Which Christianity?
0 comment Saturday, August 9, 2014 |
Recently on this blog I've written about the role of Christianity in the decline of the West, and now Robert Spencer has written a book, Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn't. John Derbyshire offered his review of the book, and Spencer replied here.
Derbyshire, in his review, first examines the question of moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity, because Spencer describes this as the 'prevailing malady in the West.' Derbyshire expresses impatience with this point of view:
I understand that this bogus equivalence must be very vexing to a committed Christian, but Spencer seems not to understand how wacky all religions seem to the irreligious. All religious faith, after all, depends on magical thinking. To people who eschew such thinking�people who prefer to ground their beliefs in the strict rules of evidence used in modern law and science�Mohammed�s flying through the air to Jerusalem on a white steed is no more preposterous than the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; and so, God�s instructions to us through Mohammed are no more or less likely to make us better or worse than his instructions through Christ.''
To begin with, that last sentence is a non sequitur. Whether or not Derbyshire the scoffer thinks Catholic doctrines are 'preposterous' has nothing to do with the question of the effect of Islam or Christianity on their respective adherents.
And another quibble, which may seem insignificant, is that Derbyshire evidently confuses the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception with the Virgin Birth. These are not the same thing, and Derbyshire's evident confusion here shows me that he does not understand the basics, and has not done his homework vis-a-vis Catholicism or Christianity. He makes it clear that he considers Christian beliefs childish and absurd, on a par with the Koranic beliefs, and so he is in a sense making an equivalency on that basis between Mohammedanism and Christianity. If Derbyshire wants to argue Christianity with Spencer or anyone else, the least he might do would be to do some research, and not merely cite creaky anecdotes from friends who attended Christian Brothers schools. But Derbyshire seems uninterested; he's a sophisticated, empirically-minded man of the world and can't be bothered.
Indeed, everybody who grew up in the West, although many may scorn Christianity and the Bible, seem to feel qualified to argue theology or doctrine with Christians although the critics of Christianity may have little or no familiarity with the Bible, except in a second-hand fashion.
But Spencer does a masterful job at pointing out Derbyshire's inconsistencies in his own response.
John Derbyshire seems to think that since, in his view, Islam and Christianity are equally preposterous, they are equally likely to incite violence: "Mohammed�s flying through the air to Jerusalem on a white steed is no more preposterous than the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; and so, God�s instructions to us through Mohammed are no more or less likely to make us better or worse than his instructions through Christ."
Huh? "And so"? One thing is unbelievable, and so is another, and therefore they�re of equal moral value? Come now. I myself find National Socialism no more preposterous than Shakerism � does that mean that National Socialism is no more or less likely to make us better or worse than Shakerism?
Derbyshire�s review, while marvelously written and delightful to read, is full of inconsistencies. I don�t see how he could possibly find what I reveal about Islam to be "persuasive" if at the same time he thinks that Islamic and Christian doctrine are equally likely to inspire their adherents to commit acts of brutality, since the contrary assertion, as he himself notes, is a major point of my book.
But I digress. The ringing peroration of Derbyshire�s review is his declaration that while "Islamia has sunk into the grip of a poisonous ideology�the ideology of jihadism�the Christian West (Spencer actually says 'Judeo-Christian,� but that is just a lagniappe) has been seized by an even more destructive ideology: globalization." (Not a lagniappe at all, but that is a discussion for another time.) He claims that "a great enabler of globalization has been the Christian tradition. If all men are brothers, heathens only a little less enlightened than Christians, they why should not a Pakistani, or a Somali, or for that matter a Mexican, come to live in the U.S.A.?"
One may wonder, given this line of reasoning, why Catholic Europe, at the apex of its self-conscious religiosity, didn�t throw open its doors to the jihadist invaders instead of resisting them. One may wonder why the United States, governed in the main by Protestant Christians for the most part throughout its history, maintained relatively sane immigration policies until the 1960s.''
I am glad Spencer makes this last point; I have been arguing it myself whenever this subject comes up, as it does frequently these days. I have never yet heard any of those who are accusing Christianity of weakening the West answer this argument satisfactorily. If Christianity inexorably leads to passivity and universalism, why did this tendency not manifest itself until more than 1900 years after Christianity began?
And I also wonder why, in this age of wholesale Christian apostasy, anyone seriously thinks that we in the West are committing suicide because of our Christian faith. Anyone who says this must believe that Christianity is much more widespread and that it is taken much more seriously than many 'Christians' in this lukewarm age actually take their faith.
But there is a grain of truth there: the only 'Christians' who seem to be full of 'passionate intensity' these days are the leftist kind: the Barry Lynns, the Cardinal Mahonys, et al. The universalist, open-border, self-immolating Christians are the most zealous of all, to judge by their visibility and their determination to force their agenda on everybody. However, despite all the sound and the fury from the Christian left, who are after all the 'religious' wing of the leftist army, they do not represent true, historical, Biblical Christianity. Yet few will be aware of this unless they educate themselves by reading the Bible, first of all, (which does not prescribe a 'one-world' globalist system), and by reading history books, in which they might learn that our European ancestors' Christian faith enabled them to drive back the Mohammedan interlopers, and to push them out of Europe. Christianity then was not incompatible with self-defense or with particularism and love of one's own. It is not incompatible with those things now.
European blogger JKayce at Kayce's Corner writes about Europe's Multiple Personality Disorder, and the rise of Islam in Europe:
We have acquired values that have estranged us from our true selves, values which basically are an expression of internal corruption, and in our pride we blinded ourselves to the corrupt source of our values.
So, now we are confronted with the consequences.
In our foolish idea of tolerance, compassion and love we have allowed the immigration matter to go completely out of hand, to the extent that our societies are disintegrating and people are reverting to yet another corruption, a weak bid: ethnical/racial identification.
The hollowing of the Christian faith whereby it degenerated into a dogmatic institution thriving on the conformity principle, even marrying the dogma of various Christian churches to the State ideology so that the idolatry is made complete, has rendered typical Christian institutions impotent and fossilized reminders of the past. The decline of Christianity is culturally based and rooted in this very principle of conformity, and it is the logical result of the culmination of a process which has been at work for many decades prior to its current demise.
Thus the inevitable outcome as embodied in the empty churches on the European continent is merely a symptom of the spiritual bankruptcy and corruption which preceded this.
When Mosques take the place once occupied by Churches it is really God asking us:
"What is the rock of your foundation?
Where is your claim of superiority based upon?
If your love and tolerance brings forth your own demise, how can you maintain its superiority?
I strongly feel that the most important reason why Islam is growing so strongly is due to the spiritual bankruptcy of Europe by which Europe does not have the spiritual armament necessary to combat the spirit of Islam.
Although often it is said that Europe has a Christian identity, it is overlooked that Europe suffers from a Multiple Personality Disorder. There is no one prevailing Christian identity, but instead we see a plethora of identities, often with conflicting and opposite interests.
So where is Europe able to get its spiritual strength from to wrestle with the spirit of Islam?
A house divided against itself cannot hold up.''
JKayce is right; the weakness of Europe, and the rest of the West, is not due to Christianity, which is very attenuated and divided within right now; the weakness is due to a fragmenting in which there is no common belief system and strength deriving therefrom.
Some claim that America is in better shape, in part because we still have a strong Christian foundation here. I wonder how true that is? We are suffering from the same division within Christianity and in the larger society, with leftists and even 'conservative' secularists lining up against Christianity.
Still, at least we are having this discussion now, and that in itself is a beginning. Spencer's book is one that I hope to read.

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