The best of Fred Hutchison
The depredations of modernism (1820-1920)
A brief history of conservatism, Part 7
Fred Hutchison, RenewAmerica analyst
September 13, 2013

Originally published October 1, 2007

Conservatism passed through a series of fiery trials during the nineteenth century. The previous essay (part 6) viewed conservatism and Christianity in the crucible of war. I have devoted two essays to the eight dark waves of depraved modernism that passed over the land during the nineteenth century. In this essay, part 7, we will consider 1) German "higher criticism" of the Bible, 2) Hegel, 3) Marx, and 4) the cult of modernism. The next essay, part 8, we will tackle 5) Darwin, 6) Freud, 7) William James, and 8) John Dewey. Each of these ideologies is hostile toward conservatism, Christianity, and Western culture.

German Higher Criticism

During the nineteenth century, liberal theologians and philosophers who were influenced by romanticism and German idealism and were skeptical about the Christian faith began to attack the authority of the scriptures. Their fancy expositions seemed scholarly on the surface, but were deeply illogical in content. These "higher critics" loaded their assumptions to predetermine their conclusions. Circular reason is a famous logical fallacy. "I don't believe the Bible, therefore A, therefore B, therefore C, therefore I don't believe the Bible." These skeptics reasoned in a circle to reach a predetermined conclusion.


Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), was one of the first of the "higher critics." He was raised as a German Lutheran pietist. As a pietist, he stressed that the feeling of dependence upon God was the core of religion, and he was not entirely wrong. After all, surrender, trust, and dependence relating to God are indispensable attributes of faith. However, faith is not a feeling – although it may well be accompanied by feelings.

Unfortunately, Schleiermacher insisted that feeling alone is responsible for dogmatic theology. He rejected the role of scripture and rational theology as a source of doctrine. Why? Did he share the pietist reaction against theological rationalism that the pietists dubbed as "Lutheran scholasticism"? That might be part of the answer. However, most pietists did not reject the authority of the scriptures.

Schleiermacher was intellectually influenced by German Idealists Fichte and Schelling. He might have been emotionally influenced by German Romantic culture because he wrote some praises for the Romantic movement. The revolt against reason by the romantics might partly account for the irrationality of the higher critics.

The German Romantic poets emphasized feelings and rejected reason. The German Idealists emphasized the will and the subjective faculties of the mind. Both the Romantics and the Idealists rejected transcendent truth and authorities for truth such as the Bible, the Augsburg Confession, and the teaching of the Lutheran Church. They felt that what is true can only be found subjectively within man. This is exactly what Schleiermacher claimed.

An impossible cosmos

Postmodern liberals still believe Schleiermacher's dictum. Situational ethics, moral relativism, and the cultural relativism of truth claims are based on the idea that the truth must be discovered subjectively.

The relativism of truth claims made it possible for idealist philosopher Georg Hegel (1770-1834) to invent his own cosmos. He argued that the truth changes over time in accordance with his theory of historicism. However, historicism is logically impossible.

No cosmos can exist in which every individual invents his own truth claims. Historicists believe that each generation must subjectively discover its own truth. However, a generation seeking truth subjectively could never agree on its own truth claims because the subjective search for truth requires each person to invent his own truth. Hegel could not invent his own cosmos without implicitly inviting everyone to invent their own cosmos. Any society that invites its people to do this will shatter into fragments and collapse.

Interestingly, postmodern liberal leaders insist that everyone should invent his own truth – yet also demand that everyone should conform to their code of political correctness. This contradiction is not lost on young liberals who feel they have discovered their own individual truth and are due to rebel against the authority of older liberals – just as the higher critics rebelled against the authority of the Bible.

Strauss, Hegel, and Nietzsche

David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874) was influenced by Schleiermacher and Hegel. If dogmatic theology is purely based upon subjective human feelings and not based on the Bible as Schleiermacher claimed, then the Bible must be a collection of myths. Strauss proceeded to "demythologize" the Bible.

Hegel claimed that history is governed by spiritual forces that are impersonal. This assumption explicitly rules out divine revelation and the miraculous intervention of a God who is infinite and personal. Following Hegel, Strauss adopted an anti-supernaturalist position. His demythologizing of the Bible included the reduction of biblical miracles to myths or to events that can be rationally explained. He essentially said, "I don't believe in biblical miracles because I don't believe in miracles of any kind." Circular reasoning.

