Affirming America’s Christian Heritage
by Richard Barnes


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 fire.

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 and persecuted.

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.  




Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas

EST. 01/01/01