“HEY, HEY! HO, HO!
Western culture has got to go!”
- Students at Stanford University led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson (Presumably, meaning “it” and not the course.)
Western Civilization is under attack. In university classrooms all over America, once revered figures such as Christopher Columbus, William Shakespeare, John Milton and George Washington are now being castigated as “dead white males.” The glib chant of Stanford students quoted above has become expressive of a swelling surge of protest which appeared on campuses in the late 1960s and has continued unabated to this day.
The great contempt in which the ideals and values of Western culture are held, was brought to light a few years ago at a time when Stanford required its students to take a course entitled “Western Culture.” Students were required to read at least fourteen works which had defined and shaped Western civilization. The survey began with Aristotle and traced the history of great western philosophers to the present day. The course was attacked by radical students and faculty, because – after all – Aristotle and his compatriots were all dead, white males. And worse – it is imperialistic to think of Western culture as being unique or special.
Other Ivy League schools soon joined in the fray. Of course, the fight over the literary canon is more than just a battle over ideology; it a political debate. It involves a rejection of Western culture’s traditional values and its authoritative works. Today the crusade against the ideology taught in Western civilization courses has become an almost universal part of academic politics. The merits of these courses have come to stand for the merits of Western civilization as a whole.
The campaign against Western culture – sometimes called multiculturalism – is not simply a call for equal time for other cultures that make up the world. Clearly this would be a noble cause. Yet more often than not the champions of multiculturalism promote an accompanying disdain for the values and beliefs that have sustained Western culture. Nobody knows for sure exactly what these people are so angry about. And even more baffling to the casual observer, there seems to be no certain agenda for reform except a destructive nihilism.
But let us propose that behind the diatribe against Western culture is an attack on the religious faith that has characterized the West. Indeed the basic theme of multiculturalism is as much anti-Christian as anti-Western. At the root of the attack on Western civilization in America is a more subtle attempt to discredit Christianity. This campaign is cleverly conceived; the tactics are usually carried out in history and literature courses.
The first step is to bring all the worst aspects of Western society into the forefront of the student’s mind. Popular doctrines of late 19th century America are discussed: the idea that “might makes right,” the concepts of Manifest Destiny, male dominance and white supremacy. The student is led to believe that unjust wars, imperialism, the exploitation of the Third World, the build-up of the military industrial complex, and the destruction of the rain forests are all somehow the result of a pervading insensitivity glorified in the novels of white American males.
The next phase in the plan is to equate Christianity with Western culture. By the convenience of being born American, many of the authors in question can also be presented as Christian. For instance, Herman Melville, a transcendentalist, is often presented as being a Christian simply because he uses biblical symbolism in his novels.
The next step is to introduce authors of femininity, color and Eastern religion (or merely anti-Christian philosophy) who exemplify the opposite philosophy in each vilified genre. The student is left believing that since Christianity and Western culture are inseparable, Christian ideology is also unacceptable.
In order to prove that a subtle attack on Christianity exists in modern educational systems, we need to trace the history of Western civilization back to the time of the first few centuries A.D., to a time when Christianity was part of eastern culture and the Greco-Roman worldview exemplified the West.
The study of the historical development of civilization and culture is a study of worldview. Worldview is defined as the basic presuppositions of a people in a given society; how they look at life; and the basic truths which form their values and beliefs. When we look at any civilization or culture, it is as though we are looking at a vast tapestry made up of many intertwining threads. The picture formed by this tapestry symbolizes the worldview of that civilization’s culture. As each strand in the tapestry of Western civilization is disentangled before our eyes, we can see which threads originally belonged to the pagan worldview and which belonged to the Christian worldview.
The Judeo-Christian Worldview
The most important thread that defines our Western culture and has given it permanence is religious in nature. But it was more than religion that shaped the worldview of Christians during the first few centuries. There were many religions that vied for the attention of the peoples of the Roman Empire. A vast array of mixtures, philosophies and syncretism characterized the world into which Christianity emerged. The Western world of the first century A.D. was hungry for religion; yet the classical religions of Greece and Rome had little to offer. Instead many people turned to eastern mysticism and philosophy.
