Christmas in the free West
Secularism essentially mandates the separation of Church and State. It ensures that the Church does not rule over the State (as happened when Popes ruled over states in the Middle Ages) and the State does not rule over the Church (as happens in totalitarian states even today).
Traditionally secularism mandates openness wherein all views can be explored and tested in liberty and with security.
Movements that seek to eradicate Christianity from the public square are usually driven by cultural totalitarians seeking to remove something they despise and recognise as a threat.
Religious repression in the West is mostly led by atheistic humanists who are embarrassed by, ashamed of, or in denial about the West's Christian foundations and heritage.
The aggression and shrillness of this intolerant and repressive 'new secularism' leaves many Christians shocked and intimidated. What is required though is courage and conviction: not to cling to tradition; but to assert confidently the value of those Biblical truths that make Judaeo-Christian culture truly great.
In Sweden, whilst public schools are by law non-confessional, Advent services are part of the compulsory curriculum. In an effort to balance Sweden's Christian cultural tradition with the 'new secularism', the government has ruled that Advent services be held - for the sake of tradition - but without prayers or any mention of Jesus - in deference to 'new secularism'.
Because there is as yet no law regulating what a pastor can say inside his own church, the school principal will bear the responsibility.
Consequently, if the pastor will not consent to delivering a prayer-less and Christ-less Christmas, the principal must decide not to have the compulsory Advent service in the church.
Last year the Scottish government promoted a 'Winter Festival' program, highlighting the main events of the Scottish winter - Christmas was not included.
In January 2011 the European Union (EU) Commission issued three million secondary school diaries which detailed Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Chinese festivities and Europe Day, yet made no reference to Christmas or Easter.
Responding to complaints, an EU Commission spokesman said that in the interests of political correctness, future school diaries would make no references to any religious festivals.
Unless there is a return to the Lord, Western civilisation as we know it will perish - a consequence of forgetting the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:11-20). 'And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish' (v19).
Actually, it would be good to see a spiritual struggle for Europe, for at present Europe is in fact surrendering, ashamed of its own Christian foundations and heritage. Should the West continue down this path, it will reap cultural collapse and chaos, to be countered through desperate totalitarianism and appeasement of the most belligerent.
Indeed, the process has already begun. The West urgently needs revival.
'For whoever is ashamed of me [Jesus Christ] and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.' (Luke 9:26 ESV)
'So everyone who acknowledges me [Jesus Christ] before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.' (Matthew 10:32,33 ESV)
Pray that God will use this Christmas season and even the 'new secularist' opposition to acknowledging Jesus Christ:
- to impassion Western believers, infusing them with a fresh realisation of what they are celebrating, whom they are celebrating and why all this is worth celebrating.
- to awaken Westerners to what they will lose if they do not 'wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die . . .' (from Revelation 3:1-6 ESV)
And in his grace and mercy bless the West with revival, so that Christians might overflow with passion, zeal and boldness to declare, despite hostility adn in the face of opposition, '. . . I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . .. .' (from Romans 1:16 ESV).
And accept as an offering the risky, counter-cultural gospel witness of his faithful ones, blessing it and using it as seed for revival and to bring many who are new to the West to faith in Jesus Christ.