Friday, November 08, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 228: Kyle Beshears summarises the effects of dechristianisation in Europe

NB: Follow-up on generational de-Christianisation trends in the US and Caribbean, here

I have often spoken in terms of two spiritual tidal waves bearing down on the Caribbean and pounding our shores with waves of impacts:

Wave I comes from the North, reflecting the ongoing de-Christianisation of Europe and North America, with Europe well ahead of North America. I find this trend to be a major and too often overlooked ar even dismissed concern.

So, you can imagine how forcibly the following Infographic from an online book -- Empty Churches --  by Kyle Beshears (based on a sermon at Mars Hill Church, Mobile Alabama) struck me:

Of course, while there are still vibrant churches and Christians, increasingly they are marginalised and harassed both socially and administratively. And, the Christian ethical position (e,g. that marriage is based on a naturally evident creation order) is seen as suspect.  With more in train.

Beshears, among other points he makes, opens his remarks by commenting:
God is dead.

To many Europeans these three words, written by German philosopher Frederich Nietzsche, summarize the state of modern European society.

Jesus is irrelevant. Faith is a crutch. Christianity is something our grandparents relied on to get them through times of war, but we’re past that now. We’ve moved on, become enlight-ened, evolved.

God is dead - I am my own god. As English poet William Ernest Henley declared: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Today, in the minds of many people Europe is decidedly post-Christian. The continent that was once referred to as “Christendom” is now leading the way in shedding itself of its Chris-tian identity, opting instead for secularism as society’s worldview. Christianity in Europe is a thing of the past.
He also highlights the impact of two world wars and the Cold War, noting the following inscription in a French memorial to the dead of the First World War (to which the second was in large measure simply part 2, the rematch):

 “We asked God for peace,
but He never answered.”

Now, of course, there is more to the story, but this is important.

 It also brings to the fore the following prophetic rebuke of Heinrich Heine to Germany, as long ago as the 1830's, in his Religion and Philosophy in Germany:
Christianity — and that is its greatest merit — has somewhat mitigated that brutal German love of war, but it could not destroy it. Should that subduing talisman, the cross, be shattered [--> the Swastika, visually, is a twisted, broken cross . . .], the frenzied madness of the ancient warriors, that insane Berserk rage of which Nordic bards have spoken and sung so often, will once more burst into flame. …

The old stone gods will then rise from long ruins and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor will leap to life with his giant hammer and smash the Gothic cathedrals. …

Do not smile at my advice — the advice of a dreamer who warns you against Kantians, Fichteans, and philosophers of nature. Do not smile at the visionary who anticipates the same revolution in the realm of the visible as has taken place in the spiritual. Thought precedes action as lightning precedes thunder. German thunder … comes rolling somewhat slowly, but … its crash … will be unlike anything before in the history of the world. …

At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead [--> cf. air warfare, symbol of the USA], and lions in farthest Africa [--> the lion is a key symbol of Britain, cf. also the North African campaigns]  will draw in their tails and slink away. … A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.
So, we can reasonably hold that the rise of general radical skepticism, hyperskeptical Bible criticism, evolutionary materialism dressed in the lab coat and more, are directly connected to the rise of increasingly aggressive and unstable regimes in Germany. 

Which, precipitated both world wars. 

And, it is the German General staff that conveyed Lenin in the infamous sealed train that carried him from exile in Switzerland back to Russia to foment revolution and coup d'etat. For, knocking Russia out of WW I was the last chance for the German Army to strike a decisive blow before the rising wave of American troops would tip the balance against the Kaiser. American troops, who were in France on the Western Front in response to Germany's second resort to unlimited submarine warfare against shipping, multiplied by the attempt to foment war with Mexico exposed in the affair of the Zimmerman telegram.

In short, the Cold War, arguably,  is also directly connected to consequences of the same wave of apostasy in Germany.

Beshears goes on to say no the church in Europe is not dead, but he is speaking of a remnant, often marginalised. So, while many Europeans still will say they are "Christian" in response to inquiry, that seems to be more or less a cultural memory. Indeed in dominant countries upwards of half the population hardly ever or never darken the doors of a church.

I think Francis Schaeffer's overall analysis (as adjusted) probably best summarises what has happened, why:

Similarly, we may extend his analysis on the response we will need to undertake, both in our region and beyond:

Where, plainly, to undertake such leadership, we need adequate numbers of effective, trained, equipped, organised, supported, mobilised disciples of Christ and a shared vision of our responsibility to engage the spiritual challenges posed by clever arguments and systems that block people from the knowledge of God:
 2 Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ . . .
Rom 13: 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal [--> right there, we have a proscription against aggressive warfare], You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Eph 4: 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!- 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  [ESV]

Why not now, why not here, why not us? END

PS: If you are looking for a 101 on grounding confidence in the gospel, try here on, and here on addresses wider worldview questions. Look in the right hand column for more.