Christian origins of progress

We rightly criticize that theory of progress in which may be seen a false religion seeking to substitute itself for Christianity.

But it is necessary to remember that the idea of religious progress is Christian in origin and that it is only a secularized and distorted version of the Messianic idea of the Christian search for the Kingdom of God. The idea of progress belongs to the sphere of religious teleology which regards history as having an absolute meaning and goal. Seen from the angle of positivism this idea is in reality void of all interest and presents an obvious contradiction. Positivism has no room for a conception of evolution save one which has neither goal nor meaning. This is a long-established an elementary truth. But insufficient attention is paid to the fact that the idea of progress, that is to say, of movement, of the march of history towards an absolute and supreme goal, has only been made possible by Christianity, and that the idea could never have arisen in ancient Greece.

Nikolai Berdyaev, Freedom and the Spirit, pp. 303-4

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