the Christians who brought them to these shores.rnAs a Jew, Marvin has inherited from his Jewish predecessorsrna tradition of values and morals that differs hardly at all fromrnthe Christian values against which he spoke. Therefore thernquestion arises: Is the objection to the label “Christian,” or tornthe values themselves? It may be that the encounter withrnChristianity has been so unpleasant for some people and forrnsome groups that merely to affix the label “Christian” on anrnidea or a principle is enough to cause it to be rejected. This isrnespecially unfortunate when the idea is something that is veryrnuseful or even necessary for the health of society and has beenrnbrought to these shores primarily by representatives of European,rnand therefore Christian, civilization. The suspicion isrnstrong, verging on certainty, that this particular talk show host,rnlike many others in our society, really rejects the values themselvesrnand only makes use of the label to attack them.rnHow has it become possible in America to attack certain basicrnvalues, values that most human societies throughout historyrnhave considered vital? It has become possible because Christiansrnand Christianity have rendered themselves so odious, atrnleast in the sight of some, or have been declared so odious thatrnanything they touch is regarded with distaste, as fit to be suppressedrnor discarded. The word “Christian” has become a badrnword in politically correct America. If a thing—or a person—rncan effectively be labeled “Christian,” he or it has been renderedrnunclean, and can be banished from the community withoutrnfurther explanation.rnConsider the implications: “Christian” has become a badrnword in a society that is still at least in some sense about 70 percentrnChristian. What are the implications when two-thirds tornthree-quarters of the people of a nation are led to think thatrnthey have no good excuse for existing, or at least no excuse forrnbeing what they are? There is a parallel in that “white” is a badrnword in a society that is about 70 percent white (not the samern70 percent, of course). Incidentally, “male” is a bad word in arnsociety that is, from the nature of things, about half male. Doesrnany sports team ever win victories by constantly telling its membersrnthat they are cowardly, unsportsmanlike, weak, and lazy? Ifrn70 percent of a particular society are constantly told—and tellrnthemselves, ultimately coming to take it for granted—that theyrnowe their existence and their prosperity to crimes and malfeasancernof various kinds, will they not inevitably come to think ofrnthemselves as criminals and malefactors? And will this not saprntheir ability to aspire to virtue and to accomplish virtuousrndeeds? We are rascals and wretches, and no good can come ofrnus. Curiously, one of the features of this raseal-and-wretch doctrinernis that we are taught to apply it selectively to ourselves andrnto exempt others.rnOf course Christianity, too, has a low view of man as he is. Itrnhas often been attacked for its doctrine of original sin, which assertsrnthat humanity chose rebellion against God in the infancyrnof the race and continues to perpetuate it year by year, makingrnus all “by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Thisrnmight appear to be a very pessimistic view, and indeed it is, if itrnis combined with a materialistic worldview. We notice, however,rnthat it is not selective, but applies to all humans, to genericrnman—men, women, and children. No race dare single itselfrnout as racially special, but no race need regard itself as raciallyrnlost. Christianity, properly understood (as it frequently has notrnbeen in nominally Christian nations), will prevent a race or arnnation from exalting itself above others, but it will also warn itrnagainst debasing itself beneath them. In addition, and very importantly,rnChristianity, with all that it says about the reality ofrnhuman sin and corruption, does not leave us there. Instead, itrngoes on to tell its adherents, “We are God’s workmanship, createdrnin Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared inrnadvance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Christianity is far fromrnunfamiliar with human frailty and human sinfulness—in fact,rnit is often accused of exaggerating them, but it is also full ofrnhope. What is said in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the peoplernof the church is also true in a very significant way of the peoplernwho came to these shores: they admitted that they were aliensrnand strangers on earth. People who say such things show thatrnthey are looking for a country of their own. If they had beenrnthinking of the country they left, they would have had opportunityrnto return. Instead, they were longing for a better countryrn—a heavenly one (Hebrews 11:13-16).rnThe confidence that they could find and build a betterrncountry here on earth was in large measure a consequence ofrnthe fact that they had before them the vision of the ultimaterncity, “a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker isrnGod” (Hebrews 11:10). It is no accident that as much of America,rnand foremost many of our intellectual and political leadersrnand opinion-makers, lose the vision of that City, and seek tornmake the perfect city themselves, we come to disparage morernand more man and his works that we have done. This is whatrnthe late Dutch Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerdrncalled “the twilight of Western thought,” based on “pretendedrnautonomy.” Thinking, or pretending, that we can do perfectlyrnwell without divine guidance, we gradually come to the conclusionrnthat we have done perfectly badly up until now, andrnthat no good thing can be expected of us.rnAsociety that loses its elan vital, its enthusiasm for life, orrnperhaps not merely its active will, but even its passive willingnessrnto live, is hardly likely to survive. The threat to the survivalrnof a largely Christian people such as ours does not lie withrnthe animus of the small number of secularists and militantrnanti-Christians, but with the gullibility and lack of self-respectrnof the 70 percent or so of us who in some way bear the name ofrnChristian, and who seem more and more inclined to apologizernfor the fact that we exist, and even to promise to stop existing asrnsoon as we comfortably can. By so apologizing, those of us whornare Christians not merely discard the heritage with all that itrncan do for us, but also render it inaccessible to the others who,rnwithout being Christian in name or in conviction, might otherwisernhave profited from it. If the Christian heritage in Americarnis lost, it will not be because there is a small if substantial minorityrnof non-Christians who wish that it did not exist (we mustrnnot overlook the fact that many non-Christians do not objectrnto the heritage), but because there are so many Christians whornhave become first ashamed and then ignorant of it.rnThe survival of a healthy society is important for all Americans.rnFor this reason, it is important that no one and norngroup—whether they be militant secularists, victims of Christianrnprejudice and maltreatment, or pusillanimous Christians,rnbe allowed to squander or spoil the inheritance.rnAre we or were we in the United States ever in any sense arn”Christian nation”? Actually, to ask it in this way is to ask incorrectly,rnfor the expression “the United States” originally designatedrnnot a nation but a confederation of states, originallyrnsovereign, and remaining sovereign for several decades, at leastrnin theory, if not in practice. The answer is this: the UnitedrnStates, or America if you prefer, have never been prescriptivelyrn22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn