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The Good News Brings Charity...

The Good News Brings Charity...

Postby Brian » 19 Mar 2009, 02:03

Another thought provoking piece from Anthony Esolen's The Politically Incorrect Guide To Western Civilization (2008) Subject title of post is borrowed directly from Esolen.

"It may offend some secularlists and those prudes who think that religion ought to be kept behind closed doors, but charity and concern for the poor are integral to our culture today because of Christianity. (empahsis Esolen's). If we build hospitals for the destitute beyond our own lands, with no desire for personal or national profit, and risking life and limb to do it, it is because we retain a trace, a cultural memory of the voyages of Saint Paul, of Boniface martyred by the Germans, of Cyril and Methodius trekking north among the Slavs, of Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland, of Gregory the Great seeing blonde slaves in the marketplace and, hearing that they were called 'Angli,' replying, 'Non Angli sed angeli,' 'Not Angles but angels,' and sending missionaries among them, to give them the best he had to give.

Though it is not polite to say so, still it cries out for notice. Hindus do not send holy men into foreign lands to feed the hungry and house the naked; they will not do so for the pariahs in their own land. Buddhists, practicing benevolent detachment from the world, do not so do. Muslims, who conquer by force, and who reject natural law on the grounds that it 'fetters' Allah, are required to take care of their own, but they ignore everyone else. All cults of ancestor worship, like Shinto, are too firmly fixed upon the local and the familial to care for people far away. The Jews and Christians would care, because of the God they worship: and they did. If the world speaks of human rights now, and the dignity of the poor, it is because the world has heard of Moses and the prophets - and, summing them up in himself, Christ. Men have come at last neither to love the world nor to despise it simply, but to love its goodness, not as a final end, but as a manifestation of the goodness that is eternal." (p 128-129)

While abuses in the name of Christianity have been trumpeted in recent years, voices like Lewis' and Esolen's continue to make the very strong case for the positive impact of the faith handed down through the Semitic line via Moses, the prophets, Christ Himself as Messiah and those who have truly lived out Christ's example up through the present day. History is truly on the side of Christians and Jews in this regard. For this great positive good there is no need for Christians and Jews to apologize.
In Christ alone,
Brian

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry. Mark Twain
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Re: The Good News Brings Charity...

Postby Bluegoat » 22 Mar 2009, 15:32

I'm not sure that this is true about the Buddhists, which makes me a little suspicious of his rhetoric.
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Re: The Good News Brings Charity...

Postby postodave » 23 Mar 2009, 20:49

I think this needs to be nuanced quite carefully. The point about Buddhism seems to be valid. I remember part of the difference between the strictly evangelical Tearfund and its more liberal offspring Traidcraft was that Traidcraft were willing to work with non-Christians such as a tea-plantation owner who because he was a Buddhist wanted to give his workers a fair deal.
A good book on a similar theme is Rodney Starkey's 'For the Glory of God'. To take an example there is a popular view that Christianity tolerated slavery because it was accepted in the Bible until the middle of the nineteenth century then suddenly decided it was wrong and so it was abolished. This is false on several counts. Slavery was effectively abolished within Christendom from the seventh century onwards because it was agreed that a Christian could not keep another Christian as a slave and as everyone was baptised that left no room for slavery apart from prisoners of war on the borders with Islamdom. Then, against the protests of the Catholic Church slavery came back. The first protestant group to speak out were the Quakers and they were joined by evangelicals. Some evangelicals, especially in the Southern USA, did not agree and these include some highly orthodox theologians but others spoke strongly against slavery. Once the British government had been convinced largely thanks to the evangelicals it not only outlawed slavery but enforced this view on other nations at gunpoint. But slowly and surely slavery has come back and there are more slaves than ever before. A few years ago inspired by anti-slavery international the oldest human rights organisation in the world I wrote to some of the major chocolate manufacturers including Cadbury and asked if they could guarantee they were not using slave labour. They could not. But now I have learned that soon Cadbury's Dairy Milk will go fair trade - now here is the irony - like most older Chocolate manufacurers Cadbury was founded by Quakers who wanted to provide an alternative to gin drinking, the fair trade kite mark was devised by Oxfam, itself founded by Quakers, but has been popularised largely by Evangelicals and Catholics. I know other very orthodox evangelicals who found the whole fair trade venture very suspicious possibly because of its Quaker liberal left provenance. Anyhow the point I'm making is that Christianity does bring good. It's just not the only or exclusive source of good and this good is usually the work of several different kinds of Christians getting on the same wavelength.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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