way. The Enlightenment also ushered in a wave of genuine Christian inspiration and reform, however, and it opened vast new avenues for the faith to flourish. 

In this compelling and edifying book, scholar Joseph Stuart investigates this paradox, masterfully exploring the tense interaction of the Enlightenment and Christianity as two cultures, two lived realities, and two overlapping ways of life.

On page after page, you’ll see that the “Age of Reason” was more than just merciless confrontation between reason and religion. Indeed, it brought forth many Christians — including “the Enlightenment Pope,” Benedict XIV, and groups of coffee-drinking monks — who embraced both faith and reason as powerful tools for strengthening Church and society.

In other cases, culture-changing Christians such as John Wesley and St. Louis de Montfort opted simply to sidestep the Enlightenment by building up Christian culture from within — a strategy that led to the explosion of powerful evangelical movements across the world.

In Rethinking the Enlightenment, Dr. Stuart demonstrates that the three primary strategies Christians employed during the Enlightenment — conflict, engagement, and retreat — are time-tested methods that should be employed in our own anti-Christian age. Conflict without engagement is senseless; engagement without conflict is weak; and without retreat, both strategies lack wisdom. If we pursue all three today with the help of the Holy Spirit, then a tough, intellectually sophisticated, and evangelically oriented Christianity can emerge — just as it did in the tumultuous Age of the Enlightenment


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Jared Zimmerer photo

"The Enlightenment is often placed in two categories: the worst thing to ever happen to Christianity and Europe, or the most significant achievement in history. Through refreshing storytelling and historical accounts, Joseph Stuart expertly weaves together a more balanced body of work that places the victims, the heroes, the philosophers, the mystics, and the numerous other characters in a broader perspective, much like the work of the late Christopher Dawson. The real gem of this work is Stuart's organization of the different strategies by which the Church either engaged, retreated, or fought the notions and movements of the Enlightenment. Stuart tussles with the metaphysical and theological pugilism of the age and provides a practical, evangelical blueprint of how the Church has successfully or unsuccessfully engaged the world. A much-needed book in academia, yet just as necessary for the layman."

Jared Zimmerer
Director of the Word on Fire Institute
Mike Aquilina photo

"Joseph Stuart is a brilliant and confident voice in the new generation of Catholic historians. In these pages he presents a daring revaluation of an important moment in history — the best and worst of times. Prepare to be surprised, entertained, and edified."

Mike Aquilina
Executive Vice President, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
William Fahey, Ph.D. photo

"Revolution, issues of social justice, riots, the grand theatre of civic conflict--these always engage the imagination, but often we have no clear idea what preceded modern revolutionary impulses and political divisions. This book will help you understand what preceded the issues which bedevil modern man, and what--in the Enlightenment--was gained and lost... and perhaps can be regained by thoughtful readers. Anyone interested in the apparent war between faith and reason, order and freedom, tradition and innovation, religion and humanism... will be guided well by Joseph Stuart's 'Rethinking the Enlightenment.'"

William Fahey, Ph.D.
Fellow & President, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
Fr. George W. Rutler photo

"The intelligence of Dr. Stuart's analysis lies in its balanced perspective which understands religion and the so-called Enlightenment not as 'either or' contenders for truth, but rather as complimentary interpreters of the fact that Christ the Living Word is the Light of the Nations."

Fr. George W. Rutler
  • Pages: 400
  • Format(s): Paperback, eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-622828-227
  • Product Code: 8227
  • Availability: Pre-Order

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