The Christian worldview rested on the belief in an infinite and personal God Who had spoken through the prophets of the Jews and had revealed Himself in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The early Christians had knowledge about God and the universe that rested with revelation and not speculation. They had absolute, universal values by which to live and by which to judge their society. Above all they had value for the basic dignity of the individual based on the belief that each man is unique and created in the image of God.
This worldview collided with force into the basic values and beliefs of the Greco-Roman system. At different intervals in the first three centuries, under ten different Roman emperors, Christians were persecuted and put to death by the Roman government. At one point, Christians were accused of atheism (because they did not worship Caesar); cannibalism (because they “ate the Lord’s Body”); and incest (because of “brotherly love”). The Christian apologist, Justin Martyr (100-167 A.D.), offered a defense in a letter to these charges written to the Roman Emperor Antonius Pius.
According to his own account, Dialogue with Trypho, Justin describes how he had studied one after the other of the philosophical systems – Stoicism, Aristotelianism, Pythagoreanism, and Platonism – and then came to Christianity. One day as he stood near the Aegean Sea just outside the city of Ephesus, an old man approached him.
“Does philosophy produce happiness?” asked the old man.
Absolutely,” Justin replied, “and it alone.”
In an extended conversation the old man suggested to Justin that there were many questions that Plato could not answer, but there is a true philosophy with an explanation for all questions. That philosophy is Christianity. The old man instructed Justin in the teachings of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus Christ. He encouraged Justin to seek God for the opening of his understanding: “For no one can perceive or understand these truths unless he has been enlightened by God and Christ.”
Justin then describes his response: “When he had said these and many other things which it is not now fitting time to tell, he went his way, after admonishing me to meditate on what he had told me, and I never saw him again. But my spirit was immediately set on fire, and affection for the prophets, and for those who are friends of Christ, took hold of me; while pondering on his words, I discovered that his was the only sure and useful philosophy. Thus it is said that I am now a true philosopher.“1
The charge that Christians were atheists was easily refuted by Justin; he did not shrink back from using Platonic dialogue and Aristotelian logic in his defense of the Christian faith, nor did he exclude his knowledge of the Greek myths and philosophies in explaining the reasonableness of Christianity to the Roman Emperor. He did so in order to make contact with the needs and interests of his age. In the end, Justin was not successful in promoting tolerance for the Christian faith among the Roman rulers; he became a martyr in 167 A.D.
The sporadic persecutions of the Christians which occurred under the Roman Emperors did not occur simply because the Christians worshiped Jesus Christ. There were many gods in the Roman world. The reason that Christians were killed was that they refused to also enter into the unity of the Roman state by worshiping Caesar. Christians worshiped Jesus as God; they worshiped the infinite-personal God only. They allowed no mixture; all other gods were seen as false gods.
“No totalitarian system nor authoritarian state can tolerate those who have an absolute by which to judge that state and its actions. The Christians had that absolute in God’s revelation. Because the Christians had an absolute, universal standard by which to judge not only personal morals but the state, they were counted as enemies of totalitarian Rome and were thrown to the beasts.“2
But an assimilation of Greek and Roman philosophical ideas was not viewed as a compromise of faith by all Christians. The Apostle Paul cited Greek authors when it was to his advantage. At other times he used the knowledge he had gained as a Jewish Rabbi. The early Christians understood that Divine Reason, or LOGOS, had been revealed in part to both the Jew and the Gentile. The Jews had received God’s revelation through the prophets, and the Gentiles had received some enlightenment through natural reasoning and the imprint of God’s design in nature.
Thus Plato and Aristotle could not be dismissed as worthless pagans. Not every idea from Greek philosophy was of God, however, and the early Christians trusted that the Holy Spirit would guide them in discerning the true from the false. They had two witnesses to Truth: the Holy Spirit residing within them and the Scriptural writings of the Prophets and the Apostles. If a pagan idea did not line up with the Word of God, it was deemed false, but whatever did agree with the Scriptures was accepted as a fragment of divine truth revealed to the Gentiles.
The early Christians did not hesitate to use this concept in spreading the Gospel: All Truth is God’s Truth, no matter where it may be found. However, we will see that only a vibrant, robust Christian faith could make this distinction. In later centuries, pagan thought forms that were unbiblical and false began to slip into the worldview of Christians who depended less and less on the Bible and more and more on the authority of church pronouncements.
