No God on the Horizon? Voegelin, Buber and Bonhoeffer and the Moment of Surrender

35 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2010

See all articles by Meins G. S. Coetsier

Meins G. S. Coetsier

Ghent University, Etty Hillesum Research Center

Date Written: August 20, 2010


In a time when the faith and freedom of men and women in Europe are challenged by radical atheism and by the fanaticism of secularists, religious extremists and political fundamentalists, public discourse reconsiders the possibility that there is simply “no God on the horizon”. This paper is an attempt to meditate on the secularism rampant in Europe, and builds upon rational and religious insight into the moral potential and mystical dimension of human beings, who seek to resist the attempt of modern-day ideologies and of radical atheism to make history without God and to found it on the strength of man alone. Additionally, this study documents the religious-political commotion in the Netherlands, particularly the open confrontations about Islam by Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom party. By using terms such as “the multicultural nightmare,” “the mass immigration” and “the Islamization,” Wilders attempts to order society and history according to an “anti-Islam” principle and the struggle of races and/or religion. History has taught us that such principles can only lead to severe disorder and destruction. For those of us who like to conserve the divine ordering of human (political) life in the West, few thinkers of the Nazi period have surpassed Voegelin, Buber and Bonhoeffer in opposing the brutal dishonesty at the core of totalitarian movements. Their diagnosis of the “eclipse of reality,” the “eclipse of God,” and the disorder at the root of closed societies was matched by a common concern about the philosophical and theological resources for the rediscovery and defense of human civilization.

Keywords: God, Voegelin, Buber, Bonhoeffer, Philosophy, Theology, Religion, Ethics, Islam, Secularism, Europe, Dutch Politics, Geert Wilders

Suggested Citation

Coetsier, Meins G. S., No God on the Horizon? Voegelin, Buber and Bonhoeffer and the Moment of Surrender (August 20, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Meins G. S. Coetsier (Contact Author)

Ghent University, Etty Hillesum Research Center ( email )

Sint-Pietersplein 6
Ghent, 9000


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