Summary: The rise of Christianity in the West propelled Western nations to great advances in science, economics and politics. This Christian foundation is the basis for America's freedom and greatness, and is in great danger as America turns away from God.
This week, America celebrates 239 years of political independence.
But Freedom is more threatened now than at any time since the General Howe nearly defeated Washington’s army on the shores of Long Island in 1776.
Friday’s ruling by the US Supreme Court is not ultimately about sexual freedom, or marriage freedom. The Court’s decision is a direct threat to religious freedom. It is quite possible that religious freedom in America will be vastly different in the days ahead.
Today, I want to talk about the Christian faith as the foundation of our freedom. My approach will utilize deductive methodology. I will give 2 statements, and examples that explain and support those statements, then I will provide a conclusion.
Statement #1. America’s Freedom and Greatness is built upon a Christian Foundation. I understand that secularists decry this statement. They believe that our greatness as a nation is due to other factors such as Geography, our laws or our democracy. But other nations have all of those same elements.
Some might go so far as to say that religion contributed to our greatness. But again, look at other religious nations. In fact, look at the most religious nations in the world today, where Sharia Law is practiced, and you will not find greatness or freedom. You will only find oppression and poverty.
America’s greatness and supremacy in economics, power and influence is due to its Christian foundation. You see, America embodied the greatest advances in Western thought and culture. And those advances propelled Western nations vastly beyond the rest of the world that was less influenced by Christianity.
To illustrate this, just imagine the scene that took place on the continents of North and South America, and the Islands of the Caribbean during the 1500's-1600's. Portugese, Spanish, Dutch, German, and British explorers set out to seek the treasure and knowledge of the rest of the world. Everywhere they go, their technology and understanding of the world is hundreds of years ahead of every other culture.
Just 1500 years earlier, at the pinnacle of the Roman Empire, there was parity among nations in technology, medicine and economics. Rome was the world’s superpower, but the entire world experienced the same relative level of scientific advancement. Now, 1500 years later there are two worlds. Something happened that created powerful nations out of the rubble of ancient Rome.
Rodney Stark, a philosopher and scholar at Baylor University explains this in his book, “How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and the Success of the West” SOURCE: www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1809. Stark demonstrates that the progress of the Western nations was built on Capitalism. He writes,
How had the nations that had arisen from the rubble of Rome so greatly surpassed the rest of the world?.... The most convincing answer to those questions attributes Western dominance to the rise of capitalism, which took place only in Europe....Capitalism achieved that miracle through regular reinvestment to increase productivity, either to create greater capacity or improve technology, and by motivating both management and labor through ever-rising payoffs...... But, if one digs deeper, it becomes clear that the truly fundamental basis not only for capitalism, but for the rise of the West, was an extraordinary faith in reason...... from early days, the church fathers taught that reason was the supreme gift from God and the means to progressively increase understanding of Scripture and revelation.... Encouraged by the scholastics and embodied in the great medieval universities founded by the church, faith in the power of reason infused Western culture, stimulating the pursuit of science and the evolution of democratic theory and practice
So, it was the desire to KNOW GOD and the SCRIPTURES that led to Western advances that are the foundation for modern civilization. Examples of this are found in the great universities like Princeton, Harvard and Yale that were started as theological seminaries.
Stark provides further example:
18th-century political theorists as John Locke explicitly rested on egalitarian axioms derived by church scholars... from earliest days, the major theologians taught that faith in reason was intrinsic to faith in God. As ... Tertullian instructed in the second century, “Reason is a thing of God, inasmuch as there is nothing which God the Maker of all has not provided, disposed, ordained by reason—nothing which He has not willed should be handled and understood by reason.” Consequently it was assumed that reason held the key to progress in understanding scripture, and that knowledge of God and the secrets of his creation would increase over time.... Augustine went on at length about the “wonderful—one might say stupefying—advances human industry has made.” All were attributed to the “unspeakable boon” that God has conferred upon his creation, a “rational nature. (Stark)
IN SUMMARY: Western advances in economics and personal and political freedom are rooted in Reason
Reason succeeded as the result of a quest to understand God’s World and God’s Word