Affirming America’s Christian Heritage
We are reading The Great Siege, by Ernle
Bradford. We picked this up about a year ago, knowing it would make great family
reading. It is a history of the
siege of Malta in 1565, a time when the Ottoman Empire, 6 years before Lepanto,
was at its peak, having conquered Eastern Europe and most of the Mediterranean
coasts. If you want a page-turner,
get this book.|
The book comes to mind because of the persistent use
of the phrase "post Christian", as in "post Christian
America", in newspaper columns, articles, books, and speeches. Now, if ever
a people lived in a "post Christian” society, it was certainly the empire
that sailed a vast armada against Malta from Constantinople, the once Christian
center of Byzantium. Nevertheless, we have never seen or heard the phrase
applied to that empire. In fact, we haven't seen the phrase applied elsewhere at
all. What, then, is intended by that phrase? Isn't history
cluttered with examples of "post Christian" (not to mention, "pre
Christian") societies? Why not characterize those defunct societies as
"post Christian" also? Why utter the phrase today as if it is
something new under the Sun? And why apply it only to the West?
It seems the phrase is used as a self-fulfilling
prophecy by a cultural elite who laments the "passing" of
Christianity. But it is a
crocodile-tears-lament because this same elite has also been busy attacking
Christianity. And, when not
attacking, it has been speaking, writing and acting as if this Christianity
never really existed or had any critical role in Western history. Their approach
has been three-pronged: attack Christianity; deny Christianity; declare
Christianity dead ("post"). And ignore the role of Christianity in
other eras and civilizations, to wit, pre-Ottoman Byzantium.
September 11th brought this hypocritical,
self-contradictory stance to a grand collision. Our modern pundits, like vestal
virgins, danced through gyrations, hoops, somersaults and wailing trying to
explain the attacks as "evil versus freedom"; but never as an overt
religious issue, and never, never, never, as an attack on supposed Christianity.
And besides, since America is "post Christian", there's no
Christianity to attack anyway! Furthermore,
America was never Christian to begin with!! So 9/11 can have absolutely nothing
to do with Christianity. Yet most people, in their hearts, sense otherwise.
By insisting that we are in a "post
Christian" America, our modem pundits presuppose that America was once
Christian: that its laws, institutions, and culture had a Christian foundation.
However, these same pundits have been howling all along that America was never
Christian; that our tradition is Greco- Roman, or Zen Buddhist, or Voodoo, or
multicultural atheism, or pantheism, or anything but Christian.
Which is, of course, ridiculous.
Of the 13 original colonies, 11 had an established church while the other
2 recognized all Christian churches. All required Christian oaths of
magistrates. Most prohibited atheists from serving on juries because an atheist
could not "swear" by a God he did not recognize. As late as 1913, one
of the original states still required belief in God to serve in public office.
Laws against blasphemy and taking Jesus Christ's name in vain are still on the
books of several states. As recently as early last century, John Calvin was
regarded as the father of the colonies. (Come to think of it, unti1 the mid
century, this "Christian America" was a pretty safe place to live in.
But that's another letter.)
When faced by the above, the elite fires back that, by
using the phrase "post Christian", they are referring to the people,
not to the institutions. However, here they sink in even thinner quicksand.
Every year, this "post Christian" people, for the most part, insists
on greeting one and all with "Merry Christmas" and on lighting
Christmas trees, even at the risk of being hauled off to court by the ACLU.
Now, we readily concede the obvious weakening of the
Christian ethos in the West in general and in America in particular. However, we
are not such morons that we can't see what's going on: the rewriting of our
history so as to divorce it from our Christian heritage, along with the
insistence that we are somehow "beyond" mindless, superstitious
Christianity anyway. We're supposed to not notice that they want it three ways:
deny; attack; declare dead ("post").
But why attack something that's "post"? Why
declare something to be "post" and then turn right around and deny it
was ever here in the first place? The schizophrenia is quite entertaining. But
it's deadly because those who wish the passing of Christianity are playing with
History has demonstrated over and over that when a
society or culture shifts into a "post Christian" mode,
whether by denial, attack. or apostasy, the result is retrogression to a
pre-civilization mess. Where is cannibalism most practiced today? Where is
slavery most practiced today in a most horrendous form? Where is human sacrifice
most practiced today? The answer is consistent: wherever the Christian message
is silent. And where do we see a resurgence of those and other terrible
practices? Wherever the Christian message is most opposed, ridiculed, muffled
The "passing" of Christianity brings
RETROGRESSION. History has demonstrated this over and over. It has also
demonstrated that retrogression is not incompatible with continued technological
advancement for quite some time beyond the denial of Christianity. But even
technological advancement eventually stagnates absent the influence and liberty
afforded by a Christian culture.
So, one thing we could add to our Christmas lists is
to thank the Lord for our Christian heritage.