A Theological Perspective of the Clash of Civilizations

analytical Essay
7150 words
7150 words


On more than one occasion, President George W. Bush has described the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as fostering “a monumental battle of good versus evil.” In this battle, there has been no doubt in his mind (or in ours) regarding who is on the side of good and who is on the side of evil. Though some have winced at the President’s use of such absolute moral terms to portray the tragic events of that fateful day, others have applauded his courageous use of such unfashionable discourse as entirely appropriate, even suggesting that it implies the demise of the cultural scourge of postmodern moral relativism.

Another important way, not entirely unrelated, of interpreting what transpired on 9/11 is to explain the attack of Islamic extremists on the United States of America as a manifestation of a “clash of civilizations.” At the center of this way of looking at these unprecedented events has been an article and book both authored by the noted Harvard professor of political science, Samuel P.

In the summer 1993 edition of the journal Foreign Affairs, Huntington argued that world politics was entering a new phase after the end of the Cold War, and that tensions between civilizations, as the highest cultural groupings of people, would dominate the global scene. He explains the article’s thesis in these words.

It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different ci...

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...vides a basis for that blaze, that vision, and that life. Let us pray and live it out with a sincere heart with a view to God’s glory in the restoration of humankind Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart,” 59, 61.

and the renewal of the earth in an age of a tremendous battle between good and evil and the clash of civilizations.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may seek not so much to be consoled, as to console. To be understood, as to understand.

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that huntington's article generated more response over a three-year period than any other article they had published since the 1940s. he decided to expand his article and publish his 1996 book, the clash of civilizations and the remaking of the world order.
  • Explains samuel p. huntington's the clash of civilizations and the remaking of the world order.
  • Analyzes how civilizational identities are shaping patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-cold war world.
  • Opines that huntington's goal is to present a framework of global politics in the post-cold war era.
  • Analyzes fukuyama's "end of history" thesis, which argued that the end of the cold war meant the ending of significant conflict in global politics and the advent of one relatively harmonious world.
  • Explains that this section is taken entirely from huntington, the clash of civilizations, 31-35.
  • Explains how global politics became multi-civilizational after the cold war and the collapse of the communist world in the late 1980s.
  • Analyzes huntington's argument that the world is divisible into two parts, with the west as the dominant civilization and non-western many. the conflicts that pose the greatest threat to peace are those between nation states.
  • Explains that china, japan, and india are offsprings of chinese culture, while islamic and orthodox civilizations are separate from western christendom. the sub-saharan region of africa is a distinct african culture.
  • Analyzes how the global process of modernization and radical social change has produced religious fundamentalisms that seek to preserve old verities and can often foster serious conflict with those who threaten their cultural and spiritual commitments.
  • Analyzes how huntington explains that the west is not without significant blame in provoking islamic anger. mernissi's 1992 book titled islam and democracy: fear of the modern world describes the arrogance, materialism, secularism, and decadence of a west in decline.
  • Cites fatima mernissi's book islam and democracy: fear of the modern world.
  • Explains the decline in commitment to learning and intellectual activity, manifested in the united states in lower levels of scholastic achievement.
  • Analyzes how the bible eschews spatial analogies and organic metaphors to describe the development and demise of civilizations. it employs a theological framework for analyzing the doctrines of idolatry and judgment.
  • Analyzes how the table of nations in genesis 10 depicts the sons of noah in their ethnic, linguistic, social, cultural, and geographical divisions as expression of divine judgment on human sin.
  • Explains that human existence has been characterized by different cultures and civilizations and the interactions and conflicts between them.
  • Explains that redemption in jesus christ is able to overcome fundamental religious differences and cultural barriers, uniting true believers into one christian body and establishing peace.
  • Asks the divine master, grant that i may seek not so much to be consoled, as to console.
  • Analyzes how president bush's use of absolute moral terms implies the demise of the cultural scourge of postmodern moral relativism. huntington argues that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be ideological or primarily economic.
  • Opines that the end of history thesis and the triumph of liberal democracy worldwide is contrary to reality and is not a helpful way to interpret geo-politics in the post cold war world.
  • Argues that the dichotomy model that posits relatively well defined cultural divisions doesn't adequately explain the immense complexity of today's world.
  • Argues that the "realist" theory of international relations suggests that states are the most important entities in world politics.
  • Analyzes how huntington's civilizational thesis is the best way to understand geo-politics today.
  • Analyzes huntington's view of the clash of civilizations as a political order governed not by cold war sympathies, but by cultures and civilizations.
  • Explains that other thinkers agree with huntington's essential thesis, such as vaclav havel, jacques delors, and fernand braudel.
  • Cites aleksandr i. solzhenitsyn, vaclav havel, and jacques delors.
  • Explains huntington's view that the most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating civilizations from one another.
  • Analyzes huntington's "clash" analysis on conflicts between islam and other nations and civilizations including africa, bosnia, sarajevo, asia, japan, israel, and the west.
  • Analyzes how muslims see western culture as materialistic, corrupt, decadent, and immoral. they also stress the need to resist its impact on their way of life.
  • Explains why solzhenitsyn is unwilling to recommend western culture as a model for his own. he believes that the west is undergoing internal decay and its continuation is questionable.
  • Explains that there is a decline in "social capital," which is membership in voluntary associations and interpersonal trust associated with such membership.
  • Analyzes huntington's proposal for a world of seven or eight major civilizations. cultural commonalities and differences shape the interests, antagonisms, and associations of states.
  • Argues that huntington's ideas should be put into a christian context and thought about biblically. the creation and development of culture is grounded in and an expression of human nature.
  • Analyzes how adam brought the flood upon the inhabitants of the world and destroyed them. noah left noah with his household and all the righteous who had descended from him.
  • Opines that the church holds the antidote to the clash of civilizations. st. francis of assisi's prayer provides a basis for that blaze, vision, and life.
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