The Greco-Roman Worldview
Roman civilization is the direct ancestor of the modern Western world. Combined with the Greek influence, Roman law and political ideas have had a strong influence on the West.
The Roman system was an empire built on conquest with incorporation, but without representation. The secret of Rome’s strength lay in the fact that she incorporated vanquished nations into her own political body. Never before had so many people been brought under one government without making slaves of most of them.
Liberty had existed before in the barbaric tribes of Northern Europe and in Greek cities. Union had existed before in the despotism of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and China. Now liberty and union were for the first time joined together. The whole Mediterranean world was brought under one government; many people of absorbed nations became Roman citizens and enjoyed the protection of Roman laws. Gradually the Roman Empire became permeated with the philosophy of the Greeks and the religion of the Jews and Christians. Human life was raised to a higher plane. The Greek notion of a democracy was almost realized.
But the Roman system had its fatal flaws. Its essential vice was a lack of representation; Rome’s only notion of delegated power was that of authority delegated by the government to generals and prefects who ruled the absorbed nations from a distance. The Roman Empire was unable to avoid the weakening of local governments and the spirit of personal independence. Gradually liberty was lost; and the union prevailed. The central government was strengthened and the individual gradually lost his sense of nationalism and patriotism. The lack of locally elected representatives gradually led to despotism.3
“As the empire ground down, the decadent Romans were given to a thirst for violence and a gratification of the senses. This is especially evident in their rampant sexuality…. One easily observed example of the decadence of officially sponsored art is that the fourth-century work on the Arch of Constantine in Rome stands in poor contrast to its second century sculptures which were borrowed from monuments from the period of Emperor Trajan. The sponsored art was decadent, and music was increasingly bombastic. Even the portraits on the coins became of poor quality. All of life was marked by the predominant apathy.
“As the Roman economy slumped lower and lower, burdened with an aggravated inflation and a costly government, authoritarianism increased to counter the apathy. Since work was no longer done voluntarily, it was brought increasingly under the authority of the state, and freedoms were lost. For example, laws were passed binding small farmers to their land. So, because of the general apathy and its results, and because of oppressive control, few thought the old civilization worth saving.
“Rome did not fall because of external forces such as the invasion by the barbarians. Rome had no sufficient inward base; the barbarians only completed the breakdown – and Rome gradually became a ruin.“4
Pouring through the passes of the northern mountains, hordes of barbarians covered the fertile plains of the Italian peninsula. In the fourth century, the Vandals, the Visigoths, and other Germanic tribes, descended in periodic raids devouring the countryside, consuming crops, slaughtering livestock, burning homes and villages, and massacring the inhabitants of Rome.
When the invading German barbarians sacked Rome they also took with them the vestiges of Christianity in the form of art, literature, and a few holy men who invaded the Germanic culture with what we now know as “civilization.” Through simple, passive resistance Christianity overcame the Roman Empire. By outlasting the persecutions of the Roman emperors, the Christians laid the lasting foundation of Western society, not only by becoming the predominant faith, but also by preserving many valuable features of Greco-Roman culture.
Thanks to the Monks, the Bible was preserved – along with sections of Greek and Latin classics. The old music, too, was sometimes kept alive by constant repetition. Some of the music came from Ambrose, who had been bishop of Milan from 374 to 397 and who had introduced to his people antiphonal psalmody and the singing of hymns.
When Rome fell to the invading Germanic tribes the culture of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire was separated from that of the Western Empire. The first great dividing line in history is the end of the Ancient era and the beginning of the Medieval era. This dividing line is commonly associated with the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D. (Although some historians consider the Medieval era to commence with the death of King Charlemagne, another important figure in Western civilization.)
The most influential philosophy at this time was contained in the revamped teachings of Plato, dubbed neo-Platonism. Alfred North Whitehead has remarked that the entire history of European philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato.5 Indeed, Plato understood something crucial about society: if there are no absolutes, then the individual things (the particulars) have no meaning. The absolute is that which gives unity and meaning to our world.
