RIP the West?

I have used the phrase “the death of the West” or something like it plenty of times now. And for good reason: the West has been in deep decline for decades now, and one wonders if this is reversible. It seems that never before has the West been in so much trouble and under such unprecedented attack – and that mainly from within.

The war on faith, family and freedom in the West that I document on a regular basis here provides clear indications of a culture in big trouble – likely terminal trouble. Any culture that destroys its own, be it through abortion, or radical sexuality ideology, or a hostile education system, or socialist economic policies, or social and cultural suicide, is well on the road to the grave.

Those who live in the West yet want to destroy the West seem committed to their aims, while most of those who think the West is worth preserving sit in silence, or they are too busy being engulfed in consumerism, porn addictions, and apathy. They sit by as they witness their own obliteration.

The barbarians are no longer at the gates – they are living among us and having free rein to do their thing. In his influential 2017 book The Benedict Option, Rod Dreher describes things this way:

When we think of barbarians, we imagine wild, rapacious tribesmen rampaging through cities, heedlessly destroying the structures and institutions of civilization, simply because they can. Barbarians are governed only by their will to power, and neither know nor care a thing about what they are annihilating.

By that standard, despite our wealth and technological sophistication, we in the modern West are living under barbarism, though we do not recognize it. Our scientists, our judges, our princes, our scholars, and our scribes—they are at work demolishing the faith, the family, gender, even what it means to be human. Our barbarians have exchanged the animal pelts and spears of the past for designer suits and smartphones.

Many commentators are saying much the same thing. A recent piece by Christian commentator Douglas Wilson has this ominous headline: “The West is Dead . . .” His closing paragraphs offer a nice summary of his entire piece:

And so my three exhortations to you have been these. Secularism is the name of our malaise, the name of our backsliding. We must have a cure for our disease, but our civilization is not our disease. Our civilization has a disease, and the name of it is secularism. So secularism is not the name of our guiding principle. It is not our cornerstone, but rather the corrosion of our capstone. I am not calling for us to throw neutrality away, for you cannot dispense with something you never had. Neutrality is impossible. Not one person ever had neutrality. Our society could jettison neutrality if we had it, but we don’t. We can, however, throw away our pretense of neutrality. Secularism is something that must be repented of. And as I say this, do not confuse it with religious liberty. Religious liberty was a Christian invention. Secularism was a Christian apostasy.

Our fundamental confession as Christians is that Jesus is Lord. Our confession is not that He is Lord someplace else. We are not proclaiming His authority over Heaven. Neither are we limiting His realm to our hearts.

Second, we must confess our sins, and we can tell we have done so if we receive forgiveness for them. You know that you are dealing with the Holy Spirit when you confess sin because His whole point in convicting you is to bring you into peace. You know that you are dealing with devils, with accusers, when you “confess sin” because their whole point in bringing it up is to bury you in condemnation. What was actually an oceanic enormity centuries ago has dribbled down to a small puddle made up of micro-aggressions. Micro-aggressions are to real sin what LaCroix is to fruit juice. And that is what we are told we must feel bad about, right alongside our current oceanic enormities—things like same sex mirage, abortion-on-demand, and the redefinition of “theft as generosity” that socialism attempts.

And last, God saves the helpless. God can always save the helpless. The West is helpless. The West is dead. Long live the West.

Many others could be mentioned here. Another new piece, this one by Tom Gilson and John Zmirak, is about “How To Destroy Western Civilization Without Spilling Your Latte.” Let me just offer their six bullet points here:
-Keep Western Civilization Secret
-Teach People That It’s Evil
-Get Rid of Jesus
-Dig Up Some Other Basis for Morality
-Free People from the Family
-Don’t Have Any Kids

Not only have I been making such warnings for a long time now, but I have also been saying this obvious and necessary truth: ‘the West is in a mess because the church is in a mess – at least the church in the West. And to complete the formula, the church is in a mess because we are in a mess.’

Are there many enemies of the West who are working overtime to destroy it? Absolutely. And they must take a fair share of the blame. But so too must Western Christians who have also massively failed here. And this has been a dual failure: we have failed to stand up against these attacks, but we also have failed to properly represent Jesus Christ.

