Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Can Christianity save the West? And which church?

September 19th, 2017 by Bookslinger

Bruce C has written of a need for return to basic/mere Christianity in his blog albionawakening.blogspot.com/

Much (though not most) of England is still “churched”, but their churches are so politically leftist, they end up causing more corruption than good.

I think I see and agree with his point, but…., I think that the nut of truth at the core of mainstream Protestantism/Catholicism has been spent or diluted. There is not enough juice left in that battery to hold off the powers of darkness. There may be a bit more power left in the Evangelical battery, but they have been corrupted and dissipated too.

For centuries, “sincere people with good intentions” carried the torch, preserved much of the Bible, and carried on some of the apostolic traditions. (And we owe them a debt of gratitude for preserving what they could, and persevering, and laying a groundwork for the Restoration.) But they are now at the end of their run, batteries drained, spread out too thin, tainted/corrupted to ineffectiveness.

The momentum of their traditions has petered out.

There is only one religious organization that has the _real_ “power of godliness”. _Real_ godly power, with a living continuous source, not mere momentum from a fly-wheel that was spun up in the past.

I don’t think Protestantism or Catholicisim can spin up the flywheel again. Or to use the other analogy, I don’t think they can build social capital from their minority position (whereas they could in the past as majorities), they can only spend it down.

And I am limiting my pessimism mainly to the West, specifically North America and Western Europe. I believe Catholicism to still be an effective force for good in the developing world, specifically, (at least) in Africa, India, and the Philippines.

[Update 9/20/2017, from a comment]
To answer the title’s question:
Yeah, it would be nice if the West returned to basic Christianity. It really is needed in order to save Western Civilization. But it ain’t gonna happen.

I think many churches will maintain pockets or islands of dedicated believers. But… The only viable and _growing_ choices, in the _developed West_ (US, Canada, Western EU) at this point, are LDS and Evangelicalism. The others are losing momentum/declining quickly (in the first world west, that is.)

And while I think the West is basically “sunk”, the biggest, best, safest, and most survivable “island” in the West is going to be the CJCLDS. It is going to be the best place to weather the storm.

Comments (20)
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September 19th, 2017 17:56:53
20 comments

Agellius
September 19, 2017

Books:

Granting for the sake of argument that your right: traditional Christianity is spent and corrupted to ineffectiveness, and only “one religion” still has a continuous source of godly power, etc., and traditional Christianity can no longer “spin up the flywheel”,

What do you mean? Spin up the flywheel to what end? Are you referring to re-converting society as a whole to Christianity?


G.
September 19, 2017

@Agellius,
I am obviously a Mormon, and like all Mormons, a bit of a Mormon chauvinist. Nonetheless, I don’t think we can go it alone, and I encourage all men of goodwill to find all the divinity and godly power they can wherever they may be. I definitely count you among the men of goodwill.


Bookslinger
September 19, 2017

“Are you referring to re-converting society as a whole to Christianity?”

No. I meant to restrict the comments to developed western countries, and not total conversion. And Mormonism won’t do it either. I think Mormonism will continue to grow, but it won’t be enough to offset overall decline in numbers of Christians in the First World (developed) western countries.

Some evangelical branches are growing in the US (i’ve met a lot of sincere young people seeking God among the evangelical crowd), but they are not growing fast enough to offset the decline in mainline protestant churches.

The UUs are doing good works (housing, feeding, clothing the poor, etc.), but in essence the UUs are left wing social justice warriors, or just another left-wing charity. They have the form and legal structure of a church, but there is something big missing.

In the US and world-wide, the Catholics do much more charity/service in terms of dollars and people-served than the LDS. But the Catholic church is still shuttering/combining parishes in the US, if I understand correctly. I have sometimes accompanied a Catholic friend to their services. I have noted a couple things: 1) US dioceses are importing priests to fill some positions, and 2) the men are disappearing from Catholic congregations, it’s mostly women of all ages (though they skewed older) , children (of both sexes), and a few past-middle-age men. Younger adult men were notably few.

So, if I did the math correctly, it looks like non-LDS Christianity (in the aggregate; the Evs being the individual exception) is shrinking in the US. As is likely the case in western Europe.

Not that I would _dis_courage anyone from embracing any of those groups. Like Adam said… Go for goodness wherever you can find it. But…. where are things trending?

