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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

How the West Was Won – and Lost

Feb 28, 2019

In 1890 William Booth, the English minister and founder of the Salvation Army, wrote a book called In Darkest England and the Way Out. It was sort of a juxtaposition to books about those Christians going into deepest, darkest Africa to help the ‘wretched savages’ there. As he said in Chapter One:

This summer the attention of the civilised world has been arrested by the story which Mr. Stanley has told of Darkest Africa and his journeyings across the heart of the Lost Continent. In all that spirited narrative of heroic endeavour, nothing has so much impressed the imagination, as his description of the immense forest, which offered an almost impenetrable barrier to his advance. The intrepid explorer, in his own phrase, “marched, tore, ploughed, and cut his way for one hundred and sixty days through this inner womb of the true tropical forest.” The mind of man with difficulty endeavours to realise this immensity of wooded wilderness, covering a territory half as large again as the whole of France, where the rays of the sun never penetrate, where in the dark, dank air, filled with the steam of the heated morass, human beings dwarfed into pygmies and brutalised into cannibals lurk and live and die. Mr Stanley vainly endeavours to bring home to us the full horror of that awful gloom.

In his book Booth was trying to point out that in “Christian” England things were actually not much better. Diabolical darkness had descended upon the once Christianised West. In Booth’s day London especially had become an utter hellhole of abject poverty, misery, drunkenness, prostitution and immorality.

So he spoke of how darkened and decrepit things had become. And of course Booth and his Army did so much incredible work to dispel the darkness and shine the light. Those not familiar with this mighty man of God – and his amazing wife – can see more here: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/01/07/on-aggressive-christianity/

I write all this to demonstrate how things have changed. Christianity helped to make the West. The old paganism was eventually replaced by the Christian faith, and modern Europe is a reflection of the Judeo-Christian worldview in action.

For centuries, to speak of Western civilisation was to speak of Christendom, since the two so closely-overlapped. Yes there were ebbs and flows, as in England during the times of the Booths. But because of his work and that of the Salvationists, and other Christians, things did get better, morally, socially and spiritually.

However, today so much of the West is right back to the dark old days of two millennia ago. Whereas Europe especially was among the greatest of Christian outposts and missionary-sending continents, today Europe is the most secular and anti-Christian continent. Today Europe has become a mission-field, not a missionary sender.

A few hundred years ago Europeans were sending out Christian workers and missionaries to the rest of the world. The United Kingdom for example has countless examples of this. Plenty of fearless and devout English Christians went out as missionaries into the developing world.

Simply think of William Carey (1761-1834) who ministered in India; David Livingston (1813-1873) who worked in Africa; Robert Moffat (1795–1883) Scottish missionary to Africa; and Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) missionary to China.

Many more could be mentioned. And then think of all the famous English preachers and teachers such as J. C. Ryle, George Whitefield, the Wesleys, Charles Spurgeon, F. B. Meyer, A. W. Pink, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and John Stott to name but a few. What a rich and deep heritage of godly men.

But today we find the West in general and England in particular renouncing its Christian heritage and reverting to secularism and paganism. I have documented all this time and time again. Let me here offer two more very clear examples of this great reversal.

As the West continues to descend into the gurgler, places like Africa are holding up a light in the darkness. It is not Western Christians who are leading the way here, but so often those from the non-West. My first example shows how far the UK has fallen. It involves a Christian preacher who was arrested for preaching the gospel – and he is an African! One report says this about the story:

A black street pastor, believed to be a Nigerian man, was arrested in London on 23 February apparently for an alleged “breach of the peace” as he preached the Gospel outside Southgate Underground Station. He was later “de-arrested”, according to a Metropolitan Police spokesman.

The preacher pleaded peacefully with two white police officers not to take away his Bible. In a humiliating arrest, they placed his arms behind his back in handcuffs and took the Bible from him and one officer can be heard replying, “You should have thought about that before being racist [sic].”

In a verbal exchange recorded in a two-minute video, one officer tells the unidentified preacher that he was “required to go away” because he was “disturbing people’s days”. The preacher responded, “I will not go away because I need to tell them the truth. Jesus is the only way, truth and life.”

An eyewitness told Barnabas Fund that, before the police arrived, the preacher was being confronted aggressively by a young man, apparently Muslim and in his 20s, wearing a hooded top. The man was loudly abusive about the Bible and God with his face close to the preacher’s. The young man also threatened the preacher, brandishing a closed fist holding prayer beads.