Strauss claimed that the life of Christ was fabricated by early Christians based upon messianic expectations. This claim was not based upon scholarly examination of documents or the evidence of history. He applied his prior assumptions to the scriptures – and those assumptions were based upon current fads in German philosophy. "The life of Christ in the Bible is a concocted story because I believe the Bible is a collection of myths." Circular reasoning.

An upside down world

By converting the life of Christ to myth and metaphor, Strauss turned the Western spiritual imagination upside down.

During the Middle Ages, metaphors about nature were popular. The thorns on holly represent the crown of the thorns. Holly berries are red to signify the blood of Christ. Birds are metaphors for angels. The griffin – half lion, half eagle – represents the God/man Christ. The pelican represented the sacrifice of Christ because people thought the pelican fed its young with its own blood. The phoenix rose from the ashes as a prototype of the resurrection. These metaphors included the imaginative world of nature of medieval literature.

Notice how all the metaphors ascended from nature to the transcendent spiritual realm – just as the interior columns of gothic churches give one the sense that one is soaring upwards. This was a right-side-up world.

God stocked nature with the metaphors and archetypes of a higher spiritual world. Writers C.S. Lewis and Dallas Willard had a special fascination for how the created world sometimes works as a portal that briefly opens to a transcendent spiritual world to give us a glimpse of heaven. During those rare moments when nature takes on a sacramental sheen, a mediation of sorts between material nature and the spiritual realm can take place. "That which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made, even his power and Godhead, so they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20).

When Strauss insisted that the life of Christ was myth and metaphor, he ruled out a higher spiritual world, and the Western spiritual imagination collapsed in on itself. Instead of projecting beyond nature to God, the Western imagination began to project downwards to earth to find the origin of myths in man. Willard wrote that we are living in an upside-down world. When Strauss wrote that the life of Christ is a myth, the great ship of Western culture listed to the left and began to turn upside down.

The magical thinking of narcissists

How do we explain the breathtaking arrogance of the assertions of Strauss? German philosophical idealism was the great engine of German arrogance.

The idealists held that if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it fall, it makes no noise. For that matter, the tree doesn't exist if no man sees it and accepts its existence. If the mere lack of human acknowledgment can uncreate elements of the creation, it is not surprising that one could presume to dissolve the scripture revelation into myths by mere denials. The magical thinking of idealism inflated the presumptions of Strauss, so that he could blithely wave away biblical miracles and the historicity of the life of Christ with no other grounds than his presumptions.

In spite of the raw presumption of Strauss' assertions, Nietzsche seems to have lost his faith while reading Strauss' Life of Christ. Nietzsche had a God complex and was therefore vulnerable to the magical thinking of Strauss.

Every step of this downward journey of the higher critics was led by narcissists who could not bear to think that there is a being in the heavens who is greater than themselves. It was left to Nietzsche, the supreme narcissist, to declare, "God is dead." He made this declaration prior to going insane.

Insanity is the last refuge of the narcissist. He flees to the sand castles of an imaginary world. That world of sick fantasies is focused upon the inflated self – a self that presumes to be a god.

Feuerbach and Hegel

Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) belonged to a left-wing Hegelian faction in college. Under the influence of Spinoza and Hegel, he became a pantheist, and bitterly rejected the possibility of revelation from a transcendent God. He rejected the Bible and Christian theology and pursued nature like a Romantic poet. He claimed that after death, we are absorbed back into nature – as the romantic pantheists of the day asserted.

Feuerbach adopted Hegel's historicism and claimed that Christianity is a fixed idea that stands athwart the progress of a constantly changing civilization. A fixed truth, of course, contradicts the changing truths of Hegel's fantasy of historicism.

Historicism was the basis of the myth of progress that was the core idea of the cult of modernism. The myth of progress has reigned supreme in the West for most of the last two centuries.

The myth of progress

The myth of progress is based on the assumption that human nature is constantly changing because of the impersonal forces of history. Therefore truth is changing – or at least the truth that applies to man must be changing because man is changing.

If God created man and designed man's nature, the appeal to "progress" and a changing human nature is preposterous. However, if one actually believes in a pantheistic world in constant flux – in which impersonal forces can push the world forward on an irresistible march of progress – one can make sense of such claims.

