Is Europe, Along With Its Bioethics, Still Christian? Or Already Post-Christian? Reflections on Traditional Post-Enlightenment Christianities and Their Bioethics
Christian Bioethics 2008 April; 14(1): 1-28
This introduction explores the relationship between Europe and its Christianities. It analyses different diagnostic and evaluative approaches to Europe's Christian or post-Christian identity. These are grouped around the concepts of diverse traditional, and, on the other hand, post-Enlightenment Christianities. While the first revolves around a liturgical and mystical account of the church, a Christ-centred humanism, an emphasis on man's future life, noetic theology and a foundationalist claim to universal truth, the second endorses a moralization of the "Christian message," political implementation of "Christian goals," rationalism, a this-worldly humanism, and tolerance for religious diversity. Since even the concepts of "traditional" and "post-Enlightenment" Christianity turn out to be deeply ambiguous, the essay concludes with exploring the different ways in which the Christianity of the Apostolic Church, the Enlightenment (along with the "Western" Christianities it shaped), and contemporary liberalism each conceive of their respective endorsements of human freedom as either normative, that is obligatory, value-laden, or contingent, and arbitrary. In each case, a different notion of "tradition" (as well as familial and church authority) is placed either in harmony or in opposition to such freedom. As a result of this conceptual analysis, the deeply fractured identity of Europe, as exemplified by the diverse bioethical positions adopted by the authors in this issue, becomes visible.
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