Sunday 16 September 2012

Does Christianity support Western Culture support Christianity (etc)


Many, many reactionary bloggers focus on the relationship between Western Culture and Christianity, and how we need one for the other, or whether we can have the one without the other.

(People differ about which they regard as most important - the culture or the Christianity.)


But, but, but...

Obviously the two things are not intrinsically related - although they are compatible, yes

(or, at least were so for hundred of years, albeit unravelling all the time)

but anyone who would agree on the validity of Eastern Orthodoxy has already acknowledged that Christianity can exist without Western Culture.

(I personally would further argue that Christianity existed at a higher level under Eastern Orthodoxy than ever it did in the West - but to acknowledge superiority is not necessary.  It is enough for the argument merely to acknowledge that Eastern Orthodoxy is validly Christian and yet has existed for 2000 years outside the West in the Middle East and Asia Minor, and for many hundreds of years in Eastern Europe and Russia.)

So what is there to discuss?


The importance is that it seems, in these end times, as if Christians are going to have to choose in a way they could avoid in the past.

Nobody can have it all; nobody can pick-out the bits they want to keep, rejecting those they dislike.

Life is a package deal.


Obviously, real Christians who are also Leftists will need to abandon Leftism including democracy, the sexual revolution etc - they will need to make this choice or else stop being Christian; but the same principle applies to the Right who will have to loosen their grip on Western Culture, nationalism, racial politics, machismo and whatever else traditionally Right-wing worldly concerns may motivate them.

Sooner or later (if it has not already happened) each Christian will face this choice to put Christianity first and sacrifice other socio-political motivations concerns, or stop being a real Christian; sooner or later and probably sooner.

As Christians, we should prepare ourselves for making that choice.



Simon said...

I suppose the next step is to do away with the family as well.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Simon - I don't understand what you mean.

Simon said...

I think I may have misunderstood you.

What I am saying is that I am very wary of the modern Christian idea that tribe/race/nation is irrelevant, even antithetical to Christianity. Yes, Christianity *should* trump all other concerns, but that is not to say that it is the only important thing, and that we should not go further in our struggle to hold onto some things than other things.

Tribe is one of those things for me, as is, of course, family.

George Goerlich said...

Perhaps he is referring to

Luke 14:26-27
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”


Matthew 19:29
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

Bruce Charlton said...

@S and @G - I understand what you mean, but I think you are wrong to equate family with the things I have mentioned; or to suggest that Christianity does.

The importance of family is so fundamentally built-into Christianity that removing it is utterly destructive of the faith - and indeed assaulting the family is a prime tactic of anti-Christians.

Of course, ultimately Christianity comes above everything, especially for ascetic monks, but family is the last thing to fall.

Brandon said...

Do you really think these are the End times, Dr. Charlton?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Brandon - yes. But *my* opinion is irrelevant, as such. I get this from Fr Seraphim Rose e.g.

and from various other holy Russian Orthodox monks.

JRRT Reader said...

This is a topic that has floated around my mind for a time now. It seems that one wouldn't have to choose between Western Culture and Christianity. I agree that there is compatibility. Thus, I see no reason to reject Western Culture so long as isn't necessary. In fact, I wouldn't even see such a thing as commendable or helpful, never mind required.

While Christianity certainly does trump other considerations, I believe the root of Western Culture, and the best of it, are so essentially Christian that the output of Western Culture has a mutually reinforcing relationship with religion.

Now, as to whether one would need to reject the culture of post-schism Western Europe and its progeny if one were to follow the path of Eastern Orthodoxy is a trickier matter. For the time being, I don't see any reason-thus far- that requires that one ought to do so. So, while I have at least a partially formed opinion on the matter, I haven't yet properly resolved the answer to my own satisfaction.

The following relates to both this post, as well as some other recent ones-including the one about islands of Orthodoxy in traditionally RC or Protestant lands.. Here is an interesting story of a colonial Virginian who converted to Orthodoxy and received dispensation to continue to attend his Anglican church because there was no Orthodox parish attend to his religious needs:

Bruce Charlton said...

@JRRTR - It is a matter of First and Second things - as in CS Lewis's essay of that title. We must put first things first and then see what emerges. But if we put the second thing first (culture) we will not get it, nor will we get the first things.

John Wright said...

Racial politics? Since when has racial politics ever been a concern of the Right? Racialism became popular after Darwin, and the Progressive movement was enamored of the idea of treating different men of different races as higher and lower on the evolutionary ladder, and thought it would be 'scientific' to exterminate the lesser and lower races, or breed men like showdogs.
The Civil War in American was fought between the Democrat Party backed South and the newly formed Republican Party; the Jim Crow Laws were backed by the Democrat Party, and the Civil Rights Act pushed through by the Republicans.

This is one of the most longstanding and universally believed and repeated falsehoods of the Left, that to be Rightwing is to support racial policies.

The Right does now and has always supported the idea of individual merit, wheresoever found. It is the Christian idea of each man being the image of God applied to the political sphere.

Now, if you want to claim that by "the right" you mean the Monarchists of Europe, and that Monarchy is innately "racial" because it entrenches aristocratic families in positions of power, you are free to use the term "Right" (which is ambiguous) in this way.

But you cannot use the word "Right" to refer to Democrats in America, nor to Progressives, National Socialists, Fascists, or any other form of Progressive and revolutionary and dogmatically unchristian political party.

Bruce B. said...

Let me rephrase my question. Aren't the Eastern Orthodox, in practice, "nationalist" not in the sense of wanting to elevate their nation above others but at least in the sense that they organize as exclusive national churches?

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - I think this is a consequence of not having any equivalent to the Roman Catholic Pope - there is (I understand) an order of precedence among Patriarchs, and indeed 'The Pope of Rome' was given the highest precedence; but he was not conceived as being in *authority* above the other major Patriarchs.

Without a single central authority, then naturally the church organization is mostly 'national' (or by language group, or geographical proximity).