CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Fritzl and Evil

Mar 23, 2009

Very few people – at least Westerners – would be unaware of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man just found guilty of kidnapping, rape, murder and a host of other atrocities committed against his own family. He is routinely called a monster, an ogre and an animal.

What he did simply raises once again the problem of evil. Why do such things happen? From whence comes such horrific evil? Why is evil such a perennial problem? What is the origin of evil? Such questions have been debated for millennia now.

Of course one’s worldview will greatly colour how one answers these questions. The Judeo-Christian worldview deals with these issues in ways that often radically differ from other worldviews. Yet most people seem to have a view on these matters. Even the secular press attempts to weigh into this topic on occasion.

There was an opinion piece in today’s Age, reprinted from the Telegraph in the UK. Entitled “Evil, but chillingly ordinary,” it was written by one George Pitcher. Since no description of him was given, a quick Google check reveals that he is the paper’s Religion Editor as well as an Anglican priest.

It is rare for a fully biblical presentation on such issues to appear in the MSM, so I had a read of his column to see what he had to say. It was a somewhat disappointing affair, remarkable as much for what it did not say as what it did.

As an Anglican priest, one would expect certain things to be discussed. But they were not. While God is mentioned a few times, Jesus is never mentioned. While evil is discussed frequently, the word ‘sin’ never appears. While several contemporary writers are cited, the Bible is never once invoked.

Of course one can only do so much in a 1000-word article, and a Christian writer needs to be somewhat cautious when writing for the secular press. Yet he is the religious affairs writer after all, and he is a priest, so one would expect him to present some biblical truths here. Yet that is mostly missing.

What he seemed to say was mainly true: we should not really be so surprised at evil. Evil runs throughout humanity. He rightly notes that it is unhelpful to make a false separation here: we normal people versus those evil people. Anyone can be capable of such great evil.

But he goes wrong in several key places. Consider this paragraph: “Another comforting, but ultimately unhelpful, explanation is to blame the devil; it’s the cloven-hooved Old Nick who came and claimed Fritzl. This is a different sort of beast, and he — and the fear of him — is as old as humankind. The Evil One really took hold of our civilised consciousness through the Greek world’s promotion of a dualism in human nature, the Hellenistic view that our spirit was separate from our worldly flesh. The idea of two competing deities, one evil and one infinitely good, is inadequate for a modern theological world view.”

It was C.S. Lewis who warned that we can commit two mistakes about the devil: one is to be obsessed with him, or caricature him as Pitcher has done. The other is to ignore him altogether, and deny his existence. The Bible does not allow these options. There is a very real agent of evil, who is personal and powerful.

However the devil is not co-equal and co-eternal with God. That belief, known as dualism, is not the biblical presentation. And we must not absolve ourselves of personal responsibility by merely claiming, “The devil made me do it”. But Satan is a reality we must not dismiss. Thus we have a quite unsatisfactory discussion of the issue here by George Pitcher.

Another unhelpful paragraph reads thus: “Man without God may look very much like Fritzl. Those of no faith, or with faith in humanism, secularists, agnostics and atheists will bridle at this thesis, to put it mildly, and rightly so. We don’t need some God, they will counter, to lead loving, fruitful and moral lives. And they are evidently right: lack of faith doesn’t make you a Fritzl. If it did, the world would harbour many more dark and secret cellars.”

Why as a Christian is he willing to concede so much ground to the secularists? Sure, a non-Christian may not end up acting out the evil of Fritzl. But that misses the point. The Bible makes it quite clear that we are all sinners, and we are all deeply contaminated by evil. It is only because objective morality exists – because a moral God exists – that we can even talk about good and evil.

God’s common grace, the institution of the state, and the moral influence of the church, are all means by which God keeps evil in check. But the doctrine of original sin must not be ignored here. This teaching does not say we are all as evil as we possibly can be – although someone like Fritzl moves us in that direction – but that sin has impacted every part of us.

To illustrate this, let me briefly mention another case of evil in the news – albeit of a lesser scale. Former Federal Court Judge Marcus Einfeld was found guilty of lying, and was recently sentenced for this crime. He has just come out with an apology, admitting he lied, but he also said, “I don’t think I’m the slightest bit dishonest”. The biblical picture says we sin because we are sinners, not that we are sinners because we sin. We all tend to have a much higher view of ourselves than Scripture allows.

