Much discussion of history, particularly the history of the development of Europe and its impact on the rest of the world takes as its starting point that Europe is Christian.
This is an assumption that needs to be openly challenged. Claims of a Christianity vs Islam conflict and mosts claims about the underlying valuea of the West start from the assumption that the West is Christian. The concept of apostolic succession allows the Catholic church to say ‘we are Christian because we say so’. Is that acceptable?
Many years ago I mentioned to a devout Catholic friend that I doubted that Europe was Christian. He did not bat an eye lid and responded ‘the Pope would agree with you’.
From the point of view of cultural analysis and understanding actual European culture this is a matter of the utmost importance. The role of genocide in European early cultures and the way Chrisianity was taken over and reformed leads one to wonder how deep local cultural traits overwhelmed the underlying messge of Christianity – shall we say corrupted it? The assimilation of Christianity into Western culture has led to the ‘westernisation’ of Christianity.
It is this corruption that leads to the need to wipe out the history of Africa’s role in introducing Christianity to Europe. Once the question is raised one suddenly starts to see evidence all around. The role of the Coptic church in Europe has been aggressively erased by the Catholic Church who have rewritten the religious history of Ireland to exclude the Coptics. Is it the case as Coptics claim that the Pope asked Cromwell to invade Ireland so that they could suppress the Coptics?
I do not have the answers but many new and interesting questions arise once one does not accept as a starting point that Europe was Christian. Equally when one reads a person saying he wishes to spread ‘Christianity’ to other lands many new and interesting questions arise about exactly what did this person have in mind. Instead of looking to the Bible this approach requires we look closely at that person’s culture and historical understanding of what the word ‘Christianity‘ meant or might mean.
This is definitely ‘work in progress’.