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    Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Western Civilization and Judeo/Christian Influences

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 27, 2012

Here is a portion of a fantastic article by Cheryl Stansberry on the influence of Christianity on Western Civilization. Just as trees dies when the roots are damaged, so too will Western Civilization die when its roots are neglected. In my quest to re-educate the West on its past, this research paper will help immensely. Our family has been reviewing this article and discussing its key implications. One of the missing ingredients in today’s histories is the moral aspect. History without morality tends to downgrade into useless dates, names, and events; instead of the actual moral battle between good and evil. Regretfully, the reason most people do not enjoy history is that they were exposed to the subject without being taught the underlying moral struggle within it.

I have had my personal battles with injustice and have learned greatly from the experiences, leading me to understand history at a whole new level. It is through the struggles in life that resolutions are made and it was through my struggles that I (and my co-founders) resolved to start the LIFE Business, giving people the opportunity to grow into the people God intended them to be. What struggles in your life helped you resolve to change? Enjoy this portion and please discuss what you learned below. Thanks!

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

The Influence of Christianity on Western Civilization

The positive influence of Christianity is far reaching especially in the rich history and culture of Western Civilization despite a long standing ignorance or adamant denial of its contributions. The Bible itself is responsible for much of the language, literature, and fine arts we enjoy today as its artists and composers were heavily influenced by its writings. Paul Maier, in writing the forward to the book How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt, says this about the profound impact Christianity has had on the development of Western Civilization:

“No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement—whatever—has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done. Its shortcomings, clearly conceded by this author, are nevertheless heavily outweighed by its benefits to all mankind” (Schmidt 9).

Contrary to the history texts treatment of the subject, Christian influence on values, beliefs, and practices in Western culture are abundant and well ingrained into the flourishing society of today (Schmidt 12). In the Old Testament book of Hosea the writer states: “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” a statement that can well be applied to those today who are forgetful of the past (The Reformation Study Bible, Hosea 4.6a).

Schmidt writes regarding liberty and justice as seen by today’s culture:

“The liberty and justice that are enjoyed by humans in Western societies and in some non-Western countries are increasingly seen as the products of a benevolent, secular government that is the provider of all things. There seems to be no awareness that the liberties and rights that are currently operative in free societies of the West are to a great degree the result of Christianity’s influence (248). History is replete with examples of individuals who acted as a law unto themselves “often curtailing, even obliterating the natural rights and freedoms of the country’s citizens (249). Christianity’s influence, however, set into motion the belief that man is accountable to God and that the law is the same regardless of status. More than one thousand years before the birth of Christ the biblical requirement given by Moses comprised an essential component of the principle that “no man is above the law.”

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (Deuteronomy 19.15)

Thus the accuser, regardless of position in society, could not arbitrarily incarcerate or execute the accused and was himself subject to the law. The New Testament also mandated two or more witnesses in ecclesiastical matters regarding an erring Christian in Matthew 18:15-17 (Schmidt 249). The criminal and justice systems of many free countries today employ this Judeo-Christian requirement of having witnesses testify and in British and American jurisprudence, witnesses are part of “due process of law,’ a legal concept first appearing under King Edward III in the fourteenth century (Schmidt 249). One startling example of the concept that no man is above the law is seen in the conflict between the Christian emperor Theodosius the Great and St. Ambrose. It happened in 300 A.D. when some in Thessalonica rioted and aroused the anger of the emperor who overreacted by slaughtering approximately seven thousand people, most of whom were innocent. Bishop Ambrose asked the emperor to repent and when Theodosius refused, the bishop excommunicated him. After a month Theodosius prostrated himself and repented in Ambrose’s cathedral. Often mistaken as a struggle for power between church and state, the evidence in which Ambrose’s letter to the emperor cited sole concern for the emperor’s spiritual welfare conclude this as being the first instance of applying the principle that no one is above the law (Schmidt 250).

41 Responses to “Western Civilization and Judeo/Christian Influences”

  1. nathan fox said

    great blog Orrin, you always amaze me with your insight.

  2. Another great article Orrin!!! Keep them coming!! We love you!!

  3. Phil Wall said

    “Man is accountable to God and that the law is the same regardless of status” – I Love it!!