As to the first issue, the majority of Christians in the West are asleep at the wheel. They do not know – or, worse yet – they do not care about all the culture wars taking place around them. Be it the war on marriage and family, and now the war on gender itself, or the attack on human life, most believers have said and done nothing about it.

And most of our Christian leaders and pastors and ministers and priests have said and done nothing about it as well. They have preferred to tell their congregations sweet nothings. They have preferred to tickle the ears of their people. They have preferred, in other words, to become wolves, instead of shepherds of the flocks.

The second part of this is that the church has failed massively in so many areas. We are not proclaiming the gospel, we are not being true to Scripture, we are not promoting individual and corporate holiness, we are not seeking to be a light on the hill, and we are not seeking to look and act any different than the surrounding culture.

Thus we are no longer being salt and light. We have simply become irrelevant, inconsequential, and so much wasted space. Plenty of Christians have of course been saying the same thing for a long time now. They might have been recent prophetic voices like Tozer and Ravenhill, but many others have made the same claims.

Most recently Patrick Sookhdeo has made this case in his brand-new book, The Death of Western Christianity. His subtitle says it all: “Drinking from the Poisoned Wells of the Cultural Revolution.” In it he speaks of how the church in the West once blazed brightly, but now the flame is all but out.

Image of The Death of Western Christianity: Drinking from the Poisoned Wells of the Cultural Revolution
The Death of Western Christianity: Drinking from the Poisoned Wells of the Cultural Revolution by Sookhdeo, Patrick (Author) Amazon logo

He notes how the corruption is especially found in church leadership, and all this is resulting in declining church numbers and the irrelevance of Christianity for so many people. Writes Sookhdeo:

This has left the Church facing a fatal crisis of identity. Desperate to survive and remain relevant, it has struck a Faustian bargain with postmodern Western ideals, tolerating and taking on unorthodox beliefs and behaviours. This has, in fact, produced the opposite effect, alienating even more people and making the Church an object of ridicule.

He concludes his volume this way:

What if God does not bring the earthquake of reversal and the fire of revival? In that case, Christians in the West who are faithful in their love for the Lord must prepare for persecution. As anti-Christian pressures rise and lure Christians into apathy and apostasy, the faithful remnant will have to be ready to suffer or else to go into hiding as an underground church – and from there to mount a guerrilla resistance against the world and Satan’s throne.

Lest the reader finds all this too hard to grasp, let me remind you that the early Christians were in exactly the same place. And by the grace of God and a lot of hard work and fervent prayer, they eventually turned the world upside down. It has happened before, and if need be, it can happen again.

Do I share Sookhdeo’s pessimism, and that of others? Yes I do. No one carefully looking at the state of the church and the state of the world right now can be bubbly optimistic. Often when I speak of such things people will ask me: ‘So how do you think things will fare in the days ahead?’ My answer usually goes something like this:

In the short term I believe it will get worse – much worse. But if the Lord should tarry, and if we take the long-term view, we may need again to deal with this new barbarism and paganism as the early Christians did. We will need to start from scratch, and seek to extend the kingdom, be salt and light, and perhaps rebuild Western society. But that is not the stuff of years or decades, but of centuries.

However, getting most Christians to get this big picture and see the long term is often the most difficult of our challenges. I speak to this more fully here:

Yes revival is the need of the hour, as is reformation. I often have quoted from T. S. Eliot on this, so let me finish here with his incisive words:

If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great-grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it.

Or as G. K. Chesterton put it on his deathbed: “The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and every one must choose his side.”

[1748 words]

18 Replies to “RIP the West?”

  1. Dear Pastor Muhlenburg;

    I have written on this subject numerous times in the past 3 years.

    Have you read Pat Buchannan’s 2006 book, “The Death of the West”?

  2. Yes thanks, that Buchanan book, which first came out in 2002, is very good indeed.

    And not that it matters too much, but I am not a pastor, and the name is spelled Muehlenberg!

  3. Too True. The Church has cut the foundation out from under itself; that foundation being acceptance of the God who is eternally there, the God who spoke this world into being, the God to Whom each of us will give account. The modern heresy of theistic evolution proposes another god, a much less challenging god that the great majority of ‘churches’ and professing Christians like better. This new god lets us do what we feel like just like those who follow the god of the humanist. We are blind leaders of the blind and will fall into the ditch together. We are slowly but surely reaping what we have been sowing for the last 150 years.

