3 Stunning Truths About Christianity and The (Secular) West

The Secular West Has a Christian Foundation.

Islam is in the news a lot these days.

Sadly, much of the coverage is negative. Self-identified Islamic militants are causing havoc across the world, from Paris to Baghdad, from Pakistan to Orlando.

Now obviously not all Muslims are militants – most just want to live in peace.

But some secular commentators see the problem of Islamist violence as nothing more than the misuse and abuse of Islam (a ‘religion of peace’). In this view, all religions are equally good: the only problem is fanatics and radicals twisting  (good) religion for their own perverted ends.

But if the only problem is fanatics twisting religion – and fanatics are presumably found in every religion – then wouldn’t you expect to see equal numbers of such fanatics causing havoc around the world in the name of another religion, like Christianity?

Where is the Christian Al-Quaeda, the Christian Al-Shabab, or the Christian ISIS?

Why aren’t western Christians heading to such organisations, like western Muslims are to IS?

Notre Dame Cathedral (Photo courtesy of Canva.com)

Notre Dame Cathedral (Photo courtesy of Canva.com)

In a recent article, Egyptian-born American scholar of Islam, Raymond Ibrahim, makes a provocative claim:

Because Christianity is radically different to Islam, it has a different effect on individuals and societies. Just look at the western world. 

And this leads to 3 stunning truths about Christianity and the secular west:

1) Without Christianity, The Modern Western World (As We Know It) Wouldn’t Exist

Western views of morality and human rights arose from a Christian view of reality.

Writing against the common secularist view that Christianity had no positive impact on the development of the western world, Ibrahim writes:

Forgotten (or suppressed) is that Western civilization did not develop in a vacuum.  All values prized by the modern West—religious freedom, tolerance, humanism, gender equality, monogamy—are inextricably rooted to Judeo-Christian principles which, over the course of some 2,000 years, have had a profound influence on Western epistemology, society and culture.

He continues:

While they are now taken for granted and seen as “universal,” it’s not for nothing that these values were born and nourished in Christian—not Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, or pagan—nations.”

French Atheist philosopher Luc Ferry has also written about Christianity’s impact on democracy and human rights:

Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity – an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.’

That’s not what you find in the Islamic world.

2) Christians Don’t Have to Become ‘Moderate’ to Fit Peacefully Into the Western World

But many Muslims do.

In western societies, we’re rightly concerned about ‘radical’ Muslims – the ones that hold to Sharia law, the subservience of women and non-Muslims, and are anti-democratic. Yet this is Islam as it’s practiced across much of the Muslim world – from Saudi Arabia to Somalia.

And so, we hope and expect that Muslims in our country would be ‘moderate’ – meaning westernised in some way – not wanting to impose Sharia law on the rest of us, and adopting western views of human rights.

But as Ibrahim points out, when it comes to Christians,

Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, Christians don’t have to “moderate” their religion to coexist peacefully in the secular West… there are no “moderate” and “radical” Christians.    The teachings of their holy book comport quite well with the laws governing society (unsurprisingly so, since many of these laws are based on the principles of that book).”

My Christian view of human dignity fits extremely well with western views of human dignity because Christianity is largely the basis for these views.

3) There is No ‘Univeral Moral Code’ that All Religions/Cultures Hold To

Different religions have different worldviews, leading to different moral codes.

Many secular commentators naively assume western human rights (arising from a Judeo-Christian view of reality) are universally held across religions and cultures.

This is demonstrably false. Just visit a Hindu country, with its oppressive caste system, and it’s view of Karma. Or a Muslim country, with its view of women, and non-Muslims.

Ibrahim understands why these differences exist:

Overlooked is that the Muslim has his own unique and ancient worldview and set of principles—which in turn prompt behavior that is deemed “radical” by Western standards…

Should We Value The Source Of Western Morality?

If Christianity has had such a positive impact on our western world – especially on the rights and morals we hold dear – then shouldn’t our society have a higher view of Christianity?

After all, if Christianity is responsible for our view of human dignity, then what happens when Christianity leaves the western building? 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “3 Stunning Truths About Christianity and The (Secular) West

  1. Things are done under the banner of christianity in the past and the present which have been horrific.The crusades were one of these events,more recently theof children from parents removal and the more current the abuse of children. This might not be part of a so called war but those who were torn apart inside surely felt like it to them and its all been done by those society originally trusted I am one of the abused.
    Thankfully I have come to know what was done to me was not a example of who God or His loveis but a true example of how evil humans are with out God.

