Acton Institute Powerblog

A call to reaffirm the rational roots of Western identity

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Samuel Gregg, the Acton Institute’s director of research, recently wrote a poignant article for the Witherspoon Institute titled Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization. Gregg argues for the reaffirmation of Western civilization, its roots, and its accomplishments. We need not be “faithful Jews or orthodox Christians to affirm Western civilization’s achievements,” but it is vital that we realize “these faiths’ indispensable role in the growth of Western culture.”

Gregg explains that today there seems to be a trend to disparage the West, evidenced by current terrorism and even by the West itself (by “studiously ignoring or denigrating the West’s impressive achievements”). To counteract this, Gregg  paints a large picture of Western accomplishments for his readers, ranging in scope from the Rule of Benedict to the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral to the rule of law and limited government.

The achievements of the West, Gregg points out, “are essentially derivative. They proceed from specific philosophical and religious commitments without which the West as we know it could never have developed. When those foundations are shaken, we should not be surprised that all that is built on them starts to falter.” The faith-based rationale upon which the West has developed should not be pulled out from underneath it.

The indispensable contribution Judaism and Christianity has made to Western culture should spurn “discussion and affirmation”. Gregg concludes his article by encouraging “believers and non-believers alike to rediscover and reaffirm those truths without which … the West will eventually become unknown to itself.”

You can read Gregg’s full article here.

(Picture: By Skyden67 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)    

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Caroline Roberts Caroline Roberts is a managing editor at the Acton Institute and produces Acton's weekly podcast, Acton Line.