  4. Great stuff. Speaks truths of our christian background.

  5. I very much enjoyed that. The scripture in Deuteronomy referring by the mouth of two or three witnesses… The more we stand courageous and open our mouths, the more witnesses we have, and the more we being to the fold! I am so grateful for Christ in my life. He has truly healed a wounded heart, and serving him by serving his children, is the greatest joy I have ever found.

  6. Greg Mazur said

    Thanks for sharing Orrin. I do not remember learning this in Social Studies class in grade school or even history class in college. This knowledge should influence more people to study the bible for principles they can apply in their lives.
    Greg

  7. Awesome article Orrin.

    Amen to this, “No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement—whatever—has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done.”

    TEAM LIFE – Lead people to the truth…

    Love it!
    Neal

  8. Kevin Hamm said

    Orrin,

    I loved the post! I immediately connected with your analogy of the tree and it’s roots. As an arborist, I am well aware of the significance of protecting the roots of trees during activities like construction. It is amazing that the vast majority of all construction companies do not understand this. The primary reason is that root damage creates a slow decline that leads to tree mortality 5 to 8 years later. The construction company is long gone and in most cases would emphatically deny that they had anything to do with the death of the tree, stating that they never damaged the trunk of the tree. It is truly what we can’t see on the surface that is most significant. The parallels to our culture are many. We must act quickly to rebuild the foundation of our culture to mitigate the decline and begin restoring freedom. I am proud to be associated with the LIFE organization. Thanks again Orrin.

  9. James Pyka said

    Great post Orrin, always look forward to your insight. Thanks for leading from the front.

    James

  10. great article orrin. i truly believe the LIFE TEAM will help restore/nourish the american roots back to a society of morals and ethics with our products/system!

  11. Dave ober said

    Thank you so much for sharing these perspectives on history! Sincerely dave ober

  12. Jason Dames said

    Thx Orrin for the insightful article!!

  13. Keep ’em coming Orrin! This is the type of education and information I can’t get enough of! Thanks for all that you do!

  14. Kerry Loar said

    Orrin,
    Having read the Book Of Exodus the last few days was a great reminder of our Christian laws. I have been seeking understanding in my relationships especially with my husband of 23 years. I have been blessed to be around Team Life with the abundance of respect and understanding of the people who I have met, my mentors and the teaching of Team leaders as yourself. I love the story in the introduction of Resolved of what was written on the bishop’s tomb in Westminister Abbey. I can see the future changing for myself and so many others as we learn the 13 resolutions for LIFE. Thank you, thank you for all you do.

  15. Lucas Moldenhauer said

    Excellent Orrin! Great insight on the ancient requirement for two witnesses. Sometimes we know what the Bible says but we don’t fully appreciate the ramifications. This was helpful. Stories from 300 AD need to be told more… stories of Christianity starting to change culture. Today, after a two millennia of church history could we honestly imagine life without the actions of William Wilberforce or Winston Churchill (just to name a few)? But if we forget these stories or never hear them, then this third millennium will be dark and painful. Not the heritage our posterity deserves.

  16. Skip Mason said

    Orrin,

    Keep speaking the truth !!!!

  17. Scott Staley said

    Great article Orrin! I love (now) studying history and the impact it has had, and is having today!

  18. Jim Martin said

    Orrin thanks for your wisdom and taking the time to share it with us. Your a true man of character and a great example for me to follow. I love the depth of your posts and the insight and perspective I gain from you.

    God Bless,
    Jim

  19. Robert Nava said

    Great article Orrin,
    I love the insight that you bring to the table on your different blogs. Hitting on all cylinders in everything you post to educate us all. Keep’em coming “I appreciate that”
    Thanks,
    Robert Nava

  20. Ron Glanzer said

    “Useless dates, names, and events” Exactly what I thought of history in school. Just a bunch of stuff I needed to memorize to pass. It had very little meaning or relevance to me.

    Since I joined the LIFE team I have heard several history lessons, and not only did I not fall asleep during them they regularly left me wanting to know more. Thanks to Orrin, Chris Brady, and many other LIFE founders and leaders for show me that history in not only relevant, but also important in understanding what is happening today.

