We are forced to acknowledge that from Sweden to Italy, from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, the West is in dire straits. It is easy to highlight the obvious features producing social breakdown: uncontrolled immigration, identity politics, intolerant progressivism, supine politicians, the list goes on and on. The results are depressing.
When we say immigrants should integrate with the settled community, just what are we asking them to integrate with? Here in the UK we lead the world in family breakdown. Families composed of married couples are decreasing and cohabitation and single parent families increasing, with consequent results for children in terms of education, delinquency and teenage pregnancy. The level of loneliness among the elderly is a national embarrassment. We are renowned for our rates of binge-drinking. If you were a Muslim immigrant, would you wish to integrate with this?
These are the social consequences flowing from an absence of political and spiritual leadership. Our political parties and churches fly under false colours. The Conservatives conserve nothing, Labour are interested in the workers only at election time, and the Liberal Democrats have proven themselves anything but liberal or democratic. The leadership of the mainstream churches has been taken over by progressives who are embarrassed by the claims of Christ and whose main occupation is the bureaucratic management of fast-disappearing institutions.
If you were to ask the man in the street what was the single most important element in the creation of the Western civilisation, it is doubtful that he would he mention Christianity. Today people are dangerously ignorant about their own heritage. Just as fish cannot see the water in which they swim, so Westerners cannot see their Christian heritage and its benefits. For example, God commands us to not murder one another. This may seem obvious, yet in many non-Western cultures female infanticide is a common and accepted practice.
Christianity was pivotal in the development of the West in that it provided the forms of thought without which those institutions defining the West would likely never have emerged. Those institutions include rule of law, democracy, capitalism, science, education and the family, the very institutions being undermined by the progressive left today.
The Enlightenment and its commitment to bare rationality which did so much to undermine Christianity is now being undermined by the deconstruction of post-modernism and its successors. As a consequence, the West is adrift without a coherent guiding principle.
What is there to do? At present Christians try to keep the culture's plates spinning, but they have begun to fall and there is no stopping the cascade. In a previous post I said that the barbarians are approaching the gates. I was naively optimistic: they have entered the citadel and have grasped control. There is no going back.
We have witnessed the progressive left's alliance with militant Islam where they ignore the atrocities of Hamas in their determination to destroy the only Western nation in the Middle East. We face determined forces; a militant secularism that wishes to eliminate Christianity entirely, and an increasingly militant Islam that seeks a barbaric theocracy. Don't for a moment think that they will stop with the Jews. Christians too are in their crosshairs along with anyone else who fails to kowtow to the ever-flexible standards of the intolerant progressive mob.
To be a Christian in the West is to be part of a rapidly shrinking minority. To face the future we must accept that Christians are outsiders and stop caring about what others think of us. The norms of secular society are not our norms. We must accept that we Christians are living as exiles in this world (I Peter 1:1), and that means we must live with far greater spiritual discipline. Not just in prayer and immersing ourselves in Scripture, but in radically reordering our lives, being a creative minority who centre their lives on Christ alone. Educating our own children rather than allowing their indoctrination by a woke state. Caring for our own elderly rather than placing them in institutions. Showing care and concern for the single parents in our communities rather than saying they are the responsibility of a faceless bureaucracy.
Today's therapeutic feel-good Christianity just won't cut it tomorrow. This will mean a parting of the ways for many Christians as it becomes ever more apparent that the mainstream Church's wimpish conformity to a hedonistic secular culture is not only destructive of the Church, but more importantly corrosive to Christian living.
Recovery will come from the bottom up. Denominations will lose their importance as grass roots Christian communities develop. Fellowships will of necessity evolve as Christians lean on each other and grow together as we imitate, sometimes sacrificially, our Saviour in demonstrating caring love for each other and a hostile world. The creation of close Christian communities of care in the midst of an uncaring world will be signposts to a better future.
Things are going to get much worse as the inexorable demographic realities unfold. The West does not have the stomach or the self-belief to defeat that which is now in our midst. It will be a long, slow crumbling, but be assured that the West will fall. It might take 50 years or 100 years but the historical trends are clear; it is inevitable. One day decent unbelievers will regret their complacency when they find themselves getting what they wanted: a new age unhampered by Christianity.
In the meantime Christians need to live in such a way that we preserve the faith for future generations, or our great- grandchildren will despise us. Despite a grim immediate prognosis we can look forward with confidence, Christianity has a God who knew the way out of the grave.
Campbell Campbell-Jack is a retired Church of Scotland minister. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.