Ronald R. Cherry
January 29, 2008
Judeo-Christian values vs. Western values
By Ronald R. Cherry

American Judeo-Christian values are not the equivalent of Western values. Our values are, in fact, a subset of Eastern and Western values. As self-evident as it should be, many people forget that both Judaism and Christianity are religions born in the ancient Middle East, and both are rooted in Biblical text and faith. Western values were born primarily in ancient Greece and Rome, and are rooted in reason.

When Jews moved into Europe during the Diaspora, and later when Christianity became predominant in Europe, there ensued a merging of the Eastern religious values of Biblical Faith and Morality, and Western Reason. This cross pollination benefited both, as reason was brought under the umbrella of Biblical morality, and as faith was made compatible with reason. Judeo-Christian values were born. This merger of East and West can be seen in the writings of Saint Augustine, Maimonides, Saint Thomas Aquinas, John Locke and ultimately in the American Declaration of Independence. The writings of C.S. Lewis in particular paint a beautiful picture of this hybrid between Biblical faith, wisdom and morality, and Western reason.

Our Judeo-Christian values have evolved over time, and that is reflected in the writings of the philosophers, with Middle Eastern religious morality mixing with Western reason in varying combinations particular to each writer; but from the outset Judeo-Christian values have stood upon the unchanging bedrock of the Biblical God, King of the Universe. Our values have taken on incremental improvements as they challenge each new generation of lesser values, with a quantum leap occurring as our Founding Fathers recognized the God-given individual rights to Life, Liberty and Creativity.

After the emperor Constantine established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, a paradoxical situation arose: Christianity became entangled with the authoritarian power of the empire, and the Medieval European Christian Church began to lose sight of its Biblical morality. There ensued a theocratic authoritarianism in the West. The prevailing Medieval Western values cannot be construed as Judeo-Christian values because of this. This was an age of brutality, and there was no assurance of the sanctity of life; there was no liberty, and creativity was reserved to the privileged few. During the Reformation, Biblical morality was reasserted in the European Church, and there was then a re-birth of Judeo-Christian values, among both Catholics and Protestants; the concept of liberty, however, was still rudimentary.

After the Renaissance and Reformation, there evolved in Europe the modern Western notion of the "death of God" and the perfectibility of man. This new ideology was based upon reason alone, or more correctly it was based upon Western Reason and Atheistic Faith. This theophobic ideology began to excise the hitherto Eastern religious and moral nature of Renaissance Western Civilization, and resulted in the Western totalitarian evils of Communism and Nazism modern European amoral legacies of the Roman Empire. Although Judeo-Christian values were forged in Europe, they have not always found a welcome home there. European Judeo-Christian values were supplanted in turn by Western Theocratic Authoritarianism during medieval times, by Western Communism and Western Nazism during modern times, and are now supplanted by Western Socialism. The current and prevailing post-modern European Socialism is simply a milder form of Western Theophobic Ideology, and as yet has not turned totalitarian.

Judeo-Christian values still hold fast to reason, but Western values have repeatedly rejected Biblical morality. The Western values of Europe now tend toward recognizing the measurable value of the individual and reversible human rights which are not from the Biblical God, but derived from and documented by an elite group of men. Western values without Biblical morality promote self-idolatry, but in the end, they demote the individual as state-idolatry ensues.

Western values, as you can see, are often in conflict with Judeo-Christian values. No doubt many European individuals still adhere to some Judeo-Christian values, but they are dwindling in numbers; and theirs is no longer the prevailing culture of Europe. The question now is whether Europe will establish Judeo-Christian values similar to the American model with God-given human rights, or will they again degenerate into tyranny of one sort or another? The question also applies to much of the rest of the world.

It fell to our American Founding Fathers to re-establish Judeo-Christian values; but this time, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence, our God-given and irreversible right to Life, Liberty and Creativity was asserted; as well as the previously identified Eastern values of Biblical faith and morality, and the Western value of reason. The church, but not the Biblical God, was separated from government; and we therefore have in America a 1789 Constitutional separation of church and state with a pre-existing 1776 Declarational unity of God and state. . The genius of our Founding Fathers was to reprocess and reintegrate the best of East and West. American Judeo-Christian values assert the infinite value of the individual made in the image of God, and promote the unity of free individuals rather than the coerced group conformity of Europe-based Western Socialism, Communism and Nazism. American Judeo-Christian values have made us strong, successful and exceptional as a nation. Our sacred rights to Life, Liberty and Creativity; along with Eastern Biblical faith and morality and Western reason, will lead America into a bright future, and will do so for any others who choose to join.

Slavery, begun on our soil by the British before we were a nation, was a violation of our own values, and it required the shedding of much blood and the wasting of much treasure to erase this evil from America during the nineteenth century; but slavery has never been a Judeo-Christian Value. American Judeo-Christian values were the source of moral opposition to American slavery. Slavery is still endemic and actually valued in some foreign cultures to this day. Judeo-Christian values were also the moral basis for Europe to rid its self of the Theocratic Authoritarianism of medieval times, and the Judeo-Christian values of America also provided the moral basis for our defeat of Nazism and Communism.

Establishment of our sacred, irreversible and individual God-given rights, and the preservation of our revolutionary American Judeo-Christian values, required the struggle and the blood of our early ancestors; and it has required further sacrifice in subsequent generations of Americans, including our own Civil War. Our Founding Fathers threw off the Western tyranny of the British Empire, and later generations of Americans did the same with the Nazis of World War II, and the Communists of the Cold War these the modern European Western successors to the British Empire the disposed modern Western challengers to our freedom.

I find it to be a deplorable and historical irony that, as a spokesman for Western values, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, criticizes America's war fighting as "clearing the decks" with a "quick burst of violent action" which has led to "the worst of all worlds." I'll just remind the Archbishop that it was a quick burst of violent action which liberated Judeo-Christian America from the Western Authoritarian Empire of Britan just over 200 years ago. It was courageous and violent action which saved the liberty of Judeo-Christian America from the Western Nazis and the Western Communists as well. Unfortunately, the same is now true in our just war against the convergence of Totalitarian Islam and Middle Eastern tyranny, although we hope and pray and aim for an end of this war on terms of peace under liberty.

In a deplorable religious irony the Archbishop derides the "chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God's purpose for humanity." Does the Archbishop not believe that life, liberty and creativity are the gifts of God to humanity, and therefore one of God's purposes for humanity? Which nation in history has actually established and has repeatedly defended God-given life, liberty, and creativity? That nation is the United States, and it is not a myth. The Archbishop got one thing right when he stated: "Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul." Without realizing it the Archbishop of Canterbury has stumbled upon the distinction between Western values and American Judeo-Christian values.

© Ronald R. Cherry

 

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Ronald R. Cherry

Ronald R. Cherry, MD, is a board-certified specialist in lung disease who is in the full-time practice of medicine in Sweetwater, Tennessee... (more)

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