In a stunning piece of writing for The Spectator, the respected historian Tom Holland, traces the roots of the ‘western values’ beloved of liberals, secularist and humanists to Christianity in general, and the crucifixion of Jesus in particular.
“The wellspring of humanist values lies not in reason, not in evidence-based thinking, but in the past, and specifically in the story of how a cult inspired by the execution of an obscure criminal in a long-vanished empire emerged to become – as the great Jewish scholar Daniel Boyarin has put it – ‘the most powerful of, ….. cultural systems of the world.’
“Because of Christianity, wrote Friedrich Nietzche,”the measure of a man’s compassion for the lowly and suffering come to be the measure of the loftiness of his soul.”…. “That the persecuted and disadvantaged have claims upon the privileged – widely taken for granted though it may be today across the West – is not remotely a self-evident truth. Condemnations of Christianity as patriarchal or repressive or hegemonic derive from a framework of values that is in itself nothing if not Christian”
The full article is a fascinating read, and is available on the Spectator website here. Site registration (which is free) allows the reader access to three articles a week; the full site is behind a paywall.