Skip to comments.Is Christian Civilization superior?
Posted on 11/25/2010 4:13:41 PM PST by WesternCulture
Yes I, personally, would say it is.
But in what sense?
Christianity has defined the very identity of Man in a far more convincing manner than any other tradition of intellectual or spiritual orientation.
Therefore, competing notions must be rejected, especially from an intellectual standpoint.
But if someone wishes to smoke marijuana all day long and devote himself to Shamanism, not my words nor other force on Earth can stop him.
Please read the text below.
The image of Man provided by Pico della Mirandola encompassess the spiritual greatness of Ancient history, the sincere faithfulness of Medieval, Scholastic, Catholicism as well as the energetic clearsightedness of the Renaissance.
It bridges epoches.
(And don't complain about the outdated English. I'm Swedish and had no problems comprehending it)
"I once read that Abdala the Muslim, when asked what was most worthy of awe and wonder in this theater of the world, answered, "There is nothing to see more wonderful than man!" Hermes Trismegistus (1) concurs with this opinion: "A great miracle, Asclepius, is man!" However, when I began to consider the reasons for these opinions, all these reasons given for the magnificence of human nature failed to convince me: that man is the intermediary between creatures, close to the gods, master of all the lower creatures, with the sharpness of his senses, the acuity of his reason, and the brilliance of his intelligence the interpreter of nature, the nodal point between eternity and time, and, as the Persians say, the intimate bond or marriage song of the world, just a little lower than angels as David tells us. (2) I concede these are magnificent reasons, but they do not seem to go to the heart of the matter, that is, those reasons which truly claim admiration. For, if these are all the reasons we can come up with, why should we not admire angels more than we do ourselves? After thinking a long time, I have figured out why man is the most fortunate of all creatures and as a result worthy of the highest admiration and earning his rank on the chain of being, a rank to be envied not merely by the beasts but by the stars themselves and by the spiritual natures beyond and above this world. This miracle goes past faith and wonder. And why not? It is for this reason that man is rightfully named a magnificent miracle and a wondrous creation. What is this rank on the chain of being? God the Father, Supreme Architect of the Universe, built this home, this universe we see all around us, a venerable temple of his godhead, through the sublime laws of his ineffable Mind. The expanse above the heavens he decorated with Intelligences, the spheres of heaven with living, eternal souls. The scabrous and dirty lower worlds he filled with animals of every kind. However, when the work was finished, the Great Artisan desired that there be some creature to think on the plan of his great work, and love its infinite beauty, and stand in awe at its immenseness. Therefore, when all was finished, as Moses and Timaeus tell us, He began to think about the creation of man. But he had no Archetype from which to fashion some new child, nor could he find in his vast treasure-houses anything which He might give to His new son, nor did the universe contain a single place from which the whole of creation might be surveyed. All was perfected, all created things stood in their proper place, the highest things in the highest places, the midmost things in the midmost places, and the lowest things in the lowest places. But God the Father would not fail, exhausted and defeated, in this last creative act. God's wisdom would not falter for lack of counsel in this need. God's love would not permit that he whose duty it was to praise God's creation should be forced to condemn himself as a creation of God.
Finally, the Great Artisan mandated that this creature who would receive nothing proper to himself shall have joint possession of whatever nature had been given to any other creature. He made man a creature of indeterminate and indifferent nature, and, placing him in the middle of the world, said to him "Adam, we give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone. According to your desires and judgment, you will have and possess whatever place to live, whatever form, and whatever functions you yourself choose. All other things have a limited and fixed nature prescribed and bounded by our laws. You, with no limit or no bound, may choose for yourself the limits and bounds of your nature. We have placed you at the world's center so that you may survey everything else in the world. We have made you neither of heavenly nor of earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose. To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine."
