Post-Christian No More: The Western World Has Its Own Gods Now

By Tom Gilson Published on July 15, 2017

For decades now, Christian thinkers have been describing Europe and North America as “post-Christian.” It was accurate for a while, but the time has come to retire the term.

A word like “post-Christian” was never destined to last long in the first place. Great cultures aren’t known by what they used to be, but by what they are. (Who calls medieval Europe post-pagan?) It made sense, for a few decades, to describe Western culture in terms of the Christianity it was leaving behind. But now a new faith has swept the old one totally aside.

It is a faith of new gods — millions of them. It’s polytheistic, in a sense, except where the Bible (Romans 1:23) speaks of the people making idols in their own image, this religion goes a step further: we ourselves are the gods.

Acting Like Gods

What else besides a claim of godhood is going on, after all, when a man declares himself a woman, insists that his new sex (“gender”) is reality, not only for himself but for everyone else? What else explains his demand that everyone kneel in obedience to the new reality he has created?

This new religion’s creed is summed up in the belief that each person should attain maximum godhood without hindrance.

How else do we make sense of doctors and judges claiming authority to decide whose life is worth living? These are just two examples of many, where men and women are claiming the rights, powers and privileges that only a god can have.

Gods With No Higher Gods

Self-worship in the past has always been tempered by belief in some other, higher gods who set the rules, defined good and evil, punished evildoers, and determined the way their worshipers could attain the ultimate good, whatever that might be.

Many of today’s self-deified gods, in contrast — and quite ironically — insist there are no gods. They call themselves atheists, but the name can’t hide the fact that they’ve taken it upon themselves to do a god’s work, with a god’s prerogatives.

Battles of the Gods

A world that celebrates beliefs and behaviors like these isn’t “post-Christian.” There isn’t enough Christianity left to call it “Christian”-anything.

This new religion’s creed is summed up in the belief that each person should attain maximum godhood without hindrance. Which explains why Christianity is singled out for attack more than any other belief. Just as in the days of Rome, Christianity is persecuted for insisting there is no other god but the one true God.

It may even explain why Whites, males and the “cisgendered” are also under attack. When the gods fight, it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. It doesn’t even matter if the loser doesn’t see himself as one of the gods. All that matters is who remains on the throne, and who is cast down.

The Greek god Apollo fought Zeus and lost. Zeus expelled Apollo from Olympus, forcing him to live as a mortal man, a shepherd, even — the lowliest of occupations. Today in elite culture — especially the universities — where non-white, non-gendered gods are ascendant, it’s not enough to dethrone white, male, “cis” America, it must also be shamed.

A world that celebrates beliefs and behaviors like these isn’t “post-Christian.” There isn’t enough Christianity left to call it “Christian”-anything.

What Do We Do?

It’s no longer post-Christian; it’s also not post-hope. Remember, the early Christians lived in a culture of many small gods, too. They stood firm, worshiping the One true God and Him only. They preached the gospel. They lived the gospel. Ultimately, the true God prevailed.

Their example should both guide and encourage us. Sure, it took them longer than a lifetime to see pagan culture turned around, but every effort was worth it — especially for the individuals and families they were able to reach along the way.

Although people may enjoy pretending for a time they can be gods, deep down they know better.

Time for the Momentum To Turn

In fact, one reason for rejecting the “post-Christian” label is that it reinforces a needless and un-Christlike pessimism. It implies that Christianity is slipping out of reach; that the momentum is set so badly against us, things may never turn around again.

Of course things have been moving the wrong direction. If we recognize the reality of the new religion of self-idolatry, however, we can see how the momentum could turn at any moment. For although people may enjoy pretending for a time they can be gods, deep down they know better.

They know there’s far more to reality than they can even imagine, much less create or re-create. They know that whatever standards they set for themselves, they don’t live up to them. They know their problems are bigger than they are. They know it’s exhausting trying to stay on top of it all. They must know, in short, that their attempt at godhood falls flat.

So I think the time may be coming when more and more of these little gods will get tired of running their little universes. They’ll be ready to meet the real God, the God of the Bible, revealed in Jesus Christ.

Will we be ready to introduce them to Him? Straightening out our view of this no-longer-post-Christian culture is one step toward that readiness.

 

Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel Publications, 2016). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.

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