Christianity and Civilisation: Foundations and Specific Problems

By Emil Brunner

Brunner’s Gifford Lectures, presenting the Christian faith as the foundation of Western culture and the indispensable bulwark against totalitarianism.

ISBN: 9780227172896


Despite the horrors of two world wars, Brunner saw hope for the building of a new civilisation on the ruins of what had been destroyed, arguing that only Christianity is able to provide the basis of a truly human civilisation.

In setting out his thesis, Brunner first develops a Christian philosophy of civilisation dealing with basic principles, and then goes on to develop his ideas by offering a Christian interpretation of some of the main features of civilised life, from science and technology, through work, education and art, to wealth, social order and power. He criticises the fatally dazzling belief in progress as having led to the nothingness of despair. While the transcendent kingdom of God cannot be identified with a particular form of government or social structure, Brunner argues that the influence of Christianity on western civilisation has been more profound than any other influence.

Brunner’s analysis stands alongside the work of scholars such as Herbert Butterfield and Christopher Dawson as one of the leading studies of the influence of religion in the development of western civilisation. While their approach is primarily historical, Brunner’s is that of the theologian, giving his work a unique perspective.

Additional information

Dimensions 216 × 140 mm
Pages 328

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Dr Emil Brunner was an eminent and highly influential Protestant theologian. At the age of 33 he was made Privatdozent at the University of Zurich and later was appointed Professor of Systematic and Practical Theology. In 1953 he became Professor of Christian University, Tokyo (Japan) and in 1955 returned to Zurich, where he died in 1966.


Preface to the First Series
Preface to the Second Series

First Series: The Foundations
1 – I. Introduction: The Problem of a Christian Civilisation
1 – II. The Problem of Being or Reality
1 – III. The Problem of Truth
1 – IV. The Problem of Time
1 – V. The Problem of Meaning
1 – VI. Man in the Universe
1 – VII. Personality and humanity
1 – VIII. The Problem of Justice
1 – IX. The Problem of Freedom
1 – X. The Problem of Creativity

Second Series: Specific Problems
2 – I. Technics
2 – II. Science
2 – III. Traditional Renewal
2 – IV. Education
2 – V. Work
2 – VI. Art
2 – VII. Wealth
2 – VIII. Social Custom (Sitte) and Law
2 – IX. Power
2 – X. The Christian Idea of Civilisation and Culture

Epilogue: Christianity Beyond Civilisation

Notes and References


Endorsements and Reviews

Marked with lucidity and ease of exposition … One of the most distinguished Continental theologians of our time
The Spectator

A masterly philosophical survey of the problems of ontology and truth
The Observer

The philosophical survey proposed by Brunner, together with the analysis of the main spheres of the Western civilization and the theological general approach, give Brunner’s work a unique perspective and make his study indispensable for the investigation of the influence of religion on the sphere of human civilization.
Iulia Grad, in Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Vol 9, Issue 25