The good news of the Gospel makes no sense unless first predicated upon the bad news of sin. It is exactly because we are all sinners and unable to help ourselves out of the mess that we are in that Jesus came. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And Jesus makes it clear that we are all sinners, we are all sick.

Pitcher is right to stress that human freedom makes the evil of Fritzl possible. But by not fully spelling out the biblical picture of man’s dilemma, he leaves us with a puzzling and incomplete picture. Indeed, plenty of non-Christians could make a similar sort of case. Even non-believers are happy to say, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

Since Pitcher was limited to 1000 words, I should be too. The biblical discussion of sin and evil is of course nuanced and complex. I cannot fully explicate it here. But being faithful to the biblical version of events means that we must not omit key components. And two of the biggest components which are unfortunately omitted in this article are that of sin, and a saviour.

These twin truths may not offer detailed answers to every specific case of evil, but they present the big picture as to why evil exists, and what God in Christ has done about it.

www.theage.com.au/opinion/evil-but-chillingly-ordinary-20090322-95lo.html?page=-1

[1174 words]

22 Responses to Fritzl and Evil

  • I don’t suppose how Rev. Pitcher can claim to be a Christian (which is underpinned by an obedience to the authority of Christ – who spoke of Satan very seriously) and yet make light of the existence of the devil. In fact, the existence of Satan is absolutely central to why Fritzl did what he did. Fritzl wasn’t a passive passenger whilst Satan worked through him – he actively made the decision to cooperate with him (implicitly at least). Just as we must actively make the choice to cooperate with the redeeming grace of Christ in order to be restored to original justice – we make that choice in regards to Satan possessing our being.

    Pitcher at least speaks partially of the truth when he refers to faith and its contribution to evil. A pro-life atheist such as Nat Hentoff knows of God and His righteousness far better when he sees the sanctity of human life as compared to any Christian who can excuse and permit the murder of innocent life.

    I don’t think we should get too upset over the theological heresy of pastors such as Pitcher who is sadly a product of the worldwide Anglican Communion (excluding Sydney and Africa) and its continuing spiritual paralysis.

    F. Trpimir Kešina

  • Hi Bill
    The other aspect of this case, from a humanistic perspective, is: “What makes Fritzl’s actions ‘evil’?” or, even “What IS evil?”

    If same-sex relationships are no longer ‘evil’ then how long will it be before another biblical taboo, namely having sex with a close relative be also struck from the ‘evil’ list?

    Fritzl apparently let one of the babies die, but then what is the difference between abortion at eight months and ‘abortion’ at ten months? All we need to do is redefine one word!

    He is accused of denying his daughter any freedom and also of repeatedly raping her, but then there are religions today who deny women their freedom and can demand sex – albeit from any of their multiple wives – whenever they so desire.

    When absolutes, especially biblical absolutes are removed, then we see just how sinful fallen man really is.

    The article’s title, “Evil but chillingly ordinary” is closer to what is increasingly becoming reality than many may wish to accept.

    Roger Birch

  • George Pitcher says, “Those of no faith, or with faith in humanism, secularists, agnostics and atheists will bridle at this thesis, to put it mildly, and rightly so. We don’t need some God, they will counter, to lead loving, fruitful and moral lives. And they are evidently right: lack of faith doesn’t make you a Fritzl. If it did, the world would harbour many more dark and secret cellars.”

    But surely this is the whole point. Our respectable and law abiding humanist neighbours will one day have the dark and secret cellars of their minds opened to reveal those evil thoughts and actions hidden from view. He seems to have no conception of Man’s sinfulness or God’s holiness

    He does not say as such but George Pitcher may well, along with the humanists, believe that evil is a consequence of evolution and that beyond “eternal vigilance” the price we will have to pay is genetic screening and Eugenics.

    David Skinner, UK

  • But if the Bible is true, Adam and Eve’s children were all guilty of incest, presumably with God’s blessing.

    Bob Hughes, Brisbane

  • Thanks Bob

    Several responses. If the human race did indeed come from a single pair, then yes, early on brother-sister marriages were unavoidable. They later of course became unnecessary. Thus thousands of years later incest was forbidden in Mosaic legislation (Lev. 18:9, eg.).

    The reason we mainly oppose it today is because of the high risk of genetic damage. That risk of course would not have existed in the earliest days. The primordial parents would have had a very good genetic makeup indeed. The Fall would have led to genetic defects which over time were passed along and increased.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Good read Bill,

    Lately I have been pondering a lot about what you were writing about. What is the response that an atheist really is able to bring to the table? Last night I was watching a documentary on young girls sold into sex slavery in the USA. I was a bit overwhelmed and trying to deal with the magnitude of what was being reported.