    • Hey Trev!

      Yep, sadly many things have been done in the name of God that have grieved Him deeply. I’m very sorry to hear what happened to you – I could not imagine going through something like that. I’m so glad that through it all you know God’s amazing love…

      Yep, people can be so evil…

      • “If Christianity has had such a positive impact on our western world – especially on the rights and morals we hold dear – then shouldn’t our society have a higher view of Christianity?
        After all, if Christianity is responsible for our view of human dignity, then what happens when Christianity leaves the western building?”

        In what i will call the “new” western society the many forms of Christianity has diluted the moral issue with all life style rights being meant through false gospel teaching, with this happening its become a supermarket of churches trying to meet customer demand so why western society want to hold to it.
        Will true Christianity ever leave the western building no why because God is in control His world and His plans are far greater than ours but we must continue to shine like lights in this world sharing the true hope that God has shown us through His son Jesus and lead a life that reflects this.
        It is how I came to know the truth of Gods love and its depth through the life my mother lead and her daily pray and continued conversations about Jesus in my life knowing the horrors she went through her peace could only come from God a God who is in the business of saving the broken and healing them.At the age of nine the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I surrendered my life to Christ.

        A good short video on morality is
        http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library/what-is-morality-other-than-harm

    • Thanks again for your thought-provoking comment, Trev!

      Yep, liberal Christianity is dying, not least because it doesn’t offer anything worth giving up your Sunday (or your life!) for.

      God bless,

      Akos

  2. Christians are moderate because of their attachment to Christ and the Christian Faith. Muslims are moderate because of their detachment from Muhammad and the Muslim Faith. Just look at the life example set by one man and one man-God.

    The Crusades are grossly misunderstood. Sure, atrocities were committed in the name of God, and throughout the period. However, the First Crusade as endorsed by Pope Urban II in 1095 A.D., was in response to 400 years of Muslim expansionism (including appropriating 3 of 5 Christendom Capitals by the end of the 7th century), and the appropriation of the Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the city itself; to which Christian pilgrims were being denied access (as the holiest of Christian relics) and suffering persecution too. The First Crusade was about clearing access to this church, for the pilgrims; and pushing out the Muslim invaders across Europe.

    The problem is, what the Muslims appropriate they presume to be their property in perpetuity. Hence the to and fro in the Crusades. This is further evidenced in the fact IS perceives countries like Spain (the historical Emirate of Córdoba, for example, under the Muslim Caliphate from 622-750 A.D.), as rightly belonging to Muslims.

    No doubt the Catholic Church is no Innocent, but neither is it the great villain of this period of religious wars.

    Churches which have protected child abusers have probably arisen from a misguided sense of forgiveness on one hand, and on the other a fearful unwillingness to confront the sinfulness in its midst. It’s also probably easier to sweep it under the carpet than purge it. But oft-times it is harder to do the right thing over and above the wrong thing. One involves “do nothing”; the other takes mighty effort and intent. And, lastly, maybe, there was a culture of believe the perpetrator and not the victim. These points could contribute to the reason, but certainly serve as no excuse. By no means!

    No, any proven child abusers, should be purged and disassociated from the church, and handed over to the judicial system to face their crimes and receive due punishment. The Sanctuary Laws of the past demonstrate a church may provide protection against persecution, but not protection against justice.

    How can the church strive to be salt and light in this world, if it lets evil persist in its midst?

    • Hi Matt!

      ‘Christians are moderate because of their attachment to Christ and the Christian Faith. Muslims are moderate because of their detachment from Muhammad and the Muslim Faith. Just look at the life example set by one man and one man-God.’

      Very, very well said.

      God bless,

      Akos

  3. Thanks for this thought-provoking article.

    On the topic, I can highly recommend a book by Indian historian Vishal Mangalwadi called The Book That Made Your World – How the Bible created the sould of Western civilisation. It has completely changed the way I see the world.

    • Thanks Harriet!

      Yep, read it a few years ago. Excellent book…I might get it out and blog from it…

      Akos