Is Christianity a Western religion? Does it share values with the West, and/or with America in particular?
If we examine founders of Western thought, and if America in particular is to be seen as a culmination or premiere epitome of Western values, then Christianity is an affront to the very country that represents Western values.
We will briefly cover various Western philosophies and values that conflict with Christianity:
Begin with Greek philosophy.
Aristotle saw the study of theology as a branch of metaphysical philosophy. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches metaphysics as a part of the teaching of religion and philosophy.
Democracy, that Western mechanism of government born in Greece and revived in America to be brought again to Europe, is not Christian. Although Christianity and democracy share ambiguous notions of equality and fair representation of leadership, the term democracy itself means “rule of the people,” and communicates an idea that rejects the rule of Christ over his kingdom. Christians submit to one Lord; Democracy rules by majority vote. Democracy leads a people to be “tossed about” back and forth by political winds, not centered and anchored by truth.
In democracy, the wealthy and middle class will only listen to its own voice, ignoring the poor. In return, the poor will remain ignorant, and be used by the wealthy in order to remain in minority, disenfranchised, divided, and/or “bought” by the majority. Near the core of the Gospel, which is Christ himself, is care for the poor, not the moral aptitude of the majority.
Christianity may be more compatible with democracy than with totalitarianism, but rule of Christ and rule of the masses spring from fundamentally opposed roots.
Let’s move on to Europe, and then to America.
Overall, the philosophy of Empiricism, a Western creation of philosophers like John Locke, argued that knowledge was only gained from the senses, and most Empiricists claimed that therefore knowledge of metaphysics and the spiritual realm were beyond our apprehension.
The “Age of Reason” that produced sectarian values of liberty concerned the founding architects of America more than liberty as defined by Christ. This is why they chose to rebel against their government and use violence in order to gain more political freedom. It is not a statue of Christ that greeted immigrants to Ellis Island, but a statue of the neopagan goddess of individual political freedom.
Although Christian teachings inspired many founding architects of America, and although Christian thought was pumped into the stuff of the Constitution, the Gospel as a whole is contrary to the Enlightenment that spawned the Declaration, the Revolution that birthed America, the spirit of the rich men who founded it, and the totality of values esteemed by its citizens over the past two centuries.
Christianity certainly had a role in the formation of this nation called America, but not enough of it to warrant such a title as “Christian Nation” (besides, the scriptures make it clear all the kingdoms of earth are under the control of the enemy of Christ, and that there is only one Christian kingdom—the Church).
There is paganism all over this American nation, and not just recently. You can see it in the violence that birthed the independent colonies, the worship of unshared prosperity that perpetuated chattel slavery, the godless championing of the right of self to do as one pleases, the myth of the self-made man, the nationalism, the waste, the absurdity.
The Declaration of Independence proposes that all men being created equal is “self-evident,” as opposed to being revealed to mankind, thus demonstrating a reliance on human reasoning to discover that we are created as equal beings (it is no wonder, then, that human reasoning was used to reason out of treating people equally).
This is a picture of a Western nation content to borrow some Christianity and be shaped by it, but not be fully governed by it. It is a Western nation, but a Christian one?
As mentioned in an earlier post, Communism and Totalitarianism are Western ideas born in the West as well. Neither of these ideologies are cooperative with Christianity. They are products of Western thought.
Look at Lady Liberty. Look at the Liberty bell. Our definition of Freedom in America is centered around the political right for an individual to do whatever they wish, so long as it does not infringe on some else’s right. This is not freedom as defined by Christ, under whose name all folks can find, not the freedom to do what one wants, but the freedom from doing what one wants. Freedom from the bondange of sin is much more pure and valuable than freedom from going to prison for speaking the Gospel. The first martyrs knew this.
In recent times, talk of tolerance has become inflated. Bumper stickers preach tolerance. But what does this mean? The Peace of Christ includes a tolerance that does not seek power over others for their difference, certainly. But an examination of the teachings of Christ will show that tolerance of unsound ideas and behaviors is darkness. If tolerance is to be defined as the refusal to speak against anything, then Christianity does not preach tolerance. But of course, the West itself does not tolerate everything, anyway. Sometimes it is Christianity that the West does not tolerate.
The presence of Christianity in the West has certainly been obvious throughout the centuries, but the contradictions that live in America only serve to highlight how different our Christianity is from the Wester values Americans:
- Their Puritanism and sexual exploitation
- Their elitism and populism
- Their individualism and their socialism
- Their activism and their independence
- Their prejudice and their egalitarianism
In the American buffet, Christianity is seen as but one offering, and usually served so saturated with other stuffings that it should be unrecognizable. One might as well attend an American “Chinese” buffet and scoop the dish labeled “crab wontons.”
The pillars of Western thought are not only unstable themselves, but are also incongruent with Christianity. The West exploits all things foreign to itself, including the kingdom of Christ. The West exploits all things foreign to itself, including the kingdom of Christ.
We would do well to refuse to identify our religion as Western, and purify our faith-practice of anything, whether it be Western or Eastern, that conflicts with the Gospel.