But how can impersonal forces be creative and have a plan? How can impersonal forces know or care if man makes progress? How can impersonal forces change a personal world? No answer seems to be forthcoming. It is high time for us to be skeptical about the preposterous cosmos that the skeptics have dreamed up.

And what is "progress"? It is the evolution of man and society towards a mythical utopia. What is utopia? The final pantheistic oneness that lies in the future. Such a oneness is presumably the ultimate good. However, pantheists tell us that everything is already a great oneness. If this is true, we already live in a utopia, do we not?

Well, we must have our consciousness raised to recognize the oneness before we can have the utopia. Why? The German idealists said that nothing exists until man recognizes it.

Does anyone believe these strange fables today? Yes. New Agers are trying collectively to raise their consciousness to embrace the "oneness" in order to usher in the New Age utopia. John Lennon envisioned a psychedelic utopia of a world with no nations, no religion, and a never-ending sex orgy among all people. If only we can imagine this – it will magically come true. Why would such a utopia be a good thing? Because Mr. Lennon felt it to be so.

The magical thinking of German idealists and the New Age haze of sex and drugs are the slender threads on which nineteenth and twentieth century men based their faith in the inevitability of progress. Does such a belief evince an irrational mind that will grasp at preposterous ideas in order to find a substitute for Christianity? Yes. The Apostle Paul called it a "reprobate mind."

Hegel's groupies of the right and the left

Feuerbach was hailed by the left-wing Hegelian radicals as a hero of the revolution of 1848 in Germany. In contrast, the right-wing Hegelians backed the established authorities. They believed that the great leader of the state (der fuhrer – or the leader) is at the vanguard of the forces of history.

The historians seemed obsessed with what the left-wing Hegelians did during the revolution of 1848 and routinely ignored the right-wing Hegelians. But it is safe to assume that the right-wing Hegelians were politically aligned against the left-wing Hegelians in 1848.

In the twentieth century, the left-wing Hegelians were absorbed into the Communist parties of the West, and the right-wing Hegelians were absorbed into the Nazi and fascist movements. Opposition to the red menace in Germany fueled Hitler's rise. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1942, he was carrying the implications of the revolution of 1848 to its logical implications. The Nazis, as heirs of the Hegel's right-wing groupies, were at war with the Communists, who were heirs of Hegel's left-wing groupies.

The majority of the men fighting and dying in Europe during World War II fought on the Eastern front where the Nazis fought the Communists. The Western front was a side show until the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944 – which was five years after the outbreak of the war on September 1, 1939, and ten months before the end of the war in Europe on April 7, 1945.

Therefore, it can be argued that World War II was essentially a quarrel between Hegel's right-wing madmen (the Nazis) and Hegel's left-wing madmen (the Communists). More blood was shed in the colossal war between Nazis and Communists than all the other casualties of World War II. For that matter, no war in history was as bloody as the war of Hegel vs. Hegel. It was a war between the two poles of modernism. Modernism is fiercely self-destructive. What traditional Western culture built, schizophrenic modernism has nearly destroyed.

Hegelianism vs. conservatism

Anti-communism played an important role in the formation of conservatism after World War II. The propositions of Karl Marx are a good guide to what the conservatives rejected. By conservatives, I do not mean the right-wing Hegelians. I mean those who championed traditional Western culture and rejected Hegel's fantasies.

Some liberals cannot tell the difference between a conservative and a Nazi because they still have too much of Hegel in them to see beyond the Hegelian spectrum. Progressive liberals and Nazis were ideological second cousins because both spring from the Hegelian tree. The furious conflict between progressive liberals and Nazis was a family quarrel.

Liberals are ideological first cousins, however, with the Communists. This is the basis for the historical liberal sympathy for Communism. The Communists have never returned the favor. They think liberals are "useful idiots."

Communists, Nazis, and progressive liberals are Hegelian. All believe in inevitable progress toward utopia. Conservatives are anti-Hegelian and reject utopian thinking and myths of progress.

Conservatives need to fully realize their intellectual and spiritual independence of the Communist-liberal-Nazi continuum of Hegel's world. Then they will realize that all the departments of the modernist agenda are hostile to their beliefs. Conservatives should join ranks in diametric opposition to modernist delusions. The conservative agenda is to rescue Western civilization and culture from destruction by suicidal modernism. Such deliverance requires the intervention of a savior, namely Jesus Christ.

