Europe is dying?

Flew back to Spain a few days ago and with a few hours to spare in the airport I went for a quick peruse through the book store. I saw this book ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ which caught my eye, but quickly moved on. At the other side of the shop I had this strong impression – go back and buy that book. So I picked it up and bought it. If I had skimmed through it I probably would not have done so, it is not exactly on my page!! Glad though I have read it, and if one follows the trajectory laid out, the destination does seem to be ‘the death of Europe’. Of course, I am of a different persuasion (and biased) that Europe is being privileged and carrying a responsibility to open a whole new path regarding the kingdom of God. I with faith / optimism / delusion hold to the rebirth of not simply Europe but of the globe with the seeds sown from the first Century truly coming to fruit… a ‘reformation’ (not sure that is the right word) beyond that of the 16th Century. Also given that reading is a challenge for me, let me get in to it!

Why will Europe die? Murray draws the three strands together that are in the sub-title: immigration, identity and Islam. We cannot afford to allow immigration as is happening to continue, for the identity of ‘who / what is Europe?’ will be radically altered. Europe will no longer be Europe, compounded by the incredible increase of Islam eroding the shaping foundation of the Judaeo-Christian values and faith will further mean that no longer will Europe be connected to its roots and in an embrace / appeasement of Islam Europe as Europe will simply no longer exist. This death of Europe has started and the final outcome is in sight. Facts, figures and stories abound in the book, and I suggest if we project from here to the not-too-distant future his thesis is indeed compelling.

I could argue of course that what we have is a far-right perspective and so say ‘typical’ (OK maybe I cut the post short now and simply say that!), but what really provoked me was what might a faith response look like? Murray is a ‘Christian’ atheist, one who does not believe in God but in the core values of the Judeo-Christian tradition (as he sees them), hence the projection from the past is important, and the only framework he has. Across the pond the same appeal seems to be being made, hence the trajectory there can be seen in what takes place here. Re-birth becomes possible if faith is involved, otherwise we should simply begin to write the obituaries now, and write them without hope. We could slow the death, and really make re-birth difficult with (my opinion) the ‘between the lines’ appeal by Murray. Stop the immigration, restore sovereignty to the nation-state, legislate from the centre…

He is no fan of any form of identificional repentance, nor sees the validity of Imperial seed sown and the reaping of that later. Confessing guilt for the past, for colonisation, trampling over cultures has no place and only adds guilt and the accommodation of foreign cultures and values. He does not accept that what has been sown is coming back to be reaped. And of course on Christendom, this is where he as a ‘Christian’ atheist and myself part company. This is not to suggest that society has no benefits from that era of dominance, much like the fall involved in the monarchial institution in Israel was not without its benefits, but those benefits being due to God being willing to go where we go, and certainly not due to God’s approval of either monarchy nor Christendom.

But a vision?

If anyone is in Christ… sight changes. I understand that when one looks at where we are, and draws the graphs forward there is little of good cheer involved. But what if we were to be crazy. What if we thought there was ‘new creation’? What if we did not despair, but any looking to the past drew great hope from the context that the small Jewish sect (followers of the way) that grew up in an obscure Roman province, and who carried a message that was offensive to their own people (crucified Messiah) and foolish to the wider audience (one crucified of countless thousands) that was not simply being branded about in evangelistic settings (raise your hand) or in revival settings (I will put my hand on you), but in the darkest, occultic, multi-faith, politically oppressive scenarios… Hope and then… a huge big ‘forget that, for I do a new thing’. Hope from the past but not shaped from the past. WOW.

Immigration. Always a sign of new stewardship coming. Multi-faith – I don’t like that – but do we have to learn about true faith. If we start with faith defined in a box it will be very difficult to find faith. This is the biggest days of opportunity, amidst chaos, and the ‘dust of death’ to see something birthed that will be incredible. Maybe ‘The Sure start of something to get on board with in Europe’ might be a good title (yes I know a little too long, but we can work on it).

The book is sobering, but it is not the content of the book that is depressing. It is for me how much we as the body of Christ just long for a return to where things were. That might be understandable for a ‘Christian atheist’. The challenge for us as believers is whether the ‘god’ we have believed in, the ‘god’ we have commanded the Scriptures to confirm, is truly the God who makes all things new or not. Maybe not ‘atheism’, but…

Faith, hope… and love

‘Faith is the substance of what we are hoping for’ (Priscilla’s words in Heb. 11) presents one of the relationships between faith and hope. Hope is like the mould that faith can then fill. Ultimate hope is of re-creation, the renewal of all things – that outcome is secure. What I term ‘interim’ hope is that bright outlook on the future, that expectation that something will change. That kind of hope, if it is to contribute to the future, cannot be simply (naive) optimism but has to be based on some solid foundations. If that hope is genuine faith becomes the bridge across which heaven’s values travel to our realm. From the initial hope then as faith increases so there is a shift. (Faith increasing was Paul’s prayer for the Corinthian church. They practically lacked at so many levels in their call to fill their region with heavens’ presence, but Paul narrowed down the lack to ‘faith’.)

There remains faith and hope, Paul says – and love. I have written a few times that losing hope is understandable. The issues that need changing are enormous, but we need to look to where God is at work and put our hope there. As the body of Christ recovers her destiny to be the agent of change for the world hope can develop. This does not mean that God only works through the church, but that the church’s responsibility is to change the environment so that the good (and God-given) gifts of human servanthood and enterprise can be expressed.

My hope is for a recovery of that call in the body of Christ, to understand again the political (small ‘p’ please, not NOT NOT party politics, right, left, but certainly shaking all things about political passion) nature of the Gospel. My hope is for the partnership of the body of Christ both with heaven and with the world. Yes we have a long way to go and this signals a big shift from where we have been, but that is my hope.

Hope and faith grows… And not all things are resolved as we want. Maybe we did not really have faith, maybe we did not see the whole picture. Maybe we are not as smart as we thought. Maybe we just simply failed.

Faith and hope. And love. Those three remain, but the greatest of these is love. When all else fails, when our passions do not produce what we thought, when we have prayed and stood and just plain got knocked over… there is love.

There are losses. There are times when the good of the past disappears, but if there was love in there it is stored up in heaven. It cannot be lost:

He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you… in all of this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you mayhave had to suffer grief and in all kinds of trials. (1 Peter 1:3-6).

Stored in heaven, kept safe where rust nor moth can destroy. Stored there so that it can be revealed here in the eschaton. Everything good is stored… Setbacks are for real, our hopes might have been misplaced, our faith might not have been genuine… but the greatest of these is love. When all else fails we can love, and love opens the clearest channel to heaven to deposit all the good things that will be manifest on that great day.

Time for hope, time to believe, and if for whatever reason we do not see what we hoped for… provided in and through it all love remains, somehow everything that we hoped for but never saw, had hold of but lost… will come through the fire intact.

BTW: Priscilla is as likely as it being Paul who wrote Hebrews and as she is the best known female person with ‘P’ what more evidence do I need?