Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Inbox: Me and Western Civilization

Disclaimer time!

Living in the post-Christian West will not save you. There is nothing magical about the values embraced by America’s founding fathers that confers grace to the human heart, makes men and women right with God, or causes them to be in any way preferable (from God’s perspective) to their fellow human beings steeped in paganism or in blundering around in religious darkness.

Being born into a society where the Christian message still has a residual influence, however diminished, does not make us Christian. Recognizing and appreciating its benefits does not grant us brownie points for cleverness, though it is clear those who do not value what they have been given are ignorant of history and poorly informed about the many drawbacks of living elsewhere.

If anything, growing up in safe, relatively affluent surroundings makes us that much more responsible to be humbly grateful to God and to look for ways to give back.

The Civilizing Influence

So what was it that made the West so (comparatively) appealing anyway? Good question, and one that is debated hotly in many quarters of the internet. Ayatullah Professor Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi names humanism, liberalism and secularism as the three pillars of Western Civilization. If he is correct, he and his Islamic pals should have it reduced to rubble shortly. Still, his is not an uncommon error, and it’s one made as frequently by liberals and secularists as by imams.

The answer that makes the most sense to me currently is:
  1. The Greco-Roman legacy
  2. Christianity
  3. The customs of the Germanic barbarians
The proofs thereof may be googled at your leisure if you are interested. We may debate #3, but take Christianity out of the mix and we’re done. Our own Immanuel Can makes that case here.

The Cultural Heritage of the West

But regardless of how we got there, the cultural heritage of the Western world is an immensely valuable commodity, though it is a gift that is no longer universally recognized as worthy of preservation. In fact, it is regularly and publicly despised.

This is unwise, to say the least. IC puts it this way:
“Our idea of the liberal, democratic West is entirely dependent on the lingering effect of post-Protestant virtues such as belief in property, honesty, contract keeping, equal treatment, the value of all human beings, justice and “human rights”. Absent those concepts, Western Civilization is a house of cards. It cannot defend itself at all, as soon as the residual stock of habituated belief in such things is abated.”
Quite so. The stock of “habituated belief” is getting mighty low these days, and we may see the beginning of the end of the West in our own lifetimes.

Done In One

Some European democracies (Sweden and Germany come to mind) seem bent on annihilating all such virtues in a single generation by importing millions of new citizens who do not believe in them, refuse to learn them and certainly will never vote for them. If the U.S. government opts to pursue similar policies to their logical conclusion, the warning cries of small numbers of Christians are unlikely to significantly slow the inevitable plunge into the civilizational abyss. In a democracy, it seems to me Christians are duty-bound to respect the will of the people, even if that will turns out to be short-sighted, self-destructive and badly out of touch with reality.

And if that’s how it goes, so be it. Our citizenship is heavenly, after all.

The Bottom Line

So is it is more Christian to fight back, to passively watch Western Civilization circle the drain, or to pitch in and speed up the process? There are arguments for all three options currently being made among the few who recognize the danger. And indeed, if it were somehow possible to give away ONLY our own shares in the West for the purpose of gaining heavenly reward or advancing the cause of the gospel, that’s a deal many of us would happily make.

But it isn’t.

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