I visited Turkey a few years back.
We saw the places St. Paul preached, the sites of some of the “Seven Churches” of Revelation. We saw the early Christian basilica’s – now all turned into mosques.
We learned a bit about the decline of the Eastern Roman Empire. It survived the fall of the Western half for another millennium. Perhaps the Roman emperor, a believing Christian, was heeding God's warning in Revelation “Come out of her (Rome) my people” when he moved the capital of the empire to Constantinople, or perhaps it was just the centre of the empire by then. Either way they escaped the destruction of Rome and the slide of the west into the dark ages.
But as we looked at church frescoes we saw the decline of Biblical Christianity there. Myths and human legends came to supplement and even supplant true Biblical scenes as the message of this admittedly beautiful wall art.
It came as little surprise then when our study guide claimed that the islamification of this region involved little coercion. The population gladly forsook their “Christianity” which lacked any spiritual vitality to join the passionate advocates of Islam.
Of course the West rose after the middle ages. Christianity flared to life again and again in revivals in all nations and churches. Despite the times the light of the Gospel dimmed to a few embers, under the grace of God it flared anew. Prosperity, freedom, rule of law all flourished. Western nations were on top of the world.
And now … we are in decline!
Many commentators say Europe is in terminal decline. Saving a miracle they may be right! And for the rest, are we that far behind? I read recently that New Guinea people were converting to Islam because of their strict morals which contrasted so starkly with the degenerate morals they saw in “Christian” nations. That sounded a warning to me since many first century converts to Christianity from Roman and Greek culture were attracted to Christianity because its strict morals and monotheism contrasted with their own degenerate culture!
Have we lost some essentials of Christianity ?
As to prosperity, that is looking shaky after the 'global financial crisis' the choice of 'bread and circuses' over needed economic reform by the rulers and people of Greece and so forth.
As to freedom, the drift from democracy to bureaucratic rule in the European Union, the calls by activists that this or that issue is too important than to allow democratic choice, and the constant media attack on Christians and Christian values should worry any person who values freedom.
Is history repeating itself now in the “decline and fall of the West”? Most probably.
Is there any hope? Only one!
There is only one hope of saving Western nations: a Christian revival.
For those about to close this book right now, very hard … don't be a bigot … give me a chapter or two to make my case … who knows, I might have a point!
For those who think they agree with me …. not so fast … I may have a twist or two you were not expecting.
My first twist is this: While a Christian revival is most certainly the only hope of saving the West, that is merely a by-product.
The first, second and third reasons anyone should want a Christian revival is so that people should develop that friendship with God which grows like a swelling flower bud in spring during this life and bursts into full and beautiful bloom in heaven.
This is what really matters most. This life is transitory: life in heaven with Jesus never ends. So while we do long to make this world a better place for all; making people become friends with Jesus is better for them by far. If we can do both, then we are really achieving something!
Saving the West is a by-product, but a very beneficial by-product of saving people.
As more people develop their friendship with God they begin to think, act and respond in a more God-like and less flawed-human way. As the true character and commands of God become more widely known in a country the social mores and folk-ways which give the moral tone and social timbre to a community become more God-like and less the product of flawed human nature. The more these things progress in a country the better life becomes for all the people in it.
Next: “calling all progressives”. Many good hearted people have embraced Progressive Socialism as the best means of improving life on earth. What if, for all its promises, it is not?