Catholicism and Evangelicalism are still growing strongly in Africa and India. I’ve learned that those two places are sending nuns and priests to the US. I’m not aware of what the current trends of Evangelicalism and Catholicism are in Central/South America.

Evangelical and mainline protestant churches in Africa are heavily dependent on US sources for operating cash. But I don’t know if that cash flow can be sustained.

And… the evangelical churches in Africa are being corrupted quickly too, for example, with (the bad sort of) prosperity theology (ie, pastors with lots of bling.)

Africa, South America, India, and some other less-developed Christian countries (Philippines, etc.) may end up being the centers/sources of not only the most new converts to various churches, but home to the most any-church members in terms of numbers. The growth in those three continents may more than offset the decline of Christianity in First World countries.

My point was mainly a counter-point to Dr. Charlton’s Albion Awakening theme. Yeah, it would be nice if the West returned to basic Christianity. It really is needed in order to save Western Civilization. But it ain’t gonna happen. The only viable and _growing_ choices, in the _developed West_ (US, Canada, Western EU) at this point, are LDS and Evangelicalism. The others are losing momentum/declining quickly (in the first world west, that is.) And… Catholicism seems viable outside of North America and Western Europe.


Agellius
September 19, 2017

Books:

Thanks for explaining. I won’t argue, I just really wasn’t sure what you were saying, specifically whether you meant that traditional Christianity had nothing left in the gas tank as far as having anything to offer their members. I doubted that you meant that, but if you meant that it was incapable of re-converting society, and only Mormonism was capable of that, I would find that a surprising statement too, mainly due to its relatively small size.

Like G., I’m a chauvinist for my own religion, but I think either of us could say in all sincerity that if God wills it, he could use our faith to re-convert society, regardless of how unlikely it seems at the moment. After all Christianity started out tiny as a mustard seed and against all odds and ferocious opposition, ended up spreading across the globe.


Bookslinger
September 19, 2017

Ag: I didn’t realize it until after I wrote the 2nd part, is that the ability of a church to bring the next generation up to take the place of the previous is the main metric I was looking at, not just raw numbers. IE, “Step 3.”

http://www.jrganymede.com/2017/03/08/step-3/
http://www.jrganymede.com/2017/04/04/step-3-at-general-conference/
http://www.jrganymede.com/2017/07/27/mene-mene-step-3/

In the developed West…..
… mainline Protestants failed hard at this, starting in the late 60’s, and by the 80’s the numbers were in freefall.

… (You’re more familiar with Catholic stats than I.) What generation or years was the “cliff edge” for Catholicism in the US? Or is it just a long slope?

(Let’s assume age cohorts go: Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials. And Gen Y and Millennials are children of the Boomers.)

Except for LDS and maybe Evs, there are not enough Christians (in any church in North America and Western EU) in generations X/Y/M *combined* to replace the Boomers when the Boomers die off or are too old to actively participate.

If Boomers are those born starting in 1946, they are 71 years old now. Not too old for the upper layers of management, but definitely too old to be the “chief petty officers”/supervisors and middle managers at the ground level working with the rank-and-file, where you want guys in their 30’s/40’s and no later than 50’s.

End of the Boomers is 1960 or 1964, so the youngest boomers are 53-57.

Sure, the US mainline Protestants and US Catholics have Christ…. But they/you soon won’t have enough warm bodies to lead converts or children to Him. When the Boomers die off or get too old to carry the load, there is going to be a HUGE collapse of religion in North America and Western EU, because there are too few people “in the pipeline” to take their place.

In other words, US mainline Protestants and US Catholics have (essentially) lost their children and given up on proselyting in N.A. and Western EU. Without those two basic traditions (faithful upcoming generation+converts), are they in a position where the Lord can use them to bring about a significant revival? As long as the current leadership _structure_ and (recent) _traditions_ stay in place, i’d say the answer is “no.” Mainline Protestants of today are pretty much where the Pharisees of 33 AD were, custodians of a once-true tradition that they corrupted.

This demographic fact of Boomers retiring and dying off is keeping corporate strategists and top executives awake at night. It’s a HUGE problem. The landscape of corporate America is going to have a drastic change, and there is no consensus of what it is going to change to. The “pipeline” is a much smaller talent pool. So while warm bodies *will* be put into place, the talent/knowledge/experience just won’t be in the same numbers/proportion as before. And what *that* will cause is a matter of much speculation. Maybe AI and/or “remote leadership” will be some sort of salvation, as long as the Net is maintained.