When the police arrived to question the street preacher they were witnessed saying that there had been a complaint of “Islamophobia” made against him. It is not known at the time of writing who made the complaint to the police. The young man ran away from the scene as soon as the police appeared.
barnabasfund.org/en/news/nigerian-street-pastor-arrested-in-london-for-preaching-gospel?fbclid=IwAR2rspnX99bLuSTrfjtclwHkn_1sDv-S2_R6baBb19NRDxLsmIOYM9AtSy0

Wow, did you get that? As Islam grows and grows in the UK, Christianity is becoming an endangered species. Whereas not all that long ago England and the West sent out Christian missionaries to share the good news with the rest of the world, today it is getting harder and harder to preach the gospel there – increasingly you risk being arrested.

And the real irony here is we had a man from Africa doing the preaching. We used to send Christians to Africa to evangelise them and set up churches. Today we have preachers from Africa and elsewhere coming to re-evangelise the West.

How the tide had turned. But America is in the same boat. The US once led the world in sending out missionaries to the rest of the planet. Now American Christianity is also struggling, while African believers seek to keep it afloat. Consider the recent vote on homosexuality in the United Methodist Church. Said one news report:

The United Methodist Church on Tuesday voted to strengthen its ban on gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages, a decision that could split the nation’s second-largest Protestant church. After three days of intense debate at a conference in St. Louis, the vote by church officials and lay members from around the world doubled down on current church policy, which states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The vote served as a rejection of a push by progressive members and leaders to open the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Now, a divide of the United Methodist Church, which has 12 million members worldwide, appears imminent. Some pastors and bishops in the United States are already talking about leaving the denomination and possibly creating a new alliance for gay-friendly churches. “It is time for another movement,” the Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor emeritus of Ginghamsburg Church in Ohio, said in a phone interview from the floor of the conference. “We don’t even know what that is yet, but it is something new.”

The decision, passed in a 53 percent to 47 percent vote, is the latest eruption in the fight over the future of American Christianity and over whose views of human sexuality are enshrined as Christian.
www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/us/united-methodists-vote.html

But much of this was due to Africans, Asians and others holding the line while many Americans and Westerners were jumping over the line. As Al Mohler put it:

As the sexual revolution targeted and captured many mainline Protestant denominations, the UMC held its ground. The committed conservatives within the church did not leave; they pressed on with convictional leadership as they attempted to stem the tides of secularism and liberal theology. Moreover, conservative leaders in the UMC received encouragement when the denomination opened its membership to international churches in Africa and Asia—these churches maintained a deep fidelity to traditional, biblical sexuality. Indeed, over the last several decades, the majority of the UMC’s growth arises from those Methodist churches abroad. Thus, when the denomination gathers every four years for its General Conference, conservatives have enjoyed greater representation because more representatives hail from places like Africa and the Philippines.
albertmohler.com/2019/02/27/church-history-made-eyes-united-methodists-make-history-affirm-biblical-standards-sexuality/?fbclid=IwAR3WNmvIRBsIqr5IzJ9GClkWe5zmLitLgv5dKiDU0IbxK_E0WJTRx7UsSo8

Consider one African champion who gave a speech on this issue at the conference on Saturday. Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, Dean of Gbarnga School of Theology, United Methodist University in Liberia, said this in part:

Friends, please hear me, we Africans are not afraid of our sisters and brothers who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, questioning, or queer. We love them and we hope the best for them. But we know of no compelling arguments for forsaking our church’s understanding of Scripture and the teachings of the church universal.

And then please hear me when I say as graciously as I can: we Africans are not children in need of western enlightenment when it comes to the church’s sexual ethics. We do not need to hear a progressive U.S. bishop lecture us about our need to “grow up.”

Let me assure you, we Africans, whether we have liked it or not, have had to engage in this debate for many years now. We stand with the global church, not a culturally liberal, church elite, in the U.S.
We stand with our Filipino friends! We stand with our sisters and brothers in Europe and Russia! And yes, we stand with our allies in America.

We stand with farmers in Zambia, tech workers in Nairobi, Sunday School teachers in Nigeria, biblical scholars in Liberia, pastors in the Congo, United Methodist Women in Cote d’Ivoire, and thousands of other United Methodists all across Africa who have heard no compelling reasons for changing our sexual ethics, our teachings on marriage, and our ordination standards!

