Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2014

Degree Type



Religious Studies

Director of Thesis

James Cutsinger

First Reader

Daniel Buxhoeveden


Western Christian groups are losing significant numbers of adherents in the area formerly known as Christendom (Western Europe and European-dominated former colonies), a trend which seems to be quickening with time. In addition, the same Western Christian denominations are in the midst of an unprecedented period of fragmentation, with many splitting over questions of doctrine and practice. More controversially, traditionalists both within the Western churches and outside of them have claimed that the Western denominations are also experiencing a qualitative decline, asserting that the Christianity of the West has been doctrinally compromised. This thesis posits an underlying philosophical reason for this decline, one which is associated with work of the Enlightenment thinker René Descartes. Through a historical survey of Christian anthropology and analysis of human faculties, this thesis will establish the centrality of doctrines concerning human capacities in Christianity and demonstrate why a change to them would almost inevitably lead to decline.