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About the book

Western civilization has entered an epic phase of profound crisis. The crisis is not of external enemies, though their role is a factor. Nor is the crisis economic, political, cultural, ecological, demographic, or a product of warfare, though these features of a civilization’s existence also have a bearing. Largely unconsciously, we of this age are living through what are likely the final paroxysms of a dying civilization. Western civilization, like others before it, is experiencing the entropy of the everlasting – the final running down of that which most of its members assumed would last forever.

Into the Night - The Crisis of Western Civilization

The book is in three parts. The first gathers facts, insights, and perspectives from among the greatest global thinkers on civilizational decline and decay of the last century. The gravity of their observations is admittedly daunting, as is their breadth and complexity. But the synthesis of their ideas with the major themes of this book will lead us to an understanding not only of our time, but also what is likely to follow just over the horizon of history. We must persist in trudging up the steep heights and be neither discouraged by the effort nor deterred by the desolation which comes into view from these lofty vantage points.

All of our observers are Europeans or Americans who have studied and written within the last one hundred years. In all other respects they represent different backgrounds, disciplines and beliefs. They are historians, sociologists and anthropologists. They are Catholics, Protestants and agnostics. But they stand out, not in their differences, but in their similarities, especially – and this is very important to our purposes – the common denominators in their views about the condition and destiny of Western civilization.

In writing this book I remain conscious of many of the same hazards of being viewed as “alarmist” as when warning of the threat of radical Islamic terrorism – but now on a grander scale. However, I was right in 1996 in predicting in a newspaper commentary a catastrophic attack by Islamic radicals with the words: “the 1993 World Trade Center bombing will be a pinprick rehearsal for what will follow”. Some will insist that the views expressed herein of Western civilization, and the predictions for its future – not simply mine but also those of our scholarly observers – are alarmist. But I have only grown in a supreme confidence that history supports these conclusions. They will be affirmed if we view modern Western civilization with a rigorous insistence on looking reality in the face.

This is a collection of facts, interpretations, and observations, not a debate. Years of experience have proven to me that debate in any form is one of the most overrated methods for getting at the truth. Debate is more often an exercise in vanity and egotism focused on that most Western of goals: winning. My objective is not simply to be right. I was right in 1996 in predicting a catastrophic attack by Islamic radicals. But my greater purpose was to add to the scant few voices daring to give the same warning in the hope of being heeded. I hereby add my voice to a very small coterie of those who, on the grand scale of a civilization, are proclaiming dire warnings. Though we speak from different perspectives, the fundamental alarm is the same – but far more grave than the warnings antecedent to September 11, 2001.

Part I

In Part I our questions will include: What have the leading thinkers on the subject of civilizational decline and decay had to say about modern Western civilization? What characteristics and indicia of decline and decay recur in their writings and observations? What are the central features – the axes of human thought and action – which are the most determinative of a civilization’s health and longevity?

Since the true strength of any nation or civilization is in its soul, what the people believe and hold true determines their destiny. As character is destiny for an individual, so it is for nations and civilizations.

Therefore, a critical question for any civilization or nation is: are their values of any value? Do their beliefs stand the tests of reality and eternity? Emerson made one of life’s most important observations when he noted that “beneath each depth a greater depth lies”. This is our objective: to probe the greater depths of these great questions.

Part II

Part II of this work focuses on the key institutions and beliefs that form the superstructure of Western civilization. We will discern what they are and come to grips with their parallel decline and decay. We will see that the West’s destiny will not be shaped by fate, science and technology, or Western man’s intellectual aptitudes, but will lie solely in the province of the human will and character.

We will see in this segment that Christianity forms the very superstructure of Western civilization – a powerful and all-encompassing influence which pervades not simply the religious, but every realm of Western human endeavor: science, technology, economics, government, law, philosophy, military strategy and training, education, and social relationships.

Christianity’s role as the great girders upon which an entire civilization was built means that its renunciation – in whole or in substantial part – will ultimately result in the collapse of the entire edifice.

Contrary to what secularists would blithely assume, the girders cannot be replaced, one by one, by the secularist philosophy and worldview, thereby gradually “reinforcing” the structure with what they regard as more sound supports. Were that attempted – and that process has been well underway for more than a century – all external appearances would, at least initially, remain unchanged. But at the first strong wind or geotectonic shift, visible cracks in the structure would begin. The physics of history dictate that the edifice must fall.

The wheel of history has made another near complete revolution. The fervency, nonconformity, and self-sacrifice of the Christian church of the 1st Century – which eventually made it the superstructure of the new and most powerful of all civilizations – have been dramatically dissipated in the geographic area of the West. With great but perhaps appropriately just irony the Western church has courted the culture and now faces rejection – nearly completely so in Europe and decidedly so in terms of influence inAmerica.

The church’s assignation with the Western world’s power and wealth has brought it in a great circle – now closer to the catacombs than to the cathedral.

The great overarching Question which is rarely asked, and certainly never fully and deeply answered: Why, with all the advantages the Christian church enjoyed in 19th and 20th century Western civilization, is it now in this position? Was this inevitable? Was this decline beyond the church’s control?

I believe, and will strive to demonstrate, that the honest answer is no. The failure is the result of a decline and decay within the church itself which not only paralleled but nurtured the decline and decay of Western civilization as described in Part I. This decline and decay within the church is now so pervasive and insidious that most Western Christians – even the most sincere among them – don’t recognize many of its manifestations. Indeed, the polarities have in many ways been reversed: that which would have once been rightly perceived as secular and “worldly” has now been “baptized” as examples of spiritual “success”.

Part III

Part III elevates Western man’s character and spiritual state to what should be its proper status: the zenith of man’s hopes and priorities for change for the better and, by extension, hope for his civilization and his world. We will see what Western man can and must do if he has any prospect of avoiding the abyss history reserves for decaying civilizations.

The traditional metaphor for history is the most apt, of a great wheel rolling inexorably forward through time, but with a significant difference: Though the themes and the behavior of its actors relentlessly recur – just as the same point on a rolling wheel contacts the ground over and over with a languorous monotony – these do not reflect cycles of purposeless redundancy. They are manifestations of a sweeping purpose – a forward movement through the mountains, plains, and swamps of millennia of growth, learning, adversity, and suffering to a divine revelation.

Whether ours will soon be just one of many civilizations crushed under this mighty wheel of history will be determined by choices made by Western man. In the fullness of time, the words contained herein will prove either to be a prophetic obituary or the heralding of a great awakening and renewal for Western civilization.

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A must-read book that cannot be ignored by anyone wishing to understand the future of our world.
— Dr. Kevin Cooney,
Professor of Political Science,
Director of Pacific Rim Center, Northwest University

This is arguably the most profound thesis concerning Christianity and Western civilization to be penned since A.D. 413 when Augustine wrote The City of God.

— Dr. James Wilson, Belfast, Irish historian,
Director, Centre for British Studies, Coleraine, UK

Ivy Scarborough’s insights rise like the sun on the fog of our culture’s self-deception and delusions and burn them away. I kept thinking as I read, this is the book I wish I had written.
— Randall Bush, D.Phil. (University of Oxford),
Th.D. (Southwestern Theological Seminary),
Professor of Philosophy, Union University

Into the Night is disturbing, precise, and both condemning and filled with ways of climbing out of the pit we have dug for ourselves.

— Dr. John Adams, retired Vice President,
Union University

This is powerful stuff. Masterful! Chapters could well stand on their own as essays or pamphlets. Really powerful!

— John Perry, author of Unshakable Faith
and Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy

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