As a Christian philosophy, this teaching came about primarily through the writings of Saint Augustine, a fifth century Christian philosopher, and Ambrose of Milan (339-397). These two great leaders emphasized a true biblical Christianity. Yet in later centuries, the increasing reliance on Greek thought instead of Scripture led to a distortion away from biblical teaching.
Coupled with the breakdown of Roman order came a time of turmoil, frequent wars, and intellectual discontinuity in the advance of learning. Yet through the turmoil, Christianity in even a diluted form, extended a tremendous civilizing influence on the northern tribes of Europe through extending the Christianized art forms; medieval economic teaching which exalted the virtue of honest, well-executed work; an impressive network of church hospitals and charitable institutions; and impressive architecture.
The Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire made popular what was known as “Christendom” to the pagan tribes of Northern Europe. King Charlemagne was probably the furthest thing from a “Christian” in terms of the biblical definition. He was a formidable man with colossal energy. He was also a great warrior and constantly on the campaign. By using primarily the Roman method of nation making in his conquest of the northern tribes, Charlemagne forced the inhabitants of Europe into Christian baptism (much in the same way as Roman Emperor worship was enforced a few centuries earlier) through bishops and prelates through whom Charlemagne delegated government.
Thus Charlemagne laid the foundations for feudal society. He preserved Christianity in form, but denied the free will experience of accepting Christ to the common people. The medieval institution of Christendom was introduced at this period. Europe was regarded as Christ’s kingdom. Baptism was not primarily a spiritual experience, but became socially and politically significant since it denoted entrance into society. The medieval church began to stray far from the ideals laid down by the Apostles and preserved by the early church Fathers. Yet it is the medieval model of Christianity that is presented to those studying Western Civilization courses on America’s university campuses.
The Holy Roman Empire of the Middle Ages was a hodgepodge of Greek, Roman, German and, yes, Christian virtues made into a feudal society. The result was a government and society structure that more resembled the Western Roman/pagan worldview than the Jewish heritage from which Christianity sprang. In fact, primitive Christianity was not Western at all, but shared the Oriental influences of the Jewish culture. Some elements of Greek culture, such as the arts, philosophy and government, were not discarded in the Medieval age.
The Bible teaches that all of man’s institutions are given by God. The Christian worldview merely infuses the principles of God’s Word and the spiritual life of Christ’s Kingdom into each institution thereby bringing greater life and more harmonious order to society. It was beneficial for Christians of the early Middle Ages to adopt the art, philosophy and government of the ancient period. Some elements of that culture were deemed as “good” and therefore pleasing to God and were retained by the early Christians.
Art and architecture, for instance, are neutral forms with regard to the Judeo-Christian idea of good and evil. Yet the art of the Middle Ages portrays the increasing drift from biblical teaching. Michael Gough in The Origins of Christian Art writes of the change from “the acceptance of an element of naturalistic realism to a preference for the fantastic and unreal…. The last vestiges of realism were abandoned.“6
“Byzantine art became characterized by formalized, stylized mosaics and icons. In one way there was something good here – in that the artists made their art a witness [for Christ] to the observer. Many of those who made these did so with devotion, and they were looking for more spiritual values. These were pluses. The minuses were that in the portrayal of their concept of spirituality they set aside nature and the importance of the humanity of people.“7
The Romanesque and Gothic architecture of this period was one of the greatest developments. The first great medieval style – the eleventh century Romanesque – looked back to Roman styles. The distinguishing marks of churches built during this period were the rounded arch, thick walls and dim interiors. The Gothic style first appeared in 1140 exemplifying great artistic and structural advances. The pointed arches, the flying buttress and many large, high windows which allowed light from above to stream into the cathedral are beautiful architectural accomplishments.
The architecture of the Middle Ages also expressed the change in the prominence of biblical teaching in the Church. “During the change from the Romanesque to the Gothic, Mariology began too grow in the church. The Romanesque churches were not dedicated to the Virgin, but the Gothic churches of France were overwhelmingly dedicated to her. The birth pangs of the Middle Ages were characterized by an awakened intellectual life and an awakened piety. Yet at the same time the church continued to move away from the reaching of early Christianity as distortions of biblical doctrine increased.“8
During the whole period of the Middle Ages proper (from about 500 to 1500) the pendulum swung back and forth between an attempt to reform both church and society and a retreat back into the darkness which characterized the spiritual leadership of most of the Catholic church at that time.