    Then a thought sprung into my head, while this young girl recalled horrifying things done to her. I thought “What would an atheist say to this girl?” I mean really what would he be able to say, because in that worldview she doesn’t have any value anyway? If man is inherently good and we can’t clearly define evil in any absolute form today then how do you deal with that situation? I recall the article you wrote about the signs on buses put up by Atheist that read “God probably doesn’t exists, so stop worrying and enjoy your life” or something along those lines. If there are no absolutes and evil cannot be defined then where do you draw the line from these men just enjoying their lives?

    Or you can jump into Freudian theory and think, we don’t want to cause them neurosis do we? Ideas have consequences and its time that these ideas are thought about implicationally. If man is innately good and sinless and there is no God and man becomes God then what does our society really look like? When applying these ideas to real life it just doesn’t add up.

    We must understand that we are sinful by nature. I am, and it’s only by God’s grace that I am where I am today.

    Thanks Bill

    Ben Soleim

  • Hi Ben S.

    I am not sure what world view you are referring to but a girl forced into sexual slavery is adhorrent in any world view. If a person cannot see this then they are most likely the ones perpetrating the act. Any Value?? Are you serious? We have laws and courts that are here to protect us all.

    Regarding Fritzl, what a very disturbed man. I am still not quite sure what true evil is but I am sure this man is quite close to it. The scary thing is there are others like him. These people live in a world quite opposite to ours devoid of morals and any sense of human worth. Their only desire is self gratification at any cost. People like that keep me awake at nights…..

    Ben Green

  • Why as a Christian is he willing to concede so much ground to the secularists?

    Stockholm Syndrome.

    Louise Le Mottee, Hobart

  • Thanks Ben G

    Good name bro!!

    What I am saying is truly if someone claims to live with an Atheistic worldview then what would you say to a girl that was sold into sex slavery or the men who use it for their own pleasure? If we are all products of primordial slime and just accidents and are not made in the image of God then what is our value? If there is no one outside us to give us value then where does our value come from? Who can look at that girl and say you deserve more? Who can tell that man that he has no right to do what he is doing if there are no moral absolutes anyways? They become simply products.

    I spent time a few months ago in a Red Light District in Bangkock, Thailand. I was working with an orginization that focuses on helping the women that work there. As I walked around and spoke to different people nobody seemed to think any of it was at the least bit wrong, even if the girls were being held there against their will. At that moment I realized that in their way of thinking it isnt wrong at all? They have desires that need to be satisfied so they will satisfy them. If there is no God you must become God.

    You said there are courts and laws to protect us but, where do those laws and courts come from anyways?
    For example Americas Laws were based on a faith in a God. That we are sinful by nature and there needs to be laws in place to tell us right from wrong. Even though like is said in Romans we have if written on our hearts. However now traditional moral views are being challenged by the “Intillectuals” of the past century.

    Paul Kurtz says “The traditional supernaturalistic moral commandments are especially repressive of our human needs. They are immoral insofar as they lead and foster illusions about human destiny and supress vital inclinations.”

    So what he is saying is that our traditional moral beliefs are repressive to human needs. Like the need to have sex whenever, wherever and by any means possible. What are we animals? He also says they are immoral for fostering illusions of human destiny. So again what do you say to a girl who believes that she is made for more than to be a slave in a brothel? Do you condem her for being immoral for fostering illusions that she is worth more then for someone elses sexual pleasure?

    Thanks
    Ben Soleim

  • Hi Ben S,

    It is a good name!

    In regards to answering your point about women sold into sexual slavery it is complicated to answer since each situation maybe different. I will answer your point from my own life experience. Some years ago, I was also in Thailand on holiday. I guess I was a bit naive and was totally taken back but the whole sex industry that was established there. I did have the opportunity to talk to some of the girls that worked the bars (I was not there to procure services) and yes I was saddened by what they told me. One girl had told me her mother had sold her into the trade when she was just 15. I asked her “why does she do it?” and she said “for her family”. Poverty can make people do some really desperate things and there are many bad people who will exploit it. I also asked her what life might hold for her and she said that she still hopes that one day she will marry. Her spirit had not broken and there was still hope in her eyes. We chatted while she kept selling me warm beer as we played connect four. Her story had an impact on me and till this day I have not forgotten that Thai girl in a bar. This was some 15 years ago so one wonders what may have happened to her. I did not judge her and understood her situation. She was a victim of an environment not of her making and one that in many ways is out of control.