Marx and Hegel

Immanuel Kant invented a dialectical process for metaphysics. The process was thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. The synthesis of two contrary ideas produces a higher metaphysical idea, Kant reasoned.

Hegel applied this dialectical process to history. He applied thesis, antithesis, and synthesis to impersonal "spiritual forces" instead of metaphysical ideas. The synthesis of opposing spiritual forces purportedly brings about a higher state of being for man and a more advanced civilization. According to Hegel, this "dialectic" is how human progress occurs.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) borrowed the same process and also applied it to history, using economic forces. He rejected Hegel's spiritual forces and said, "Nothing exists but matter in motion." He was a strict atheist and materialist. In order to contrast his system with Hegel's, he called his model "dialectical materialism."

Both Marx and Hegel agreed that the dialectic gradually perfects human nature and leads to utopia. However, Marx claimed that man is perfected by economic forces, while Hegel claimed that man was perfected by impersonal spiritual forces.

Both Marx and Hegel were progressive determinists. They claimed that the forces of history are irresistible, progress is inevitable, human nature will be perfected, and utopia will come. Hegel's determinism and utopianism were the source of the widespread belief in the inevitability of progress. A moderate version of the economic determinism of Marx was popular among liberals in the twentieth century.

Economic determinism

For more than a century after Marx's death, liberals have been obsessed with the idea of economic determinism. Any time a social problem is mentioned, liberals invariably speak of "root causes," meaning economic causes. For example, many liberals claim that poverty is the cause of terrorism. Careful studies have revealed that most terrorists are comparatively affluent and well-educated.

Economic determinism is a radical reduction of highly complex human nature. It is a crude caricature of human nature. Even worse, it is often used to deny that man has a nature. Economic determinism implicitly reduces man to modeling clay to be molded by economic forces and to become anything those forces decree. If economic determinism is true, then we are all programmed automatons. The invisible hands of our economic class have made us what we are. This is a myth created by magical thinking, of course.

Social justice

John Edwards' "Two Americas" speech (2004) is an expression of three Marxist concepts: economic root causes, social justice, and class warfare. Edwards tells us that affluent America is composed of a different kind of people than working class America, because economics determines what we become. If Edwards actually believes this mummery, he is deluded about human nature.

The divide between affluent and poor is presumably unjust. Why? According to social justice presumptions, affluent America is molded to be something better than what the working class and the poor are molded to be. Therefore, the working class suffer unjust privations and have a "right" to a "better life" – i.e., the right to have more money. These social justice ideas are absurd, unless one first subscribes to the Marxist idea of economic determinism.

Social justice ideas instigate antagonism between the social classes. Marx actually encouraged class warfare because he thought it was the engine of progress. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, etc.

Class warfare

The great sin of the Democratic Party for the last eighty years is the use of class warfare to win elections. Class warfare is the Marxist program. Marx said that feudalism produced a warfare between the aristocracy and the peasantry. This conflict purportedly led to a new synthesis that produced capitalism. Capitalism produced a warfare between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, Marx believed. The bourgeoisie (French for city dweller) possessed the means of production, such as a steel factory. The proletariat (French for iron worker) provided their labor for a wage. The conflict between bourgeoisie and proletariat is alleged to lead to a synthesis called socialism – which is government control of the means of production.

The kind of socialism that Marx called for was "the dictatorship of the proletariat." A deliberately harsh socialist regime was required to perfect human nature. The extermination of the evil characteristics of the bourgeoisie was a top priority. Lenin and Mao Tse Tung thought it was their duty to exterminate the bourgeoisie – and tens of millions of people were thus murdered on the basis of their economic class.

Did the dictatorship of the proletariat perfect human nature during the seventy-year run of the Soviet Union? Well, one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union was that no one any longer believed that human nature was being perfected by totalitarian socialism. Corruption was everywhere, alcoholism and suicide were common, and the Russian family was in ruins.

What was the cause of the Russian despair? "They did more than take our youth away. They took away the men we were going to be." (Source: Dead Men Russian, book review in Touchstone, September 2007, of the book House of Meetings by Martin Amis.)

A rule I formulated after I read Francis Schaefer in the 70's is: "Any idea which is false about human nature inflicts injury on people to the extent it is believed and acted upon." The damage is further multiplied if the false idea is forced upon the people by a dictatorial government. The false ideas of Marx have caused more human despair and led more people to ruin than any other ideological notions ever propagated on this earth.

