Note: Find out more about Hanne Herland at www.theherlandreport.com.
It’s Christmas. Let’s talk about the massive impact Christianity and the revolutionary message of Jesus Christ has had on the Western civilization. As we live in an age of atheist intolerance, where the elitist mainstream media constantly focus negatively on Christians, we need to remember how groundbreaking the Christian faith really is. After all, more than 80 percent of the American people believe in God and research shows only 2-8 percent of the world population is atheist, according to Pew Research Forum, Encyclopedia Britannica, ISSP 2008, etc. Still, believers in God are told by the regressive elites that they are old-fashioned, outdated and simply out of touch with reality.
The totalitarian atheists display their utter ignorance of history by mocking Christianity. Several of our most important values come precisely from the Judeo-Christianity heritage and its ethics. Robert R. Palmer, formerly a distinguished historian at Princeton and Yale, and Joel Colton, professor at Duke University, state in “A History of the Modern World” that Christian philosophy was revolutionary in that its definition of humanity was inclusive of all people, an altogether new view on the value of human life. The early Christians worked to relieve suffering, help the poor and so on. They taught humility and that all men were brothers.
In “Ennemis Publics,” by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and one of France’s well-known authors, atheist Michel Houellebecq, they are convinced that we would never have human rights without the originally Jewish and later Christian hypothesis, the incredibly bold idea about the creation of man, formed in the likeness of God, and therefore also sanctified.
Palmer states that it simply is impossible to exaggerate the importance of Christianity’s influence on the development of Western values. It was Christianity that introduced the principle of equality, which unleashed the revolutionary idea that each man, regardless of class, gender and race, has a unique value. Despite the fact that this viewpoint would later be seen as a secular idea and one of the cornerstones of secular society, there is no doubt about its religious origins. Famous German philosopher and atheist Jürgen Habermas states in “The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion” that Christian theology in the Middle Ages and Spanish scholasticism as the origins of what we today call human rights.
Habermas also points out that modern moral philosophical and political theory pays a high price for excluding the very Christian ethics that in history has demonstrated the ability to motivate individuals to care for one another, to perform just actions.
In “Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures,” Pope Benedict XVI seems to concur, stating that after years of emphasis on scientific and technological progress alone, Western culture now suffers from a lack of emphasis on moral energy. This is the greatest threat to contemporary culture. Without solidarity, individuals become destructive. Democracy itself depends on citizen solidarity to avoid becoming the tyranny of the mob.
Early Christianity came into existence, marked by revolution, and developed among the lower classes of society, with a radically new view of the poor. This is symbolically well illustrated by Christ being born in a manger. The radical Jesus, went starkly against the political and religious elite associating himself freely with the feeble, the sick and – as the first feminist – broke the customs regarding how to engage with and validate women. Regardless of the historical institutionalized church practice, the example of Christ is crystal clear on this matter.
Christian ethics became the source of human rights and one of history’s most important contributors to the leveling of class differences. Socialism took several of its most famous values from the pool of Christian thought. The idealized dignity of the worker, the willingness to fight for the rights of the common man and those with lower income not to be degraded by rich landowners, clearly reflect Christian attitudes. Respect for all, regardless of rank, is a genuine Christian idea.
It is pointed out by Melanie Phillips in “The World Turned Upside Down” that Berger, Hegel and Max Weber saw Judaism as the main victory of rationality and secularization over paganism. The sociologist Peter Berger asserts that it was in Judaism that radical new ideas of how humans best should act as morally responsible appeared, ideals that later influenced both Christianity and the secular Western world on a massive scale. So, let’s celebrate Christmas and hail the little boy born in the manger who revolutionized the way we perceive the value of human life.
See Hanne talk about her new book, “The Culture War: How the West Lost its Greatness”: