Why Christianity Can’t Save Us
The conservative philosopher Russell Kirk wrote, “We must remind ourselves, to begin, that culture arises from the cult: out of the religious bond and the sense of the sacred grow any civilization’s agriculture, its common defense, its orderly towns, its ingenious architecture, its literature, its music, its visual arts, its law, its political structure, its educational apparatus, and its mores. Christopher Dawson, Eric Voegelin, and other historians of this century have made this historical truth clear.”
Kirk believed that Western Civilization could not survive apart from an active and vigorous Christianity. Like many of the more traditionalist elements of the American Right, Kirk was a convert to Roman Catholicism. However, ultimately Kirk’s traditionalism was pushed aside within American conservatism as the ideological premises of radical individualism, egalitarianism, and free market fundamentalism were taken to their logical conclusion. Furthermore, as American conservatism is essentially one giant corporate lobbying effort, the coherence of an ideology was less important than the interests of donors, and there are few donors who want to fund a kind of Christian traditionalism.
More importantly, Christianity itself is complicit in the “leveling” process. As Alain de Benoist has described in On Being a Pagan, creation in the Christian conception is an alienating process, as consciousness and the divine is held to be outside a fallen world. As de Benoist describes, Christianity and monotheism generally paves the way for atheism by desacralizing the world. The result is plagued with a hatred for the world as it is, a world-denying impulse that naturally lends itself to messianic liberalism to make the fallen world fit with the divine order. Eric Vogelian termed this attempt to bring heaven to Earth as the impulse to “Immanentize the Eschaton.”
And of course, that divine order is, at its heart, egalitarian. Though Christianity properly understood does not demand egalitarianism, racial suicide, or messianic liberalism, the central doctrines of the cult of the cross make this evolution natural. Like acid, Christianity burns through ties of kinship and blood – as Christ states “He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” The Apostle Paul tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
While he understandably downplays the Jewish role in cultural breakdown, Paul Gottfried’s Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy effectively makes the case that residual Protestantism is part of the ideological justification for “equality,” as the redeemed seek to display their elect status through superior displays of liberal morality. Though God Himself has been deposed for being too inegalitarian, the old Yankee spirit of messianic egalitarianism persists to the present day within secular, post-Protestant America.
Of course, this still leaves the more traditionalist churches such as the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, and the remnants of traditional Protestantism. Many of these denominations are growing as the moribund institutions of mainline Protestantism continue to wither away. However, such hierarchies, rituals, and doctrines that sustain these denominations owe more to ethnic traditions, political realities, or nods to Primordial Tradition than anything within Christianity itself. As James Russell exhaustively documented in The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity, what we think of as orthodox (small “o”) Christianity in the West is a cultural conglomeration of ostensible Christian belief forced into the world-accepting, hierarchical, and warrior societies of the Germanic West. Even today, the same Christian leader who tours the Third World slums bemoaning inequality bears the title of the Roman guardian of the state religion (Pontifex Maximus). The warrior saints like St. Michael and St. George, the character of the High Mass, the cult of Mary, the sacralizing of political power or special objects – all of this owes more to paganism than any kind of authentic Christian belief.
Militant Protestantism would confirm these exact same charges. For hundreds of years, the Christian cross itself was not a sacred symbol to devout Christians, but an offensive reminder of Roman “paganism.” In the 1965 film Cromwell, the eponymous hero interrupts a service to destroy a simple display of a cross and candles, thundering, “Would the king turn the house of God into a Roman temple?” Once Christianity is reduced to what it really is, it loses much of its role as a guardian of Tradition, a steward of the folk, or a positive force in the development of the race.
For any who accept “justification by faith,” salvation or damnation is conferred by an abstract individual choice as to whether one accepts Jesus Christ as his savior. Such a creed renders family, kin, and nation irrelevant, and encourages intellectual stagnation so as not to endanger the souls of the believer. The most Bible-believing Christians, modern evangelical Protestants, are gradually transforming Christianity into its true form, a cult of egalitarian true believers, with the special “Chosen People” serving as the sole exception.
The contradiction at the heart of this process is that Christians remain the most Traditionalist mass constituency in the United States today, generally holding to conservative forms of gender norms, having large families, and insisting on standards of decorum and hierarchy in behavior. Still, this can be explained because Christians are drawing on the cultural norms and standards of residual Westernized, “Germanized” Christianity. Even this is fading with time.
The influential evangelical preacher Rob Bell made headlines with his declaration that “Love Wins,” suggesting that the Biblical ideal of hell needs to be rethought. Younger evangelicals are more likely to focus on issues of “injustice,” poverty, and anti-racism rather than holding the line on issues like homosexual marriage. Even the pro-life cause has been justified by a kind of consistent and radical egalitarianism, rather than support of the traditional patriarchal family as such.
In Men-Art-War, a disillusioned priest says, “Where the Papists had made man a corpse, the Protestants had taken that corpse and made it a skeleton. From dead to deader, you could say.” Christianity is fatally handicapped by its insistence that people rationally believe irrational creeds, and the more they believe them, the more remnants of Tradition, culture and life present within a denomination are stripped away. Traditional Catholicism (which is to say, a mixture of European paganism and mutilated Christian belief) simply decreed dogmas and told people to believe them. Protestants try to argue people into belief, which is why a modern evangelical sermon resembles nothing so much as a lawyer making a closing argument, using Scripture as his law.
Orthodoxy avoids some of the traps by emphasizing the mystical nature of God and his ultimately unknowable essence while retaining a strong hierarchical structure liked to culture and community in this world. It is not surprising that Orthodoxy has been gaining strength, especially in conservative circles, and that Orthodoxy alone does not seem to be explicitly committed to the extermination of white racial identity. It’s also not surprising that the Culture Distorters have targeted Orthodoxy specifically as an obstacle to progress.
