“Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” So said Jesus to Simon Peter at Caesarea Philippi in response to Simon’s recognising him as the Messiah or Christ.
We can surely trust Our Lord’s promise, but we have to be under no illusions as to its meaning. Christ’s promise was that he would not leave himself without witnesses, not that he would hasten to preserve the shambles of, for instance, the modern Church of England. Many times over the 2000 years of its history, the Christian church has failed its Founder and gone wildly wrong. But the church persists and now there are more Christians in the world than there have ever been. Christianity is particularly strong in sub-Saharan Africa and is increasing in China. Thanks very largely to a Pentecostal revival in Central and South America, the faith is thriving there too, where a strong Protestant ethic is lifting men out of crime and drug-taking and women out of prostitution: thus alleviating poverty – not by so called “liberation theology,” which is only a form of Marxism, but by traditional Christian morality.
But in Europe, whose missionaries evangelised the world, Christianity is in poor shape. the Christian faith created Europe, built its churches and great cathedrals, its hospitals and universities; established the virtue of charity as the foundation of social and commercial life through the trades guilds and livery companies, each of which is dedicated to one of the saints. This faith created a decent set of political liberties, penetrated every social institution, dominated art, literature and music for a thousand years. But now our political masters throughout the continent strive by every means to obliterate Christianity from the public realm and there has emerged a new ethics and a new politics based on the secular, atheistic notions of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution: liberty, equality, diversity, relativism and political-correctness. Since this new ethics denies the ancient concept of Original Sin and therefore produces a false definition of the human character based on the illusory dogma of progress, the political and social ethics of Europe is correctly described as a heresy.
It may be that Christianity will be, if not obliterated in Europe then diminished to a degree that renders it ineffectual, removed from the hearts and minds of huge populations. This secularising process is being assisted by the bishops, the clergy, the synods and councils and the whole apparatus of church governance. The Latin Bible, King James Bible and Luther’s Bible have been ditched and replaced by inferior modern versions. Churches have been re-ordered so that the priest now faces the people when he is speaking to God: thus the visual presentation of transcendence has been debased into a cosy, inwards-looking circle of the likeminded. Traditional liturgies have been discarded and replaced by doggerel forms which reflect the social gospel and the progressivist outlook. (No mention of sin or repentance, for example, in the new Anglican Baptism Service). The doctrines of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and the Miracles have been “demythologised” so that what meaning they retain is only as metaphors for socialism.
Well might Jesus have asked whether the returning Son of Man would find faith on earth. Yes, but not much of it in Europe.
So what can the traditional Christian do? What he must do is pray, repent of the secularising apostasy and ask God to destroy it. Today’s Christians must emulate the desert fathers who escaped degeneracy in their time by retreating to the wilderness where they set up new forms of community. There are no physical deserts available in Europe today, but we can draw ourselves apart by forming strong links with one another by means of modern technology and communications systems: in effect electronic parishes with their website magazines, traditional theological teaching by Google. And we should copy St Augustine (who fought the Pelagians and the Manichees) and St Dominic who, armed with the Rosary, waged intellectual and spiritual warfare on the Albigensian heresy.
Likewise, the calling of the traditional Christian today is to exactly the same spiritual and intellectual warfare. We shall need to use guerrilla tactics and subversion. Nor shall my sword…
For the truth is that what passes for civilisation in Europe today is a heresy at least as demonic as any of the old ones. We can take comfort from the fact that missionaries from the continent we evangelised are now returning to preach repentance and renewal, faith and morals, to our decadent society and debauched culture. Naturally, these missionaries are despised by secular European hierarchies, bien pensant practitioners of the secular Enlightenment.
So what? We were told to rejoice when persecuted. Only nowadays the persecution comes from a rotten core and it is self-inflicted.
Brethren, pray with me that God will deliver us from this body of death, that he will give us the courage, the devotion. the inventiveness and the means to cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light. As the old revivalists used to sing, Come and join us!