Now… Combine the demographics of smaller and smaller subsequent age cohorts, with the fact that those subsequent groups have a smaller and smaller percentage of Christians/church members. (And this part totally negates any benefit from the “baby-boomlet” or “echo” generation of the Boomers’ kids.)

So the “church decline” is going to be a multiple in size greater than the “corporate decline” of merely demographic effects.

There are too few people of child-bearing age “in the pipeline” to have kids and repopulate churches from within. And as for conversions… Well… Miracles do happen… But how’s that been going for the last 30 years? (Again, for mainline Protestants and for Catholics in N.A. and Western EU.) The current style/type of leadership has presided over decades of decline, so what’s going to change? And how?

If the same types of people keep doing the same things, with the same programs, aren’t they going to keep getting the same results?

As I see it, the near future of Christianity (pre Second Coming) lies in churches that a) raise up a generation of children to step into place, “Step 3”; and b) successfully proselyte. Who is doing that, and who is not doing that in North America and Western Europe? (Well, probably _nobody_ is doing it in Western EU.)

Mainline Protestants and Catholics are still doing some great things at the street level. But pull up to 30,000 feet and look where the overall tide is going. The West is dying, and the third world is growing.

The Mormons and the Evs are still building or acquiring local chapels in the US. Everyone else is selling theirs off, slowly, but at an accelerating pace…. because they have not put momentum back into the flywheel with sufficient children nor converts.

I fully expect the Lord to step in and do His miracles, His “marvelous work and a wonder”. But…. He needs people to do it *with*: His hands/ feet/ mouthpieces on the ground.

Q: Where is He going to find them?

A: Mostly outside North America/Europe. (And for those within NA/EU, I’m guessing a fair number Mormons, with a good smattering of Evs, and pockets/remnants of faithful from all other religions.)

Another interesting question: what churches will be extant, _and able to handle a huge influx_, when the pre-2nd-coming tribulations finally get (some) people’s attention and they seek God? Which religions/churches will be able to supply warm bodies who can actually lead/teach/preach? Which Christian religion CURRENTLY has a real and active program in place to turn every young man into a preacher/leader/petty-officer/chief-petty-officer, and is doing so at about a 30,000/year clip?


Agellius
September 19, 2017

First, “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders toil.” Ps. 127:1.

Second, “God can raise up children of Abraham from these very stones.” Mt. 3:9.

Christianity originally spread by word of mouth, beginning with a very small number, and not by procreation. However much it has shrunk or will shrink in our day, it will still be much larger than it was in the first century.

It grew to maturity over centuries, not decades. However bad things look now, we have no idea how they will look in 300 years. If Christianity could take over the Roman Empire within 300 years, perhaps it can re-take the American empire in that amount of time.

In any event, “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Mt. 7:14. If the wide world rejects the faith, we have no reason to be shocked at it. Nor should we be shocked if “Even from your own number, men … rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:20.

For “we walk by faith, not by sight”. 2 Cor. 5:7. Thus, there is no need to be discouraged when we see the things take place which He foretold. We just need to strive and persevere to be among the chosen. (2 Pet 1:10.)


G.
September 20, 2017

@Books,
that was one heckuva comment.


Bookslinger
September 20, 2017

@G, I acknowledge your right to moderate according to your whim, and invite such if I make too much of a fool of myself, or embarrass the club. (My ocd might be acting up, or I’m on the manic side of the cycle.)

@Ag: interestingly, Mormons parse Matt 3:9 as the stones referring to gentiles/non-jews/outsiders. Which in today’s context, might correlate to the traditionally non-Christian third world: Africa and India.

I see this parallel: The West is currently like the Jewish “children of the promise”, custodians of the as-delivered-to-Moses faith. But we’ve collectively become like the Jews/Pharisees of old, corrupted with Hellenization, … or PC/Leftism for us. And the Lord is turning to non-westerners who are today’s “gentiles” or outsiders, the “stones”.

IOW, the parable/scenario of the nobleman who invited people to his feast (the invitees made excuses, so the poor/outcast/outsiders were recruited) is being replayed.