  4. Challenging me to the core.
    From my wheelchair as I fight to recover from spinal injury.
    Maybe from this perspective I get a better ?
    Steve Giles

  5. Spot on Bill. But decline in the West began well over a century ago, rather than decades ago. But why has “the church … failed massively in so many areas.”? Why the decline?

    OK sin and apostacy. But any detail? Elizabeth Stephens nails one reason: “(t)he modern heresy of theistic evolution”.

    Now both atheists and Christians agree on that cause:

    Richard Dawkins: “If they called me as a witness, and a lawyer said ‘Dr. Dawkins, has your belief in evolution—has your study of evolution turned you towards atheism?’, I would have to say ‘yes'”.

    Sherwood Taylor, 1949 Curator of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, wrote, in part: “I myself have little doubt that in England it was geology [i.e. millions of years and denial of a world-wide flood, etc.] and the theory of evolution that changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.”

    Sadly, belief in evolution slowly changed the great universities of the West from Christian to atheist. Charles Templeton illustrates this change in a single lifetime: in 1946 he was included in the “best used of God” list of the National Association of Evangelicals. But evolution etc. rattled him. He told Billy Graham: “… it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.”

    While logical scientific answers to Templeton’s concerns are now available (e.g. see Templeton did not find any answers, left ministry, and later wrote: Farewell to God: My reasons for rejecting the Christian faith.

    Further, many otherwise excellent Christian Apologists (e.g. William Lane Craig, Peter Jensen, John Lennox, etc.) do not defend Genesis 1-11 as real history, and hence have no logical answer to Templeton’s concerns. Hence atheists exploit their weakness. E.g. Magnusson, opposing Jensen, used the argument that while the Bible clearly condemns homosexual behaviour, Jensen did not believe the Bible where it says God created the world in six days, so why should he believe the rest of the Bible.

    Thus the heresy of theistic evolution not only results in Christians losing their faith, but it also results in people refusing to take the Bible seriously. That’s a very significant factor in the decline of the West.

  6. The West will eventually die like all other previous empires but true Christianity will never die thanks to the Holy Spirit.

  7. The problem is, to those who do not have vision, the West does not appear to have died. This is because the institutions that Judaeo/Christian culture has set up such as rule of law, democracy, education systems, hospitals, property rights, freedom, family and free speech rights etc. are fundamentally robust in nature, so even when the whole house is white-anted it can still appear to be quite OK until, of course, it suddenly starts to collapse. This then is compounded by finger pointing and false claims as to who is to blame. Whereas Australia used to be one of the lights to the world we have just become another also-ran with decreasing amounts to offer. I have just read how California has just been ranked 50th out of the U.S. states on a quality-of-life scale. (
    Do we in Australia not yet understand that we are not far behind?

    The scriptures speak of us being overcome in a time of peace and this has already happened. The question as to what happens now is up to us. Will God find faith on the Earth or will people remain ashamed of their claimed God and continue trying to compromise with an ever worsening and sinful world, thereby allowing things to get progressively worse, putting us into more debt and ruining more lives? If salt has lost its savor it becomes worthless and Jesus was very clear that people can worship God in vain (Mat 15:9) and this occurs when, instead of teaching what God says, they teach for doctrine the “commandments of men.” This happened for the Pharisees and it has now happened for a significant proportion of Christianity.

  8. Yes Michael, most of the great social goods that we take for granted in the West are due to the Judeo-Christian worldview. As we undermine our moral/spiritual/cultural foundation, we are sealing our own doom. Now we are just living on the borrowed spiritual capital of the past. That is not sustainable.

  9. I listen to the so called Christian radio here in Melbourne and it seems that the goings on of the breakfast show hosts are more important than the Gospel. Yes there a hymns and church services on a Sunday being broadcast. But in the early hours CHUCK SWINDOLL can be listened to. His message of salvation would have more hearers later on in the day but no entertainment takes priority.

  10. Gervase, I’m inclined to agree with you, but let the reader check out the two main Christian radio programmes available in and around Melbourne. We much prefer Vision Christian Radio to Light FM. We don’t like the music of either, but we regard the programming of Vision as more solidly Christian, and the programming of Light as more Christianity-light. Geelong has a good station also but it barely reaches Melbourne.

