Christianity, Pros and Cons
From the desk of Fjordman on Wed, 2007-08-29 07:54
Blogger Vanishing American continues what is gradually becoming one of the most important discussions of our age: What role does, or should, Christianity play in Western civilization? Is it the bedrock of our culture, as Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch thinks, and is our decline associated with abandoning it? Or is Christianity, as John Derbyshire puts it, a religion for once and future slaves, an ideology that is now fueling globalist ideals and undermining our borders through mass immigration?
The Christian-non-Christian divide is perhaps the most difficult divide to overcome within the West today. I’m struggling with this myself. Some of the criticism of Christianity, or at least the way many Western Christians are behaving now, is legitimate. I have heard Catholics claim that Multiculturalism and Political Correctness are tied to Protestant culture. I’m willing to consider that possibility. There are significant doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants regarding redemption and the sinful nature of man. Maybe some of this is tied to the Protestant concept of “salvation through Faith alone.” However, when it comes to just plain old-fashioned dhimmitude and abandoning national borders, Catholics are at least as bad as Protestants.
The Second Vatican Council from the 1960s was good for reaching out to Christians of other denominations, Protestant and Orthodox, and for reaching out to Jews. The problematic aspect is in relations to Islam. The big Achilles’ heel of Christians in general, and of Jews, when confronted with Islam is the idea of a “shared community of monotheists worshiping the God of Abraham.” As long as this myth is maintained, Christianity can actually in certain situations be a bridge for Islam to enter the West, rather than a bulwark against it. I have seen more than once Christians making common cause with Muslims as “men of faith” against the godless forces of secularism. I notice, however, that Christians hardly ever do the same with, say, Hindus, so it must have something to do with a shared sense of monotheism.
Christianity is growing fast in South Korea. It is interesting to see how newly converted Christians react in non-Western nations. I’ve been critical of Christianity sometimes because it is one of the impulses behind the Western inability to protect our borders, and it is. But it is Christianity within a specific cultural-ideological context that reacts like this. Koreans don’t have the same problem, as far as I know. Nor did we, until the 1960s and 70s. So what changed? It can’t all be related to Christianity, can it?
These days we hear so many arguments against Christianity, such as from the ‘proselytizing atheists’ like Dawkins and Hitchens, and then we hear the arguments from the secular right which attack Christianity for being too pacifistic. The atheists claim that Christianity fomented violence, and that it is as militant and bloodthirsty as Islam, or in fact worse, and on the other side, we hear that Christianity is a religion of slaves, which weakens and emasculates the West. So Christianity gets it from both sides; it’s too militant, it causes wars and persecutions, and at the same time, it's a religion that turns men into milquetoast pacifists. Does this make any sense?
Christianity contains elements of both militancy and pacifism, but it is not one or the other. […] We know that our forefathers did not believe Christianity commanded them to be pacifists, or to erase borders and nations. To assert that they, for centuries, were wrong and that we are the first generation to really understand Christianity and the Bible is arrogant in the extreme. If anything, we today, on the average, are far more ignorant than our ancestors where the Bible and the faith are concerned. If anybody is wrongly handling the word of God, it is likely to be us, not our forefathers. Their brains were at least not addled by nonsense and Political Correctness, and I trust the consensus of our forefathers through the centuries rather than the consensus among today’s compromised generation.
In a comment on VA’s blog one of his readers writes:
I used to be a devout, practicing Christian. Today, I cannot recognize myself in any brand of Christianity currently available. Nor am I alone. Many of my friends tell me: “I can't enter any church now without having to leave my brain at the door.”
In this regard, the evangelist, fundamentalist churches are no better than the liberal ones. I once attended a presentation at a nearby Pentecostal church about Third World poverty. The cause? Lack of infrastructure. All we had to do was dig deeper into our pockets and the problem would be solved.
I’m sorry to say this but the cause is deeply rooted and largely intractable, at least in the short term. We will not help the world’s poor by welcoming them to our shores. We will simply destroy ourselves in the process.
John Derbyshire is more right than wrong. Yes, medieval Christianity had no qualms about resisting invaders, but medieval Christians (as Protestants love to point out) had adulterated their faith with pagan beliefs. Over the past few centuries, Christianity has stripped itself of its pagan accretions. In the process, it has become as much a threat to ourselves and our loved ones as Marxism used to be, if not more so.
That sounds like a harsh judgment. It is.
Submitted by DR Wills on Mon, 2007-09-03 18:35.
Where you wrote: "Any interpretation will do. As long as I don't have to take this litteraly [sic]"; evidently, you inisist that God's Word must conform to your own preferences. How can you therefore understand God's meaning? God is willing to lead you to know and understand the Truth, but he is not willing for you to dictate what is Truth.
Hundreds of years after Moses wrote the book of Exodus, Jeremiah wrote:
"In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity:.." (Jer. 31:29, 30a).
Indeed, the Bible has more to say, and important, concerning vanderheyden's prejudiced 'question'. Nevertheless, your answer is at best misleading; as is, also, your statement that, "Now there're only two commandments:..". For, none knows what "love" is, in truth, without knowing the Word of God.