“No man knows the hour or the day” still leaves us room to speculate about the year/decade. My guess is 10 to 15 years, 20 at most, before the Great and Terrible Day. In the past, I had guessed/hoped it was farther out. But things seem to be accelerating.

This book by Michael Brown focuses on Evangelical churches, but contains some of the ideas I’m trying to get across:
“Whatever Happened to the Power of God?”
https://www.amazon.com/Whatever-Happened-Power-Michael-Brown/dp/1560430427/

available on Amazon for $3 plus $4 shipping. Also available on ebay for about $4 and up. Also comes in a two-in-one-book combined edition with “Time to Rock the Boat.”

If you see that at a book sale, Goodwill, or yard sale for cheap, snap it up! I think it can be applied to all churches.


Bruce Charlton
September 20, 2017

“Bruce C has written of a need for return to basic/mere Christianity in his blog ”

That both is, and isn’t quite, accurate. In one sense I would not mind which real Christian church was doing well in The West, so long as one or more of them was.

In England, only conservative Evangelical churches are growing; but a lot of that is recruiting from other Christian denominations and recent immigrants (from China and Africa) – but the numbers amount to a tiny proportion nationally.

I have become convinced that Christianity needs to be much more focused on what Owen Barfield calls the evolution of consciousness – in other words, Christians need to *think* utterly differently from modern, Western mainstream people.

Expressing Christian beliefs, following Christian practices are not enough – they are covering-over a profound, near-complete assimilation of Christians to the materialist metaphysical assumptions of secular leftist modernity.

Quite a lot of Christians are, indeed, actively hostile to ‘mysticism’ (or spirituality, or ‘esoteric’ thinking) – there isn’t really a word for what I am talking about… but it is what I find in Owen Barfield and William Arkle, for instance.


Bruce Charlton
September 20, 2017

“Save the West” – Yes, but what we need saving from is *totalitarianism* – and of a kind more like Brave New World than 1984; but more comprehensive than either because of the reach of modern technology and media.

We *need* saving from totalitarianism because 1. we are well on the way to it already – the level of surveillance is already near total among many smart-phone and social media users; 2. most people want it, clamour for it, pay for it; 3. totalitarianism will therefore damn us – or more of us than any previous society.

The modern totalitarianism is far, far more spiritually dangerous than that of Soviet Communism or National Socialism, because it has not been imposed and is unresisted; but instead people have been engineered to want it. Their minds are corrupted with (overall) evil thoughts; but even if they were not – their thinking is filled, driven, controlled, constrained – they are not free.

The deep problem with T. is not that it necessarily leads to an increase in physical suffering, oppression, torment etc; but that it polices, monitors and controls *thinking* (to the greatest possible degree) – totalitarianism is therefore intrinsically anti-Christian, because anti-agency.

In sum, totalitarianism is the triumph of Satan as he is described in Mormon scriptures.

http://www.jrganymede.com/2014/03/11/satans-plan-and-gods-silence/


Bookslinger
September 20, 2017

@BC, could Barfield and Arkle have been describing (perhaps unknowingly, or not admittingly) the kind of thinking one acquires after being “born again”?

I wasn’t able to make it entirely through your recent essays on Barfield; they were a bit too high-level and erudite for me. But could that needed esoteric/mystical thinking be described as spiritual in the sense of D&C 45:57:

“For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.”

A “born again experience” (whether all-at-once or the slow type of conversion) does seem to change one’s thinking. “Taking the Holy Spirit for one’s guide” is also a process that takes study and practice, that both accompanies and follows the conversion/born-again process, and results in a change of thinking.

In other words (working backwards), spiritual thinking is a result of spiritual experiences (ie, experiences of the influence of the Holy Spirit). Spiritual experiences are a result of a combination of scripture study, prayer, and bringing about righteousness (ie, commandment keeping).

“Bringing about righteousness” (to me) is the hard part, as it entails _exercise_ of faith (not mere mental assent), actually _trusting_ God, humility, God-seeking, service, loving one’s neighbors, constant striving to keep the commandments that one is aware of (while avoiding Pharisee-ism, or whatever that noun is.)


seriouslypleasedropit
September 20, 2017

The comments here are, and forgive the vulgarity, bomb-diggety.

