With Easter approaching it’s timely to argue why, for all its sins, Christianity must be defended and acknowledged as one the foundation stones underpinning Western civilisation and the reason why citizens in the West, compared to millions suffering around the world, enjoy such liberty, prosperity and freedom.
As argued by Augusto Zimmermann, one of the contributors to Christianity Matters In These Troubled Times, it’s no accident the preamble to the Australian Constitution contains the phrase “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” and parliaments begin with the Lord’s Prayer.
The West’s legal and political systems, traced back to the Magna Carta, the Glorious Revolution and Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, are deeply imbued with Christian morals including the inherent dignity of the person, the inalienable right to liberty and freedom and the need to commit to social justice and the common good.
As evidence, Zimmermann writes:
St Paul counsels to ‘stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free’ (Gal. 5:1). St Paul also states ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 3.28). Statements like these had a profound impact on the development of democracy and human rights.
Ignored by extreme secular critics is it was a Christian, William Wilberforce, who led the campaign to abolish slavery and that Martin Luther Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech given in 1963 is inspired by his Christian teachings and faith.
King Jr states:
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
Such is the Bible’s admonition to serve others and to do good it should not surprise Australia’s social welfare, education, health and aged care systems would collapse without Christian bodies and organisations.
Christian schools enrol approximately 34% of students and charities like the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Caritas care for millions of the disadvantaged and underprivileged both here and overseas. Christian aged care facilities and hospitals are an integral part of the nation’s social and health infrastructure.
The Australian literary critic Peter Craven makes the point much of the West’s art, music and literature can only be fully appreciated and understood in the context of the Bible and Jesus’ teachings and time on this earth.
After detailing Christianity’s influence on writers including Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, James Joyce and Australia’s poet Les Murray, readers are left in no doubt about the central importance of religious concepts like faith and redemption, temptation and sin and the incessant search for spiritual comfort in an often confronting and hostile world.
The New Testament is part of the air we breathe and may it ever be… When we stare at the Sistine Chapel ceiling or listen to Mozart’s Requiem or his Coronation Mass we are not experiencing the rhetoric of a religious vision but an essence where beauty and truth are at one.
Notwithstanding Christianity’s enduring benefit to Western societies, as argued by Sydney-based Wanda Skowronska, Christianity is suffering an unprecedented attack by what Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Fisher describes as “absolutist secularism”.
A multifaceted ideology involving neo-Marxist inspired political correctness that can be traced back to the cultural revolution of the late 60s, the emergence of Germany’s Frankfurt School in the 1920s and before then the French Revolution and the writings of Nietzsche.
Common to all is religion must be abolished, there is no place for a spiritual and transcendent view of the world and that it’s possible to build a man-made utopia on this earth. As noted by Augusto Del Noce, unlike Christianity that is inherently moral, absolutist secularism is without morality as the end justifies the means.
Del Noce writes:
there are no moral limitations to revolutionary action… Hence, every kind of violence, every ruse, every illegal action, every dissimulation, and every deception become licit if they are deemed to reach the goal.
Whether Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Xi Jinping’s campaign to achieve global hegemony or fundamentalist Islam there no denying Western nations like Australia are facing an existential threat. Add the neo-Marxist inspired, woke radical secular attack on Christianity from within and it’s obvious deeply troubling times are ahead.
Such threats to the West’s peace and stability, if they are to be met and countered, will require a renewed acceptance of Christianity as one of the defining features of Western society. As argued by Douglas Murray in The Strange Death of Europe to do otherwise is cultural and spiritual suicide.
Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Fellow at the ACU’s PM Glynn Institute and author of The Dictionary Of Woke. He is one of Australia’s leading conservative public intellectuals, and has been actively engaged in the culture war since 1992. Kevin is committed to a liberal view of education, one based on truth and wisdom, and on Christian morals and beliefs. With years of experience researching, publishing and speaking on education, culture and religion, he is a sought after commentator in Australian media and conferences.
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