Is Christianity a Western Religion? 8: Western Creeds

Is Christianity a Western Religion? What denominations and creeds to we find in the West?

By and large (among the denominations that arose after the Protestant Reformation) the denominations of the West and their creeds were influenced by or reactionary against Western thought, but Christianity itself predates many of these Western movements (such as The Enlightenment and The Renaissance), and was not a response to any particular cultural wind, certainly not one of the West.

5-point Calvinism, for example, is a Western form of predeterminism that arose in 16th century Europe and influenced many Protestant denominations, but did not arise from the teachings of the New Testament itself. When all 5 points come together, this doctrine essentially teaches that each of us is created by God to be obedient or disobedient, and that any concept of free will is merely an illusion.

–The development of Calvinism in Europe also helped pave the way for Capitalism to thrive. Although embraced by the West as a beneficial system due to its teaching that an “invisible hand” can guide commerce toward a state of quality for all, Capitalism endorses usury without limitation (which impoverishes the desparate) and exalts profit as the sole end of transaction (which calls the evil of greed “good”).

The so-called “Protestant Work Ethic” is a spiritual endorsement of a works-based “achievement ideology” in order to separate the “elect” from the “unelect” based on financial success.

Dispensationalism, or “Rapture” theology, for example, originated in Glasgow in the early 1800s. This doctrine teaches that before Jesus comes back all the faithful Christians will be taken up to Heaven right before a giant persecution, so they don’t have to go through with it, and this will be followed by a series of tribulations, tribulations that faithful Christians apparently won’t suffer through. This doctrine represents the arrogance of Western thought, that faithful people will get to escape persecution before the Judgement arrives.

—Individualist salvation, or the concept that Jesus is merely a “personal savior,” has infiltrated many denominations and churches. Time and time again the message is preached that one merely needs to “say the sinner’s prayer” and “accept Jesus into their heart” so that salvation will occur, and then it’s all done with. In such messages little to no emphasis is placed on the fact that we are saved not just as individuals, but as a people, that we don’t just make a deal with God into our individual life, but that we are added to churches as we are saved, communities tied to one another through love and service to God.

Mormonism, for example, is an incredibly Western off-shoot from Christianity, claiming to have established a brand new testament and church that began in the far West—the early Americas—and discovered in New York.

Until the 19th century, most all Western governments were monarchies. Like the Kingdom of Israel, these cultures chose to let earthly kings reign over them. These governments often played a key role in the reproduction of new doctrines as rule of law in Western Christianity. But sometimes, it was democracy itself that formed new doctrines. People let the culture rule their hearts, even Christian people, and doctrines made for itching ears are mistaken as Gospel.

And I’m not even going to get started on the “Christian Science” movement.

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