Imagine! The great generosity of God! The happiness of man! To man it is allowed to be whatever he chooses to be! As soon as an animal is born, it brings out of its mother's womb all that it will ever possess. Spiritual beings from the beginning become what they are to be for all eternity. Man, when he entered life, the Father gave the seeds of every kind and every way of life possible. Whatever seeds each man sows and cultivates will grow and bear him their proper fruit. If these seeds are vegetative, he will be like a plant. If these seeds are sensitive, he will be like an animal. If these seeds are intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God. And if, satisfied with no created thing, he removes himself to the center of his own unity, his spiritual soul, united with God, alone in the darkness of God, who is above all things, he will surpass every created thing. Who could not help but admire this great shape-shifter? In fact, how could one admire anything else? . . .
For the mystic philosophy of the Hebrews transforms Enoch into an angel called "Mal'akh Adonay Shebaoth," and sometimes transforms other humans into different sorts of divine beings. The Pythagoreans abuse villainous men by having them reborn as animals and, according to Empedocles, even plants. Muhammed also said frequently, "Those who deviate from the heavenly law become animals." Bark does not make a plant a plant, rather its senseless and mindless nature does. The hide does not make an animal an animal, but rather its irrational but sensitive soul. The spherical form does not make the heavens the heavens, rather their unchanging order. It is not a lack of body that makes an angel an angel, rather it is his spiritual intelligence. If you see a person totally subject to his appetites, crawling miserably on the ground, you are looking at a plant, not a man. If you see a person blinded by empty illusions and images, and made soft by their tender beguilements, completely subject to his senses, you are looking at an animal, not a man. If you see a philosopher judging things through his reason, admire and follow him: he is from heaven, not the earth. If you see a person living in deep contemplation, unaware of his body and dwelling in the inmost reaches of his mind, he is neither from heaven nor earth, he is divinity clothed in flesh.
Who would not admire man, who is called by Moses (3) and the Gospels "all flesh" and "every creature," because he fashions and transforms himself into any fleshly form and assumes the character of any creature whatsoever? For this reason, Euanthes the Persian in his description of Chaldaean theology, writes that man has no inborn, proper form, but that many things that humans resemble are outside and foreign to them, from which arises the Chaldaean saying: "Hanorish tharah sharinas": "Man is multitudinous, varied, and ever changing." Why do I emphasize this? Considering that we are born with this condition, that is, that we can become whatever we choose to become, we need to understand that we must take earnest care about this, so that it will never be said to our disadvantage that we were born to a privileged position but failed to realize it and became animals and senseless beasts. Instead, the saying of Asaph the prophet should be said of us, "You are all angels of the Most High." Above all, we should not make that freedom of choice God gave us into something harmful, for it was intended to be to our advantage. Let a holy ambition enter into our souls; let us not be content with mediocrity, but rather strive after the highest and expend all our strength in achieving it.
Let us disdain earthly things, and despise the things of heaven, and, judging little of what is in the world, fly to the court beyond the world and next to God. In that court, as the mystic writings tell us, are the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones (4) in the foremost places; let us not even yield place to them, the highest of the angelic orders, and not be content with a lower place, imitate them in all their glory and dignity. If we choose to, we will not be second to them in anything.
(Translation by Richard Hooker)
The URL source to the text:
About a certain Florentine guy named Pico della Mirandola:
- Why don’t all people on Earth believe in Christian teachings?
"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" In less poetic terms, we are easily tempted by pride, foolishness, and other flaws. Frankly, I would rather serve in Heaven than rule in Hell, following God's word is enough for me, but that seems to put me in the minority.
....Anglo/European-Judeo/Christian culture is superior...it’s what made this country...other people literally risk their lives to come here and enjoy it’s benefits.
Read a Bible.
From the link
“A mortal sin of finite duration is not deserving of eternal but only of temporal punishment;”
“How can we do what must be done in
Just one short life.” Ken Hensley
There need to be some serious qualifications to this idea. For example, Judaism must be given extraordinary credit for the formative underpinnings of Christianity. Christianity, even by its own lights, adopts the majority of these underpinnings, only modifying some of them.
In this great litany is a very unique idea: that Judaism does not claim to possess all knowledge; that a good idea is a good idea, no matter from whom it has come, or why. And importantly, Jews should have little hesitation in adopting a good idea thought up by someone else.
