Since the late nineteenth-century, European culture and demographics have experienced a precipitous collapse.
Europeans, who represented just under 30% of the world’s population in 1913, are expected to number under 10% by 2050. At the outset of the First World War, over half of the territory of the globe was part of a European empire; today it is itself being colonised. Whereas 150 years ago, European government, commerce, culture, languages and infrastructure enjoyed a centrality for societies around the globe that was historically unprecedented, Europe today is increasingly being viewed by the rest of the world as a cultural and geopolitical irrelevance.
The undoing of Europe is an act entirely of its own making, and is largely the product of the abandonment of public Christianity. From the late-nineteenth-century onwards, Europe has developed an infatuation for worldly philosophies, such as atheism, socialism, Fabianism, communism, social Darwinism, scientific racism, fascism, materialism, liberal internationalism, globalism, social liberalism and relativism. These represent vain and worldly attempts by an increasingly post-Christian civic culture to replace the Christianity that had sat in the heart of European culture for over sixteen hundred years.
Christianity is not only true, but it is also effective as a foundational social worldview. The Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire stood for over a thousand years with Christianity, in however corrupted a form, as its solid base. The sixteen centuries of European Christianity were, in the broadest historical perspective, a time of growth and strengthening.
It is a pity that Edward Gibbon is given so much attention today. Thomas Hodgkin’s Italy and her Invaders is a vastly superior work, whose only disadvantage was its being written by a serious historian, rather than an anti-Christian polemicist.
The central thesis of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, namely that Christianity was the chief cause of her demise, fails to explain why the Roman Empire was replaced largely by Christian – or soon-to-be Christian – states. It also insinuates a general trend from a single case.
When Europe bought into the critiques of Christianity by Gibbon in history, Nietzsche in philosophy, Marx in economics, Ibsen in literature, Freud in psychoanalysis, and their fellow travellers in other disciplines, it did so from a position of pride in its supposed superiority. As Kipling foretold, Europe’s arrogance would be its undoing. All of Europe’s searching for a replacement to Christianity as the basis for civic life have been to naught, and will continue to be so.
In recent decades, Subsaharan Africa has increasingly incorporated Christianity into its public life and at the same time is enjoying extraordinary economic and demographic growth. Certain Eastern European countries are working to restore the place of public Christianity, and again have been able gradually to slow their socioeconomic decline. The countries of South America and the Pacific Island states have largely avoided the cultural and demographic collapse being experienced today in Western Europe.
Public Christianity does not guarantee a lack of war, strife, injustice or corruption. The Christians and non-Christians in whom the authority to govern ‘Christian countries’ is vested are as flawed and sinful as the rest of us.
What the ‘Christian prince’ gains from Scripture is a treasury of principles for good government: the necessity of knowing God’s Word, the centrality of justice, the importance of showing mercy, the need to defend one’s own people while showing hospitality to the foreigner, the iniquity of bribes, the significance of honest scales, the practice of telling the truth (as opposed to taqiyya or propaganda), the usefulness of fixed boundary stones, the danger of favouritism and nepotism, and so on.
It also conveys a divine anthropology, an understanding of the imperfectibility of the human condition, the impossibility of human progress apart from Christ, the centrality of natural social institutions, and the importance of stability and respect for tradition.
Finally, the Torah contains actual laws prohibiting murder, theft, incest, bestiality, and much more besides, even tort laws explaining how you are to make your neighbour whole if you damage their property. While these have rarely been incorporated wholesale into national jurisprudence, they establish a frame of reference that legal systems in Christian countries have borrowed from extensively.
Europe has moved very quickly from abandoning public Christianity to assuming an actively hostile attitude towards the faithful church. This, more than anything else, perhaps signals the coming demise of the continent.
While there may be a certain poetic justice in seeing a people who once colonised their way around the globe themselves being colonised, this is clearly not the primary economy at play.
Instead, it is Europe’s abandonment of Christ, the cross, and the message of the Gospel that is leading to its fall from grace.