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Could the Church Save the West from its Downfall?

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In a recent video posted on X, a Muslim cleric declared that the days of the West are numbered. Not only would formerly Islamic lands like Spain and Rome soon be retaken for Islam, he said, but the entire world would eventually fall to Islamic military rule.  

Predictions of Western humiliation are, of course, not new. To radical Islam, the West has always been the source of corruption and perversion infecting the rest of the world. This is despite all that the West has given the world, from free markets to voting rights, universal education, and liberty of conscience, among other things. In fact, by nearly every material measurement, societies that have embraced Western principles derived from Christian and Enlightenment ideas have fared better than those that have not. As many have noted, the flow of immigration between Western and non-Western nations trends strongly in one direction. 

And yet, the West is in a profound identity crisis, to the delight of anti-West idealogues. From Pride parades each June to intellectual elites, including a sitting member of the U.S. Supreme Court, who claims not to know what a woman is, Western society is increasingly unhitching from the traditional beliefs and values that grounded its understanding of human dignity. We are, as Os Guinness has often noted, a “cut flower civilization,” and this detachment from those roots that brought the world such blessing has only left Western sins more pronounced and obvious.  

One result of Western success, in fact, is that Christianity has been increasingly exiled from the culture it created. As historian Tom Holland recently claimed, “Christianity has ended up abolishing itself.” Or, as Os Guinness put it in his book, The Last Christian on Earth:  

The Christian faith contributed to the rise of the modern world, but the Christian faith has been undermined by the modern world it helped to create. The Christian faith thus becomes its own gravedigger. 

This is partly because Guinness continued that the Church failed to distinguish between “secularism” and “secularization.” Secularism is a way of grouping the various “–isms” of the modern world: Scientism, atheism, and the coldly clinical world of “secular humanism.” To the extent that the Church was able to respond to these competing worldviews, there was far less success in resisting the traps of secularization. Rather than seeing all of life through the lens of faith, it was increasingly confined to only “spiritual” things, as though the transcendent truths of Christianity were optional moral add-ons instead of vital realities. What we are now seeing is that if not rooted in Christian truth, the blessings of Western life end up lifeless and in the grave. 

The good news is that rising from graves is kind of a central theme of Christianity. Christians must not only oppose the various forces of secularism but resist the pressures of secularization, much like Christians of the Early Church faced down ancient paganism. Rather than turning their backs on the world around them or adapting their views and values to it, they lived out faith in ways that bore witness to truth. Eventually, cultures were transformed for the better. 

What the world does not need is a westernization devoid of Christianity. Rather, the world needs a church committed to be the Church, as Chuck Colson often said, with Christians who self-consciously work to make the extraordinary truths of the Faith an integral part of everyday, ordinary living. Not just on Sunday mornings, but in our families, our jobs, our politics, and cultural work.  

Or, said differently, the world doesn’t need the West. It needs the Church. 

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Dr. Timothy Padgett. If you’re a fan of Breakpoint, leave a review on your favorite podcast app. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org. 

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Gary J Weathers

Publish Date: July 19, 2024

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.


BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.


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