Is Christianity a Western Religion? 14: Eastern Influence in the West

Is Christianity a Western Religion?

Such a view fails to take into account how the East has signifigantly influenced the West over the years and, conversely, how much the “East” and “West” overlap one another. Much in the West that has come to be known as Western actually has an Eastern origin.

Since the West is usually defined as Europe and America, we will consider not only Asia, but the Middle-East and pre-colonial America as “Eastern” influences.

The cultures of the American Indies, although geographically “West”, resembled Eastern cultures far more than Western when discovered by the West. American Indian heritage helped shape the Constitution, and persists today in America.

Algebra was invented by Arabs, as well as early advancements in geometry. Newton and Descartes are among Western thinkers who cited Islamic sources in their work. Crusaders often used Arab doctors to heal them. Understandings of medicine, such as the study of infections, came from Arab medicine. The linear perspective in art that blossomed in the Rennaisance was inspired by the Arab language Book of Optics. Some have even argued that Dante’s Inferno may have been influenced by Muslim literature.

Transcendentalism, which has affected Christianity in America since the 1800s, was influenced by Eastern religions.

Numerous influential Western figures have been directly influenced by Eastern culture, religion and philosophy over the ages: Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Blavatsky, Huxley, Lennon, Jobs.

Calling Christianity a “Western” religion makes too many assumptions, which are not at all data driven, about what in our culture is truly Western or Eastern.

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