I have been mulling possible reasons why the European nations (e.g., Holland, Germany, GB, France, etc.) have lost the Christian heritage, beliefs, and cultural basis since the Reformation. The US is also on this path, at an alarming rate and accelerating rate. I really don’t have an answer for this. It seems somewhat complicated, there are competing “gods”, and it takes different form in various nations. The French Revolution was a disaster (as far as I know). I once heard that France has never recovered as a world power since then. The Enlightenment pushed the nations into rank humanism. Neo-Darwinism has provided an “reasonable” alternate world view that has lured many away from Christian faith and values.
We visited the maritime provinces in Canada last year and saw churches in every town. Some were still in use, others have become museums, and others are abandoned. One was used to store motorcycle parts. What a tragedy!
I am sure that there are books written on all of this. So…would you be able to recommend something? Or maybe I am mistaken and there really is no comprehensive evaluation of the reasons for the decline Christianity.
Thanks and happy Father’s Day,
I’m sorry this response has taken so very, very long. The question you pose is a difficult one, because I am sure that, historically speaking, there is no single answer.
The general answer is that the West has turned away from the Triune God. Of course, how specifically have we done this? To my mind, there can be no doubt that Enlightenment was the beginning, and it has worked out its relentless, poisonous tentacles in every area of life. Yet I must assert this with a degree of qualification, because the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment, as Roman Catholic historian Christopher Dawson has shown. In other words, the apostasy began in the church (afterward, liberal Protestantism helped it along much earlier than Roman Catholicism did).
Of course, today’s postmodernism and revived paganism embrace very different premises from Enlightennent, but all of them would’ve been impossible apart from Enlightenment.
Perhaps the single best book I’ve read on this topic was not even written by a Christian, but rather by a New Age scholar (yes, there are such people). It is entitled The Passion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas. It reads like a novel, and is a truly remarkable book….
Much respect, in Him,
P. Andrew Sandlin, S.T.D.
Founder & President
Center for Cultural Leadership