    On a more broader point, I believe that moral standards have and always will be defined by society (and in many ways the eduction there in). 2000 years ago people were being put to death as a form of entertainment, 500 years ago, cutting off peoples heads was done in full view for the public to see, some states in the US still execute people now but you can see as time has gone on the idea of killing people outside of war is slowly being rejected. I am quite sure the aborigines had rules about killing each other long before the bible was just a twinkle in someones eye. If not, I do not think there would be as many here when the Britts arrived. Sadly, it was the first settlers who massacred the aborigines and I suspect some/many?? were Christians.

    I could write for ages on this but as I have said this is Bills site so I will not write my book here.

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben G

    You are welcome to keep making contributions. But let me pick up on one thing you said: “I believe that moral standards have and always will be defined by society”. It is not quite clear if you are referring to descriptive or prescriptive ethics here.

    If you simply mean that societies tend to define morality, this is a simple description, something we observe, something that just is. But if you mean, morality is that which should be defined or determined by societies (there being no higher transcendent basis for morality) then you are being prescriptive, you are saying this ought to be the way things should be.

    As to the former, yes societies do make moral laws and codes, but the question is, are they based on anything higher than the society itself? As to the latter, if morality is socially determined, then we have no way of judging one society as being morally better or worse than another.

    Both positions have problems. Where do societies get moral notions from in the first place? And if morality is socially determined, then we have no right to judge, for example, Hitler and the Nazis. After all, that is what German society in the 30s and 40s was into.

    Unless there is an objective standard of morality that transcends societies or individuals, we are left with moral relativism, and are not able to morally judge any other society.

    But biblical Christianity affirms that there is an objective moral code, and that it is based on the character of a moral God. Moral laws exist because there is a moral law giver. Moral relativism is a seriously flawed position to hold to. Unless there are objective moral absolutes, we are left with everyone doing their own thing, and no objective basis with which to evaluate them.

    But over to you as to which case you are seeking to argue.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Morality is relative to each society and also to each generation within that society. Even though the Bible has been in circulation for quite sometime, the morality derived from it has varied. If we wind the clock back 1000 years we will see a bible in much the same form yet a society that will morally be quite different.

    In terms of not needing a “higher power” to define what is moral we only need look at the aborigines of Australia. They had functioning societies with laws, marriage ceremonies and the like. Their laws and moral code was kept in trust by the elders and passed down to others via ceremony and story telling over many 1000’s of years. I am quite sure if these laws were not functional there would not have been as many communities as there were. Now we can take the moral high ground position by saying they are primitive etc, but really are we that different when it comes to the basics?

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    But you have just given the game away. If morality is only socially determined, without an external, objective standard by which to judge betweem different societies, then Hitler and the Nazis were no more right or wrong than any other society. It is all relative.

    And you still miss the point. Of course Aboriginal culture had a moral code. All cultures do. That is not the point. The issue is, where do moral codes and standards come from in the first place? And unless there are transcendent moral values in existence by which we can judge and assess individual cultures, then we are just left with cultural relativism, and no one can say that any culture is better than another.

    Thus the Allies were wrong to resist the Nazis. Unless we have some ultimate standard to make moral decisions by, we are left with no basis to assess culture. Thus if white folk come and take over an aboriginal culture, we have no basis by which we can say this was wrong – or right.

    So you continue to confuse the ‘is’ (moral codes exist, etc.) with the ‘ought’ (certain moral values should take preference over others, etc.).

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Yes it is all relative. As I said, if we look at Christians 1000 years ago you will see the morality at the time differs to what you would see as moral today yet in theory it is all derived from the same words. We only have to go back to our grand parents and their views of the world and we can see the differences. What has changed in that time period is society.

    In regards to Hitler and the Nazi party being moral. Hind site can be very wise indeed. In the early days of Hitler say mid 30’s after he came to power, he created jobs for people, built infrastructure and promoted family values. He made Germans feel proud to be German and all the while turning Germany into a dictatorship. People in Germany probably thought life was good and put their trust in him. It was probably too late to do anything after they realized what was going on. He had taken them to a very dark place. Towards the end, many officers no longer executed his commands and one even tried to kill him. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Society in war time can show both the worst and best in people. Hitler was truly a disturbed person and I do not think that he was a true representative of the German conscience. Why you ask? If he was, Germany would not be the place it is today. The ideologies promoted by Hitler and clan have been well and truly rejected by Germans.

