I have no wish to engage in polemics against Christianity. Nor do I have any interest in converting anyone to paganism. Actually, I am reluctant to write anything at all and am writing here only because my contribution was requested. And as it seems to me to be useless to reiterate points about which there is wide agreement or to join the ever growing chorus denouncing the outrages of the day, I have chosen to write about something that seems to inevitably lead to controversy, Christianity, and from a non-Christian perspective. To Christians what I write may appear antagonistic, or perhaps even scornful, but that is inaccurate. Indeed, compared to the way many Christians have spoken of one another, what I have been written cannot be considered anything other than mild. Let us hope that I will continue to be able to refrain from denouncing anyone as a whore of Babylon, or the anti-Christ, or even simply a heretic. Certainly it is true that subversive forces have criticized Christianity, and at first sight it may appear strange that those on the right likewise criticize it, but this is easily explained by the fact that something may be viewed from different perspectives, including above or below. In all this I am attempting to walk a fine line, and have likely failed, and may continue to do so, but I will keep trying. I only wish that there are at least a few who understand why I am doing this, whether they agree with my conclusions or not.
Why did the peoples of Europe convert to Christianity? Certainly this is a very complex and interesting question. But does the answer tell us anything about the truth or falsehood of Christianity? I don’t think so. And from a Christian perspective, it isn’t even the right question. If Christianity is the one true religion, why did most of the world not accept Christianity? Are the people of Europe superior in some way? Certainly most Christians couldn’t accept such an answer. Or perhaps it was that the pagan religions of Europe were so defective and dissatisfying, that the people gladly gave them up for Christianity, while people elsewhere were much happier with their superior religions. No European, who wasn’t filled with self loathing, could accept that answer. So, either the Europeans took over the role played by the Hebrews in Biblical times (according to the Christian narrative), that is they became the new chosen people by an act of Divine grace, or the validity of Christianity cannot be determined by the fact of conversion. Of course this problem largely disappears if one can see that Christianity is not the one true faith, but one religion among many. Unfortunately that brings up another problem, as it was the belief that Christianity was the one true faith that justified the conversion of Europe.
Are there other ways to prove that Christianity is the one true faith? Perhaps by the greatness of its culture? Its great military campaigns and conquests? The holiness of its saints? Miracles? The fulfillment of prophecies? The wisdom of its scriptures? All of these things and more can be found in all the great civilizations of the world. Theological arguments about the supposed uniqueness of Christ have been unconvincing to the vast majority of the people of the world, including many of the most learned and pious, and such arguments have little influence even on Christians themselves. Christianity seems true, good, or at the very least preferable to other religions to many Europeans because it has been their religion for centuries, and in that time has been deeply infused with European beliefs and values, and not because of its exclusive possession of truth or even its superiority to other religions (a question that the vast majority of adherents do not sincerely investigate anyway). The situation is of course the same for people of other cultures and the followers of other religions with regard to beliefs other than their own, and indeed it should not be otherwise. Generally, sons should follow the religion of their fathers. There is no such thing as the one true religion, rather different religions are appropriate for different people.
What I have been trying to communicate is that Christianity both in the form found in the New Testament and in the form it is taking today is inappropriate for Europe, as it expresses values contrary to European ones, that is pagan values (or traditional values, not those of the enlightenment or modernity). It is true that Europe has left the Church, but more importantly the Church has left Europe. It is Christianity’s responsibility to modify itself sufficiently to European values (to an even greater extent than it did in the Medieval period, when Christianity was at its most pagan and therefore its best), and that if it fails to do so, it should be rejected. It is not Europe’s responsibility to modify itself to Christianity, as that would of course imply that Christianity is the one true faith and that the pagan religions, and their values, were false, as are all the other religions of the world.
Those who maintain that Christianity is the one true faith must consider carefully the consequences of that belief if it were to be shared by all the peoples of the world. Is it truly desirable that all the rituals, music, temples, art, sacred texts, and innumerable traditions of all the great religions disappear, or be relegated to museums so that the world can have one great sing along about a man named Zacchaeus climbing a tree? Or that all the great legends and heroes, if they’re remembered at all, become nothing more than what Thor or Hercules have become for Europeans, that is characters in comic books and television shows? Anyone who can answer yes to those questions is, if not being dishonest, clearly mad. The thought of all those traditions disappearing can be nothing short of horrifying to any sane or moral person. Yet in a way it is understandable that Christianity has insisted that it is the one true faith, for if it is not, by destroying the pagan tradition, it is guilty of an incomprehensible and unspeakable crime.
Those are harsh words, and it should be understood that I am not attacking or condemning any individual Christian. I understand how personal and deeply important religion is. I was once a Christian myself. I don’t enjoy arguing or engaging in controversy and again, I am reluctant to talk about these matters. But I think it is essential to offer an alternative perspective. Christianity, by itself, without making the necessary changes, is a false hope. It will not save us.