Explorations in Theology

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Judaeo-Christian ‘values’

I subscribe to Jeff Fountain’s ‘weekly word’, director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, affiliated with the University of the Nations. Originally from New Zealand, he lives in the Netherlands and writes passionately about Europe. The views expressed are of course his, but they flag up the challenge of these days. Here are a few excerpts from the letter:

However, nationalist anti-Europeanists have now changed their tactics to ‘Europeanise’ their anti-Europe strategies. When the much-heralded Brexit-domino effect did not materialise, in which other nations would have followed the British to the exit, the anti-Europeanists went quiet on leaving the EU and the Euro and are now calling for a “Europe of the Nations”.

This ‘Europeanised’ anti-European strategy was apparent last weekend when Matteo Salvini, the Italian Interior Minister, leader of the far-right Lega, declared in Milan that the ‘European elite’ had betrayed the founding fathers. On stage with Holland’s Geert Wilders and France’s Marina le Pen, he then called for a ‘Europe of the Nations’, meaning a Europe of sovereign nations, as if he and his allies were restoring the founding fathers’ vision!! This was anything but what the founding fathers – Schuman, Adenauer, de Gasperi and Monnet – had in mind. Such a vision is a recipe in the long-run for ongoing conflicts as it means a return to the prewar status quo of competing nation-states.

The effect could be paralysing. Just when Europe needs to step up to more global leadership, its capacity to defend EU citizens from external threats would be put at risk. Europeans already have enough external worries with Donald Trump deconstructing the international order, Vladimir Putin trying to undermine European political systems through a large-scale misinformation campaign and the Chinese muscling in on the telecommunications market with potential spy-network capacities.

There is certainly a case to be made that the founding fathers’ vision of ‘a community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’ has not been faithfully followed, as I wrote in Deeply Rooted. That was a project which prioritised seeking the common good of the whole, not each nation seeking its own self-interest. It was to be a process that was gradual, transparent and democratic.

What is beguiling for many Christians is that politicians like Salvini, Orban and Wilders talk of restoring judeo-christian foundations, but they mean old political and cultural identities. They do not mean the values of inclusion, forgiveness and reconciliation, of caring for the stranger, the poor and the vulnerable, of dignity and rights for each person.

3 thoughts on “Judaeo-Christian ‘values’

  1. Common interest, constructive dialogue between opposing political and ideological stances seems to be a thing of the past. We do have a terribly polarised Europe and west. Intransigence, dogma and division seem to be the current way of things with neither side able to even tolerate the possibility that they could be wrong. We need a return to humility and the values mentioned in the last sentence of the letter. I guess we as Christians should be leading the way in this respect not making things worse. Although I know there are many who are trying to do so like yourself but there are others who seem perfectly content to perpetuate a protectionist fear based world view legitimising it with all sorts of spiritual back up making it even more difficult to challenge. If they support the far right in any respect then they are lending it further weight and influence. However it is hard to challenge somebody who is utterly convinced that something is God’s will. Downright impossible in my experience! I guess that’s where the humility thing comes in and prophecy needing to be tested by it’s fruit. How to pray is the issue for me? All the values mentioned above are what I do pray for but I get extremely confused when I find that other Christians are voting for Far right candidates who seem to oppose these fundamental important tenets of following Christ.

    1. I know exactly what you mean Joanna. I spluttered when someone told me that God wants us out of Europe. I am not sure that he cares either way, but what he does care about, as you say, is how we conduct ourselves through this process. It is frustrating and disempowering to watch, from my home in Latvia, the whole debacle with its polarised debates, knowing that the outcome could also affect my own life. How often do the debates we hold ripple outwards in ways we do not intend? That should give us pause for thought in how we conduct ourselves and voice our opinions I think.

    2. Yes I agree completely. So hard to not get angry and react but as you say how we conduct ourselves is so important.

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