    In regards to Aborigines, where do you think their moral codes came from?

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    Sorry, but your social history of Germany is quite beside the point. The real point is this: was the Holocaust morally right or morally wrong? Which one Ben? If you cannot answer this, it is because your moral relativism has clouded your moral judgment.

    Maybe I can make things a bit more clear for you: suppose tomorrow a dictator takes power in Australia, and decrees that all people with the initials BG should be slowly tortured to death for the fun of it. Tell me Ben Green, is this a morally right or wrong action? If it is wrong, then why?

    But if what you say is true, and everything is morally relative, determined by society, then you would have no logical basis whatsoever to complain about this action. It just happens and that is the way it is. No right or wrong, end of story.

    As to your last query, I have already answered this. All our moral notions, actions and codes are derivative of a moral law giver who has made us in his image. But because of sin, all of our moral values are skewed and distorted, out of whack from what they should be.

    Unless there is some transcendent moral code by which we judge all social and individual moralities, we are simply left with relativism, and no one morality is better than another.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Of course the holocaust was wrong. I am not sure why you would ask me such a question? As to the second question of course it is wrong. As a civilized society, we have laws covering torture, racism and victimization to name a few. All western countries do. Some of these laws even extend to our pets so as a society we know that to torture any living thing is morally wrong and punishable. Now under a dictatorship, one person get to decide what is right or wrong which is different. Dictatorships as we have seen thought history, have never worked. Eventually the will of the people will come through. It might just take a while.

    I do not think you have really answered my question regarding aborigines. 200 years ago any form of Christian religion was unknown to them yet they had laws governing immoral acts such as murder. If as you say these aboriginal laws were as the result of a moral law giver I fail to see how this was done. Is there some evidence of this transfer of knowledge?

    I will also reiterate that the morality of Christians say 500 years ago is different to that of Christians today yet the Bible has not changed in that period. What has changed is eduction and society.

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    But we are spinning our wheels here I am afraid. Perhaps I am not making myself clear, but the problem is this: you cannot tell me the Holocaust was wrong (or anything else for that matter) while at the same time insisting that there is no transcendent objective morality, and that morality is socially or culturally determined. If a culture determines what is right or wrong, then clearly the German culture of the 1930s and 40s determined that the holocaust was right. You may not prefer it, but you cannot claim it is right or wrong.

    I have already dealt with the aboriginal issue. They show moral motions – like all people – because they live in a moral universe made by a moral God who has made us in his image.

    And Christians have the same morality today as always, and it is based on the unchanging word of God.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    I do understand what you are saying but my point is the morality of one does not reflect the morality of many. If what you are saying is true, then why didn’t the concentration camps continue after the war? And was it not the Soviets lead by Stalin who first liberated many of the camps?

    re Aboriginals – I am struggling with this one. On the one hand you are saying that without the bible one cannot judge morality yet in the case of the aborigines morality was given to them at birth because they were born of a moral God. Can you see my problem?

    If Christian morality today is the same as say the middle ages then I ask you, do you think witch hunting is morally wrong? Also do you think people of the middle ages thought sexism or racism morally wrong?

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    But you continue to make simple conceptual mistakes here. The fact that different individuals and cultures display different understandings or expressions of morality is not an argument against transcendent moral truth claims and obligations. The latter does not logically follow from the former.

    As to the concentration camps, they did not continue for the simple reason that the Americans and others fighting the Nazis knew that they were morally wrong. That is part of the reason they were fighting the Nazis in the first place – it was a corrupt and immoral regime that had to be opposed.

    And you simply lack historical understanding when you mention the Soviets. They did not share in the same morality as the Allies. They were attacked by the Germans, and therefore fought back. But they were as morally bankrupt as the Nazis. Both forms of socialism were godless and immoral. In fact, there were as many people killed in the Soviet Union by Lenin and Stalin prior to WWII than those who were killed by the Germans in it. All up some 100 million people were murdered at the hands of atheistic, immoral Marxists leaders.

    As to the aboriginals, as I keep saying, everyone has a basic moral nature because of the way life is: we live in a moral universe and share in the image of a moral God. But because of the fall and sin, that moral nature is greatly tarnished and distorted. The Bible holds up God’s true standards, something which in a fallen state we cannot now fully comprehend or live up to. That is in part why Christ came; to not only pay the penalty for our sins, but to help us live lives which are morally pleasing to the God who created us. The life of Jesus and the Bible show us what those standards are, and having faith in Christ enables us to live the God-pleasing life.

