A Christian Nation…
It has a connotation of being tolerant , forgiving and kind. Mistakenly it apparently denotes someone courteous, considerate, modest, helpful and generous.
Yes I know…….This is not how i see ‘christian values.’
No doubt the users of the phrase ‘christian nation’ are referring to the historical fact that from the 7th century, christianity was the ‘dominent’ religious outlook of England and eventually the rest of the British Isles. This viewpoint continued until the 18th century, during which a more ambiguous attitude to religious dogma among the educated minds began to flourish.
It is important to note here, we live in a pluralistic and non religious society and one which christianity is no longer the majority .Thankfully.
Historically ‘being christian’ was enforced on the residents of the British Isles for many centuries, on pain of punishment up to and including death. Church attendance, the payments of tithes, and the adherence to church doctrines were legal requirement. It is therefore a question to ask yourself, does forced belief and practice make us a christian nation? Is that not an oxymoron?
Until the repeal of the Test Act in 1824, only those who followed the 39 Articles of the Church of England were allowed to go to University or hold public office.
The christian church in the early centuries, was an accepted dominant force. Much effort was put forth on ‘apologetics’, that is the explanation and justification of christian teachings in an attempt to persuade a skeptical would. By the Middle Ages, apologetics was an out dated genre, by that I mean , it was no longer necessary to persuade people about christianity, it had become a crime not to believe, punishable by death.
Since the 17th Century, Britain and its Empire has been run by graduates of the ancient universities. The main studies of those universities are the classics, that is to say the governing classes were brought up on the literature, philosophy and history of Ancient Greece and Rome. Aristotle, Cicero, Homer, Aeschylus and Virgil, ancient myths and legends, the examples of Horatio and Scaevola had more influence than the weak substance of christian beliefs which provide very little in instruction and guidance.
Christian values are largely Greek and Roman secular values. From Roman Republican virtues we find probity, honour, duty, restraint, respect, friendship and generosity that Cicero, Seneca, Virgil and numerous others wrote about ceaselessly. So Christianity isnt even christianity.
Let us not forget the early christians were in fact Jews. They believed that when you die, your body sleeps in the grave , until at some point the graves open and all dead rise to be judged. St Paul said, the faithful will see no corruption (that no body will decay).
However, when christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the churches needed relics of the saints. On opening their graves their corpses were seen to have rotted. This unfortunate problem was quickly overcome by imposing more Greek philosophy, Plato’s doctrine of the ‘immortal soul’, which entered christianity via Neo-Platonism. Once again christianity is not even christianity, but Greek.
Those who claim that our Western Civilisation has its roots in christianity would infact be more right in saying we have our roots in Greek and Roman philosophy. Our society is defined by the very words of Greek and Roman origin:
democracy, liberalism, values, history, morality, politics, ethics, geography, energy, exploration, theory, mathematics, science, theatre, medicine, education, empiricism, polemic, rhetoric, dinosaur, telescope, system, school.
Take any word from political, social, science, technology, medicine and culture and you will find it derives form Ancient Greece and Rome.
In fact christianity tried to suppress our true history and for a time succeeded. The Emporer Justinian closed the schools of Athens, the very institutions founded by Plato, Aristotle and others in the year 529 AD because they taught ‘pagan’ philosophy (in other words history, science etc). There was little teaching worth knowing in the first 7 centuries of christianity, because it was suppressed if it contradicted religious doctrines.
Later it persecuted those who wished to advance our understanding of the world around us. Here are two examples, but the research and persecutions seem endless.
- MICHAEL SERVETUS (1511-1553) – Servetus was a Spanish physician credited with discovering pulmonary circulation. He wrote a book, which outlined his discovery along with his ideas about reforming Christianity , it was deemed heretical. Servetus was arrested, tortured and burned at the stake on the shores of Lake Geneva.
- GALILEO (1564-1642) – The Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei was trailed and convicted in 1633 for publishing his evidence that supported the Copernican theory that the Earth revolves around the sun. His research was instantly criticized by the Catholic church for going against the established scripture that places Earth and not the Sun at the centre of the universe. Galileo was found guilty of heresy and sentenced to formal imprisonment. This was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life.
The persecution of heresy in the Christian church is quite endemic, on researching for this piece I was astounded when the figure time and again came up as 50 million.
“from the birth of Popery in 606 to the present time, it is estimated by careful and credible historians that more than fifty million of the human family, have been slaughtered for the crime of heresy by popish persecutors, an average of more than forty thousand religious murders for every year of the existance of popery”
– History of Romanism, pp 541,542. New York 1871
Of course, if we take into account child abuse, rape, and suicide rates in Christians the rate climbs even higher and is ongoing to date.
A CHRISTIAN NATION?
A landmark was passed in 2016 in the UK, for the first time those declaring themselves no religion surpassed the number of christians . Some 48 % non religious, 44% christian and 8% other religions, we can now be more accurately describe ourselves as a secular nation with fading christian institutions.
There is of course nothing new in the decline of the church, it has been happening slowly over time. However just 15 years ago almost three quarters of Brits classed themselves as christian, 5 years ago 25% classed themselves as non religious,the train is now moving quickly, within one generation we could have kicked religion out of Britain.
To the growing secular population, religion is something to be treated with suspicion. Politicians who are religious find their faith used against them, as to be religious in government can be seen as a personal failing and something to be kept under wraps. Say ‘religious’ to many Brits and the next word that pops into their head is ‘extremist’, ‘bigot’, and/or ‘homophobe’.
The next real problem for the UK will be the role of Monarchy and its title of ‘Head of the Church of England’. When religion is kicked out, so too do we find the Monarchy follows.
Bring it on….