    • Sherri Schram said

      Agree with you Ron, I feel the same!!

    • Indeed! I embraced & truly enjoyed history classes ( ‘social studies’ overall ) throughout middle & high school. However, I knew many friends who had this type of reaction. Little did they know at that time, pre-internet & pre-information age, that it was due to decisions made in the late 19th & early 20th century that were the root cause; i.e., the introduction of mass, common, conveyor belt schooling for the masses – a trade off b/w educational minds of that day and the industrial age titans.

      The latter were looking for compliant workers who knew the “what” and perhaps the “when”, but never the “how”. Regrettably, this is still the primary means of schooling today, and the fruit from it has gone rotten years ago = many Americans don’t truly understand their history beyond what they may have retained in their overstuffed “what” (dates, names, events) vessels.

      Fortunately, for those of us who are members of LIFE and perhaps taking the MFC too ( double win:win ), we know that the “how” is the most important element of history. Thank you’s, as always, to Orrin, Chris, & George for their excellent teaching on this most important genre.

    • Fairbear77 said

      I’m right there with you Ron. I had a similar experience. It was actually not the err of my teachers. They were doing their best. I did not get the essence of the epic and continual struggle of good vs. evil. Until I met up with the LIFE TEAM I didn’t even have any idea that what I was experiencing every day was part of the same story or “Great Conversation” that all those other people in history were a part of. Now I know and am working on catching up! Thanks Orrin!

  21. This is a great example of why we can all learn from our history. Thanks for constantly being there for us Orrin.

    Joce & Cynthia

  22. Kirk Birtles said

    Orrin… You’re dead on when you say that people find history a boring matter of old dates, old places, old ways and old people if they aren’t tuned into the moral battle that made it history in the first place. The battle of good vs evil rages on, but is continually watered down in our growing secularized liberal culture. I was reading in Putnam’s Bowling Alone this morning that what has always made the greatest impact in the past is a great ‘spiritual awakening’. That’s what the west truly needs and we need to continue to do our part through LIFE, leadership, and prayer. Leading people to the truth and praying to God to take off their ‘spiritual blinders’ so that they will join us in this fight. Thanks for always being a leader worth following!

    • Matt Mielke said

      I agree with you Kirk. I find the quote ““my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” a statement that can well be applied to those today who are forgetful of the past,” so appropriate. The unfortunate thing, at least in my life, is I never learned the history so I can’t use forgetfulness as an excuse. I was just ignorant!!…Not any more. Fired Up!!!

      Matt

      • Heather Woods said

        Matt, that’s been a favorite (and sadly prophetic) verse of mine too! In secular circles such as the media we often hear questioned the Judeo-Christian foundation of our country (and the West). Reading the words of some of the founders, it might be fair to say they weren’t what we would describe as “Evangelical Christians,” but they certainly were God-fearing, Bible-believing men and women who were obviously, as Orrin has so plainly pointed out, influenced by the Bible as they formed the structures of our government that we so take for granted.

        I was astonished by the historical example of Theodosius the Great and St. Ambrose. It’s definitely part of the gap in my education (thus far!). But it’s encouraging to see a godly man hold his leader accountable for his actions and show VERY early on that no one is above the law and that we ALL answer to a higher power.

        Thanks again, Orrin. Another home run!
        Red Eagles are First to Serve!

  23. Pam Mentzer said

    I find this article very interesting after having recently finished a study through the book of Daniel. In Chapter 4 of Daniel,the King of Babylon has a dream of a great tree which supplies food and protection for all the world; but it is cut down and destroyed—except for the roots and stump. These are preserved, but they are bound by iron and bronze.
    Daniel’s interpretation of the dream to King Nebuchadnezzar, states, that until the King acknowledged that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and that heaven ruled; he would be humbled. His wisdom removed from him.
    A Americans, we need to remember Who we answer to in this nation. It is the same God that gave us our liberties from the beginning and to Whom we will all one day give an account.–God Bless and Happy Memorial Day—Pam Mentzer

  24. Nick & Amanda Quinn said

    Awesome! No doubt that if we brought this content back to school curriculum, our country (and the world) would benefit greatly! The people of this country need to hear more of this stuff, keep the great articles coming, Orrin!

