Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"To say that religion is bankrupt because a great war has occurred in the sphere of its influence would be absurd. But this is only the last blow of a long and heavy series; it is the culmination of a most destructive experience; it is, above all, a test, and a deadly test, of the new defences which the clergy had hastily constructed in the positions upon which they had been compelled to retire. Many said that the controversies of the past half-century had shown
them to be intellectually bankrupt. At least, they answered, we are morally and socially solvent, and you cannot dispense with us. The war has shattered their moral prestige and completed their defeat."
"That is what I here propose to show. In order to realise the full force of the blow under which the Churches reel to-day one must appreciate the long preparation for it. It is this lengthy preparation, this steady lowering through many decades of the prestige and power of the clergy, that I set out to describe. First I will put in plain and concise form the moral of the war itself, and glance at the recent apologies of clerical and other writers. Then, in four convenient sections, I will summarily describe the great struggles of the nineteenth, and early part of the twentieth, century. Having this material before him, any thoughtful person can appreciate correctly the position of religion in our life; and in the last chapters I will candidly meet the anxiety of those who imagine that the Christian creed, however slender its influence and poor its representation, cannot be replaced. There is a more solid and more thrilling creed that only awaits its chance."