Thursday, October 6, 2011

Western Civ and Christianity

In a comment to the last post CZF (owner of the excellent blog The Relative Comment) asks in response to DT's post:
Earlier in that post DT says that one of the issues is that Christianity is now a minority position in western world. Would you agree with this statement? I think i understand the sentiment, but can think of nothing that could possibly have replaced Christianity as the majority position in the west, and certainly not in the US? Maybe it is leading in a plurality of options a la Bill Clinton, but I struggle to see it as a minority position.
To which I replied:
I think you are right. It is one of many. And perhaps the biggest of any distinct ideology/point of view/worldview. At the same time the thrust of the western world is strongly anti-christian. I don't mean this in a political sense or moral sense. Rather, the values of the western world--money, power, easy living--are much more in line with Greek and Roman thought than Christian thought. The church, in its weakness, falls prey to the idols of the west. In that sense Christianity is a definite minority...often among Christians.
I do this not to just highlight the excellent comment, but to expand upon my point of an inherent tension in the Western World.

Christianity has a unique place and role in the creation of Western Civilization. Unlike the other great civilizations of the world, Western Civ's primary religion (Christianity) has always stood in tension with it's primary cultural roots (Roman/Greek/and a bit of German). Christianity's ideals and way of life are antithetical to the Greek and Roman understanding of the world. Though Christianity became dominant the Roman and Greek way did not disappear, but became subsumed into the culture. Compare this to India, where Hinduism was part an parcel of the growth Indian civilization. Christianity was (and is) foreign to the Greeks, whereas Hinduism was native to India. (Please note, I understand that this is gross oversimplification.)

This "foreignness" has caused problems for the Church. Too often in an effort to be relevant, the Church has given up its Kingdom building mission and done what it could for power and money and easy living. Even today the Church too often let's itself be and succumbs to easy answers and a narrowing mission. In America this means the church focuses on things it feels confident about, usually some sort of moral issue. But it does not ask the difficult questions that may tip apple cart, such as question our economic system, justice, etc...

1 comment:

  1. I've just written a humdinger of a response about muddy idiologies and taking a stand and how secular humanism is more prevalent than Christianity in western society and so forth and then was asked to sign in and subsequently wasn't recognized and my comment has now vanished. botheration