The controversy as to the nature of his religious opinions, arising as it did chiefly out of his connexion with the Encyclopaedia, has no longer any living interest now that the Encyclopaedists generally have ceased to be regarded with unqualified suspicion by those who count themselves orthodox.
In the Observations sur les ecrits modernes (1735-1743) Desfontaines held the gates of Philistia for eight years against the Encyclopaedists, and even the redoubtable Voltaire himself.
Here he remained till 1862, reading widely on his own account, and giving special attention to the works of the French encyclopaedists and to modern French history.
It was to their credit, indeed, that the encyclopaedists attacked them as the foremost representatives of Christianity, but they are accountable in no small degree in France, as in England, for alienating the minds of men from the religion for which they professed to work.
The Romantic movement helped, with its idealization of a past but vaguely realized and imperfectly understood, and Chateaubriand heralded in the Catholic reaction with his Genie du Christianisme (1801) a brilliant if superficial attack on the encyclopaedists and their neo-Paganism, and a glorification of the Christian Church as supreme not only in the regions of faith and morals, but also in those of intellect and art.