1. God bless the Catholic church, and those inside it.

Has anyone here ever run the Ragnar or a similar relay race? I have, and one of the notable things about it is that feeling of fellowship that appears anywhere you have people “trying hard at something that tries them hard.” When I was a smug kid and life was easy, Catholics were those poor souls who simply didn’t know about the Restoration. Now they’re friends and allies well met. Agellius, I’m so glad you’re here.

2. While in one sense I don’t care about where the Kingdom is doing well as long as it is doing well, in another sense I care very much. Albion is a real place, or it certainly ought to be. What a wonderful, joyful miracle it would be if England could be revived to be as it ought to be.

I don’t have occasion to associate with a lot of Jews, but the one that I do know well is one of my best friends. He has proven resistant to any missionary efforts, but through him I imagine what the world would be like if the original children of the covenant had accepted Christ at large. I suppose He wouldn’t have been crucified and something else would have happened, but I’m not thinking of the theological implications so much as weeping for the Israel that could have been.

So while I rejoice to hear about the Church (“spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners… a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy“) growing anywhere, what I love about Bruce C.’s approach is that we both want England back, and won’t be satisfied with Africa or the Philippines or wherever as a substitute. And England, from what I can tell, is beyond the salvation of just diligent missionary work, or at least of the kind we are used to.

3. I didn’t mean to limit my thoughts just to geographic specificity. I do think BC is on to something regarding Barfield’s evolution of consciousness. There is some state of consciousness that integrates both the Enlightenment and the Romantics, and sets them to their proper tasks. I think this is something to be sought for; I think it is one of the good gifts we will receive, if we are faithful.

I drew strength from your reading thoughts today, gentlemen.


seriouslypleasedropit
September 20, 2017

*from reading your


Agellius
September 20, 2017

Books:

OCD-influenced or not, I read your comments with interest and appreciate you taking the time.


Agellius
September 20, 2017

SPDI:

Thanks and likewise.


G.
September 20, 2017

@Books,
I meant it as a compliment.


Leo
September 20, 2017

I am not sure if the West as we once knew it can be saved as a whole. Parts of it can be preserved, to be sure, and even improved and expanded, but the West will not be the same as it once was. Our duty is to be a light and example to the world. See Matt. 5:14.

See also http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/6938/full from Rabbi Lord Sacks.


Bruce Charlton
September 20, 2017

@Books

“could Barfield and Arkle have been describing (perhaps unknowingly, or not admittingly) the kind of thinking one acquires after being “born again”?”

No – that would be salvation – the choice of accepting Christ’s gift.

What I am talking about as Final Participation/ Primary Thinking would come under the scheme of theosis or spiritual progression – becoming more divine in our nature.

The idea is that a vital aspect of becoming like God is to Think like God; and the insight is that normal human thinking falls very short of this.

Most (sometimes all) of our thinking is unconscious/ unaware and a matter of mere habits inculcated by socialisation, education, propaganda, superficial relationships etc.

To be divine in thinking, thinking must be free; to be free it must be conscious. To be agent (truly our own), then what thinks must be our true divine self (and not the superficial multiple incoherent selves of normal social fuctioning and private daydreaming).


Zen
September 24, 2017

First, the prophecies are pretty clear – as a whole the modern World is going to see some pretty mass destruction. I wish we could stop them from doing this to themselves, but that isn’t what is in the deck.

Second, while there are some pretty terrifying prophecies, there are also an equal number of very encouraging ones. I don’t suspect we will see a lot of these until people are awoken from their stuppor by adversity. So, I will not be surprised by a LOT of adversity and problems.

Third, The Gospel really is all the answers we need. We might differ from other Christians, or even other good Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, etc. about the particulars of the Gospel, but it is definitely more productive to agree about what we can.

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matt 10:42


Zen
September 24, 2017

Truth is, I think you Gentlemen are being far too myopic! This is the Last Days, and the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. God is going to gather all things in one. That doesn’t just mean in the rest of the world as we know it. It also mean branches of Israel we have long lost contact with, of which the Ten Tribes is the clearest example, though there are clearly others.

But even that is not looking outward enough. Notice, we have 6 Major Dispensations before us full of saints who faced all kinds of challenges. We are going to need their help as well.

“For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also; for it is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time. And not only this, but those things which never have been revealed from the foundation of the world, but have been kept hid from the wise and prudent, shall be revealed unto babes and sucklings in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times.” D&C 128:18

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