Russell Kirk responds

Through the generations, conservatives fighting a rear guard battle have responded piecemeal to the lies of higher criticism, modernism, Hegel, and Marx. In America, the debunkers of Communism have been particularly conspicuous. The incomparably quotable G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a piecemeal debunker of modernism who is memorable for his wit. A less witty but more comprehensive opponent of modernism soon appeared by the name of Russell Kirk.

Russell Kirk (1918-1994) was more than a modern Edmund Burke keeping traditionalist conservatism alive. He was more than a systematic version of Chesterton who had come to do a more thorough job of refuting the fallacies of modernism. He was more than an advocate of the Western literary classics. Kirk was a great synthesizer of the age-old strands of conservatism. He appeared in history just when he was needed the most – when the cause of conservatism was on the ropes.

Kirk was guided by eight general principles, all of which contradict the ideas of modernism that we have been considering. (The eight principles are quoted from Conservative Fundamentals, a book review in Touchstone by Gillis Harp on The Essential Russell Kirk by George Panichas.)

1) There is "a transcendent moral order." There is universal moral law that is transcendent to man and human society. This law applies to all men in all places and at every moment of history. Ethical principles and the capacity for virtue are inherent in the Creator's design. The individual and the society must honor these laws and principles if there is to be freedom, order, and human flourishing. Rejection of these laws can have consequences that are fatal to the individual and catastrophic to society. Christian conservatives and Natural Law conservatives heartily agree with Kirk about the transcendent moral order.

If there is a transcendent moral order, then it is reasonable to think that God can reveal his order to man by sending his anointed one, the Christ, from heaven to teach us, and by giving revelations to his apostles and prophets.

If there is a transcendent moral order, the historicism of Hegel and Marx is unreasonable. Universal truth is fixed and contradicts the assertion of a changing truth.

2) A society is a "community of souls" stretching back to the primordial past.

Our forefathers still live through us in our inherited wisdom and inherited culture. They live through us and we live in them in mysterious spiritual ways. When we are cut off from our forebears, we become orphans and strangers in the world and lose our capacity for authentic community. Abandoned on the shores of a vast alien world, we suffer alienation, anomie, and acedia.

The old Western idea of honor originally meant the honor of family. Purely individualist honor is a decadent modern version of honor.

The idea of the family included many generations of the living and the dead. The honor of the family was celebrated by a coat of arms with a family motto. The family honor was at stake in the life of one carrying the family name. Children were taught how to behave so as not to dishonor the family. Every Southern boy in the nineteenth century was exhorted by his mother to become a Southern gentleman – and was exhorted by his father to become a man of honor.

The Western Christian origin of the idea of family honor was a spiritual grace passing down through the family line. Before the light of the gospel came to Europe, the worship of ancestors centering on the hearth prevailed in the Roman world. A tribal warrior cult that preserved the memory of heroes prevailed in the pagan North.

3) Deference should be given to the wisdom of our ancestors. C. S. Lewis spoke of the "tyranny of the present" by which modernists give preference to the contemporary ideas over older ideas. Lewis believed that stopping our ears to the voices of the past is a sure road to folly. The deep folly manifested in our contemporary popular culture is in part the result of a turning away from the Western past and stopping our ears to the voices of our parents and our ancestors.

Edmund Burke spoke of the social fabric woven by the wisdom of past ages that provides a lush culture for the nourishment of human nature. Once the social fabric is broken by liberal social engineering projects, it is difficult to restore.

4) A measured prudence should guide political change. Hastily designed social programs often are unsuccessful and breed unexpected social problems. For example, Section 8 housing often brings drug dealers and teen gangs to the suburbs. The social problems of slum neighborhoods are reproduced in middle-class neighborhoods. Welfare programs that reward idleness and penalize marriage have done much to destroy the black working-class family.

The destruction of traditional society and culture is most striking in Communist countries, but it is also quite notable in the socialist countries in Europe. Socialists specialize is social engineering experiments – the very the antithesis of Kirk's measured prudence in political change.

Modernists are addicted to the cult of change. Many politicians assume the voters will prefer the candidate most likely to bring "change" – even if that candidate is vague about what the change will be. A bias for "change" works against rationality in the design of legislation. Measured prudence is required for rationality to triumph over haste and political pressure.