  11. You speak of the death of the West. There is also the problem of falling birthrates. They say that people of European background may become a minority of the population in Europe. They will have less power politically because normally the majority is supposed to rule. There is also the problems of an ageing society. So the West is also dying in a literal sense as well.

  12. Peter Newland, Yes, did not Satan tempt Adam and Eve to question God’s Word? Did he not also tempt Jesus Christ to question His Father’s Word and are we all not tempted to question the very first utterances of God’s message to mankind found in Genesis 1?
    Proclamation Trust and Gospel Coalition promote evolution [1]
    Tim Keller of Redeemer Church is an evolutionist [2]
    How soon before apologists like John Lennox and William Craig Lane change their tune regarding homosexuality. Tim Keller and John Piper are already on the same page and platform as Living Out [3]
    Like Sam Allberry, John Piper, says that homosexuality is not the worst sin [4]. It maybe true that in God’s eyes it is no worse than pride and hypocrisy. However the consequences on society are way more devastating. Romans 1 begins with God giving society over to homosexuality from which cascaded all the other sins, ending with murder. Homosexuality is linked to abortion. Both spell the death of an nation- sterility, sexually transmitted diseases and mass murder.
    Didn’t King David’s miseries and that of his descendants flow from sexual weakness?
    Dr Scott Lively says, “In the eyes of God all sin is equal in the sense that every sin will keep you out of the presence of God. However, in human affairs, sin is ranked by its severity because of what it means in terms of consequences for individuals and society. That’s why murder is punished as a capital offence and gossip is not [5]
    All historians, like Arnold Toynbee have stated that the proliferation of homosexuality as being the sociological hallmark that signals the end of any civilization.
    Piper and Sam Allberry, having proclaimed that the sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, are equal and no worse than thieving or greed, fail to read on to the end of the chapter 6 , where sexual sins are placed in a completely different category. Sexual sins are far more addictive and difficult to change than sins of gossip and lying etc. They also downplay the number of times homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible. Sodom was mentioned 53 times.
    In order to accommodate homosexuals in the church, they twist scripture, deny it’s power and will then inevitably persecute those who refuse to compromise with it.
    They raise the straw man argument that simply being heterosexual will not get one to heaven. No one said that it did. But they fail to point out that heterosexuality can be sanctified and made pure, whereas homosexuality, no matter how sex- lite, is always a filthy and detestable appetite. And the truth is that “ Virtuous” homosexuals like Sam Allberry and all those on Living Out have said quite categorically that they do not want change.
    Tracey, a member of Living Out says, “Now that I am a Christian doesn’t mean that I now have to become straight, or that I am going to get married to a boy or that’s what I want. The way that I feel is exactly the same as before I was a Christian . I have always been attracted to girls . That hasn’t changed at all and I don’t think it will; I can’t see that happening. That’s what feels natural to me.” [6] She has no put to death the temptation to be tempted.
    Jesus says that unless we are born again, born of the spirit and not of the flesh, we will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Born again means being renewed in our heart , mind and will , a renewing of our heart desires. Allberry has not been reborn.
    May I recommend Robert Gagnon’s critique of Tim Keller’s view on homosexuality [7]


    David Skinner UK

  13. Bill,

    The Australian and Victorian Human Rights Commissions don’t have a definition of male and female, yet “gender identity” is protected in law. This means that people must self-identify their gender, but this directly discriminates against all people who can’t verbalise or self-identify their gender such as people who are unconscious, incoherent, demented, delirious, new-born, dead etc. These people are losing their most basic human right to be identified by their biological sex which can be measured and tested all around the world and over the centuries, but biological sex isn’t protected by any law in Australia. Gender identity is based on a number of ideas including that people feel masculine, feminine, neither or both and this feeling makes them self-identify as “male,” “female,’ and “other,” and this subjective information is very different to biological sex which is based on the binary of male and female which can be measured and tested all around the world and over the centuries (objective truth), and there is no “other” biological sex as there is no “other” gametes or zz chromosomes. Nobody ever thought we needed to have biological sex like gravity written into Australia laws because everyone accepted the scientific evidence.