However, for all the good and civility that can be attributed to the Judeo-Christian idea, it has also spawned, unintentionally, parodies of unquestionable evil, of monumental scope.
The primary example of this is socialist-communism. Inherently atheistic, its theories are a weird, Biblical corruption, starting with the Book of Genesis, but devoid of God. Instead mankind plays that role for its own purposes.
And the very purpose, the mission of socialist-communism, is for man to forswear the knowledge of good and evil, and to return to the Garden of Eden, which they have renamed “The State of Nature”, an idealistic state of perfection, where man lives like a beast of the field, “in balance with nature.” Stripped of history or memory, with no idea of his nakedness or sin.
Without the philosophy of Judeo-Christianity, this perverse and murderous monstrosity would not exist as such.
So is this piece written by Mirandolo?
It isn’t that Christian civilization is superior, it is Christ that is superior. To the extent that individuals let Him into their lives, society is transformed. Christian “civilization” works because of Him.
Liberals and Muslims denying Christ is like denying gravity. You can curse gravity all you want, you’re staying on the ground. Liberals say they don’t believe in gravity, that they can fly on their own. So they run around flapping their arms yelling “Look at me! Look at me! I’m flying!” They reject Christ for they are their own gods.
Without Christ there is no “civilization,” only forms of the control of man by their rulers. Where His rule is acknowledged there is freedom. Where He is rejected there is only death.
I decided the answer to that question on 9 eleven
One biblical constant seems to be that of God's followers or people at any given time being a minority or a "remnant." Only a minority of Israelites throughout her ancient history ever (truly) followed Yahweh (why there is so much judgment in the books of Judges and I and II Kings, and the prophetical books....a continuing cycle of apostasy-judgment-repentance-delivery-prosperity-apostasy...).
Archeology backs this up--as bible era Israel and Judah sites are filled with evidence of idol worship.
Therefore being consistent with scripture, we should not expect a majority of the world to follow Jesus...even though the bible promises SOME of every tribe/nation will become His people...
Hmmmm, maybe somebody keeps busy telling them not to?
Job 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.
Job 2:2 And the LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it."
At least for the metaphysical materialsts of all stripes, the answer is Original Sin...The desire to be gods ourselves. Christianity gets in the way of that, which makes Christianity a heresy that must be stamped out.
Very well put...
On a day when, in my country, we give thanks to the Creator, this wonderful essay gives us a sense of his continuing accomplishment. I am thankful for this fantastic Free Republic family, a constant fountain from whence such good things spring.
We all know about the Inquisition and other cruelties committed by Christian Europe in past centuries, but the things that went on in the Muslim world at that time were vastly worse. Read about the history of the Ottoman Empire and Persia. Harems, princes being blinded and killed so they couldn’t seize the throne, cities being ravaged and their populations enslaved, etc.
Not to mention that modern science was being born in the Europe of that time while the Islamic world gradually fell behind technologically and went into decline. There was no Muslim equivalent of Galileo or Newton.
One of the big differences, as it were, between Christianity and Islam is that the former teaches a belief in free will (the choice to either follow or reject God), while the latter is extremely fatalistic (everything is Allah’s will).
Friedrich Schiller was one of them.
Many French Enlightenment intellectuals chose a different way. They tried to build freedom for Man without God being a part of the structure. This idea soon proved its true nature.
For some reason, people interested in History of today refuse to pay attention to what was going on, at all levels, in Germany at the same time.
Goethe and Schiller were some of the greatest minds ever having addressed the eternal issues confronting us men. But in the education provided by the English speaking World they seem to somehow disappear.
Why do I claim Beethoven to be a genius?
It very much has to do with the way in which he interpreted another one.
Beethoven set music to Schiller's most noble work.
Whatever you might think of Europe, our national hymn isn't all that bad.
Millions of things are wrong about Europe.
But Beethoven isn't one of them and he never will become forgotten upon.
Schiller's poetry centers around a basic idea found in Christianity and like Christianity itself it will never go away as it is of Eternity.
