Skip to Page's ContentSkip to Main Site NavigationSkip to Section NavigationSkip to Site Utility NavigationSkip to Site Search
Center for Faith and Culture

Upcoming Events

Click here to see all upcoming events.


Find us on the web! Receive the latest news in regards to the Center for Faith and Culture!

Find us on Facebook!

Follow us on Twitter!

Join Our Mailing List!

Join our mailing list to receive information about upcoming events.




* Required

Email Marketing by VerticalResponse
Enrichment Opportunities

Evangelical Philosophical Society

The Center for Faith and Culture does not endorse nor necessarily agree with all the information available on these sites.

Mission & Purpose

The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture seeks to engage culture as salt and light, presenting and defending the Christian faith and demonstrating its implications for all areas of human existence.

The Center has a two-fold purpose: (1) To convey graciously and apply effectively the Christian worldview to all areas of culture and to the human condition; (2) To encourage and support the Church in its redemptive work.

Faith & Culture Update logo

The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism Revisited
John Carroll, Wilmington: ISI, 2008
ISBN 978-1-935191-82-7, 270 pp., paperback $22.95

The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism RevisitedJohn Carroll’s The Wreck of Western Culture is a book for readers who like their coffee strong. Carroll, an Aussie sociologist, argues that secular humanism has wrecked Western culture by depriving it of the deep insights provided by faith. He begins the book by prophesying the universal ruin of Western culture: “We live amidst the ruins of the great, five-hundred-year epoch of humanism. Around us is that ‘colossal wreck.’ Our culture is a flat expanse of rubble” (p. 1) But diagnosis is not Carroll’s primary concern; intellectual genealogy is, and he immediately launches his investigation into how we have arrived at this state of affairs: we turned away from theism and toward humanism, trying “to create out of nothing something as strong as the faith of the New Testament that could move mountains” (p. 3). To do so meant that one must build an anthropocentric, rather than a theocentric, worldview: “To place the human individual at the center meant that he or she had to become the Archimedean point around which everything revolved.”

He accomplishes his argument by tracing Western intellectual and spiritual history in general, and Western works of art in particular. He focuses on Holbein’s The Ambassadors and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Both of these works illustrate the modern retreat from the theological narratives that have sustained Western society and culture for more than 2,000 years. Both works of art center on a skull. Holbein’s painting includes a distorted and oblong skull in the foreground of the picture, while Shakespeare’s Hamlet contains Yorrick’s skull. In Carroll’s narrative, these skulls symbolize Western culture’s fear of death; if life and death have been divested of divine meaning, then death becomes the ominous and dominant force in our lives and culture. If death has no more meaning than the Darwinist sense, then life has no meaning either, and life becomes absurdly horrible, as Nietzsche argued.

The Wreck of Western Culture is a richly imaginative and passionate interpretation of the intellectual and spiritual history of the West. Its strengths lie in Carroll’s ability to create a vigorous and comprehensive narrative explaining the fall of Western Civilization; its weaknesses lie in Carroll’s sometimes-deficient interpretations of art and theology. Strongly recommended.

Bruce Riley Ashford, Ph.D.
Dean of the College, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fellow, Center for Faith & Culture
Associate Professor of Theology & Culture

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Post Office Box 1889
  • Wake Forest, NC 27588
  • Phone: (919) 761 - 2100
Our Mission
  • Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission.
Copyright © Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary | Design and Development: Beacon Technologies
print logo