For more than two thousand years the smart people have been predicting the imminent demise of Christianity. After all, what rational person accepts that the Creator of all things would impregnate a virgin, father a son, and then remain silent as his son was tortured to death as a criminal?
Yet for two millennia faith in the Child born in a stable in a backwater town called Bethlehem has survived, while through the centuries the “wise ones” have turned to dust under the sod. Inexplicably, despite modern scholarship and attempts to pit Science against Faith, belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God lives on. Sometimes the faith is reduced to pockets of believers, and often it is weakened by watered-down versions, but it will not go away.
If anything, the mushy sentimentalism and the crass commercialism of the so-called holiday season should hasten its doom, but something about the core Christmas message defies all attempts to corrupt and eliminate it.
Today we seem to live in an era in which the vigor of the Christ impulse seems to have been weakened, perhaps fatally. The effort to eradicate the “superstition” called Christianity has reached a fever pitch in these modern times. It does seem that the sun has set on faith. It is fading.
And yet … and yet. As so often repeated in history, just when the darkness seems to have overcome, the light will flash up again, illuminating and reviving a fallen world. The skeptics grit their teeth and renew their efforts to close the coffin on such a ridiculous movement.
As we stumble toward the second decade of the brave new world of the 21st Century, secularism has raised its proud banner over Europe and North America. The angry New Atheists angrily spew forth their contempt for faith, and the media continues its crusade against traditional Christianity and the Catholic Church in particular. Christianity is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. It only remains for it to fall down.
In Western Europe things seem even worse. The European Union adopts a constitution that ignores the Christian roots of that civilization. All that seems to survive of the Jesus message in western nations is a vague believe in doing good, a creed wherein the paramount virtue is to be nice.
Meanwhile, in Iraq Christians flee for their lives following a massacre in a church during Christmas mass. The exodus continues as the Iraqi government remains either unable or unwilling to protect its religious minority. Other Muslim nations continue to oppress the Christ followers.
In Eastern Europe, a small ember of faith seems to be glowing following 70 years of atheistic Communism. Ironically, in the nations where thousands upon thousands of Christians were put to death for their faith, the churches are coming to life again, giving credence to the old saying that the blood of martyrs provides the seed for the spread of Christianity.
But why? Why can’t the Christian Faith just politely go away? Its day is over. Yes, Christians created the first hospitals. Granted, the Church did painstakingly civilize the barbarians. Monks preserved the works of literature during the so-called Dark Ages. Yes, the works of art and literature produced in the Age of Faith still quicken the pulse with their beauty.
All that may be true, but Science has relegated belief in God to the dustbin, hasn’t it? Darwin and Dawkins and Hitchens have spoken. We are all the product of evolution, emanating as reptilian life from the primeval ooze of the early Earth.
So what is it about the core message of Christianity? Why does it not collapse or fade away like other faiths—like Communism, imperialism, racism, colonialism? They all had their day in the sun and then went on their way.
Could the answer be that that there is a God and that He really does love us? Is it true that we have a fallen human nature that on its own just cannot get back on its feet? Did God come to earth to do just that—raise us above ourselves? Is Jesus God?
Could it be that we have a need and obligation to search for the truth? That not all “truths” are equal? Sometimes don’t you just wish all these questions would go away?
Why doesn’t it all go away?