A damaged Notre Dame in Paris.
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16
I often refer to this era as being “post-Christian” without unpacking it. In his annual Christmas address last month, Pope Francis stated, “We are not in Christianity, not anymore.”
Something that is “post” means that it comes after something that existed. For Christianity, it meant that the world before this current era was largely a Christian world. That statement has broad implications in the mores and political discourse around the globe.
To the western culture, which was based on Judeo-Christian principles, it is a huge earthquake. The Reformation brought cultural values of truth and the rule of law to the top of the list. In a post-Christian world, those values take a back seat.
Institutions in America at one time were trusted are now not trusted because people see the lack of truthfulness and integrity and it undermines their trust. Politicians openly lie (“if you want your doctor, you can keep him”). The euphemism for lying is you “lacked candor”.
John S. Dickerson wrote an article in World Magazine titled “Facing Cultural Storms”. He discusses trends facing the world starting with the decline of Christianity and the drift towards socialism away from capitalism.
Dickerson names other trends: the fast rise of Islam around the globe and the “civil war” of ideologies in a post-truth era. As for the ideology war, the next generation is being taught that all belief systems are equal and can coexist without conflict. Even someone from ISIS would challenge that statement.
The evolution away from Christianity started with the medieval culture. Norman Cantor, a medieval historian put it this way: “Medieval culture was a culture of the book, and in the middle ages, that book was the Bible.”
What then happened has been described as a macrosocial change. It began with the French Revolution, which established the religion of man. Alex de Tocqueville commented on the process of de-Christianization this way: “In France, Christianity was attacked with almost frenzied violence.”
In 1793, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was formally transformed into the Temple of Reason. Statues of Rousseau and Voltaire replaced statues of saints. The recent fire which destroyed Notre Dame has been met with large support to have it restored. Most of that support is to rebuild it as a historic tourist site.
The post-Christian change has been gradual, driven by the subculture at the top levels of society – the educational system, the media and top levels of the legal system – which are now mostly secular.
It has been a trickle down change from the top by the “elites” and the courts. Most Universities embrace gender and race diversity, but not political opinion.
Conservative professors at Yale are pushing back at their isolation because their opinion is treated as non-objective and “invalid”. Liberal faculty “cull out” conservative graduate students.
As one writer cynically noted, the lyrics to the song “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of Secularity” is the new national hymn in America.
The Pew Foundation tracks the changes. Christianity declined by 10% between 2007 and 2014, and those professing no religion (the “Nones”) increased by 50%. Not good trends.
This is a trying age. My friends and I are constantly shaking our heads at where it is headed. Trends like socialism, which is inherently anti-Christian, are worrisome.
As I noted recently, 70% of millennials favor socialism. They don’t know history and are blinded by the verbiage that sounds good and therefore it must be good.
The problem? Socialism has never worked. This time won’t be different. It has consistently led to major human catastrophes by socialist leaders like Stalin and, more recently, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
The decline in Christianity has led to an absence of traditional teaching on social mores. The sexual revolution redefined the nature of sex, gender, relationships and the family unit away from Christian teaching. Public schools are now being required to add LGBTQ curriculum regarding gender fluidity which is contrary to biology.
Should we despair? I think not. Christianity has thrived for two millennia through different governments and societies. Notwithstanding a bumper sticker that says, “WE HAVE NO HOPE”, we always have a hope based on a relationship with Jesus.
The challenge is to recognize that things have changed quickly and dramatically over the past 50 years. We have to be strategic in articulating our virtues and values in a culture that has been turning a deaf ear to anything with spiritual overtones.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Your mentee has been raised in a post-Christian world and may need help in navigating through falsehoods to real biblical truth.
FURTHER READING: Hope of Nations: Standing Strong in a Post-Truth, Post-Christian World, James S. Dickerson.
Facing Cultural Storms – World Magazine
WORSHIP: Listen to Glorious Day by Passion.
MentorLink: For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.
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