Kudos for Christianity
Because Christianity has dominated European and American cultures so thoroughly and for some many centuries we often focus on current shortcomings and fail to see what massively good changes it has made in our world.
Psychologist and philosopher Dr. Jordan B Peterson, in his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos points out five important and truly good changes Christianity has made in our world.
KUDO #1 We are all equal before God
Christian doctrine elevated the individual soul, placing slave and master and commoner and nobleman alike on the same metaphysical footing, rendering them equal before God and the law…. Whatever its limitations, the development of such doctrine prevented king, aristocrat and wealthy merchant alike from lording it morally over the commoner.
Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Kindle Locations 3614-3615). Random House of Canada. Kindle Edition.
The United States of America was founded on the notion that “All men are created equal…” History shows that such an idea was totally the opposite of the prevailing political thoughts of the day. At the time of our nation’s founding the principle of the “divine right of kings” and the ideas that aristocrats were put in place by God as his proxies to govern their subjects were the prevailing doctrines of governments, almost without exception, all over the world.
Peterson makes this point as well:
[Christianity’s] metaphysical conception of the implicit transcendent worth of each and every soul established itself against impossible odds as the fundamental presupposition of Western law and society.
Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Kindle Locations 3620-3621). Random House of Canada. Kindle Edition.
KUDO #2 We have individual worth outside of any collective
Granted, Christianity failed to enshrine this concept into government until the rise of the United States of America, and so people suffered for nearly 1,800 years. This simply highlights what a remarkable and highly principled group of men set out to draft the documents guiding the foundation of this nation and those who fought for its founding. They were united in their belief that the monarch was no better before God than any of them.
KUDO #3 Government exists to protect our individual rights
Christianity made explicit the surprising claim that even the lowliest person had rights, genuine rights— and that sovereign and state were morally charged, at a fundamental level, to recognize those rights.
Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Kindle Locations 3628-3629). Random House of Canada. Kindle Edition.
In the Declaration of Independence the phrase that immediately follows the statement of equality of all come the statement that God has given us individual rights. We “… and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.”
The notion that people have rights which are not granted to them by their government but came instead directly and individually from God further undermined the prevailing political order which had governed nearly every nation in history before then, and most of those which came after, even up to our present day. Further, the assertion that every individual had those rights regardless of their social standing, or political leanings, was a slap in the face to the prevailing orders. Finally, the idea that governments had a moral obligation to recognize and protect those individual rights established the legitimate bounds beyond which government should not go and the legitimate purposes which it could, with God’s support, pursue.
KUDO #4 Slavery is bad
Christianity put forward, explicitly, the even more incomprehensible idea that the act of human ownership degraded the slaver (previously viewed as admirable nobility) as much or even more than the slave.
Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Kindle Locations 3629-3631). Random House of Canada. Kindle Edition.
During these days when the cry of “systemic racism” is rampant it is worth noting that Christianity has quietly done the most good towards eliminating systemic racism than any other world religion. It expressly elevated the inherent worth of the soul of the slave to the same level as that of the master. Further, in the face of millennia of human history where enslavement of the enemy was the norm, it ran totally counter to the notion that might and power determines what is right and wrong. Instead, it established the standard that doing good to others, regardless of their social standing or political views is right, while deliberately harming them, denigrating them, or enslaving them is wrong.
“The laborer is worthy of his hire.” 1 Timothy 5:18
I know some will take exception with these assertions. Especially because they are so clearly pro-Christian. The ignorance of facts manifested in the long-run of history does not justify the vilification of either Christianity or of this nation.
If it were not for these fundamental notions of Christianity it is doubtful that the United States of America would exist as it does today. Without the United States of America and its attendant founding charters of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and The Bill of Rights, it is almost a certainty that the world today would be an uninterrupted patchwork of empires, kingdoms, and fiefdoms. Nowhere would the twin notions of universal individual liberty, and universal individual responsibility stand protected by the armies and government of a nation. The shining light on a hill that is the USA would not exist. In fact, there would be no shining light on a hill, anywhere.
These kudos for Christianity are things that every non-elitist, every where in the world should recognize and revere, regardless of their religion or political views. Without them, our religion and our politics would always be whatever the ruling elite told us they should be.
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Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM).
The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein.
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