Sunday, November 11, 2007
Christianity under attack! Oh no!
With pugnacious tenacity some of my more conservative parishioners have expressed frustration over what they believe to be a concerted media attack on Christianity. I can’t find it but since they only watch or listen to right wing news commentators, I figure that’s where they got this idea. They are also loathe to give up their firm belief that America was primarily founded on Christian principles and continues to this day as the last best hope for a better world. The media attack on Christianity is none other than an attack on America itself. In other words, their concern is not so much about doctrines of faith as it is about politics. Socialism is, of course, what ruined Christianity in Europe, and so any form of it, especially the creeping socialism of the left wing, must be opposed by all right thinking Christians. Their level of anxiety is very high, and grows higher as they scan the list of leading Republican candidates who seem only marginally better than the horrifying specter of godless Hillary the Hun. In all of that muddy water there is something to celebrate. Christianity has had a tremendous influence for the better on Western civilization in general and America in particular. I agree with a number of scholars that the presence of a strong Church in Europe provided the necessary checks against unbridled secular political power and the ground upon which democracy could come into being. It was the Church that, however imperfectly, challenged society to meet Christian moral standards as revealed in scripture and understood in each time an place. As Europeans began to settle in America it was the Church that established colleges and universities where future democrats would learn how to build an entirely new kind of nation. Christian moral values did have an influence on the founding documents of our nation, although I do not believe anyone can seriously make a case that they were foundational themselves. As Europeans moved westward so did ministers of various denominations who became symbols and teachers of the moral order needed for towns and cities to grow. Even today it is the Church, at least some part of it, that is brave enough to call our leaders to task and remind believers of the greater law of Christ that always takes precedence over nation and politics. Out of the Church have come our greatest voices for civil rights, justice for the poor and oppressed, economic equity and more. That’s he good news. If I get around to it, I’ll work on the bad news another day.