Submitted by DR Wills on Mon, 2007-09-03 03:31.
In every meaningful discussion involving Christianity, it is imperative to distinguish genuine--that is, Biblical--Christianity from every pretender to that name. Here is but one important example. Recently, I asked a very young boy if God could hear his prayers. "Yes", he said. I then asked him to pray as quietly as he could, and yet loudly enough so that God could still hear him pray. As he barely whispered his prayer, his younger sister sat within three or four feet of him, listening attentively. When he finished praying, I asked his sister if she could hear the words her brother had just prayed. "Some of them", she answered. I then asked the boy if he was certain that God had heard his whispered prayer. "Yes, Sir", he confidently said.
Now, Catholicism insists that one can and should pray to various 'saints'. What must such 'saints' be, if they are capable to hear the whispered prayers of a child? Must not they be many gods? Catholicism is a syncretism of polytheism all dressed up in pseudo-Christian garb.
How can anyone hope to rightly understand Christianity's role in society, apart from knowing what is--and isn't Christian? The Touchstone of Christianity is the Bible itself--the revealed Word of God. And, no, the Bible does not lend itself to as many 'interpretations' as there are individuals who read it. God, in his Word, reveals Truth to those who come to him with an open mind and a sincere heart, who honestly and earnestly seek to know the living God. Without the Bible, there were no 'Christianity'. With the Bible, Christianity is what God says it is.
Submitted by peter vanderheyden on Mon, 2007-09-03 12:54.
"The Touchstone of Christianity is the Bible itself--the revealed Word of God. And, no, the Bible does not lend itself to as many 'interpretations' as there are individuals who read it."
(Exo 20:5 NRSV) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,
Excuse me for my weekness, but I like a bit of interpretation here. Any interpretation will do. As long as I don't have to take this litteraly.
@pvh re. Exo 20:5
Submitted by logicalman on Mon, 2007-09-03 16:45.
It means God will punish children of those who reject Him. As simple as that.
Now one could say "that's not fair". But then one has to keep in mind the Jews entered into a covenant with their God - to follow his laws in return for benedictions including manna from heaven for 40 years, victory against their enemies in Canaan.
The bible documents God's dealings with his covenant people, good and bad things alike. God gave up on them in 607 BCE and again in 70 CE with the destruction of Jerusalem. No more Mosaic law. Now there're only two commandments: love God and love your neighbors. How hard is it to understand these two?
the problem is that
Submitted by kristof on Sun, 2007-09-02 01:49.
the problem is that christian beliefs can be used for all kinds of causes. The mad french leftist l'Abbé Pierre was a christian but his brand of christianity doesn't have anything to do with the conservatism of christian groups in Britain for example. Was he less of christian because he was a leftist ?
"I have heard Catholics claim that Multiculturalism and Political Correctness are tied to Protestant culture."
that's because they have never been to France. In the most politically correct and masochistic nation of Europe being a catholic and a nationalist or patriot is the worst thing one can be. And yet lots of frenchmen still consider themselves catholic
"It can’t all be related to Christianity, can it?"
no it's racial. You could turn South Korea into a christian nation and you wouldn't be able to fill them with racial guilt by yelling 'Racism!' and push them to abolish their borders. During the Cold War the leftists in our countries poisoned our minds in a more subtle and destructive manner than the leftists on the other side of the iron curtain did to their own populations.
The soviet tyranny was brutal but stupid, only fear made it survive for so long. Our liberal tyranny is soft and clever, it makes us feel morally good every time we kill ourselves little by little and worse we think we're free or like to pretend that we are even though our countries are being turned into anti-western tyrannies. We have been led to feel - not to believe, this isn't a rational thought - that our survival is a sin.
In slavic countries right now you'll have a hard time making them swallow multiculturalism and mass immigration of non-europeans. They lived under soviet regimes and yet they're culturally and nationally healthier than us.
"We know that our forefathers did not believe Christianity commanded them to be pacifists, or to erase borders and nations."
that's because back in those days we were more than christians, we didn't put christian feelings above all other considerations, we were men not simply adherents to a religion. All western peoples had a collective consciousness that included religion but a lot of other things too.
People who only see the world through the lens of religion are incomplete and dangerous for their own kind. If you believe the only thing that matters is if you believe in Jesus then millions of mexicans are our brothers by virtue of their cultural catholicism. But you don't want to live among mexicans and you realize that by experiencing their presence as a real ethnic group that behaves in a certain manner, not by pretending that our souls are equal in the eyes of God.
Europe is the faith
Submitted by gornahoor on Sat, 2007-09-01 16:10.
It's unfortunate that this "debate" festers, since it has been addressed and resolved, most recently by Charles Maurras and Julius Evola last century. It is only the prejudice of modern thought that either marginalizes them as thinkers or else lacks the categories in which to understand them.
