There are five things you need to know about a religion to understand its present and future role in shaping a civilization.
First, what is the moral code that it teaches?
Second, what is the way of life that it teaches?
Third, what are the beliefs that compel acceptance of its teachings?
Fourth, what support do the justifying beliefs of the faith receive from non-religious institutions?
Fifth, what are the consequences of the faith for society as a whole?
Atheist detractors of religion would like to add a sixth item to the list; namely, what is the truth of the justifying beliefs of the faith. But that is to misunderstand the role of religion in the foundation and survival of a civilization. Religion is founded on myths not historical truth, and its value is to be judged by its fruits; namely, the civilization to which it gives rise.
Here I consider the five key questions about Christianity as the foundation and defender of Western civilization.
1. The Moral Code of a Christian
The moral code of a Christian is nowhere fully and explicitly stated. Jesus was a Jew preaching to Jews and his teachings stemmed from a deep knowledge of the Jewish religious tradition. But Jesus was not a literate man and left no written account of his ideas. Jesus's disciples were, likewise, not literate, and left no record of their life in the company of Jesus. Thus, the only record we have of Jesus`s teachings are by persons unknown, the gospel authors who wrote a generation or more after the death of Jesus and who thus had no direct knowledge of what he said or did, and who in all probability had axes of their own to grind.
What we can say, however, given his Jewish roots and hist adherence to the Jewish faith, is that Jesus accepted the Mosaic law, known to Christians as the Ten Commandments. Moreover, it is uncontroversial to say that the Commandments constitute the bedrock of the Christian moral code.
Beyond the Commandments, Jesus taught the virtues of charity, modesty, forgiveness, and love, particularly love for the poor, the sick, the lame and those who have transgressed the moral law.
Last, but not least, Jesus taught the virtue of martyrdom, seeking for himself a cruel death by crucifixion thereby enabling the miracle of the resurrection, which proved the divine inspiration of his teaching.
2, The Life of a Christian
Jesus was no recluse and he had no time for empty religious formality. He mixed with the common working people, sinners and tax gatherers. To Jesus, then, religion was not about ritual and religious ceremony, but about how life is to be lived by ordinary people.
In his preaching, which was to the common people and in his conversation with the disciples, Jesus redefined the concept of God. God, Jesus taught, was not a being in the mold of an oriental despot of whom one should be greatly afraid, but a loving and forgiving spirit, who knows one's most intimate thoughts and, like a father, is ever attentive to the needs of those who turn to him for help.
Psychologically, this redefinition of God is a profoundly important development in religious practice. It compels the believer to consider his problems with complete honesty for, in praying about them to God, he speaks with a being that sees his every thought and knows the truth of every word he utters. Prayer, as Jesus prescribed it, thus becomes an exercise requiring complete honesty in confronting dilemmas and difficulties, an approach that opens the mind to new possibilities. Thus, as the atheistic Winston Churchill remarked, "in times of fear or perplexity, I pray to God and it helps. It helps a lot."
In the Sermon on the Mount, surely the most unorthodox statement in Jesus's ministry, Jesus urged the forgiveness of enemies, the loving of enemies, and the doing good to enemies. Such a teaching seems to fly in the face of all practical reality.
If a mugger demands your Rolex, give him your wallet too? Yeah, suuuuuure.
But Jesus well knew the limits and frailty of human goodness. By demanding extreme tolerance of those who take advantage of us, Jesus taught that we should not be quick to anger, and that we should not show forbearance for kith and kin alone? As such, the message of the Sermon on the Mount conveyed a lesson of profound importance for the future of Western civilization, expanding the range of human sympathy, and thus creating scope for productive collaboration among strangers in an ever expanding social world.
In laying down his own life for the instruction of humanity, Jesus inspired the deaths of a multitude of Christian matyrs, soldiers, and an even greater number of those who, while not making the ultimate sacrifice, nevertheless devoted much of their life's work to the benefit of others.
3. The Beliefs that Justify Adherence to the Christian Code and Way of Life
The beliefs that Justify adherence to the Christian moral code and way of life are various, but most include a belief in (i) the existence of God, the creator of the World who takes a loving interest in human affairs; and (ii) a life after death, the nature of which, happy or hideous, depends on the way we have led our lives here on earth. [Technically, according to the great Christian churches, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran, hope of a heavenly afterlife does not require virtue here on Earth, only belief in the risen Christ, but that idea is surely only for the very simple minded.]
4. The Support Christian Faith Receives From Non-Religious Institutions in the West
Today, Christian faith in the West receives essentially no support from any public institutions, but rather is under continual attack from academia, broadcasters both public and private, the media in general, Hollywood and the the book publishing industry, the latter having a profitable line in atheistic propaganda from the Hitchens's to the Dawkins's, and all the other pseudo-intellectuals who offer a pathetically adolescent critique of religion.
5. What Has Been the Chief Influence of Christianity on Western Society
The influence of Christian faith on Western civilization has been fundamental. Christian ideas underpin the Western tradition of an open society in which people interact cooperatively and productively based on a mutually understood moral code requiring adherence to basic decency in dealing not only with family and friends but with everyone. It was thus Christianity that enabled the emergence of an open meritocratic society that proved to be the most scientifically and artistically creative and industrially productive civilization the World has yet witnessed.
To answer the questions posed in the title of this piece, it is evident that organized Christianity has been a vital institution of Western civilization and that its deliberate destruction by the forces of Political Correctness and globalist interests in the service of the international Money Power means the destruction of the West, a process already evident in widespread decline, decadence, depravity and despair.