We are grounded in God’s word and the gracious and clear teachings of our church. On that we will not yield! We will not take a road that leads us from the truth! We will take the road that leads to the making of disciples of Jesus Christ for transformation of the world!
juicyecumenism.com/2019/02/23/african-united-methodists-wont-trade-bible-for-dollars/?fbclid=IwAR3bI-k-S8-0SkGdG4cN_v9FI8oEtxaukEHB8LClJZGy9UZbcbDggZN_gTA

Wow, amen and amen brother Kulah. What a breath of fresh air. He actually believes the Bible! He actually prefers to remain faithful to God and his Word than to run with the latest trends of immoral Western worldlings. We need more believers like him.

Again, we have Africans and others coming to the West to uphold biblical Christianity, while it is withering on the vine there. Talk about a massive reversal of fortune. The West once led the way in sending out missionaries. It is now a mission field. Praise God for our faithful brothers and sisters from the non-Western world and their great care for us in the West.

[1915 words]

12 Responses to How the West Was Won – and Lost

  • How sadly true – we need those “3rd World” missionaries – men and women who are prepared to pay the price to preach the Gospel. These matters are on my heart as I leave placement in the Uniting Church primarily over the endorsement of the gender agenda and redefinition of marriage to return to more fertile ground for the Gospel. John Wesley would be appalled; William and Catherine Booth would be appalled: Where once they preached in open air “you must be born again” and “tarry for the enduement of power” now the churches are bureaucrats overseeing the spending of government monies for welfare. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Booth’s brigades once caused the closure of hotels and brothels in England and around the world, attracting violence and assault against their members; now they are welcome in pubs because all they want is money in the box … and a War-cry … if you like. God have mercy on the Church in Australia – time to return to our First Love and to do the things we did ‘at first’.

  • We Christians are caught in a pincer between the militant secularists of the one side — who have just imprisoned His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal George Pell on trumped up charges — and the militant Muslims on the other side.

    This is the fight of our lives. If we don’t free Cardinal Pell from prison he will be just the first of many Christians who will end up languishing in jail as the result of anti-Christian persecution.

  • I have a long-time friend who was a Salvation Army Officer who was forced out for believing these sentiments. Great column as usual.

  • Preaching the Gospel is now considered racist.
    When did that happen?
    I thought I was only intolerant.

  • In Australia, over the years, William Booth’s Salvation Army achieved so much.

    https://wp.me/p18XRh-jM

    As one measure of its downward drift, sadly now the Salvation Army supports the Safe Schools Program.

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2016/11/16/compromised-christianity-treachery-betrayal/

  • Yes. Thank you. But as early as May 1959, a black man from Uganda, Festo Kivengere brought the gospel to many in Australia. I heard him and I was transfixed, convicted of my lostness, though brought up hyper religious in pharasaic high Anglicanism. But through Festo’s message I was found by the Lord. Yet that gospel had been lost in Australia largely until a month later Billy Graham arrived and many were changed. We need another awakening like never before. And we will have it. The Lord has many here whose spiritual warfare and cries have been heard. God’s will be done. we will see the victory.

  • Isn’t it amazing that socialist indoctrination is so in-ground into people’s thinking these days that they can straight faced claim that a disagreement between a Christian and a Muslim is “racist” and that the Christian is the one in the wrong? If this was a rare thing it would be laughable but it is consistent across the board in those who have been indoctrinated and the consequences are getting progressively worse. It is so obviously wrong and yet people are so completely deluded and indoctrinated they can’t see it.

    The Apostle Paul was quite clear that allowing fornication into a church was like leaven and would contaminate the entire church just as God told Israel that sins like that would defile the entire nation. The problems haven’t changed. The ancients used to complain that younger people were saying that the oldies needed to keep up with modernity but the elders knew very well it was just a rouse to promote immorality in the naive and this was millennia ago. It’s the same today. The very sad thing is it is nothing to do with modernity – it’s just immorality. It always was but this generation is so completely deceived and deluded they just can’t see it. When we have got to the point that people can claim that something must be considered moral because animals do it you really need to wonder how have we sunk to this level and allowed the media and our education systems to indoctrinate people with these absolute and complete absurdities. Never was Romans 1:22 more true than now – professing themselves to be wise they became fools.

