Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Christmas: The Greatest Revolution in Humanity’s History

 

Jesus birth

There have been many many revolutions in the history of humanity. Some more famous or infamous, depending on your point of view. Some were political and violent, such as the American, French, Russian, and Irish Revolutions. (Next year, Ireland will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the shots that began the Irish Revolution of 1916-1923).

Some were not limited to the political sphere.

Revolutions can take many forms; they may change things far beyond political systems and geography. There have been revolutions in the arts and letters, in medical breakthroughs and scientific miracles, in the technology to send men from deep sea to deep space, in the music of Beethoven, in the Renaissance architecture of Rome and Florence and the modern architecture of London and Los Angeles. All were revolutions; all had the furtherance of human progress as their aim.

It is for this reason that they are all incomplete.

Progress in any arena — technological, artistic, cultural — is inevitably limited. As a result, these revolutions have invariably been limited in their impact.

Yet one event was immune to these limitations: a religious revolution that began 2,000 years ago with the birth of a child in a cave outside the village of Bethlehem. To this day, it continues to change the lives of billions of his followers. It has done for twenty centuries. It was the Christian Revolution.

The great Orthodox Christian theologian, David Bentley Hart, wrote in his masterful work, Atheist Delusions: 

Among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilisation … there has been only one—the triumph of Christianity —that can be called in the fullest sense a “revolution”: a truly massive and epochal revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality, so pervasive in its influence and so vast in its consequences as to actually have created a new conception of the world, of history, of human nature, of time, and of the moral good.

In the past two thousand years, Christianity has bequeathed to us through its followers some of the finest art, the greatest literature (counting its own books as amongst them), and the most magnificent architecture the world has seen. It gave us modern science: Its followers launched the Scientific Revolution. Believers created the university system and gave us charitable institutions previously unknown to the world — from orphanages and soup kitchens to hospitals and monasteries that cared for the sick. It even gave us the idea of the separation of church and state, unknown to the pagan world.

But more important than all of the above — and that is saying something — it took the Jewish idea that every man is made in the image of God with a dignity that may never be undone, and gave it to every Gentile. No matter their class, status, wealth, sex, physical deformity, or their age, every human being is equal in the eyes of God.

This was a profound transformation. Contrary to secular propaganda, it was not a natural, common-sense view. It was inherently a theological idea and a Christian belief.

Thus Christianity invented the individual.

It is true that Christians have often failed to live up to these ideals. This is truly irrelevant. Christianity gave us the ideal. It changed morality, ethics, politics, culture, and (of course) religion; it changed the values of every nation it touched; and it still does to this day.

Some two thousand years ago, the world changed for the better. The world still has a long way to go. But it did get better. Something changed. Jesus’s birth occasioned that change for all of humanity. It changed the world for millions of souls across the world, and changed it for me.

It’s as if a Light came into the World. And a Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.

Merry Christmas, Ricochet — and I hope you have a great time.

Tags:

There are 22 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Doug Watt Moderator

    Thanks Paddy, have a blessed Christmas.

    • #1
    • December 23, 2015, at 4:17 PM PST
    • Like
  2. Scott Wilmot Member

    Paddy Siochain: Jesus’ birth began the change for humanity. More importantly it began a change for millions of individuals across the world, and me.

    Indeed.

    The Incarnation is the turning point in history.

    God became man.

    Verbum caro factum est.

    Merry Christmas, Paddy.

    • #2
    • December 23, 2015, at 4:38 PM PST
    • Like
  3. Brian McMenomy Inactive

    Thanks for the fine reflection, Paddy. The birth of Christ is literally the hinge of human history, when God became man and paid the bill we couldn’t so we could be in relationship with Him forever. Every human matters to God; may His love for us shine through us this Christmas, so the world sees not a nice story, but a challenge to our spiritual independence, our pride and our despair. Jesus calls us to Himself. Like Mary said in response to Gabriel, let’s reply “May it be done to me according to your word.” It’s a dangerous response (like it was for Mary), but a glorious one. May God bless you this joyous Christmas.

    • #3
    • December 23, 2015, at 5:05 PM PST
    • Like
  4. Scott Wilmot Member

    I love this:

    The announcement of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord from the Roman Martyrology.

    The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ
    The Twenty-fifth Day of December,

    when ages beyond number had run their course
    from the creation of the world,

    when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
    and formed man in his own likeness;

    when century upon century had passed
    since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
    as a sign of covenant and peace;

    in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
    came out of Ur of the Chaldees;

    in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
    in the Exodus from Egypt;

    around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;

    in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;

    in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

    in the year seven hundred and fifty-two
    since the foundation of the City of Rome;

    in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,
    the whole world being at peace,

    JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
    desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,
    was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    and when nine months had passed since his conception,
    was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
    and was made man:

    The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

    • #4
    • December 24, 2015, at 3:26 AM PST
    • Like
  5. Crabby Appleton Inactive

    “Thus Christianity invented the individual.

