Why is Christianity a dying religion in the West?
I’ve thought a lot about this question over the past decade. I started out as an atheist convinced that Christianity was a weak and degenerate religion and that it had naturally evolved into its present state as a result of Christian theology. As I thought more about it and continued my research though, I couldn’t reconcile this with the history of Christianity.
“Christian theology played a part in the stereotyping and persecution of Jewish people which ultimately led to the Holocaust, a new reflection on Christian-Jewish relations issued by the Church of England acknowledges.
The teaching document, entitled God’s Unfailing Word, is the first authoritative statement on the subject from the Church of England. It speaks of attitudes towards Judaism over many centuries as providing a “fertile seed-bed for murderous antisemitism”.
It urges Anglicans and other Christians not only to repent of the “sins of the past” towards their Jewish neighbours but to be alert to and actively challenge such attitudes or stereotypes. …”
The Jews were expelled from England for over 350 years.
This included the period from the founding of the Church of England in the time of Henry VIII during the English Reformation down to Oliver Cromwell who let them back in after the English Civil War in 1657. They were excluded from Shakespeare’s England who portrayed them as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. Jews weren’t allowed to become naturalized citizens until the Jew Bill of 1753 and their ascendance is pretty much synonymous with the rise of liberalism.
This document “God’s Unfailing Word” bitterly complains about how England was once a Jew-free ethnostate in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Era.
“England had its own role in this history, with a claim to being the birthplace of what became known as the ‘blood libel’, whereby Jews were falsely accused of murdering Christian children to make Passover matzot with their blood.33 There is some evidence of theological discussion between Christians and Jews in the twelfth century, and of concerted attempts to promote Jewish conversion to Christianity in the thirteenth. In 1290, however, England became the first country to order the entire Jewish community to leave, thereby seeking to be a Christian territory with no Jewish presence. …”
The Church of England is now officially blaming Christianity for the Holocaust and calling on the five or six liberals left in the church to repent for the “sins of the past.” The culturally confident Church of England of Queen Elizabeth I’s time would have never dreamed of doing this.
“Centuries of Christian anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust, a landmark Church of England report has concluded. In a foreword to the report, published today, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that Christians cannot challenge and reflect on the past honestly, “until we have felt the cruelty of our history”.
The document, which has been three years in the making, was prepared by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission and entitled: God’s Unfailing World: Theological and practical perspectives on Christian-Jewish relations.
It urges Christians to not only be repentant for the “sins of the past” against Jews, but also to challenge active attitudes and stereotypes.
It also marks the first time that the Church of England has made an authoritative statement on the subject of anti-Semitism.
The new “tool for teaching” on Christian-Jewish relations acknowledges that Christian theology played a part in the “stereotyping and persecution of Jewish people which ultimately led to the Holocaust” …”
My conclusion is different.
Starting in England and the Netherlands where Calvinism couldn’t establish a firm grip on the Protestant state (Calvinist Scotland and Lutheran Northern Europe were a different story), we see the emergence of religious pluralism and tolerance and the first stirrings of liberalism and global capitalism that would later come to dominate and define the modern world.
This was the crack through which Jewish influence came roaring back in the West in the late 17th century. It is a long story but in Germany and throughout the West the rise of liberalism ultimately led to Jewish emancipation. This in turn eventually led to Jews rising to the top of the social and economic pyramid and becoming a hostile elite. It happened in different places at different times. It wasn’t Christianity so much as it was the Jewish takeover of Germany in the Weimar Republic that led to National Socialism which sought to restore German cultural hegemony by any means necessary. When Christianity has been strong in the old Lutheran, Calvinist and Catholic states of Germany, Jews had not been so influential or widely resented. The same cancer can be found in all other institutions like the universities.
As for the Church of England, its decline is synonymous with the rise of liberalism since 1700. We can trace its loss of control and influence over English culture from the Glorious Revolution and the Whigs through Darwin publishing On the Origin of Species in Victorian Britain in 1859 which is about the halfway mark. We can trace the second half of the story from Darwin and T.H. Huxley down to the present day where Christianity is nearly extinct in Britain.
The Church of England is now a pale shadow of itself. The spiritual and cultural vacuum left behind by Christianity has been filled by liberalism which grew at its expense as evangelicals lost their religion and that in turn has allowed any number of noxious weeds – multiculturalism, political correctness, Jewish degeneracy and so forth – to proliferate. This isn’t a symptom of a healthy Christianity so much as it is a diseased one that is better seen as dying from a terminal cancer.
Note: The details and time of infection vary but the story is the same for all versions of Christianity. The disease is liberalism.