“So is this piece written by Mirandolo?”
- Yes, these are the words of a Renaissance Florentine addressing us.
I am an agnostic who will answer that question in one word: Yes.
WesternCulture, you are posting some very thought provoking items. Its a special day here, and I want to wish you well.
I agree - yes.
I used to include the first book of Pico’s On the Dignity of Man in a core course I taught. Also, coincidentally, he was an ancestor of mine on my maternal grandmother’s side.
- Very well put by Mr Hensley.
Life is to be seen as a mission on Earth we are provided by heavenly benevolence.
Given only a short time.
Petrarch was aware of this dilemma:
Thanks for the link and thanks for this post. Some good reading.
The Old Testament is the basics, but what is revolutionary and true about the other one?
It is the Christian notion of “Agape” - the idea of the Universe being conceived in heavenly love.
Which is not any sort of love.
The love the Bible speaks of is one that holds the Universe together and directs Man towards the ultimate of his goals:
A core of Christianity is this:
Man has freedom, unlike animals, because God's utmost expression of love for his creation is Man. Man is created as an image of God “Imago Dei” - in the face of God (in Latin) - meaning Man is to be seen as the gardener of a paradise created by God.
Pico della Mirandola clarified this cornerstone of Christian faith in a beautiful fashion and from his interpretation of scripture Man has found the inspiration and courage of climbing to peaks unknown to his age.
“Thanks for the link and thanks for this post. Some good reading.”
- Thank you for your interest.
Hope to meet you in Florence, Italy, one day!
Thanks. Saw Firenze in 1982. Don’t know if I’ll make it back. But one can dream.
Christianity is Chivalrous. Islam is a political concept with no spiritual component.
I work with some Iraqis, and they don’t contemplate the afterlife. All of their energy is here and now, survival, a DNA marker of their Bedouin ancestry.
Hinduism and Buddism are chivalrous.
Come to think of it, every religion is still chivalrous, after all the Crusades. Except one.
Christian civilization and western civilization are not synonymous. Christianity developed in Asia. The clash and synthesis between Greco-Roman culture and Christianity created the the Western Civilization that we know today. Early Christian centers in Asia Minor, Syria, Iraq, North Africa and Egypt rivaled that of Rome’s. If Islam had not arisen, a schism between Eastern Christian Civilization and Western Christian civilization might be the major fault line of today but perhaps it would not have become so confrontational.
Which Christian Civilization, and superior to what?
Prior to the American Revolution, the "Christian" civilizations provided pretty much the same brutal and short lives for their peoples as any other forms of tyranny.
What changed with the emergence of the USA was a constitutional government with no established religion, and the freedom of each person to worship, or not, as they saw fit.
Religious tyrants are no more desirable than any other kind.
Of course it is, Next question!
I believe Christianity is superior because it produces inherently more stable societies.
Flawed, but still superior.
>>Why dont all people on Earth believe in Christian teachings?
>”Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
>In less poetic terms, we are easily tempted by pride, foolishness, and other flaws.
A decent answer; however it could be taken to mean that God’s creation, humanity, was flawed BY DESIGN*.
That would produce some very profound theological and interesting philosophical, er, ‘situations.’
*The temptation in Eden that led to the disobedience must have come before the disobedience which is the origin of sin-nature; if that is the case, then any flaws PRIOR to that actual disobedience were introduced during God’s creation of man.
Would a God who claims perfection be perfect if His creations were, by design, flawed?
Would a God who claims moral authority be deserving of it if he DESIGNED His humans to fall into sin?
“Which Christian Civilization, and superior to what?”
- My fellow Swedish countrymen dealing with the idiots still resisting the spread of civilization in Afghanistan for instance.
“Saw Firenze in 1982”
- That was before the ban on cars in the city centre.
How did your lungs survive:)
“I believe Christianity is superior because it produces inherently more stable societies.”
- You’re on the right track.
But there’s more to be said.
What made all of these generations fight so hard?
After the smells of Cairo, who knew?