cal event to be certified bv Christiannfaith and as a cultural phenomenon re^nlated to man’s overweening pride. Althoughnothers may see no connection.nMolnar would insist that the reiectionnof a theology of the Fall, and of divinenredemption, has brought about a secondarvnFall, the breakdown of Westernnculture. The scorning of Christianitvnand the current cultural crisis are bothnto be seen as functions of the prevalencenof humanism, a philosophy based onnhuman self-perfection. At least in thenmodern era. humanists have ended upnrepudiating ethical absolutes and theologicalntruths alike.nIn his earlier works. Molnar treatednthe various humanist alternatives tonChristianity as parts of a gradually unfoldingnvision of human self-deification.nWhatever the differences between thenRenaissance linguist Pico and the 19thncentury revolutionary Marx, bothnthinkers ascribed to mankind titanic,nand indeed, godlike, capacities. Thenevolution of humanism unfolded asnanthropocentric thinking became weddednto a view of social perfection as innthe works of Rousseau, in Hegel’s beliefnin human omniscience. leading tonComte and Marx. and. finally, tonNietzsche’s ethical nihilism. All thensame. .Molnar would contend that thenseeds of Utopian politics and moral relativismncould already be found duringnthe Renaissance and even earlier.nIn Christian Humanism he extendsnhis cultural criticism to include thosenwho would mix two incompatible cosmologies,nthe one Christian and thenother militantly secularist. Accordingnto Molnar. humanism has invadednChristian institutions and journals. Innthe name of reconciling man’s earthlvnand religious aspirations. Christian humanistsnhave, among other things, sownndissension within the Catholic Church.nAs a Catholic traditionalist. Molnarnholds no brief for the innovating forcesnwithin his religion, and he stresses thatnmuch of what is described as modernizationnsimply involves the substitutionnof aging humanism for Christian teach­nings. This last point is made repeatedly,nfor Molnar never tires of showing thenantiquity of humanist argumentsnwhether discussing the Marxism ofnLatin .American priests or analvzinanBiblical demvthologizers and the socallednChristian evolutionists.nOne provocative aspect of his studynis the attempt made to locate one sourcenot the humanist challenge to Christianntheology in the senescent pagan world.nFaced by the spread of a disagreeablenJudaic cult popular among foreignersnand slaves, the non-Christian representativesnof Greek and Roman antiquitynengaged in a rearguard intellectualnstruggle. -Much of their effort was directedntoward defending pagan mystervnreligions: but they also produced a bodynof critical literature designed to attacknChristian tenets. Molnar cites the secondncentury Roman, Celsus. who upbraidednChristians for the ideal of ansuffering savior. He argues that thesencensures anticipate the later humanistndisgust—evident in both the youngnHegel and Nietzsche—with a deitv thatnis neither joyous nor carefree. Then”scandal of the cross” is a burden laternhumanists would reject, symbolizingnas it does the sinful condition of unredeemednman as well as the vulnerabilitvnor the Christian God. In mynopinion. Molnar makes a weak case ofnlinking the Neo-Platonism of whichnCelsus was an exponent, with the modernnhumanist contempt for Christianity.nNeo-Platonists. unlike Marx, despisednChristian theology because they thoughtnit degraded divinity: because, in thenwords of Plato’s Republic, it ascribednto “what is unchanging by nature” then•’predicates of an inferior [i.e.. human)nbeing.” Nor did Neo-Platonists hold tonanything resembling the modern beliefnin man’s natural goodness. Most ofnthem accepted some variant of Plato’snmyth that earthlv existence is thrustnupon the soul as expiation for evilsncommitted in a previous life.nMolnar stands on firmer ground innstressing the Gnostic roots of modernnpolitical ideology. The ancient Gnosticsnnndeparted from normative Christiannthought bv viewing the world as intrinsicallvnevil and the Church as anrepositorv of second-rate revelations.nBelieving themselves in possession ofndivine illumination, the Gnostics aspirednto the tullest understanding otnProvidence through solitary contemplation.nThey also tried to calculatenexactly when the world would end: fornthey imagined divine light would soonntransform the realm of darkness whichnsurrounded them. Like Eric Voegelin.nMolnar notes a structural similaritynbetween Gnostic theology and Utopiannideology. Like his Gnostic predecessor.nrhe modern ideologue scorns the worldn:ts he finds it. In place ot historicalnreality, he asserts the tightness of annideal order which he sees as being inherentnin the future. Having proclaimednthe inevitability of what he hopes for,nhe attributes his vision to a highernwisdom inaccessible to ordinary beings.nAlthough Molnar too often condemnsnas well as explains, his stress onnthe persistence of mythic constructsngoes far toward clarifying the appealnof political utopianism.nThe Renaissance revival of pagannthought not only gave impetus to science,nbut perhaps even more significantlv.nprovided new life to ancientnsuperstitions. Esoteric prophecies,ndreams of restoring mankind to primevalngoodness, and alchemical hopesnfor transmuting the material world: outnof such stuff were formed the fantasiesnof manv Renaissance humanists. .Andnout of similar stuff has come the perfectionistnand Utopian cast of modernnpolitics. The illusion of what is todayndefined as Christian humanism is viewednbv Molnar as being one furthernvariation on a theme almost withoutnbeginning. Dnfn•31nChronicles of Culturen