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Western Civilisation

Join Gab (@StFerdinandIII) Western Civilisation was and is superior to anything Islam has developed.  Islam has not aided in the development of the modern world; in fact civilisation has only been created in spite of Islam.  Raising the alarm about the fascism called Submission since 2000.  

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Friday, July 25, 2014

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James Hitchcock, The History of the Catholic Church

Free will, freedom, truth, ethics, a right to life, helping the poor......

by Ferdinand III



This is a good introduction to the history and development of the Catholic Church. Hitchcock lays out some eternal and important truths about the development of Christianity – which not only saved civilization but created it. No other culture in the world, no other cult or paganism in world history, has had such a profound impact on the creation of modernity and civilization than Christianity. That is simply an irrefutable fact.



The timing of the Christian message:

Although the Roman Empire eventually attempted to exterminate the Church, the early Christians believed that God made use of all things for His own purposes and had given the Empire itself a providential role in the spread of the faith. As St. Paul explained, Jesus was sent “when the time had fully come” (Gal 4:4), when the necessary conditions had been met. The Empire formed a geographical and cultural unity, and the Pax Romana (Roman peace) allowed relatively safe and easy travel all over the Mediterranean, thereby facilitating missionary efforts. By preaching and making use of synagogues in cities and large towns, evangelizers were able to reach the largest number of people.



Intellectual tradition

At Alexandria (Egypt), one of the great intellectual centers of the new faith, St. Clement (d. ca. 217) and Origen (d. ca. 254) spoke of Tradition as being found not only in formal doctrinal statements but also in the liturgy, catechetical writings, and creeds recited at baptism. Divine truth was to be found in the Scripture, but not only there. Numerous beliefs commonly accepted by later Christians came down solely through Tradition—both matters of substantive belief, such as the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, and lesser things, such as Joachim and Anna being the names of Mary’s parents and the Magi being named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

[This means that 'sola scriptura 'is utterly invalid]



The early Christians were an urban people, if for no other reason than that cities provided the best opportunity for evangelization. The pagani were literally the rural people—those who had not yet heard the Gospel and still worshipped the old gods. But with the end of persecution, and with sudden numerical growth, “stational churches”—what were later called parishes—were established in the larger cities.



Right to life:

Not only did the Romans practice abortion, every father had the right to decide whether or not a newborn child should be allowed to live. The Church also departed from Roman law in certain other ways, as in allowing marriage between a free woman and a slave.



Without condemning wealth or social status, the Church was egalitarian: in the Kingdom relationships between rich and poor were almost inverted, as saintly beggars could be superior to princes, and slaves might be more exalted than their masters.



Dying for the faith:

Martyrdom was inflicted in a variety of ways. Stephen was stoned to death, which was the Jewish penalty for blasphemy. Under Nero (54-68), Christians were coated with tar and set on fire in the amphitheatre to light the night games, and over the next two centuries, numerous Christians were sent into the arena to be torn apart by wild beasts, as Ignatius anticipated would happen to him. Paul, as a Roman citizen, was honorably beheaded, while Peter was dishonorably crucified (upside down, according to tradition, because he did not consider himself worthy to die as his Lord had died). Some martyrs were mutilated, sent to the mines, and worked to death; others were buried alive, burned en masse, or strapped into iron chairs that were slowly heated until they roasted to death.



Free will and reason:

The Christian emphasis on human free will, albeit impaired by sin, was a liberating alternative to belief in Fate. Christianity recognized the ultimate emptiness of a purely earthly existence, offered hope of eternal life, and laid down an inspiring ethic based on love and the practical discipline necessary to achieve it.



Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares teaches that good and evil exist together in the world, and the reality of human freedom provides the only satisfactory explanation of moral evil—God’s mysterious willingness to grant that freedom and permit its full exercise, even when it is used to thwart His divine plan.



For Augustine [late 4th- 5th century], the crucial mystery of existence was the human will and its perverse attraction to evil. He was the first person in history able to recount his own subjective experiences while looking at them with ruthless objectivity, writing a psychologically acute account of his inner life that had no equivalent in the ancient world.



Developing civilization

Christians in effect became the custodians of that [Greek-Roman] civilization. Difficult though it would have been to achieve, they might have tried to destroy Hellenistic civilization as irredeemably pagan, and, had they done so, the later history of the world would have been unimaginably different.



Judaism was to a great extent hostile to Hellenistic civilization, and, had Christianity remained entirely within the Hebrew cultural ambience, its theology would have developed in very different ways. In particular, it would probably have been content to affirm merely that “Jesus is Lord”, without inquiring too closely into the meaning of that affirmation. But Christianity went beyond its Jewish roots and spread wherever Hellenistic civilization was influential.



Christianity played a crucial role in the development of man’s understanding of history itself, vanquishing the cyclical view of endless repetition that expressed a kind of despair, the sense that men were trapped in a process they could not control. Christianity gave history an eschaton, a goal toward which it relentlessly moves and which for the first time allowed that movement to have meaning.



One of the Church’s greatest achievements—one of the great creative achievements in the history of the world—was to bring about a synthesis between Christianity and classical civilization in the highly sophisticated theology of the second through fifth centuries.



Metaphysical spirituality

Greek terminology helped Christian theologians describe the nature of God. The Old Testament spoke of God in ways that seemed to say that He was subject to emotion and capable of changing His mind. To the Greek philosophers, however, truth had to be immutable, so the Fathers insisted that God must be immutable and absolute, without limit or change, since change implies imperfection. The Fathers backed up the concept by also citing the voice that spoke to Moses from the burning bush—“I am Who am” (Ex 3:14, NAB)



Neo-Platonism affirmed that the spiritual, transcendent, unseen world is real and the world of experience a pale copy that can give only hints of ultimate reality.



Christendom and its theology is thus a complexity of ideas, influences, truths, realities, metaphysical ideals, aspirations and beliefs. The importance of the Christian faith can be found in any area of life, but without question it was the Christian project and ideal, which over 2.000 years took the best elements of 'classical' civilization and impelled them forward to a rational, reasonable, and life-giving superior civilization. Only in Christian theology are women, slaves, the poor, the sick, the dispossessed and the helpless elevated to the first rank. Only in Christendom will one find a merger of the practical and the theological.  


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