Habermas on Christianity, Europe, and Human Rights

From Philip Jenkins at Foreign Policy:

Ironically, after centuries of rebelling against religious authority, the coming of Islam is also reviving political issues most thought extinct in Europe, including debates about the limits of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to proselytize. And in all these areas, controversies that originate in a Muslim context inexorably expand or limit the rights of Christians, too. If Muslim preachers who denounce gays must be silenced, then so must charismatic Christians. At the same time, any laws that limit blasphemous assaults on the image of Mohammed must take account of the sensibilities of those who venerate Jesus.

The result has been a rediscovery of the continent’s Christian roots, even among those who have long disregarded it, and a renewed sense of European cultural Christianity. Jürgen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Europe may be confronting the dilemmas of a truly multifaith society, but with Christianity poised for a comeback, it is hardly on the verge of becoming an Islamic colony.

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3 thoughts on “Habermas on Christianity, Europe, and Human Rights

  1. Hunter,
    Interesting quote, there. Habermas is one of those atheists, we ought to love to quote, as Christians. He is famous for his discussions with the Pope about secularism vs. theocracy – but he is a very strong believer that Christianity led to the freedoms we have in the western world today.

    I don’t agree with Habermas on his atheist, secular, and “discursive democracy solves everything” view, but he makes a good point in explaining how the basic concepts of soul freedom, congregational independence, and Biblical sovereignty are so closely tied in causation to political freedoms.

    Also, I think your blog subtitle is great – let’s pray that our very lives will be footnotes in the grand unraveling of our Master’s plot.

    It was nice seeing your blog. Please do check out my blog at http://americanconservative01.wordpress.com/

    My second last post had a bit on Islam, which you may be interested in. We should be very careful how to deal with these eastern faiths in these times, but we should have hope in the strength of our Savior and Coming Lord!

    God bless.

  2. These 3 related images sum up what the Western cultural project is really all about. The first two also depict the role that our dominant religion, namely Christianity, has played in this drive to total power and control.

    http://dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel8.html

    http://dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel13.html

    http://dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel14.html

    Of course given half the chance Islam would have done the same, especially as it resists all attempts at assimilation.

  3. It should be noted that the proverb which you have attributed to Jürgen Habermas (Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options… We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatte) is not a Habermas quote.

    Habermas himself has confirmed that he never said that:
    http://sciencestage.com/v/958/jrgen-habermas-christianity-and-liberalism.html

    What he said was:
    “Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk”

    In the above citation, Jürgen Habermas states that we have a legacy: universalistic egalitarianism. He explains that universal egalitarianism is the legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and Christian ethic of love. Finally, he concludes that we continually re-interpret universal egalitarianism, and there are currently no alternative to drawing from universal egalitarianism.

    Regards,
    Debra Cloud

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