    As to the Middle Ages, you paint with a broad brush instead of clarity and precision. Take witchcraft for example. The truth is, almost everyone back then, whether Christian or not, felt that witchcraft was a genuinely evil thing. There are plenty of people today who still believe the same thing. So nothing has really changed on the level of principle. Sure, if some people thought putting witches to death was the remedy, then that has changed over time.

    But you mustn’t confuse deeper moral principles with superficial applications which may change over time. Thus it is faulty to use the fact that moral diversity exists as a proof that moral absolutes do not exist.

    As just one last illustration, it might seem that Hindus and Christians have a radically different morality. For example, they do not eat meat while we do. But look beyond the surface Ben. Why do they not eat meat? Because Hinduism teaches reincarnation, transmigration and the law of karma. To eat a cow may mean you are eating a long lost grandmother. The moral principle is this: it is morally wrong to eat your grandma. And guess what? Christians agree. We don’t think it is right to eat grandmas either.

    So you need to look beyond the superficial differences to see if there are deeper moral similarities. In the East as well as in the West, a moral principle is that you don’t eat your grandma. Comprendo?

    As to racism and sexism, all cultures have been guilty of these things throughout human history. Again, the doctrine of the fall explains all such things. We today may speak more of these things, and condemn them more loudly than before, but they still linger in the human heart anyway, even today. That again is why Christ came, to set us free from all wrong isms, acts and attitudes.

    Is any of this making things clearer?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes I understand your point of view. I just have problems with how you get there.

    For instance, yes Germany did attack Russia and Russia fought back. In your world view, when the Russians found the concentration camps they would have not cared less and just moved on by. As we know this is not the case.

    Re the aboriginals, do you think before Christianity was introduced to them they knew it was bad to kill another person? They did have laws for such things so I suggest yes. They were more than capable of make the most basic moral laws and rules. So what did Christian values add to their culture?

    Do you think Christians in the 10th century thought Sexism was immoral?

    As to your analogy with Hinduism the reasons you give for not eating meat are not quite true. This link gives a good summary.

    http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/things/cow.htm

    Ben Green

  • Thanks Ben

    But I think we might have to wind this one up. It does not seem that we are getting very far here. So a few quick last replies and we might call it a day.

    The Soviets of course had their own concentration camps. It was called the Gulag.

    I have already answered you on the aboriginal morality issue.

    As to what Christians can add to any culture – it is simple: they can bring truth. If Christianity is true, and we are created to have relationship with the one true God, but sin has broken that relationship, and Christ came to restore it, then that is important news that has to be shared with everyone and every culture.

    And you again paint with a quite unhelpful broad brush, re sexism. In a sense everyone was “sexist” back then. But individual Christians could indeed treat women with dignity and respect. As I have argued elsewhere, while the ancient world was united in its sexism, Christianity set a different path. The way Jesus treated women was unique, and led to much improvement in the treatment of women. So while cultures as a whole may have been continuing with business as usual, Christians could and should do otherwise, and over the centuries real progress was made because of this.

    It is the same with slavery, as I have also discussed elsewhere. All ancient cultures practiced it, but the biblical notion of all people being made in the image of God, along with the ministry of Jesus, helped to break this down. Sure, it took centuries to work out, but the Christian worldview made a real difference here. Indeed, almost all the great abolitionists were in fact Christians.

    And sorry, but your website only tells half the story on this, and misses the point of the argument. The issue is not whether every Hindu is a vegetarian, but what are some of the core reasons behind this.

    But as I say, it seems like you keep picking at straws here. Enough has been said to inform you as to my main contentions. It is up to you if you see your task as one who simply argues for the sake of argument, or whether in fact you are on a genuine quest for truth. You alone can answer that question.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In response to Ben … you asked the question: So what did Christian values add to the Aboriginal culture? As Bill rightly points out Christians bring truth to any culture. Including the truth of how our shortcomings separate us from the love of God but through the love of Jesus Christ we can be reconciled to God and enjoy an eternity with Him. Jesus came that we could have life in its fullest. This can only be achieved when Christian values are lived out.

    These values don’t change whether it’s the 10th century of the 20th century if they are centered on Christ. However, other values not based on God’s standard are changing and we can see the moral decay happening all around us. Things that once were thought to be ‘shocking’ are now considered norm and it is to the detriment of our society.

    Simone Curran, Brisbane

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