At the heart of current secular theory, there is always plagiarism, a parody of Scripture, always the apostolic principle re-emerges: that principle is so embedded within us, that we treat it as if it belonged to us; we consider it natural, though it is not; it comes to us from our ancient faith, to give that latter two or three degrees of ascendancy over us. The free thinker who occupies himself with perfecting his fellow man would never have though of it if the rights of man had not been formulated by the Son of Man. Every philanthropic act in which we indulge, every system we dream up to the benefit of humanity, is only a return of the Christian ideal, changed in name and too often disfigured: it is always the word made flesh!
Do you choose to say that the Christian ideal is merely the progress of the human ideal? I agree to that; but open up the various cosmogonies and you will realise that Christian revelation advanced traditional Christianity on this earth. If the Messiah had not come and had not spoken, as he himself said, the ideal would not have been clear, the truth would have remained confused, such as one sees in the writings of the ancients. So whichever way you interpret it, it is from revelation, from Christ that you possess all; it is with the Saviour, Salvator, the Consoler, Paracletus, that you must always start; it is from Him that you received the germs of civilisation and philosophy.
You will see then that I find no solution for the future other than in Christianity, and Catholic Christianity; the religion of the Word is the manifestation of truth, as the creation is God made visible. I do not claim that a general renewal has taken place, since I admit that entire nations are sworn to destruction; I also admit that faith has withered in certain countries: but if there remains a single seed of grain, if it falls on a little earth, be that in the debris from a shattered vessel, that grain will grow, and a second incarnation of the Catholic spirit will re-animate society.
Christianity is the most philosophical and rational appreciation of God and the creation; it encapsulates the three great universal laws, the divine law, the moral law, the political law: the divine law, God united in three persons; the moral law, charity; the political law, that is to say liberty, equality and fraternity.
The first two principles have been discussed; the third, political law has not been furthered, because it cannot flower while intelligent belief in infinite being and universal morality are not solidly established. Now, Christianity has first to clear away the absurdities and abominations with which idolatry and slavery have encumbered the human race.
Enlightened people cannot comprehend why a Catholic such as I persists in sitting in the shadow of what they call ruins; according to such people it is an impossible stance, a simple prejudice. But tell me, out of pity where shall I find a family or a god in the individualistic and philosophic society you propose? Tell me and I will follow you; if not then do not find fault if I lie down in Christ’s tomb, the only shelter you leave me in my desolation.
François-René de Chateaubriand, Memoirs. Book 42, chapter 16.