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Making all things new

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The church at Twyford, seen through a haze of trees

There are thousands of parish churches in Britain, witnesses to our forbears and their faith. What would Britain look like if Christianity had never taken root here?

No Westminster Abbey, no steeples, no bells, no hymns, no choirs, no universities, no hospitals, no grammar schools, no science, no libraries, no charities and trusts, and no common law. You might think these things would have been created anyway, but would they? Until recently you did not see them in many non-Christian parts of the world.

As you know, a person's thoughts tend to affect his or her actions. For example, a large part of the world believed, and seemingly continues to believe today, that the future is preordained – what will happen will happen and there is nothing they can do about it. God's will or karma dictates events, not our actions.

Whatever faults Christians possessed, Christianity was clear that individuals were free to create the future. British Christian thinkers at least as early as the 13th century believed that God had created a world based on rational and mathematical, not whimsical, principles, and wanted us to understand them.

The Irish who were said to have saved Western civilization in Thomas Cahill's book were Christians. Some of what they saved was knowledge created by earlier Greek and Roman civilizations. Celtic, Greek, Roman, and Old English ideas mediated by Christianity created the Britain we can still glimpse today. Christian ideas contributed to equality before the law, just laws, and personal liberty and representative government.

Prior to the 20th century, British Christians took an energetic view of the Eastertide message - “See, I make all things new.” But they didn't make useless change for the sake of change. They balanced innovation with conservation. They were simultaneously romantic and practical.

Update - Cat explores No Science?

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