In the 12th century, Thomas a Beckett, no enemy to Catholicism or the church hierarchy, once told a pope to his face that the people thought that the Roman Church, which is the Mother of all Churches, behaves more like a stepmother than a mother. The Scribes and Pharisees sit there placing on men’s shoulders burdens too heavy to be borne. They load themselves with fine clothes and their tables with precious plate; a poor man can seldom gain admittance.”
The Conciliar Movement stood for a revival of the idea that the real authority in the church is vested not in one bishop, the pope, but in all the bishops together in a council. The Council of Constance was successful in deposing three rival popes, ending a scandalous era in the Catholic Church. The council declared that all men were directly subject to Christ, and not men, in matters of religious faith. The Councilar Movement failed, however, and the principle of monarchy rather than representation triumphed within the Roman church.
The Modern Era
The Age of Exploration, the Renaissance and the Reformation commenced the Modern era. These three revolutions occurred in Europe at about the same time. Each one of these events was fueled by biblical prophecy and signaled the advancement of Europe in three spheres of human achievement: art, politics and religion. This great step out of the Middle Ages brought the end of a political order which had dominated Europe for a thousand years.
The turning point in Christian worldview came at the time of the Reformation when Northern European Christians rediscovered the Bible. The Protestant Reformation was an attempt by the common people of Northern Europe to reclaim the experience of New Testament Christianity, both in their secular and religious lives. Many of the “Christian” structures of Europe, they found to be from either neo-Platonic, Greek, Roman or pagan origin rather than from the biblical structures of early Christianity. Many of the cultural advantages that the Northern Europeans had over the Greco-Roman culture during the time of the Reformation was that many of the features of their society were actually closer to being “Christian” than those promoted by the Holy Roman Empire.
For instance, the pagan-German moot, or town meeting, became the basis for American democracy when some of the separatist Puritans adopted it as an alternative to Episcopalian church government. Later, they adopted this structure to civil government when they came to settle Massachusetts. The town meeting was closer to the Saxon culture than the monarchy espoused by the Latinate nobles. Both structures are pagan in origin, however, representative government is endorsed in the Bible, while the monarchy is not. Much of the government that “Christian” Europe has endorsed over the centuries is actually what Jesus called “Gentile rule” and is to be condemned as demonic in origin.
The Germanic method of nation making differs from the Oriental and Roman methods which have already been discussed. The single feature of representation gives it profound significance. The other two methods of nation making require war and conquest in order to be put into operation. The German method (used by the English, and all the Teutonic tribes of northern Europe) does not necessarily require war and conquest. Wherever representational government is established, it is possible for a great nation to be formed by the peaceful union of neighboring states into a federal body. Federalism is by nature a peaceful form of government and nation making. Conquest in the Oriental and Roman sense is incompatible with it.
Federalism as a form of government was first practiced by the ancient Hebrews; the Bible records that the tribes of Israel existed in peaceful union with each other as one nation. In the beginning, they were governed by elders elected from each tribe. Then the early Christian Church took this practice from the Hebrew Scriptures. The churches instituted by the Apostles were local institutions only. Each local church was complete in itself and was related to the other churches as a portion the Universal Church. It wasn’t until the Medieval Era when the Christian church at Rome began to embrace neo-Platonic philosophy, that the Roman model of civil government replaced the New Testament model of church government in the affairs of the Church.
The foundational proposal of this article has been that Greco-Roman culture and Judeo-Christian culture are two distinct entities and must be properly discerned before any meaningful dialogue on Western civilization can occur.
American culture has been colored by the thread of the Protestant Reformation. This Christian worldview emphasized the return to a more biblical model of church government, yet also had its influence on almost every sphere of life. America is indebted to the rise of Western civilization after the Renaissance. The benefits of science, technology, medicine, art, music, constitutional government, democracy, the jury system, free enterprise, literacy, productivity, the concept of progress, the high standard of living, the raised status of women, and racial equality all had their roots in the Renaissance and the Reformation.
However, it is important to remember that the first Americans were Europeans who left the Old World during a time when the Reformation was still very much in progress. Some of the old ideas had not been completely evaluated and reformed.
