Arnold Toynbee: The Man and His Message -- By: Kenneth O. Gangel

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 134:533 (Jan 1977)
Article: Arnold Toynbee: The Man and His Message
Author: Kenneth O. Gangel


Arnold Toynbee:
The Man and His Message

Kenneth O. Gangel

[Kenneth O. Gangel, President, Miami Christian College, Miami, Florida.]

At the end of the nineteenth century almost all phases of Western thought and life were riding the crest of the Utopian wave, quite unaware that that wave was soon to crash on the rock-bound shore of a world war. Theologians, economists, and politicians alike shared the historians’ view that depicted the historical development of the world as a definite redemption through progress. The fashionable approach to history in those days of optimism was that which “regarded the historical development of man’s power and freedom as the solution for every human perplexity and as the way of emancipation from every human evil.”1 Scientific development and technological advance had now risen to power from their embryonic concept in the matrix of Renaissance awareness. Man had finally found his redeemer through the simple act of looking into his mirror; the future was secure and indeed, security was guaranteed by the future.

To be sure, not every voice in the chorus sang in harmony with the rest. The inherent pessimism of Romanticism found nineteenth-century expression in men such as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Nor were all agreed as to the process of the redemptive progress. Some followed Hegelian “freedom” in their expectation of what Science would do to produce the Utopian state. Others found a much shorter route in the revolutionary socialism of Marx whereby the inevitable could be hastened by an awakened proletariat throwing off the chains of the bourgeois, which fettered the process of production and stifled the vitality necessary for the materialistic millennium. Despite the differences and dissents, however, the prevailing

optimism was able to transmute the influence of these voices into a conformity with the refrain of the hour: History is the record of man’s progress and achievement toward the desirable destination of a perfectly happy existence.

Arnold Toynbee: His Life and Literature

Into this kind of a world Arnold Joseph Toynbee was born in England in 1889. His education included schooling at Winchester College, and Balliol College of Oxford University where he served as a fellow and tutor from 1912 to 1915. In the latter years he entered the British government service spending four years in the political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, and in 1919 he became a member of the Middle Eastern Section of the British delegation to the Paris Peace Conference.

The literary achievements of Arnold Toynbee are staggering. Hi...

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