English: In his 1952 Reith Lectures on the British Broadcasting Corporation, “The World and
the West”, the eminent London historian Professor Arnold Toynbee sought to explain
inter alia why western European hegemony over much of the world was widely resented.
His interpretation incorporated the “challenge and response” theory of successive
civilisations which underlay his multi-volume A Study of History. Toynbee’s
lectures drew sharp criticism from many quarters, not least because he gave the impression
that the era of Western hegemony was waning and that much of the momentum
of world history was moving to the East. This in itself was a controversial perception
in the Cold War. In some Christian circles, his overarching interpretation was
rejected as historiographically flawed. In the ensuing debate, the prominent English
Roman Catholic historian and publisher Douglas Jerrold argued in his The Lie about
the West: A Response to Professor Toynbee’s Challenge that he had unjustly underestimated
the endurance of Christian civilisation and failed to recognise its inherent value as the
source of many fundamental values which should not be surrendered to supposedly
inexorable historical processes.