    Medical doctors and registered Nurses/midwives have recorded patient’s biological sex in medical/nursing records for over a century in Australia, and if the binary genders of male and female aren’t the basis of biological sex, then healthcare professionals will be charged with perjury for lying or falsifying a legal record. There is no professional indemnity insurance available anywhere in Australia for any healthcare professional to falsify any legal certificate/document/ record nor provide dishonest/inaccurate/misleading information nor provide inappropriate care and treatment.

    Gender identity isn’t suppose to harm anyone, but there will be females in the future who will refuse to have a mastectomy, hysterectomy and hormone therapy for treatment of cancer and or menopause because these treatments may make them feel less feminine and it is the feeling of feminine which makes them self-identify as a “female,” and they would have learnt that their xx female chromosomes are irrelevant. Medical doctors and registered nurses have never educated female patients to believe that a hysterectomy, mastectomy and hormone therapy will make them less of a female or less feminine, nor that these treatments change a female body into a male body nor change xx female chromosomes into xy male chromosomes. However, there are xx female chromosome persons who now demand the government should pay for their treatments including a hysterectomy, mastectomy and hormone therapy plus penile constructive surgery, so that they can mutilate their healthy sexual organs, breast tissue and hormone levels in the belief these are “reconstructive surgery” which will confirm their gender identity. These treatments are performed under a belief in the sexuality and gender theories, which is really no different to the people in the middle-east who cut off body parts including the head based on their religious belief system.

    How can xx female chromosome persons believe they can change their physical female body into a physical male body, especially when they claim that the genders of male and female are only a social construct? There is no sexual orientation, gender inequality, gender pay-gap nor International Women’s day now that xx female chromosome persons can self-identify as a “male.” I
    t is extremely important that healthcare professionals can identify the difference between male and female because men and women experience chest pain/strokes differently. Men often experience “crushing” central chest pain, but women experience atypical chest pain such as pain in the shoulders, back etc and they ignore their pain by believing that their experience of pain is due to “that time of the month” or work stress etc. It is extremely important for health professionals don’t ignore a women’s experience of pain as delaying treatment can lead to irreversible heart damage.

    How can it be “homophobic” or “transphobic” for a xx female chromosome person to reject a sexual relationship with a xx female chromosome person or one who identifies as a “male?” There is no law in Australia that supports and protects the exclusive sexual union between a man and woman for life. In 1856, the NSW parliament criminalise the harm of adultery and the harmful practice of breaking a marriage oath. The introduction of the no fault divorce in 1975, then decriminalised adultery and breaking of a marriage oath as a civil registered marriage was no longer based on faithful sexual intercourse nor a lifelong contract. In December 2017, the Australian Federal Parliament legalised adultery and breaking a marriage oath as the civil registered marriage practice was deregulated by the idea that “any 2 people can marry” for an “adulterous marriage,” sexually immoral marriage and or a “Harlot marriage.” Therefore a sex worker and their client can have a legal “Harlot marriage,” as the sex worker can now self-identify as a legal “spouse,” so that money can be given to one’s spouse. They meet the only criteria of a no fault divorce as once the payment is made for sex, then their commitment and love is “irretrievably broken down.” Genuine Christians can have a faithful, lifelong “one flesh” union like Adam and Eve by not purchasing a legal state marriage certificate for legal government marriage benefits such as the status of “civil registered marriage,” access to a no fault divorce, immigration, inheritance and welfare benefits. The amended Marriage Act and no fault divorce laws aren’t part of the Christian faith in the sacrament of marriage or “one flesh” union.

    Governments all around the world have regulated (controlled – prevent, detected and criminalised) harmful behaviours and practices in order to protect the public and society from harm including adultery, sodomy, prostitution, fornication, bestiality, incest, abortion, euthanasia, gambling, cigarettes, alcohol etc. However, governments doesn’t regulate a “one flesh” union as this has been defined by the Bible, and Christian/Catholic churches have supported and protected this faithful, lifelong sexual union over the centuries. Healthcare professional don’t believe that criminalisation, decriminalisation and legalisation of abortion and euthanasia leads to the same behavioural practice, and Christian healthcare professionals have had to claim “independence” to the “death-care” practices which have been incorporated as pretend “healthcare.”

  14. We can only pray j.Sheryl Adams that these sons and daughters of Mengeles and his collaborators will one day have to pay out huge compensation for their cultural construct experiments.
    David Skinner UK

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