Many were surprised when the well-known former Muslim, turned atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, recently announced that she has become a Christian. I was not surprised for I have prayed for that very thing. I also wrote about her, without mentioning her name, in the Foreword of Susan Hyatt's latest book, In the Spirit We're Equal, Second Edition. Ali ties her decision to become a Christian with her concern about the decline of Western Civilization.
Only a Judeo-Christian Worldview Can Produce a Free and Civil Society
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, recently described the war with Hamas as a war between “good and evil” and between “civilization and barbarism.” I agree with him but with a very important clarification. A just war may protect a good and civil society from a barbaric attack, but war can never produce a good and civil society. Such a society will only emerge from the moral commitment and worldview of its inhabitants.
This is the insight that led to Ayaan's conversion. The civilization of the West has produced the safest and freest societies in human history, and this has been the direct result of the teachings of the Bible, especially those of Jesus. The noted Yale University historian, Jaroslav Pelikan, has said, “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about Him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries” (Hyatt, Discovering the Real Jesus, 9).
The Morals of Jesus Urged by America's Founders
America’s founders urged the populace of the new nation to make Jesus their role model for life. In a 1783 letter to the governors of the various states, George Washington exhorted them to make Jesus their pattern for civility and morality, saying, “Without a humble imitation of His example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation” (Hyatt, 1726: TheYear that Defined America, 172). Thomas Jefferson agreed with Washington, and wrote, “Of all the systems of morality that have come under my observations, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 150).
It was a moral system based on the Bible, and particularly the teachings of Jesus, that provided the moral basis for ending slavery in America and the Western world. This occurred at a time when slavery was accepted and practiced in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and most of the world. The distinguished historians, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene Genovese, wrote,
Europeans [and Americans] did not outdo others in enslaving others or treating slaves viciously. They outdid others by creating a Christian civilization that eventually stirred moral condemnation of slavery and roused mass movements against it (Hyatt, America’s Revival Heritage, 2nd Edition, 57).
The brilliant Black scholar, Dr. Thomas Sowell, has also written about the unique contribution of Western civilization in ending slavery. He wrote, “Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century–and then it was an issue only in Western civilization.” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 90). In my book, 1726, I have documented how this movement against slavery was ignited by the Great Awakening that swept Colonial America in the early 18th century.
Ayaan Sees Christianity as the Only Hope for Western Civilization
Ayaan became a Christian because she came to the realization that only Christianity embodies the moral truths and philosophical structure that can save the freedoms that Western civilization gave to the world. She points out that cherished Western freedoms of speech, of the press, and of conscience, all have their roots in Christianity. She also sees these freedoms being undermined and threatened by woke ideology, Islamism, and authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia. She writes,
We endeavor to fend off these threats with modern, secular tools: military, economic, diplomatic, and technological efforts to defeat, bribe, persuade, appease or surveil . . . But we can’t fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition . . . Christianity has it all.
Yet I would not be truthful if I attributed my embrace of Christianity solely to the realization that atheism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life (UnHerd, Nov. 11, 2023)?
Only a Christian Awakening Will Preserve Our Freedoms
When we as evangelical Christians talk about praying for revival or a Great Awakening, we must realize what is at stake. It is not just the success of our individual churches or personal ministries that are at stake. Western civilization itself is at stake. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of conscience to worship as one chooses are all by-products of Western civilization, and only a true “Christian Awakening” will preserve these freedoms for the next generation.
Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt is a Bible teacher, church historian and ordained minister. This article was derived from his books, 1726: The Year that Defined America and America’s Revival Heritage, 2nd Edition, both available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.