When you study at a university or any institution of higher learning, you study at an institution which was born in and emerged out of the Christian culture of medieval and early modern Europe. When you enjoy the benefits of universal public education, you are reaping the benefits of the foundational work of many generations of churchmen and churchwomen who believed in the right of ordinary people to know how to read, write, and do basic mathematics – then extended that to the right of all who could and would seek it to pursue the knowledge and skills God had created them to understand and be able to develop.
When you go to a hospital and receive medical care dedicated to “doing no harm” and treating you with the respect you deserve whether young or old, rich or poor, male or female, of any religion or ethnicity, you are benefitting from the Christian view of human beings as being made in God’s image and worthy of all care and consideration because all lives are of equal and infinite value in God’s eyes. That is the whole basis of universal public health care, of universal public education, of universal human rights.
the Bethlehem Baby … grew up to be the greatest inspirational figure in all human history. Remove all the subsequent distortions of what He and His first followers said and began, and no message ever brought or still brings greater light and hope. Try as hard as we might, He and His Good News cannot ever be replaced with anything remotely comparable from any source.
The post-Christian cultural revolution in the West I have been describing in its Canadian context is the same which has swept Europe, the United States, and Western outliers such as Australia and New Zealand. Many of the European states have a barely breathing remembrance of Christendom, despite the appearance of oddities such as political parties calling themselves “Christian Democrats”. Churches are largely museums and cultural artefacts, even those still kept open for religious functions among the remnant of Christians. Such ceremonies are seen as living lessons in sociology and anthropology by their State benefactors.
But what if that is really a small part, an atom or molecule, of the great story of meaning that is bound up in the great Whole, what we are meant to portray – the Story of Love and Bonding and Creating?
without Jesus, beyond the binge and after the bloating indigestion, mega-sugar-crash, and fortified eggnog and other spirits hangover, what was it about? Fantasizing about Santa and goodwill to all people for some vague reason? Receiving some gifts that symbolize a love which is usually neglected in practice? Feeling a nice glow for a few days but then crashing back into the loneliness or shallowness of regular life for most of the rest of the year?
The central meaning of the story, as it swiftly emerged from the events of his life, death, and reputed resurrection from the dead, is simple when accepted as it was told by his earliest followers. The man Yeshua was in fact the incarnate Son of Israel’s God, the One God, the only God, the very Creator of the universe and all that is. He had been promised to the first human as a Saviour and Redeemer to restore humanity’s broken relationship with and estrangement from the Creator. As such, he was the heir of King David, the rightful King of Israel, but he was not to make Israel the new world superpower overwhelming all the nations with judgment and wrath, but to bring universal peace, reconciliation, and restoration between God and humanity, and among all humans, and between humanity and the broken creation.
Without creating a tiresome list, let it be said that the historical facts are ample to verify that this person, Jesus of Nazareth, really lived and died in the early first century CE in the Roman province of Palestine. Contrary to the egregious and facile declarations of too many even quite well-educated people (I’ve even encountered a Ph.D. or two who have said this kind of thing), there are sufficient sources outside the New Testament, the primary Christian documents about Jesus, to verify his life and death in historical time and place. And it must be pointed out that these “extra-Biblical” sources are, almost without exception, hostile to both Jesus and Christians.