American society has progressed at a more accelerated rate than any culture in history. The source of all positive progress can be traced to the Christian ideals that were brought here from Europe in the 17th century. Yet not all American ideals are uniquely Christian.
Every important issue from women’s rights, to racism, morality, the arts, government, etc. can be explored from this viewpoint. Any reform movement that has done our society any good in this century has its roots in the Christian reform movements of 19th century America. No reform movement will continue to be effective unless it conforms to biblical principles.
The Drive Toward Multiculturalism
It has become the policy of much of American academia to discard all that is uniquely “Western” in favor of a worldview which elevates every other culture to a higher status. It is an obvious fact that new freedoms are emerging in the world and other cultures are fast becoming as important to the West as the Greco-Roman influence was 500 years ago.
The essential misunderstanding here is that these other cultures have elevated themselves without Christian influence. Even in the Soviet Union, prior to the break up into a Commonwealth of Independent States, dissident writers recognized that it was Christianity that held the answers for the reconstruction of their sick society. During the years of communist stagnation, one anonymously published dissident wrote:
“Mysteriously and unsuspected by the busy multitudes, Christian consciousness, once almost defunct, is stealing back. It is as if a door had opened while nobody was looking. Why is this rebirth taking place in our country, where Christianity is attacked particularly systematically and with great brutality, while the rest of the world suffers a decline of faith and religious feeling? Backsliding and denials notwithstanding, we live in a Christian culture in a Christian age, and it is Christianity that is the fermenting agent, the ‘yeast of the world,’ causing history to rise like dough in a trough, not only in the past but in the future as well. We are profoundly convinced that Christianity alone possesses enough motive force gradually to inspire and transform our world.“9
In view of the admission of the largest communist state in the world that the atheistic philosophy is bankrupt, should leftist academicians in our own country follow suit? It is a fact that half of Africa has become Christian in the last 50 years. As much as ten percent of Communist Asia is Christian. Latin America is currently undergoing a Christian “Reformation” of its own. Million of new evangelical believers are appearing every year in the formerly monolithically Catholic nations of South America.
At some point, the idea that Christianity should be relegated to the realm of religion (and is therefore irrelevant to the pursuit of knowledge) and has nothing to do with the progress of world cultures is going to be confronted by even the most irreligious of thinkers. When the humanist/materialist worldview is openly admitted to be false, we are going to see a revolution in the entire American university system.
The important fact to remember is that Western culture is a mixture of Christian and pagan worldviews. Once this concept has been grasped, it becomes easy to reconcile some of the atrocities committed by so-called “Christian” leaders with a respect for Western culture in general. It becomes clear where the faults with literary figures lie; and the defrocking of every major literary and historical figure becomes unnecessary. The fact that most of the “dead, white, male” authors in question were actually devoutly pagan in their worldview, does not undermine their positive contributions to our culture.
A Christian Era in World History
We are at a very significant juncture of world history. When historians look back at 1989, 1990, and 1991, the last few years will be considered watershed marks in the progress of human history. Just as the year 476 A.D. marked the end of the ancient age with the fall of the Western Roman Empire; and the year 1500 marked the end of the medieval age with the beginning of the Age of Exploration and the Reformation; so 1989 will mark the end of the Modern Age with the downfall of communism and the beginning of Islam’s slide into turmoil.
We have now entered what some have called the Post-Modern Age. What part will you play in it? The direction of change in much of the Western world today involves the rejection of the philosophy of Marxism and it twin worldview: materialistic humanism. Instead many post-Marxist countries will be moving toward a Christian based reform movement. Every feature of many societies – East, West, and Third World – will be marked by a revival in interest in the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Surely, the whole concept of progress is an arrogant idea unless Jesus Christ is at the source of all blessings.
The next era in human history may rightly be called the Christian era. The ideas and philosophies of Jesus Christ will reign in the hearts and minds of many people. Biblical prophecy indicates that a large portion of the earth will be converted to Christianity and the gospel will flourish in all the world’s societies.
What type of person will be used in during this time to reform the nations? These reformers will look to Jesus Christ as Lord and God. They will express the great love of Christ to all people. Their actions, thoughts and intentions will express nothing but pure love and holiness. They will have a deep understanding of the Bible. They will be able to use biblical principles to discern the good and evil aspects of human life. They will use these principles to reform the nations without following the errors of religious political leaders of past centuries.
