Christianity is the salt, but only the salt

Consider dishes and recipes that are commonly considered good, such as chilli, pepperoni pizza, or chocolate cake. The base ingredients alone are fine, and may be enough to keep you alive, but they do not make the dish, the dish. Draw the chilli powder out of the chilli after all, and all you have is ground beef and beans.  

Salt is the classic example of that added thing that radically alters and improves the main thing it is added to. 

Religion is, or can be, like this salt in that it does not make one not-human or other-than-human but rather, by acting from within, it alters the way one thinks and expresses one’s humanity, and thus how one influences others.

If the word religion is troublesome or conjures up negative imagery, just insert worldview in its place. Both pertain to what one believes to be true, or wants to be true. Both affect one’s actions and thus influence.  

Not all religions or worldviews are equal of course, and belief in each will affect each man and woman in this or that way, who in turn will influence others in this or that way.

Christianity is of course the great, old worldview of our Western tradition, and over the course of the centuries this salt has worked to influence the many peoples of Western Europe that began embracing it back when the Roman Emperors were still calling the shots. And their descendants many centuries later would spread it far afield during the Age of Exploration. 

So what did this new religion teach? What ideas would it cultivate in the heart and mind of man, or the hearts and minds of men and thus into the culture of whole peoples? In a nutshell we can say self-restraint and selflessness. We can say that the faith requires its adherents to put oneself second, and others first. It requires its followers to live for a world to come, and not this one, and by extension to live for generations yet unborn. 

Now what this salt did not do was transform man into something other than man. It did not rid him of his frailties. It certainly never created a heaven on Earth, but this was not the Founder’s stated objective.

The history of the world since its founding, and of every nation that would call itself a Christian nation, has included wars, famine, pestilence and all manner of misery caused by the selfishness and brutality of man.

All Christianity has ever done is temper the man or society in which it found purchase, and made each a little less awful. And that is worth a lot.  

In the last 300 years we have gone a long way towards bleaching out this salt and replacing it with self-worship, the fruits of which are now apparent all around us.

M.C. Atkins

Alas I have failed to meet Facebook’s high standards and have been rightly banished from their noble company to bed down with the livestock on MeWe where you can find at [sigh]

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