New story has to fill the space Christianity left
Once, Christianity brought order to the world. But the days of order are over, according to the people behind the recently formed Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC). A new narrative is therefore needed. "Christians can help ARC go deeper."
People are better off than a hundred years ago. But the world lacks intrinsic meaning due to five centuries of Enlightenment rationality. Cultural criticism has undermined our understanding of faith in traditions and divides people. Therefore, a new narrative is needed to unite and guide us.
In short, this is the vision statement of the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC), launched in early March by Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, among others. ARC aims to draw on cultural and spiritual foundations “to imagine a future where empowered citizens take responsibility for bringing flourishing and prosperity to all sectors of society.”
The idea for ARC originated with Mr Peterson while touring Europe last year. In his podcast, Peterson explains that in these various European countries, he met concerned people questioning the current state of Western culture. Peterson says they felt isolated, “like voices calling in the wilderness”. There, the idea for a forum that brings these people together to speak about these issues emerged.
In the months that followed, a so-called Organising Committee was formed. Among these organisers are several conservative voices, such as Australia’s former PM Tony Abbott and various US Republican politicians.
The Austrian politician Gudrun Kugler is also one of the organisers of ARC. Kugler, a jurist, a Catholic theologian and a Member of Parliament for the Christian Democratic Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), thinks the world needs better answers to social questions. “The left has promised to make everyone equal, the right has promised to make everyone rich, and liberals have promised to make everyone happy. None of that has happened.”
The Alliance has several references to the Bible. First, the Alliance’s short name –ARC– reminds of Noah’s ark, Peterson confirms in his podcast. Furthermore, Mr Peterson writes that the Alliance hopes “to encourage the development of an alternative pathway uphill, out of both tyranny and the desert.” A coincidence in which Dr Kugler sees a correspondence of recognition of the phenomenon of the human person: “If you remove the different ideological glasses people wear these days, you will find paths to human flourishing, which might often correspond to the biblical worldview.”
When asked about the relationship between ARC and the Christian faith, Dr Kugler states that it is possible to have a Christian worldview without the Christian faith. “But we have to ask how long a Christian worldview can persist in a growing absence of Christian faith in our societies.”
According to Kugler, Christians can help ARC to go deeper. “For me personally, as a Christian-inspired politician, faith is a magnifying glass or a compass, highlighting issues in which my engagement is especially needed and helping me act righteously in difficult situations.”
Isn’t this too positive a view of man for a Christian? Kugler thinks not. “In my opinion, Christianity does not teach that everything on earth is corrupted. Rather, it teaches that there is a struggle between good and evil and that it is up to us to decide for the good. Righteousness is possible with the grace of God!”
Although many people respect the Bible for its great truths about the human person, the book is not a basis for the Alliance, Kugler says. “ARC approaches these questions from science and experience. Everyone is invited to join us, no matter their faith.”
This invitation is indeed for everyone. ARC published six “fundamental” questions on its website that people can answer via a contact form. The answers to these questions might form the basis for a vision moving forward and could be discussed at a conference in London later this year. Kugler: “There is a silent majority out there of reasonable people who are getting more and more upset with what is going on. People feel quite some discontent and often do not find words to explain why. Our first task is to find the reasons and come up with better answers. Then, we must talk about them so that everyone has a chance to share in them. Our goal is to create momentum for change.”
The next step for ARC would be to expand the yearly conventions and set up regional events worldwide. “This is still in the planning phase, but I expect more high-level, science-based meetings to follow. We hope to prevent people from withdrawing in frustration and to motivate everyone to take on responsibility in their own surroundings“, Kugler says.
According to Kugler, the time is ripe for a change. “But for good things to happen, it always takes quite some effort and courage. If everyone was ready for that, the world would be a better place quickly. Each one of us can do this, day after day, starting with myself.”
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