Of course, as a friend put it after watching an Orthodox nationalist rally, “Impressive, but eventually they are going to start reading their Bibles.” By removing the protective shield of an esoteric priesthood around Christian doctrines, the Enlightenment, literacy, technology, and the Protestant Revolution made Christian belief widely accessible to the masses. The result is that stripped of superstition and dogma, Christianity is being taken to its logical conclusion. The specific beliefs of Christian denominations are less important than their universalist message of salvation and overall moral and metaphysical outlook.
The acceptance of homosexuality and the removal of Christian symbols from the public square should not disguise the fact that the modern world is becoming more Christian. Its universalism, its rejection of “unchosen” loyalties of kin and country, its egalitarianism, its insistence on “human rights,” and its embrace of non-judgmental Savior make it a harmless spiritual outlet for the modern world, a way for those who can’t fully grasp secular humanism to let off a little steam. Only Christianity’s insistence that Jesus is in fact Lord separates it from being fully assimilated into modernity, and even this is being compromised.
Christianity was the essential religious step in paving the way for decadent modernity and its toxic creeds. In fact, many of the faith’s leading spokespeople defend it for this reason – begging to be allowed to exist because it paved the way for “democracy” and “tolerance.” They are sure to be disappointed – egalitarians will allow no separate peace. Still, as in the past, Christianity will survive because of its role as a safety valve – and it will continue to modify itself to fit with the Zeitgeist.
Of course, most Christians authentically believe in the literal reality of their God – perhaps far more than most “neo-pagans” literally believe in the reality of Wotan or an Earth Goddess. Far from being a strength, this is a weakness. First, the makeup of this “God,” far from being unchanging, smoothly modifies itself to fit modern moral standards. Interracial marriage was once condemned as a grave sin against the Creator. Today, the “God” of most Christians is a fuzzy Martin Luther King Jr. in the sky – indeed, King himself is now a “saint” in the Episcopal Church.
Be it the Monarch of the Catholic Magisterium, the personal Jesus of the evangelical, or the divine social worker of the mainline Protestant, God seems to change His nature to fit what the New York Times demands – though on some issues he may be a few years late. Does anyone doubt that within a few decades most Christians will be celebrating homosexuality in the same way they celebrate interracial marriage today? The only exceptions will be the literalists such as those at Westboro Baptist Church who themselves serve as proof of Christianity’s alienation from reality. Thus the choice for the Christian is either surrender to the culture, or arbitrary allegiance to random Scriptural verses. Yet even the Westboro Baptists hold to a more authentic (and in some ways honorable) form of Christianity by truly believing what their Holy Book tells them, even in defiance of all the world.
Aside from these few marginalized believers and those like them, even the supposedly conservative Christians don’t really believe what they say. A true Catholic has to believe that those outside the Church are sentenced to perdition – it was the importance of this belief that allowed Crusaders and conquistadors to slaughter and forcibly convert the heathens and think they were doing good. No one truly believes this – even the supposedly conservative Christians see no problem with uniting disparate faiths in order to upheld a vague sense of “values,” rather than insisting on the correctness of their denomination. Bishop Williamson’s denial of the Holocaust was held to be far more sinful by Benedict XVI than the Jews’ denial (and arguably, collective murder) of Jesus Christ as Savior.
People were once willing to die – and more importantly, kill – for their faith because believers thought deeply important things were at stake. After all, it is tolerating error that is the real cruelty if Hell is real and one is in possession of the keys to salvation. What does the few moments pain caused by burning a heretic matter if it gives the unfortunate dissenter eternal bliss? However, in an age of ecumenicism, tolerance, and political correctness, it’s hard to imagine that religious leaders believe they have a real claim to Truth. Excommunication, condemnation, and the violent rhetoric of damnation seem reserved only for sins newly discovered after 1945, such as “racism.”
Thus, renewing Christian belief is unlikely to “save Western civilization.” If anything, it would facilitate the process of conservatives serving as priests of a dead God, guardians of the “West as a tomb” bereft of vitality and spiritual substance. The literate Christian missionaries of yesteryear may well have been a necessary step in advancing the social and technological development of Europe. However, the spiritual unity of what was once called “Christendom” existed even before the coming of Christ, in the dream of Rome and the unity of the Greeks against the barbarians. Europe as a cultural and racial unit existed before Christ, and we do not need Him to maintain it. What the “positive Christianity” of the past contributed to the West was as much a product of European folk tradition and spirituality as the creed of the Nazarene, and the latter is distilled down to its purest essence, Europe will not survive. If “Christendom” were reborn, the West would simply repeat its past mistake.
The only kind of “Christendom” that could redeem the West is a Germanic Christianity, which is to say, a pagan Christianity drawing upon European folk traditions. Given our history, why must we continue to cling to this unnatural conglomeration? What we need to do is not continue to shock life into a dead God (and a foreign one at that), but establish a link with Primordial Tradition that can speak to worker and philosopher, scientist and mystic. We can tap into those things that made Christianity the faith of the West and discard those things that have led our people to the brink of extinction. The cathedrals, spiritual lessons, and Crusades of our folk will always be a source of inspiration. But they speak to us because they are an expression of us – not because of the creed they supposedly championed.
Hilaire Belloc famously wrote, “The Faith is Europe, and Europe is the Faith.” He is right, but not in the sense he intended. The Faith was Europe, and the folk traditions that built the Germanized Christianity of our forebears. Today, we must renew that faith, a faith by, for, and about the European folk soul. We must discard the distractions and rediscover the living spiritual practices of our folk and their connection to Primordial Tradition. What Christianity supposedly gave us, we already possessed. What Christianity costs us, we can no longer afford.