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The Victory of Reason

Christianity and the Rise of the West



(John Stonestreet, Eric Metaxas, and the Colson Center staff are enjoying Christmas and New Year holidays with their families. So we're re-airing some popular BreakPoint commentaries this week. Hope you enjoy them.)

Although Western cultural elites deny it, non-Westerners know full well that the key to the West's success over the centuries is Christianity.

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Chuck Colson

It never ceases to amaze me how modern western secularists are doing all in their power to purge Christianity from public life. As Chuck Colson told me once, “They’re sawing off the branch they’re sitting on.”

Today on BreakPoint, we re-air a broadcast from 2006 in which Chuck explains the fact that the freedoms and scientific progress we enjoy in the West are due to the West’s embrace of Christianity. Here’s Chuck.

When you hear the word “globalization,” you probably think of Chinese factories or customer service centers in India. What you probably don’t think about is Christianity. Yet globalization and Christianity are linked in ways you may never have imagined.

Globalization is about more than markets and technology. It’s also about the spread across national boundaries of ideas and values—in other words, culture. While the spread and exchange of culture flows in many different directions, the ideas and values most associated with globalization are those of the West.

And this is where Christianity comes in. In his marvelous book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, Rodney Stark writes that “Christianity created Western Civilization.” Without Christianity’s commitment to “reason, progress, and moral equality, today the entire world would be about where non-European societies were in, say, 1800.”

This would be a world “with many astrologers and alchemists but no scientists. A world of despots, lacking universities, banks, factories, eyeglasses, chimneys, and pianos.” The “modern world,” to which globalization aspires, “arose only in Christian societies. Not in Islam. Not in Asia. Not in a ‘secular’ society—there having been none.”daily_commentary_12_29_15

Needless to say, Stark’s conclusions aren’t popular with academics and other intellectuals and have been savaged by liberal reviewers. These folks are all too happy to blame Christianity for some of the darker episodes in Western history, but they’re not about to give the faith credit for Western success.

No matter. Non-westerners see the connection. For example, Chinese scholars were asked to “look into what accounted for the success, in fact, the pre-eminence of the West all over the world.” After considering possible military, economic, political and cultural explanations, they concluded that the answer lay in what the Chinese scholars saw as the “heart” of the West’s pre-eminent culture: Christianity.

These non-Christian and non-western scholars had “no doubt” that “the Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and the successful transition to democratic politics.”

Apparently, many of their countrymen agree. Whereas there were approximately 2 million Christians in China when Mao came to power in 1949, today there are upwards of 100 million. What’s more, Christianity is especially popular among the “best-educated” and most modern Chinese.

Why? Because like people everywhere, except, ironically, in the West, they see Christianity as “intrinsic to becoming modern.” For them, Christianity is an alternative to a way of life that bred misery and oppression. They understand Christianity’s role in the rise of the West, even as Western elites deny the connection.

Of course, this isn’t the primary reason that Christianity is “becoming globalized far more rapidly than is democracy, capitalism or modernity.” That is due to the proclamation of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Still, it’s a powerful reminder of how Christianity transforms not only individual lives but entire societies as well.

(This commentary first aired on June 29, 2006).

Further Reading and Information

The Victory of Reason: Christianity and the Rise of the West
Get a copy of Rodney Stark's book to find out more about how Christianity contributed to the rise of western civilization. It's available in the online bookstore.

Resources

The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success
Rodney Stark | Random House Trade | October 2006


Comments:

The Rise and Fall of the West
@srsykes -

"The point that worries me today is just what kind of viewpoint is the West broadcasting to the world today? It's certainly not the same as 20 yrs ago. Today the West is broadcasting acceptance of Homosexuality, forsaking marriage, accepting pornography, sex and violence in our entertainment medias. Do we really think this is not going to effect our economies, and standards of living?"

Romans 1:18-32 warns of what will happen to a nation that "[exchanges] the truth of God for a lie, and [worships and serves] created things rather than the Creator, who is praised forever, Amen." Fred Weaver points out one very real possibility; military conquest. This very thing happened to Israel twice; Israel was conquered and exiled into pagan lands because they had turned away from God and refused to heed the warnings from God's prophets.

"Do we really think this is not going to effect our economies, and standards of living? "

About eighty years ago, Dr. Joseph Unwin, a professor of anthropology at Oxford University, looked into the rise and fall of 86 civilizations spanning 5,000 years of recorded human history. At the conclusion of his investigation, Dr. Unwin published a book titled "Sex and Culture." His central point: No culture survived more than two generations beyond a marked loosening of its sexual mores.

In a book published posthumously in 1940, "Houpousia: The Sexual and Economic Foundations of a New Society",
Dr. Unwin wrote: "Expansive energy has never been displayed by a society that inherited a modified monogamy or a form of polygamy." ("Expansive energy" is a description of a growing and healthy economy.) "Modified monogamy" is a pretty broad umbrella, including not just our divorce culture ("serial polygamy," as my father has often described Hollywood marriages,) but also homosexuality and any other form that deviates from one man, one woman, together for life.

Defending his research before the Psychological Division of the Royal Medical Society, Dr. Unwin stated "Any human society is free either to display great energy, or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that they cannot do both for more than one generation." Dr. Unwin issued a warning that all nations should heed: "The evidence is
that in the past a class has risen to a position of political dominance because of its great energy and that at the period of its rising, its sexual regulations have always been strict. It has retained its energy and dominated the society so long as its sexual regulations have demanded both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence...I know of no exceptions to these rules."

What may shock you is that Dr. Unwin was an atheist, This becomes very apparent as one reads his books. I am in no way endorsing atheism, but simply pointing out that even the atheist can see the truth.

Lest anyone think that this is just the ranting of one professor, a very similar study, with similar conclusions, was published in the 1950's in a book titled "American Sex Revolution" by Dr. Pitirim Sorokin, then the chairman of the Department of Sociology at Harvard University.

How much longer will it be before God's patience is exhausted and He gives us over to the same barbaric hordes that sacked Jerusalem and carried the people of Israel off into Babylonian captivity?

The salvation of the West begins with the Church, the body of believers called by Christ's name.

"If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)

The Church needs to wake up and lead the way!

https://archive.org/details/b20442580 (a PDF version of "Sex and Culture" is available here.)
@srsykes

Another problem is that our tolerance of sin is a national security risk.

Recently, ISIS posted a recruitment video starring Bill Clinton, whom they brand "The Fornicator":

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/21/bill-clinton-stars-fornicator-islamic-state-propaganda-video/

ISIS is clearly saying all Americans approve of Bill Clinton's history of preying on women:

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/mark-finkelstein/2015/12/31/cnns-camerota-shocked-14-women-could-make-claims-against-bill

Unless you know any Americans, you can easily believe such propaganda and thus want to join ISIS to protect yourself from such depraved infidels. Naturally, this puts severe strain our our defenses at home and abroad.

May God help us indeed.
Victory of Reason
The reasoning behind today's Breakpoint message hits the nail square on the head in my opinion. I saw this the first time back in 2006, and I've heard and read very similar messages by other ministries over the years.
It's plain to see what a Christian culture has brought to the standard of living and economies of the nations that have practiced it, at least to the eyes of those willing to accept it.

The point that worries me today is just what kind of viewpoint is the West broadcasting to the world today? It's certainly not the same as 20 yrs ago. Today the West is broadcasting acceptance of Homosexuality, forsaking marriage, accepting pornography, sex and violence in our entertainment medias. Do we really think this is not going to effect our economies, and standards of living? Are we really that shortsighted? Apparently we (as a nation) are. May God Help us.




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