There are people of goodwill who believe their non-belief in God will have no effect on our culture and its future. What they fail to grasp is that the very way they think and act and, indeed, the nature of the society in which they live, are based in and owed to Christianity
There might be newspaper journalists out there in woop-woop better than The Australian’s Greg Sheridan. I don’t read them. It always seems to me that he strives for the truth. Contrast him with his colleagues Paul Kelly and Phillip Adams. Kelly was at it again at the weekend, writing that Trump is “assaulting” free trade.
Free trade hey. Tariff and other artificial barriers faced by US companies exporting are markedly greater than faced by foreign companies exporting to the United States. The Obama White House reported in May 2015 that “almost 70 percent of U.S. imports crossed our borders duty-free, but many of our trading partners maintain higher tariffs that create steep barriers to U.S. exports.” Trump wants to redress the balance. How is that assaulting the prevailing fiction of ‘free trade’?
But my point is not an economic one. My point is that a journalist should put things into proper perspective not engage in tendentious Trump bashing, or any other bashing, at every opportunity. Listen up Kelly. The ‘Yuge’ US trade deficit is not sustainable. Inform your readers. Assume that they are as bright as you; even brighter.
Phillip Adams engaging in sophistry is nothing new. But here he was again, also at the weekend, intimating that Gerard Henderson was wrong in calling out the ABC’s bias. He threw in the names of some non-leftists who had been given air time on the ABC, e.g., Amanda Vanstone and Tom Switzer, to bolster his case. It doesn’t pass the pub test. Anyone with half a brain and an ounce of objectivity knows that news and public affairs on the ABC comes with an ummistable left/green bias.
Be a straight-shooter Adams, admit it, for pity’s sake. Defend it if you will. I watch Fox News. It most definitely has a conservative bias. I admit it. I celebrate it. I don’t intimate that it is balanced because Fox gives a spot to that awful lefty Juan Williams and, irritatingly, often interviews Democrat politicians and their hangers on.
Where am I going with this? Well I see that Sheridan has a book out this week titled God is Good for You: A defence of Christianity in troubled times. The book shares the faith of fourteen current and former politicians. Malcolm Turnbull features as does Bill Shorten. I didn’t know that Turnbull was a Christian. Reportedly, he avoids talking of his private beliefs in public. That is a pity in my view. There has never been a more needful time for Christians to trumpet their faith. Hold that thought for the moment. My other thought is that truth in reporting, in what is said and written, cannot but be underpinned by Christianity.
Christianity imposes rules of conduct. True they are too often found in the breach rather than in the observance. But they are there weighing on consciences. There is no get-out-of-jail card for lying. “You shall not swear falsely but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn. But I say to you, do not take an oath at all…Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37) Mind you, where truth is concerned, politicians along with salesmen occupy a corrupting profession and are given an amount of leeway, at least in this world. I can’t see that the same tolerance should be extended to journalists.
Christians think of themselves as made by God not mere products of blind evolution with no substantive moral anchor or reference point. As accidental derivates of primitive life forms (cyanobacteria or some such) atheists simply believe that telling more truths than lies benefited survival in the distant past. No morality was at play. Thus, why not lie, tell half-truths or mislead as you see advantage? Absence God, who is to say it wrong. As for Muslims, Islam positively endorses lying and deceit to gain advantage over non-believers. I have no evidence of course, but I would be surprised and disappointed if there were not a strong positive correlation between Christianity and truth telling. I present Greg Sheridan as a case in point.
Back to Turnbull keeping his Christianity close to his chest. We (those of Western heritage and outlook) live in parlous times. True times have always been parlous. But in these times material progress is disguising cultural disintegration. How many times have you read recently that people are vastly better off than they were; that poverty is very much less than it was. It is as if everything is viewed through a material prism. Sometimes you also read that never were so few people caught up in wars. How short-sighted is that? The same thing, no doubt, could have been said in 1929, with the Second World War only ten years away. It is myopic beyond belief.
Our Western progress – material, spiritual and cultural – owes everything to Christianity. Christianity freed men to reason, extolled the value of the individual as a child of God, ended slavery, led to efforts to discover the laws of nature established by God, and provided the environment within which freedom (including free speech) and enlightenment could flourish. Rodney Stark (in The Triumph of Christianity) gives an excellent account of all this and more.
You will find atheists suggesting that Christianity held societies back. This is pure ignorance. It is born of focusing on a few flimsy and ephemeral obstacles occasionally put in the way by various Church leaders rather than on the broad road towards enlightenment and progress that Christianity opened up. But here’s the rub. Atheists in the West are growing in number and with them their ignorance.
Our Western civilisation is beset on two sides. First by Godless left activists infiltrating all of our institutions. Second by Islam. Of course, these two Anti-Western forces have allied. But in the end fighting under Allah’s banner will have more conviction to it than fighting under the red and rainbow flags. Expect Islamists to prevail when they turn on each other.
In the middle, meanwhile, there are whole swathes of people of goodwill who believe that their non-belief in God will have no effect on our cultural future. They fail to understand that the very way they think and act is owed to Christianity. They believe that future generations will think and act like them even if Christianity were to fade away. We are blank canvasses when we are born. We are moulded by our culture. Christ came to ensure that we enveloped ourselves and our children in a cultural path to God.
Those of us who are Christians, particularly those of influence like Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten, need to proclaim their faith – so that people are in no doubt where they stand. I am not suggesting that they should engage in crass proselytising. Its product placement advertising if you like. It must work, brands pay a lot of money for it. Our civilisation is under threat. Christianity can save it. Our leaders are Christian yet keep quiet, or relatively quiet, about it. That makes no sense to me.