Unwillingness to defend the values of one’s own culture and eagerness to apologise for its faults whilst defending the values of another culture whilst passing over its faults is described as an internalised inferiority complex. This may be true when we consider the cultural cringe amongst countries emerging from colonial overlordship. The cultural cringe, however, is also the default progressive stance.
I firmly believe that the world is a better place because of the values and advances emanating from Christian based Western culture. Yet it would be folly to pretend that Western cultural achievements and attitudes are without fault. There is no western nation which can escape censure. Yes, that includes upright, impeccably neutral, antiseptic Switzerland where blood-thirsty tyrants of any and every political stripe can hide their loot as long as they give the Swiss a generous cut. Inoffensive little Belgium ran what was probably the world’s most repressive colonial regime in the Congo.
To present these instances and others like them as the inevitable outcome of a Western culture for which we should continually apologise is a form of prejudice. That this attitude should be prevalent amongst progressives is understandable for two reasons. Whether they like it or not, and they don’t, Western cultural values are based upon the biblical Christianity which they viscerally reject. If they are going to throw out personal moral restraint in sexual, social and relational ethics they must throw out the foundation for that moral restraint. Like children they have tantrums and stamp their little progressive feet when Daddy won’t let them have their way.
Also progressives, as with all totalitarian ideologues, are utopian. These mindsets believe in coercion in the pursuit of the perfect society. From the French Revolution to Pol Pot they are dedicated to building a new world, and they don’t mind who gets hurt or what gets rejected in the process. They have in common the pursuit of an alternative reality and, because they aim at perfection, can accommodate no deviancy and Christians are social deviants.
What about Christians? Although he was quickly slapped down Rowan Williams called for an end to the ‘legal monopoly’ of English law in order to facilitate “constructive accommodation” with Islamic law in the resolution of business disputes, inheritance and the administration of marriage and divorce. This despite the fact that sharia law contains at its heart principles which run directly counter to bedrock Western values such as equality before the law and toleration of apostates.
Cultural adaptation is understandable from those within a theologically liberal tradition. At the core of liberal Christianity there is a relativism which lends itself to accommodation with the irreconcilable. Also theological liberals, now that their flagship project the ecumenical movement has run into the sand, instead of rethinking their assumptions have merely transferred their energies into inter-faith dialogue which demands accommodation.
But why evangelicals? In 2009 Christians in Oxford apologised to the Muslims of that city because they had organised a day of prayer during Ramadan. Oxford’s Muslims found such a thing ‘ill-conceived and insensitive’, not to mention ‘grossly insulting and inflammatory’. Open Doors an evangelical group had titled their event a Call To Prayer. In the minds of some Muslims this term, despite millennia of use by Christians and Jews, is now to be reserved for their exclusive use. Following the complaints Open Doors said they ‘very much regretted’ what they had done.
Oxford’s Muslims were entitled to voice their objections, but what possible variety of cultural cringe induced Open Doors to apologise for calling Christians to prayer in a church?
If this were confined to England and a few years ago it would be no immediate concern. Unfortunately instances could be multiplied across the Western world and continue with increasing frequency, particularly within mainstream Christian denominations. There seems to be a fear amongst Christians, even evangelical Christians, which inhibits us from stating what we believe in a straightforward way. It is almost as if we are afraid that after all someone might think we actually believe what we preach.
We fail to learn the lesson of history – appeasement never works. Even the attempt to buy time to be better prepared gives the opposition the same time for their preparation plus the fact that in the meantime the appeasers have abandoned their principles.