The views of the always provocative Peter Hitchens (surely one of the last prophetic warning voices left in the UK) on the demise of a once great nation.
His insights into a society now to be ruled by “threat & reward” and with an increasingly heavy-handed state having to compensate for our lack of self-government are alarming and yet apt.
Ultimately he says it will be “a shortage of believing Christians [that] will lead to society’s decay” with the incalculable loss of the “millions of small and tedious good deeds that are required for a society to function with charity, honesty and kindness”
I would differ slightly in that I think that it is not merely the absence of Christian influence that is responsible for our precipitous decline.
After all, I do not think we dare say that a society must be Christian in order to be well-ordered & functional. It must be possible to have some kind of civilisation in a gospel-less land otherwise we have no explanation for a country like Japan which remains socially well-ordered despite its historic imperviousness to Christianity.
No, the chaos that awaits post-Christian societies will not be the result merely of a lack of Gospel influence but rather a rapid & complete social disintegration will take place precisely because that influence was once there.
What do I mean?
It is easy today to point to European nations that were once major examples of Christian virtue which are now becoming moral cess pits. It is no coincidence that it is the continent which has enjoyed the benefits of the Gospel for the longest that is now in the steepest spiral.
When good places go bad, they have a tendency to go very bad indeed.
The American Colonies most blessed by the Great Awakening are now states that are secularised far beyond the US mean. The area of London known as Soho was the home of the famed Huguenots but once stripped of their righteous influence it became during the 20th Century a byword for vice. When good places go bad they go very bad.
These places do seem to decline faster and far beyond what we might have expected. I do believe that this phenomenon must be attributed to divine judgement though I would also see the hand of the Enemy & the malicious enjoyment he takes in tormenting those that once bore the name of Christ.
It is the parts of the world that bathed in gospel sunlight for the longest that now discover that “to whom much is given much will be required.” Judgement is knocking at the door and there is to be an accounting for our centuries of privilege.
It may be the fate of post-Christian Europe & the US that we will become not merely like the other nations but actually far worse than them just as “Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen...” (2 Chron 33:9)
Chorazin & Bethsaida suffered far worse judgement than other places (Mt 11:21-22) because they had sinned against such incredible light & so may we.
In the gospel story the house swept clean did not merely revert to its old state but actually became seven times worse than before precisely because of the reformation it had once known (Mt 12:43-45).
I have to note Hitchens’ view of our grandchildren’s future: "Unbearable to contemplate”
But it is only the grace of God that can now prevent such a future.