Many of these people will be young. People will be amazed at their wisdom and maturity. There will be an emphasis on equality in race and gender among the leaders of this movement. The university campuses of the world will become the centers for training powerful reformation leaders. They will volunteer freely to serve God. Without prior qualifications, many people will make themselves available and they will be suddenly thrust into positions of great authority and power.
If you are willing, you may be used of God to herald a revolution in world history. Jesus Christ is looking for volunteers today; men and women who desire to express his heart and character. Western civilization will be changed; Christianity will be restored to its original power and the world will never be the same.
“The Lord will stretch forth Thy scepter from Zion,
‘Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.’
Thy people will volunteer freely
in the day of Thy power;
In holy array, from the womb of the dawn,
Thy youth are to Thee as dew.”
- Psalm 110:2,3
1 L. Russ Bush, Classical Readings in Christian Apologetics (The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983) pp.1,2.
2 Francis Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Crossway Books, Westchester, Illinois, 1976) p.26.
3 Quoted from John Fiske’s “The Beginnings of New England in Verna Hall’s, The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America (The Foundation for American Christian Education, Anaheim, CA, 1966) pp.12,13. 4 Schaeffer, pp.26,29.
5 Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: MacMillan, 1926).
6 Michael Gough, The Origins of Christian Art (New York: Praeger, 1973).
7 Schaeffer, p. 31.
8 Ibid, p. 46-48.
9 A.B. “The Direction of Change,” From Under the Rubble (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1974) p.146-147.
AN OUTSTANDING PRIMER AGAINT THE IGNORANT ANTI-WESTERN POLEMICISTS!!!!!
Well done, sir.
Your defense of Christianity is particulary excellent, although highly American (anti-“monarchical”) in outlook. Specifically your non-episcopal view is stated when you blithely declare “Both structures are pagan in origin, however, representative government is endorsed in the Bible, while the monarchy is not. Much of the government that “Christian” Europe has endorsed over the centuries is actually what Jesus called ‘Gentile rule’ and is to be condemned as demonic in origin.”
Yet the reverse is clearly shown in the Bible when Peter becomes the clearly dominant disciple throughout the Acts of the Disciples. Peter’s leading position (when he speaks up, everyone else shuts up) establishes the primacy of a leading bishop who is counseled (and corrected) by a council/counselers (such as Paul and James). This is Jesus own church structure and thusly neither pagan nor demonic.
While you correctly cite some of the flaws of this centralized (but highly abusable) form of Church government, the validity of centralized leadership is demonstrated in its continuation of strong Biblical teaching on the sancitity of life and marriage, undiminished definition of sin, preservation of deep theology, and HIGHLY-demanding clerical standards. By comparison, the non-hierarchical style of church leadership have given us “theology by consensus” with tolerance of abortion, easy divorce, moral-relativism, and feel-good theology.
I observe this because I come from a Catholic and Baptist background with a substantial Lutheran education. I’m also an immersion-baptised, ordained Baptist deacon and approved to teach church Bible studies with the confidence of our church leadership because they have found my fundamentalist approach to be completely acceptable.
And I’m Catholic…and everyone knows it.
The latter is possible because I know the Catholic faith (well enough to understand the reasons for its liturgy and theology) and I explain the theology in terms a modern American Baptist understands. (Obviously Scott Hahn is one of my strong influences!)
In my personal life I seek understanding and unity of the Body of Christ by explaining Baptistism to Catholics, Catholicism to Baptists…and Luthernism, Presbyterianism, etc to everyone! Yet while I seek ecumenical understanding, it is my Catholic understanding (and leadership) which permits me to hold strong against the temptations of easy, fudgeable feel-good beliefs and relaxed standards which I have watched permeate our Protestant denominations over the last forty-plus years.
My brother in Christ, I encourage you to look for the reasons God has preserved the older orthodox denominations into modern times. I think you will find that, even as the 16th Century Protestant Reformation brought Catholicism back to its Biblically-defined core, the Catholic/Eastern Orthodox Churches may bring Protestant denominations back to their historical and non-relative Sacramental core.
After all, iron sharpens iron.