How Jesus Shaped the West

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Why aren’t we accepting more refugees or giving more aid? Especially at election time, these are important questions that many of us as Australians are asking.

It’s strange though that no one stops to reflect on deeper issues. Like, why is it western nations like Australia that refugees want to migrate to? Why do we have both the means and the heart to give aid? If we could answer these, perhaps we could go beyond symptoms and address root causes.

“We have a heritage of incomparable blessings that people of other lands are quite literally queuing up to enjoy.”

Of course it’s because we have wealth to give, and modern medicine and principles of liberty and advanced technology and more. But go deeper still. Why did the West become this way, as opposed to say Columbia, Uzbekistan, or Thailand? What got us here?

We’re heirs of many great influences. The classical world of Greece and Rome jump straight to mind. Some say Europe got ahead because of good climate and geography. The more cynical suggest that our cruel colonisation of other lands is what gave us the leg up. For better or worse, there’s truth in all of it.

Yet there’s a far more significant reason for the many blessings we enjoy. It’s one you’ll never hear at school or university. It’s rarely if ever mentioned on TV or the radio. Politicians are too polite to say it. World leaders could lose their jobs over it.

What am I referring to? Not what, but who: a carpenter from Nazareth.

“The ideas unleashed by Jesus have had an astonishing impact on the world—and especially on Western civilisation.”

All religions are equally valid, equally true, and equally moral. That’s the politically correct line. So I’ve written it there for you. But a serious look at the facts of history, and an honest assessment of the world we live in today, truly challenge that dogma.

See ideas have consequences. And an exciting discovery that most people are yet to make (and that others are embarrassed about) is this: the ideas unleashed by Jesus have had an astonishing impact on the world—and especially on Western civilisation.

Do I think that “the West is the best” and that all other cultures are inferior? By no means. I’ve lived and served voluntarily for over two years in South-East Asia in a place that I love. It is my second home, and it has ruined me, in the very best of ways.

“This feeling is hard to describe, but strangely I often feel more at home around people from cultures other than my own.”

I’m also fascinated to meet and talk with people from other places who have come to find a new life in Australia. This feeling is hard to describe, but strangely I often feel more at home around people from cultures other than my own. We westerners have enormous amounts to learn from the other nations of the world.

Having said this, we also have a heritage of incomparable blessings that people of other lands are quite literally queuing up to enjoy. Let’s be clear: I don’t believe this is because westerners are great. I’m convinced that it’s because Jesus is great, and the impact he’s had on our civilisation is phenomenal.

Atheist Matthew Parris shocked the world when he wrote, “Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem—the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset.”

While poverty is deeply complex, Parris is pointing us beyond symptoms to issues of worldview. Beliefs shape behaviour. Values determine culture. Look at Jesus’ influence on Western civilisation, and it couldn’t be clearer.

Join me on a journey of discovery as we consider how Jesus shaped the West.

Let’s begin with Reason.

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REASON / TECHNOLOGY / LANGUAGES / HEROISM / EDUCATION / SCIENCE / MEDICINE / LIBERTY / EQUALITY / MORALITY

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