  25. Heidi Szymanski said

    Orrin, I was just having coffee with a great friend and home school mom who has made this her central theme to teaching history to her own kids, and now to others as a tutor. It is powerful stuff that pulls it all together to make it relevant. Thank you for the information! Heidi

  26. Matt Foote said

    Excellent article Orrin. Far too often, people want to focus only on the negative things that people have done, claiming that it was done in the name of God or Christianity. However, they choose to ignore what the benefits of the foundational principles of Christianity have accomplished and how they have influenced people and cultures around the world.

    I also appreciate that again you demonstrate your hunger to learn from others by posting these things that you are reading and learning. Thank you for leading by example.

  27. robert wilcox said

    The roots Moral decay and the Western civilization… Great education Orrin thank you …. something i never heard in school …. instead we need to bring it to the forefront … read discuss and get mentorship on our thinking. Truly blessed to be able to wake up and read your blog… it is the education I need but never got …based on principles and History!!! Thank you Orrin!

  28. Laurie Tallio said

    I now understand how my own roots were starving for better food. If we are all trees in the national forest and many people like me are struggling for the proper food that definitely explains the challengess of western civilization. I am so grateful for healthier food that is helping my roots to firm up my foundation… and for food that can collectively help us get stronger. No matter what I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about history classes… I never made an analogy like that!

  29. Ryan Calovich said

    Another great article full of truth and other references. Thanks for leading at the front Orrin!

  30. LeeAnn said

    Wow!

  31. carla snair said

    I am only now, since being associated with the leadership of Team, starting to not only understand, but appreciate history. Great blog!

  32. Yancy Chaj said

    This is a great article there is so much to learn and another insightful article that we can share with people and be able to inspire people to get to know more about christianity and lead them to truth.
    Thank You

  33. Orrin,

    When you look at how the Bible influenced Western culture it is evident in so many ways.

    Regarding Freedom – Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

    Rebuilding of our Enemies – Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven

    Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven

  34. Anthony Nieto said

    That is so true Orrin. Being of the younger generation, history in school was not a subject many of us liked or sad to say, even cared about. Its is like Kirk Birtles said above, we were taught only to remember dates, places, and some people, to take a test and never bring back up again. I can say I disliked history until being apart of this Team. I love our history and the things that happened that can still be used today! Thanks Orrin for re-educating the world.

  35. I to have had runins with unjust events and we have great lessons to learn from thous we have gods word that he will never give us more than we can bear. Live and learn and use the knoladge you gaind from it to push on. The leadership and life you and the team are putting out can and will help any one in any event if they chose it.

  36. wildtarg said

    I read Cheryl’s entire article and was quite engaged. While a broad topic to address, the paper is an sound summary of the positive contributions of Christian thought and practice to western societies. I was most intrigued by the touching on philosophy and the considerable mention of renaissance-era scientisits who had a Christian faith.
    The notion of what Hume(?) called a priori knowledge (i.e. knowledge that is present and evident without deliberate thought or reasoning) is something that modern philosophers have dithered about since its writing. While it cannot be said that God is an unignorable being immanently present to everyone, the ‘natural’ or ‘moral law’, that of right human conduct almost certainly is. This idea is the underpinning of “equal justice under law” because it presumes universal awareness of moral conduct. I remember an odd case of one NAZI war criminal being exhonorated of charges, because the international court determined that he genuinely was unaware of the (im)morality of his behaviors.

    Also, the mention of such hallmark names as Galileo, Newton, and Mendel, along with less widely known, but no less important figures, is a telling reminder that there was indeed a time when there was no intellectual – or cultural – schism between a rational and a spiritual worldview. I was intrigued to read that Johann Mendel was a contemporary of Darwin, and rejected his theory after examining it. We as a culture (North America and Europe) are disturbingly unaware of the serious schism between intellectual comprehension and spiritual faith, and that it need not be so. I earnestly hope that more people can understand that, in spite of what higher education and media editors assert, science has never ‘debunked’ faith in the unseen; rather science has gone its own way and gotten hopelessly mired in problems it cannot solve on its own. It took me a long time to give up an adversarial stance on these issues; but now, may we all work to inform, educate, and work toward reconciliation.

    Keep going, we’re with you…

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