Whatever forms reconstruction may take, Christianity will have its part to play in making the new Europe. It will be able to point to the terrible vindication of its doctrines in the misery and ruin which have overtaken a world which has rejected its valuations and scorned its precepts. It is not Christianity which has been judged and condemned at the bar of civilisation; it is civilisation which has destroyed itself because it has honoured Christ with its lips, while its heart has been far from Him. But a spiritual religion can win a victory only within its own sphere. It can promise no Deuteronomic catalogue of blessings and cursings to those who obey or disobey its principles. Social happiness and peace would certainly follow a whole-hearted acceptance of Christian principles; but they would not certainly bring wealth or empire. ‘Philosophy,’ said Hegel, ‘will bake no man’s bread’; and it is only in a spiritual sense that the meek-spirited can expect to possess the earth. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to suppose that a Christian nation would be unable to hold its own in the struggle for existence. A nation in which every citizen endeavoured to pay his way and to help his neighbour would be in no danger of servitude or extinction. The mills of God grind slowly, but the future does not belong to lawless violence. In the long run, the wisdom that is from above will be justified in her children.
The recrudescence of superstition in England was plain to all observers many years before the war; it was perhaps most noticeable among the half-educated rich. Several causes contributed to this phenomenon. The craving for the supernatural, a very ancient and deeply rooted thought-habit, had been suppressed and driven underground by the arrogant dominance of a materialistic philosophy, and by the absorption of society in the pursuit of gain and pleasure. Modern miracles were laughed out of court. But materialism has supernaturalism for its nemesis. An abstract science, erecting itself into a false philosophy, leaves half our nature unsatisfied, and becomes morally bankrupt before its intellectual errors are exposed. Supernaturalism is the refuge of the materialist who wishes to make room for ideal values without abandoning the presuppositions of materialism. By dovetailing acts of God into the order of nature, he materialises the spiritual, but brings the Divine will into the world of experience, from which it had been expelled, and produces a rough scheme of providential government, by which he can live.