    Whilst it is true that Christians often failed to live up to these ideas, this is really irrelevant. It gave us this idea. It changed the morality, the ethos, the politics, the culture, the religious views (obviously), and the values of every nation it touched – in fact it still does this day.”

    J Bronowski observed that every revolution is a cultural revolution. It changes, over time, the way the mass of people lead their ordinary lives. So it was in Christendom. The essence of Christianity is above all things ethical (individual) and not political (collective). The kingdom of God is within you. The kingdom of God is at hand ( i.e. within your reach ). I don’t think Christianity invented the individual. It did allow the individual to go behind the veil and access the Holy of Holies for himself.

    Thanks for this thought provoking holiday post. Happy Christmas!

    • #5
    • December 24, 2015, at 6:37 AM PST
    • Like
  6. Manfred Arcane Inactive

    q_TEOyhy7Bg

    ifCWN5pJGIE

    “Rejoice Greatly!

    For unto you, and unto me, and unto us, a Savior is born.”

    • #6
    • December 24, 2015, at 8:00 AM PST
    • Like
  7. Son_of_the_South Inactive

    I’d actually disagree. For sure, Christianity was an important revolution, but it didn’t even affect the whole world, at least not for a very long time. I’d argue that the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years is much more important to humanity as a whole, especially on the material front.

    • #7
    • December 24, 2015, at 8:11 AM PST
    • Like
  8. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Son_of_the_South:I’d actually disagree. For sure, Christianity was an important revolution, but it didn’t even affect the whole world, at least not for a very long time. I’d argue that the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years is much more important to humanity as a whole, especially on the material front.

    Yes, but…

    Like the renaissance, the industrial revolution was born and developed only in Christian Europe and was later exported elsewhere.

    It’s hard to envision an industrial revolution originating in the Muslim world with it’s view of nature and causality. Nor can I imagine it starting in the Buddhist far east with it’s world view of endlessly repeating cycles.

    In the Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    Christianity, with its Judaic heritage posited a beginning of history, a purpose to history, an end to history and an explicit directive to manage and improve on nature.

    Merry Christmas S_o_t_S.

    • #8
    • December 24, 2015, at 11:56 AM PST
    • Like
  9. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor

    Son_of_the_South: at least not for a very long time.

    But indeed it did — after a very long time. It’s very hard to argue that the industrial revolution was unconnected to the Scientific Revolution and to other European institutions of the time. These were clearly shaped by Europe’s Christian culture and history.

    I say this as a Jew; I’ve got no theological reason to argue this. But I agree with Paddy, as a historian.

    I’d argue that the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years is much more important to humanity as a whole, especially on the material front.

    • #9
    • December 24, 2015, at 10:49 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thank you, Paddy, and Merry Christmas.

    • #10
    • December 24, 2015, at 10:55 PM PST
    • Like
  11. Marion Evans Inactive

    In the past two thousand years, Christianity has bequeathed to us through its followers some of the finest art, the greatest literature (counting its own books as amongst them), and the most magnificent architecture the world has seen. It gave us modern science: Its followers launched the Scientific Revolution.

    This is a bit too quick for me. It is true that Christianity produced fine architecture in its first 1400 years but it was mainly for churches and it was no finer than the Roman and Greek architecture that preceded it. In fact, humanity lost the knowledge of how to build a large dome between Roman times and Brunelleschi. The big leap forward was with the Reformation and the Renaissance, both seen as anti-Christian at the time.

    In the case of Galileo, the Church fought hard against the advancement of science. And when I think of the greatest literature, I think Dickens, Tolstoy, Balzac, more the products of the industrial revolution. To your point though, Tolstoy is unique for espousing a pure version of Christianity and for promoting non-violence in The Kingdom of God is Within You.

    Merry Christmas!

    • #11
    • December 25, 2015, at 3:08 AM PST
    • Like
  12. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”).

    Thanks, Paddy, Merry Christmas

    • #12
    • December 25, 2015, at 7:02 AM PST
    • Like
  13. I Walton Member

    Marion Evans:In the case of Galileo, the Church fought hard against the advancement of science.

    That’s a common interpretation of what happened. I’m not sure it’s accurate. Galileo was fighting the scientific establishment, many of whom were part of the church’s bureaucracy. Galileo tried to enlist his friend the Pope on his side got angry when the Pope wouldn’t take sides and paid with discipline. The church and christianity were crucial to the scientific revolution. That there were underlying laws begins with Jews and Christians and led man to try to figure them out. That is still the case but when the enlightenment thinkers began to break away from the traditions passed on primarily from the Church, it didn’t work out well and is why Hayek called that materialistic divorce the fatal conceit.

