So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
and exchange it some day for a crown.
I remember a few years ago I came home from work at around lunchtime. I can’t remember why, but I do remember switching on BBC World, right at the start of a segment reviewing Christopher Hitchen’s book, “God is not Great”. I was interested because I’ve always liked Christopher Hitchens. I may not agree with a lot of what he says, but he’s incisive, articulate and not afraid to be politically incorrect, unlike most left-leaning writers. Anyway, the whole set-up prior to the interview with Hitchens was the rise of Fundamental Christianity in the United States and how this represented a clear and present threat to world peace. Yes, it made me open my mouth too. But at the time there was an undercurrent of opinion that held that fundamental Christianity in the US was giving rise to the evangelical right, Bush, Iraq, the vast right-wing conspiracy and every other boogey-bear of the left. And if you are the multi-culti, politically-correct BBC, how on earth are you going to review an anti-religious book unless you focus all the attention on the only religion you are allowed to disrespect, Christianity.
Anyway back to the interview.
So having done the set-up focusing on how fundamental Christianity was warping US government policy, the interviewer could then legitimately, from a politically-correct standpoint, get Hitchens to talk about the usual trope of how terrible religion has been throughout history, caused more wars and so on. Everything was going swimmingly, until the interviewer said, “Yes but these are just a small minority of extremists who are distorting the central tenants of their faith”. Oh dear. Christopher Hitchens replies, “no, that’s not the case, these extremists are actually following what’s in their scriptures. They are the ones who are scripturally correct. For example, in the Quran it says …..” and he starts to cite verses from the Quran. Bang, the screen goes dead, followed by silence and then nothing but a picture of a globe spinning round. For several minutes.
And that illustrates one of my main criticisms of “God is Not Great”. It lumps all religions together, and says to hell with the lot of them. Yet they are quite obviously not the same. They have different values and philosophies and they produce different outcomes.
Our Western society, based on Judeo-Christian values has been the most successful and tolerant in human history. It abolished slavery, pushed through anti-child labour laws, fought against prejudice and helped produce a flowering of science and culture. It cemented parliamentary democracy in the UK, and inspired the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the United States.
Christianity’s emphasis on individual responsibility, freedom of will, equality of the individual before God, the value of human life, separation of church and state, altruism, an appreciation of the beauty of creation, and an understanding of the existence of order and natural law in that creation was fundamental to Western society’s success. The atheist argues that these are all values which don’t need God – that you can have them and not believe in a supernatural being. And that’s true, but what Christianity did was to make these values the dominant and acceptable ones in society.
Today, despite the cultural marxists attempts to turn Easter into Earth Day, is when we celebrate the death of Christ on the Cross. When God, because of his love for each one of us, no matter what colour, race, gender or religion we are, made the ultimate sacrifice with the death of his Son. He gave us the free will to accept that gift, and by accepting it, live a life that is the best that we can live. Not my dear Archbishop because we have to, but out of own our free will, decide we want to.
For the video on that great hymn: The Old Rugged Cross, click here.