Thursday, June 21, 2007

Can Christianity save the West?

What can save the West? That is the question being asked in a new book called Suicide of the West. And we’ll come to the question and the book but first we need to see how and why the West developed a society that enjoys a level of material wealth, political stability, health care, life expectancy, and equality and opportunity for ordinary women and men that is unmatched in the history of the world.

Whilst there are of course many factors in the rise and rise of the West, the single major distinguishing factor is Christianity. It was the Christian belief in a rational benevolent God who had created a rational universe that gave scientists the confidence to believe that its secrets could be unravelled, that there were answers. Similarly, the vast potential in the populations of Europe was released by the doctrine of the essential equality of all human beings. This belief that every ‘ordinary’ individual was created in the image of God and therefore equally and infinitely valuable to Him – whether slave or master, male or female adult or child – is absent in Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism and served to undermine the feudal system.

This combined not only with the realisation that any individual could know the truth for themselves but with the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. No one is inherently superior before God so why should I not be able to advance, make a little profit for myself and my family? And why should the Lord of the Manor simply be able to take it away from me if he feels like it? Christianity changed the intellectual climate which in turn provided a different basis for economic activity. Whilst China and India and the African kingdoms were all richer than Britain in the 13th century they certainly weren’t by the 19th.

Obviously, the West, distinctively shaped as it has been by Christianity, has nevertheless done and continues to do terrible things not only to those outside the West but to its own. Nevertheless, look around the world and ask yourself this –

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1 comment:

jacksons said...

I dont know if I am convinced if the west needs "saving". They loose in some measurements, but score very well in others.