The Catholic Church, at its height in the late Middle Ages, was a continuation and completion of classical Greek and Roman civilization. Out of a cacophony of dozens of competing pseudo-Christian sects, the Church was able to organize them and restrain their worse elements, primarily by the way of Roman administration and Greek thought.
One can choose to see this as an "adulteration" of the faith with pagan beliefs. Or, like a Maurras or an Evola, one can instead choose to see in that its strength. But, by what standard is this an "adulteration"? There is none. The Church claims infallibility ... therefore, "Christianity" is whatever the Church says it is. There is no other standard for secularists or protestants to judge it by.
The protestants invented the standard "Sola Scriptura", but the incoherency of this is too obvious to go into. In the futile attempt to recover a "primitive" and "non-pagan" Christianity, they merely "Judaized" the faith ... a movement that the "Scriptures" themselves warned against.
Modern thought is merely secularized protestant theological categories. It has insinuated itself everywhere, even into the Church itself, so that the post-Vatican II Church is barely recognizable.
It is a fine intellectual mess we've gotten ourselves into. The solution is a recovery of the past (the Middle Ages) ... not to return to it, but to build on it. The alternatives of scientific materialism or a return to Odinism are scarcely credible.
very good points
Submitted by gryphon on Fri, 2007-08-31 09:37.
Extremely well written, mary jo anderson. I sometimes wonder what Jesus would have said about "human rights". Do they exist? Surely, in the parable concerning the sowing of seeds, He meant equality is not possible in this world. He was asked the question, Why are some born into wealth and health and others into poverty and disease? How does the Catholic Church regard such a pervasive and, I think, bankrupt dream which, to me, fuels endless anarchy and rage. The US Constitution mentions rights as those "endowed by the Creator."
Human Rights Activism is at the root of state dependency and cynicism. Human Rights Activism is precisely what feeds that decay because it encourages passive, state-dependent groups who compete for victimhood and therefore excuse themselves from responsibility for their own lives. Its patronizing, which is morally corrupting for those being patronized and for others who must constantly self-censor reality.
The Catholic Church knows
Submitted by mary jo anderson on Wed, 2007-08-29 22:19.
The Catholic Church knows war is sometimes necessary --Pope Benedict said:
At Caen, France (Normandy) June 5, 2004, then Josef Ratzinger analyzed the morality fighting World War II. Ratzinger noted that life under Nazism as "a dominion of lies." "No one could confide in anyone else, because everyone, in a way, had to protect himself under a mask of lies that, on the one hand, served the purpose of self-defense but tended, on the other hand, to strengthen the power of evil....
Thus it was necessary for the whole world to intervene in order to break the cycle of criminality and to reestablish liberty and law. ..
"We Germans too give thanks that liberty and law were restored to us through that military operation. If ever in history there was a just war, this was it: the Allied intervention ultimately benefited also those against whose country the war was waged."
* * Cannot make it much clearer than that.
Blogger Charlemagne notes he is a "Westerner"--Amen.
But never forget that there is no such thing as "The West" without Christianity.
We cannot permit true Christian principles to be corrupted by PC ravings. While Christians are indeed obligated to charity for the sake of the poor and the oppressed it is the obligation of the Christian--not the state.
Jesus never taught the Apostles to lobby the Pharisees or the Romans for welfare programs, universal health care or pork barrel policies on behalf of the poor--in fact, the opposite. He told his Apostles, "Feed them yourselves."
Laggard modernist Christians prefer to "let the government do it" rather than address the legitimate needs of those poor within their communities. When the government does it, they become a vote buying monster--offering more free programs under the justification of multicultural programs.
The New Testament clearly states that a man ought to work for a living--earn his keep. Policies and philosophies that foster the welfare state or socialism are patently UN-Christian.
The basic Catholic principle is subsidiarity--that is, that problems should be solved at the lowest possible level--in the family (Your brother's out of work? YOU help him, not Uncle Sam), the neighborhood, (your neighbor's house burned down--the neighborhood
works together, not the government), etc. In this way, the STATE does not become your god.
As for war and the morality of fighting/soldiering .... please note that Jesus did not instruct the Roman Centurion to put down his
army commission and become a pacifist. No, Jesus admired the Centurion for his understanding of authority, and healed the Centurion's slave as requested by the Centurion.
The Catholic Church has always recognized the contribution of soldier saints-- St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Joan of Arc, St. Longinus, St. Sebastian, St. Ladislas, St. John of Capsitrano, St. Louis, St. George...and in honor of the title of this blog, let us recall the Catholic King of Poland who fought off the Ottoman scourge at Vienna, JAN SOBIESKI!
Recall also that the military orders of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of Santiago, Knights Templar, Knights of Malta--all the military orders--were instituted to address in a military manner the injustices
heaved upon the West by Islam.
Resist the revisionist history that would denude Christianity of its rightful understanding of defending the defenseless from demonic evil ...such as jihad.
Pope Benedict on jihad:
""An absolute pacifism that denies the law any and all coercive measures would be capitulation to injustice, would sanction its seizure of power, and would abandon the world to the dictates of violence."
8/29/2007 4:59 PM