    • #13
    • December 25, 2015, at 9:55 AM PST
    • Like
  14. Peter Robinson Founder

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Son_of_the_South: at least not for a very long time.

    But indeed it did — after a very long time. It’s very hard to argue that the industrial revolution was unconnected to the Scientific Revolution and to other European institutions of the time. These were clearly shaped by Europe’s Christian culture and history.

    I say this as a Jew; I’ve got no theological reason to argue this. But I agree with Paddy, as a historian.

    I’d argue that the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years is much more important to humanity as a whole, especially on the material front.

    Thanks for that, Claire. And now, since the kids are finally waking up and happy annual rituals of opening gifts and stuffing the turkey await me, I leave it to you to keep an eye on this thread, sticking up for Christianity even as you oversee Ricochet’s annual Jewish Christmas. L’chaim!

    • #14
    • December 25, 2015, at 10:16 AM PST
    • Like
  15. Paddy S Member
    Paddy S

    I feel flattered that both Peter and Claire responded to this. But I am also as greatful for the kind words above and throughout thd year by many Ricochet readers and commentators.

    To everyone as gaeilge- ta suil agam go bhfuil athas an domhain orainn i gcrith na Nolliag seo.

    Thanks again Claire for editing. I really should stop writing these after midnight.

    • #15
    • December 25, 2015, at 10:30 AM PST
    • Like
  16. Paddy S Member
    Paddy S
    • #16
    • December 25, 2015, at 10:31 AM PST
    • Like
  17. TempTime Member

    Thank you, Paddy. May you enjoy the merriest of Christmas days!

    • #17
    • December 25, 2015, at 5:35 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Marion Evans Inactive

    I Walton:

    Marion Evans:In the case of Galileo, the Church fought hard against the advancement of science.

    That’s a common interpretation of what happened. I’m not sure it’s accurate. Galileo was fighting the scientific establishment, many of whom were part of the church’s bureaucracy. Galileo tried to enlist his friend the Pope on his side got angry when the Pope wouldn’t take sides and paid with discipline. The church and christianity were crucial to the scientific revolution. That there were underlying laws begins with Jews and Christians and led man to try to figure them out. That is still the case but when the enlightenment thinkers began to break away from the traditions passed on primarily from the Church, it didn’t work out well and is why Hayek called that materialistic divorce the fatal conceit.

    Look, it is Christmas so maybe not the best time to remind everyone that the Church also made mistakes. You piqued my interest with Hayek however. Did he himself write that those traditions were “passed on primarily from the Church” or is this your view? Asking seriously.

    • #18
    • December 26, 2015, at 3:31 AM PST
    • Like
  19. I Walton Member

    Marion Evans:

    I Walton:

    Look, it is Christmas so maybe not the best time to remind everyone that the Church also made mistakes. You piqued my interest with Hayek however. Did he himself write that those traditions were “passed on primarily from the Church” or is this your view? Asking seriously.

    He said families. Burke said the bank of nations and of ages. I think the church and churches were in the middle of it although the Jews had most of it figured out. Hayek put it all together analytically as well as anyone. It’s the simple notions that bring order to chaos and the church/churches are essential to keeping those notions present and relevant through faith.

    • #19
    • December 26, 2015, at 5:24 AM PST
    • Like
  20. Manny Member

    Like! Merry Christmas Paddy.

    • #20
    • December 26, 2015, at 7:53 AM PST
    • Like
  21. Paddy S Member
    Paddy S

    Peter Robinson:

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Son_of_the_South: at least not for a very long time.

    But indeed it did — after a very long time. It’s very hard to argue that the industrial revolution was unconnected to the Scientific Revolution and to other European institutions of the time. These were clearly shaped by Europe’s Christian culture and history.

    I say this as a Jew; I’ve got no theological reason to argue this. But I agree with Paddy, as a historian.

    I’d argue that the Industrial Revolution of the last two hundred years is much more important to humanity as a whole, especially on the material front.

    Thanks for that, Claire. And now, since the kids are finally waking up and happy annual rituals of opening gifts and stuffing the turkey await me, I leave it to you to keep an eye on this thread, sticking up for Christianity even as you oversee Ricochet’s annual Jewish Christmas. L’chaim!

    Always a plus when both you and Claire like something of mine, Peter. I wish you both and your families a great peaceful and non streneous holiday.

    • #21
    • December 27, 2015, at 4:43 PM PST
    • Like
  22. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Crabby Appleton: J Bronowski observed that every revolution is a cultural revolution.

    Another Ricochetti Bronowski fan!

    Such a great, great man.

    • #22
    • December 29, 2015, at 2:08 PM PST
    • Like

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.