5) Accept class differences. Class conflict is destructive. Ideas about "social justice" based upon leveling fantasies of utopian thinkers are pernicious. From Karl Marx to John Edwards, the left has been poisoning political discourse with class conflict and social justice ideas.

An unequal distribution of talent, ability, wisdom, and fortune is natural to man. A difference in economic fortunes among men is not evil. It is natural. The Puritans called it "God's economy" and his providential ordering of the world. Social traditionalists regarded social classes as the natural order of things.

Literary traditionalists have taught that social classes are essential to a high culture and a brilliant civilization. This is difficult to dispute when we consider that: (a) the Renaissance was a cultural transformation of the aristocracy, and (b) the leveling tendencies of modernism have been accompanied by a sharp decline in the quality of culture, as Alexis de Tocqueville predicted.

6) Cherish private property. Intellectual historian Richard Weaver (1910-1963) said that private property provides a refuge for the individual from the utilitarian state and from the materialist forces of commerce. I would add, property is a sanctuary for the family in an anti-family world. God's blessings are upon the homes of godly families.

The home is a refuge against crime. Property owners demand law and order because the criminal is the enemy of the rights of the property owner.

According to Weaver, property encourages personal responsibility and providence in the long-term maintenance and improvement of property. The sheer toil, planning, and expense required to administer and maintain property develops a sense of personal responsibility.

Interestingly, Weaver believes that property encourages rationality. A return to reason is necessary before citizens are able to hearken to a man of principle who is running for political office. A man of principle who leads a rational people is indispensable for freedom, order, and the viability of a republic.

Property encourages a sense of the neighborhood and of the community. A piece of property is a fixed point with links to the past and the future. It provides a stable refuge from Hegel's nightmare world of continuous flux. As one is blessed on his property, he enjoys a heritage from the past, and is made aware that he will pass on his property as a legacy to future generations.

Property invites the expression of personal individuality and creativity as one embellishes one's house and cultivates one's yard. In the privacy of one's property, one exercises his volition, carries out his plans, experiments with his ideas, and learns what it means to be free. That freedom is hedged about within the wholesome limits of prudent property management. Finally, property provides a place for the display and storage of memories, which I learned as I sorted my parent's attic.

7) The need for order is the primary social need. Liberals and libertarians do not understand the pressing need for order, but most conservatives have always understood it in the marrow of their bones.

The worst of all worlds is anarchy. The second worst condition is the tyranny of protection rackets. Strong men and their gangs take control of the streets, rule through intimidation, and loot the people through protection money, extortion, and the exploitation of vice.

The foremost purpose of government is to bring order, suppress crime, and protect the citizens from foreign aggressors. Only then is civilization possible.

Oratorical lines like "government is [inherently] the problem," and "government is a necessary evil" are purely libertarian. Conservatives have traditionally believed that the state is good because it is ordained of God – yet also believe that the legitimate role of government in human affairs is limited.

8) Human nature is flawed and is not perfectible. The best of men face an inner battle between good and evil. Therefore, man is a contradiction. One reason for reading the literary classics is to learn about the complex and contradictory nature of man.

Liberal social engineering programs are based on the utopian notion that government can perfect human nature. This idea is based on Rousseau's theory that man is naturally good and that he can be perfected by external influences.

The young Ronald Reagan abandoned liberalism when he noticed that government social programs make men worse and inevitably backfire with disruptive unintended consequences. Man is damaged when he is manipulated according to false ideas about human nature.

A message from Stephen Stone, President, RenewAmerica

I first became acquainted with Fred Hutchison in December 2003, when he contacted me about an article he was interested in writing for RenewAmerica about Alan Keyes. From that auspicious moment until God took him a little more than six years later, we published over 200 of Fred's incomparable essays — usually on some vital aspect of the modern "culture war," written with wit and disarming logic from Fred's brilliant perspective of history, philosophy, science, and scripture.

It was obvious to me from the beginning that Fred was in a class by himself among American conservative writers, and I was honored to feature his insights at RA.

I greatly miss Fred, who died of a brain tumor on August 10, 2010. What a gentle — yet profoundly powerful — voice of reason and godly truth! I'm delighted to see his remarkable essays on the history of conservatism brought together in a masterfully-edited volume by Julie Klusty. Restoring History is a wonderful tribute to a truly great man.

The book is available at

© Fred Hutchison


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They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31