    The very sad thing is that it is through faith we are saved yet the near 50% of U.S. Methodists who want to promote homosexuality are demonstrating as clear as can be that they have no faith and that they simply do not believe what God has said. That simply is not faith and the scriptures make it absolutely clear what the consequences are. As I have said before – it’s not just the homosexuals who are in jeopardy here.

  • It’s a big mess in the UK and I know exactly who to blame, militant atheists like Dawkins. What they did was criticise Christianity and called for its demise without first having something better to replace it with that hadn’t already been shown to be disastrous. What Dawkins did, in his naive understanding of human nature was to take the keys to Christendom, the very Christendom that gave him the freedom to criticise in the first place, and give the keys to a monster that now demands he stops criticising anything the monster disagrees with. He is now trapped in his ivory tower and the monster is just waiting for him to break the law by speaking. I think in 100 years time historians will wonder how a group of “brites” could have taken something so successful like the west and with their stupidity destroyed it in a few decades, given it had taken 1000s of years to perfect. Atheism may even be seen synonymous with the most destructive and hateful regimes ever to walk the planet. I have no qualms whatsoever in telling a boy or girl at school who promotes atheism that they are monsters in the making.

  • My understanding of the UCA (the Uniting Church in Australia, reflects the same.
    So many of the ministers are now non-English speaking background, and the Biblical standards are generally being upheld by them, in comparison.
    Many of them are grieved and disenfranchised by the latest shenanigans.

  • Thank you for the article Bill. Christianity in Australia has been pushed to the margins of society for many decades now and the main culprit responsible for this has been the secularised MSM with its unceasing anti -Christian propaganda which has been eagerly absorbed by an indifferent, largely unchurched population.

    A good example of this can be seen in the Lindy Chamberlain case when her baby was taken by a dingo on a camping holiday.Lindy was tried by the media and an hysterical public and imprisoned and later found to be innocent. I remember writing to Michael and Lindy Chamberlain at the time telling them that I believed in their innocence and that the reason they were being persecuted was because many Australians were against organised Christianity no matter what the denomination so were ready to believe anything about those who were known to openly practise their Christian faith. The Chamberlains were Seventh day Adventists and Michael was a pastor of that Church. It was even reported that the name Azaria meant ”sacrifice in the wilderness” which fuelled the fires of superstition and ignorance even further.When people stop believing in God and His Son Jesus or they are confused about what Christianity teaches they will believe in anything!

    Now history is repeating itself with Cardinal George Pell and I don’t mind admitting that I believe he is innocent of the charges against him. However, he had to be got rid of because he was too outspoken in support of traditional Christianity. He spoke out against abortion, euthanasia and homosexuality.

    After 9/11 He wrote a scholarly piece on Islam and Western Democracies which I still have.In it he criticises secularists for their ”incomprehension of religion” and their ”blithe
    encouragement of large scale Islamic migration into Western nations, particularly Europe.”Remember he wrote this in 2006 so it is easy to guess what he thinks of the situation now.

    He was also against birth control and said ”faith ensures a future” because he could see quite rightly where the so called Christian countries low fertility rates were leading compared to those of Islamic countries. He used Russia after seventy years of communist secularisation and the Yemen as prime examples.He said it wasn’t just a case of having more children but learning to trust and slammed ”the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming” as another example of ”pagan emptiness”

    It can be easily seen that he has upset a lot of people in his long career particularly those on the left of politics. Therefore it wouldn’t take much to convince the predjudiced, the gullible or the invincibly ignorant that he was guilty of child abuse. There are none so deaf as those who don’t want to hear.

    I agree with Michael we are caught between the secularists and the Muslims and it will be the fight of our lives.

  • Don’t forget that the ABC was in the clear forefront in the Lindy Chamberlain case of making absurd, editorialized claims like Azaria meaning sacrifice in the desert and that a mother dingo would not take a new born baby. Claims that are absolutely absurd and easily refuted and demonstrate so clearly the ABC’s bias and bigotry but over the years this sort of misuse of power and putting across editorialize, authoritative sounding clear lies has only increased and nothing is ever done about it. Look at what the Queensland ABC did with the Mark J Newton/Peter Truong case with the obvious support of the rest of the ABC. The ABC are atheistic, anti-moral campaigners to the core and yet nothing is done to ever correct their blatant bigotry and wicked promotion of often obvious lies. They just shrug off the obvious damage they have done and continue to do and move on with their wickedness and in-grained corruption.

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