By Jeffrey A. Ziegler
Christianity is roundly ridiculed and feared by secularists in our day. Yet, Christianity as an idea and social force not only helped to shape and mold the culture of the West, but was decisive in the formation of the American Republic. The impact of Christianity on culture is a notion not customarily deliberated in our day. Prevalent debates over the Faith revolve around its redemptive or salvific components, My intent in this treatment, is not to ignore nor diminish the core theological aspects of the Faith, but instead, make deductions and observations about Christianity as an idea and as a social force which helped to shape and mold the culture of the West and specifically America.
Isolating the two dominating cultural effects of Christendom, concentration must be placed on 1) The emphasis on the transcendent nature of God, as well as 2) The idea of covenant as the means by which the transcendent God rules and governs history. Or, God as the ruler of nations establishes a visible covenant, replete with concrete sanctions, both blessings and curses for obedience or disobedience to the Word of God. Hence, the covenant becomes the tangible evidence of God working in history, with righteousness blessing the nations and wickedness bringing them to ruin.
A Christian worldview emphasizing God’s transcendence and covenantal dealings with man is comprised of a number of presuppositions, here summarized in four overarching tenets. First, is the recognition that the transcendent-creator God made all things visible and invisible. Life is a gift from God. He alone is the Lord and giver of life. That life is physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Hence, it is God who sustains body, soul, senses, and reasoning faculties. Secondly, God gave man responsibility to preserve, develop and rule the creation. Third, God granted man faculties, gifts, and the possession of earthly resources in order to realize godly prosperity and increase. Finally, God gave his Word and covenant to protect and prosper godly social order. God’s law limits liberty to prevent anarchy and confines governmental power to inhibit tyranny. This is the precise formula for The American Republic. Concisely, God has given man life, liberty under his Law, and the earth or personal property to work and be productive according to His covenant in order to subdue the earth, every part of it, to His crown. This is the vision of Godly social order which Christianity promotes.
The effects of Christian thought on the culture of the West are nothing short of astounding! In economics, the Faith helped fuel the destruction of Feudalism, and gave rise to various expressions of “free enterprise.”
Regarding government, even a cursory glance at Holland or Switzerland found governments and political social theories which existed primarily to protect life, liberty and property. Accordingly, where Orthodox Christianity reigned supreme, government was limited, non-oppressive with the state being felt only by the invaluable blessings of safety provided by this concept of government. This would later be seen in England and more perfectly in America. Under such conditions, family life instead of being a Feudal factor of production or a servant of the state was free in its devotion to God and His covenant, working and being productive and so fulfilling the Great Commission. Such intense-in-depth doctrinal understanding produced powerful culture altering visions of reality. Chiefly, that all things and all institutions were under the cope and rule of heaven, that all of life no matter how mundane was controlled by Providence, and a generalized futuristic optimism characterized by the belief “that it was to a world made righteous that Christ would return.” was dominant.
Time, prohibits the exploration of Christianity on all societal structures. Still, one can see why secularists, humanists, and all other statist, collectivist-societal engineers hate Christianity and its current resurgence for the two worldviews are wholly incompatible and hostile one to the other. America must return to the “Faith of our Fathers” before the destructive influences of statism are repulsed from the civil realm. Then and only then will she again enjoy the full freedom, prosperity and optimism our founding fathers fought to establish.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which as once delivered unto the saints. Jude:3.
With heroic, unbending determination, the epistle of Jude stands as a clarion witness to all generations of the Church, exhorting her to engage in the systematic argument and proclamation of the truth of Christianity as the supreme and absolute religion over all opposition.
This “contending” is not a polite debate society where all facts, opinions and positions from all religions or philosophies are put forward on equal terms with Christianity. Christianity is not interested in an egalitarian “exchange of ideas” with corrupt alien worldviews. The Christian position holds that all true knowledge has its genesis in Scripture alone and that Scripture is the final authority on every subject of which it speaks. Christianity then, rests not external evidence, nor upon how well reasoned our argument may be, but upon Scripture. Accordingly, as those who proclaim and live the Truth, the saints of God enter the arena of life to prove and workout the Faith with a view of ethical dominion through desperate conflict.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. II Corinthians 10:4,5.
The Culture War
As previously stated, the scriptural pattern for the working out of our faith is always in juxtaposition to error. This pattern of dynamic tension is true when dealing with doctrinal issues within the Church and is applicable when combating alien philosophies outside of the Church.
The Nature of the Kingdom
Christian presuppositions agree with the nature of the Kingdom of God in that neutrality does not exist in any area of life. The primary notion being that all knowledge has its genesis and application in Scripture alone and that any other man centered idea, philosophy, political social theory, economics, educational theories, indeed man’s civilization itself is at war with God. The Kingdom of God agrees with the Biblical ideal or the sum of God’s will which requires the absolute removal of sin and evil in the individual and society. Scripture clearly depicts the Kingdom of God as God’s authorized and judicially required civilization which subjugates all competing kingdoms. See Psalm 2:1-12; 103:19; 110:1-3; Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Ephesians 1:17-23; I John 3:8. Thus, the Kingdom of God is not static or passively ethereal, but, is active and conquering all before it. The Christian faith sees the Kingdom of God, Christ’s Crown and Covenant disinheriting all interests of unregenerate man and his kingdoms. Ergo, humanistic constructs and the Kingdom of God are locked in mortal combat and the righteous are divinely guaranteed absolute and comprehensive victory!
Only a robust and well articulated Christianity has the message, vision, historic viability, and vitality to challenge the modern and cowardly, defeatist, effeminate American culture. Ask a liberal who they fear most, and their retort is always a resurgent Christianity and its application in the American tradition. They know quite well that the American fight for independence was dubbed by the English Parliament “The Presbyterian Revolt” and that the social applications of today’s “New Puritan” means the death of their egalitarian, statist, Obamanation. All other proposed solutions to the culture war, are at best, half‑way covenants that will be doomed to collapse beneath the jackbooted thugs of statism.