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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  • GPS Daddy

    Good read, Tom. I find it interesting that “athiests” that strongly affirm a materialistic worldview claim that a trans man’s spirit is female and a female trans has a male spirit. Your article helps make sense of this. A ‘god’ can define what they want. This also helps explain why so many judges think they can legislate from the bench.

    The problem with making up your own rules for life is that life tends not to cooperate.

  • Jones Howell

    I think the greatest obstacle to Western culture’s acceptance of Christianity is rooted in a deification of human rights. The cry for civil, human, universal rights is so loud and its stamp so indelible upon the Western psyche that any concept of the fallen nature of humankind, the need for salvation, the depravity of man, and other Biblical doctrines runs counter to that deification ideal. In the end, this is not even about humanism versus Christianity; it is about being human itself. The exaltation of being human will always bring humans down rather than exalt them, which Christianity in fact promises. It eventually reduces humans to a level equal with animals, perhaps even plants or rocks. And, without a Creator who holds people accountable and who gives people a higher identity, anybody or anything can become dispensable on a whim. So, the gods of the Greeks and Romans (mirrored images of humans), eventually turn on each other, because the only thing that has any meaning is raw power, and the ability (or gall) to project it.

    • GPS Daddy

      Excellent assessment.

    • Kevin Carr

      I say the same, when mankind makes himself the center of the universe then we are open to all kinds of craziness, as Romans 1 tells us.

  • Gary

    The serpent said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof (the forbidden tree), then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

    Most people want to be their own god and be ruler of their own life. Some people want to be a god to others too and tell them what to do.

  • Strife

    “But the truth is that it is only by believing in God that we can ever criticize the government. Once abolish the God, and the Government becomes the God. The fact is written all across human history; but it is written more plainly across that recent history of Russia; which was created by Lenin. There the Government is the God, and all the more the God, because it proclaims aloud in accents of thunder, like every other
    God worth worshiping, the one essential commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me…

    …The truth is that Irreligion is the opium of the people. Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world, they will worship the world. But, above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world. And, by the very nature of the Bolshevist and many other modern systems, as well as by the practical working of almost any system, the State will be strongest thing in the world. The whole tendency of men is to
    treat the solitary State as the solitary standard. That men may protest against law, it is necessary that they should believe in justice; that they may believe in justice beyond law, it is necessary that they should believe in a justice beyond the land of living men. You can impose the rule of the Bolshevist as you can impose the rule of the Bourbons; but it is equally an imposition. You can even make its subjects contented, as opium would make them contented. But if you are to have anything like divine discontent, then it must really be divine. Anything that really comes from below must really come from above.”

    ~ G.K.Chesterton

  • Patmos

    There is nothing new under the sun. You can trace the same savagery from the Muslim world to what came before it in the Assyrian empire, the same quest for empire in Iran that you saw from the Persian empire. It’s the same spirits behind it all, and just because it has a new name doesn’t change what’s behind it.

  • I just wish that GOD, in His wisdom and omnipotence, would be just a bit more media-savvy in this day and age. I mean, we’re talking about the same God that allegedly created the Universe (just 6,000 years ago, according to some people), flooded the entire Earth, parted the Red Sea, and whose Earthbound avatar came back to life after having assumed room temperature for the better part of a weekend. Why does He insist on taking such a hands-off approach? We have one Book which has been translated and re-translated, interpreted and re-interpreted, until hardly anyone can agree on what it means. We have dozens of Christian denominations, each with its own unique take on what God expects of us. Wouldn’t God be a little more effective in getting us to behave decently toward one another if He would just put together a website or a television channel or at the very least a 1-800 number? There is a wide variety of contemporary social and economic issues I sure would like to get His opinion on.

    • GPS Daddy

      Well, Chuck, all those are good questions. I have had all those questions too. There are others along those lines I still have.

      I have found that these kinds of questions are the new atheists nail in the coffin against Christians. But I also have never found a new atheist that has a worldview that I personally envy.

      There are good answers to these. The bigger question is do you really want answers or do you want to drive a nail into a coffin?

    • davidrev17

      Hey Chuck, that’s some evaluation! First off, would you be kind enough to point-out, in either the New or Old Testament, where it states explicitly just exactly WHEN the universe was created, let alone this biosphere?

      Also, could you be a little more specific in identifying just WHO this “earthbound avatar [was] who came back to life after having assumed room temperature for the better part of a weekend”??? BTW: are you suggesting that science has certifiably established, as a causal requirement, that “room-temp” itself, is both a sufficient & necessary catalyst to one’s “self-rising” from the dead? (e.g., John 2:19; but see 2:13-22 for precise historical context.)

      Anyway, Chuck, “you do err not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” (i.e., Matthew 22:29; however, see 22:23-33 for relevant context.)

      Additionally, you seem to be backhandedly inferring – as though you alone possess omniscience, evident in your sweeping, “fallen” bush-league [anemic] analysis of the manner in which the actual omniscient/omnipotent Creator God of this universe has handled matters upon planet earth- that the otherwise “omnipotent” Yahweh, has completely failed, or “couldn’t successfully accomplish” communicating clearly, and effectively to His specially-created spirit-creatures, called rational/moral H@#o sapiens??

      Yet, I would think you’re also simultaneously inferring that the perfectly ethical/moral “Judge of all mankind” – of whose throne it’s said in Holy Scripture that “righteousness and justice are the foundation” thereof – will nonetheless wind-up capriciously, thus immorally? judging His creatures for failing to abide by His apparently obscure, UNKNOWN commands? Am I correct in that assumption Chuck??

      If so, let’s test that out: the “Ten Commandments” of “The Decalogue” were delivered to the nation of Israel roughly 3,450 years ago; whose content has been located in Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5, in every Hebrew Bible that’s ever been circulated, or distributed. Now, have you ever been concerned about “breaking” any of them throughout your life…in many cases I’m sure, over-and-over again; in which case, have you ever honestly, or diligently pursued the very “resolution” to your own penchant for autonomously committing moral transgressions (i.e., sinfulness) throughout your life?? I finally did!

      And as far as you accusing God of “taking a hands-off approach” to addressing this moral cesspool taking place on planet earth: just imagine what our predicament would be like if His Holy Spirit WASN’T omnipresent, thus acting as an existential “restraint” against our evil perpetrations toward one another. (See John 16:7-11 in this exact context.)

      And aside from that, just consider our overall moral predicament if His Word WASN’T faithfully preached, by His transformed [“born-again”] children, to other “fallen” people throughout human cultures? And particularly, where would we be had He NOT SENT His only begotten Son Jesus into the world: i.e., “For God SO LOVED THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son [Yeshua/Jesus], that whosoever believes in Him should NOT PERISH, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)?? Yet in this day-and-age, how many “fallen” people are actually listening to the “voice” of God; as WE Christians preaching the “gospel of Jesus Christ” – or standing-up for His truth – have been singled-out as de facto representing “Public Enemy #1” throughout America and the West???

      ☆ ☆ ☆

      “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Yeshua/Jesus]; go therefore and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER I COMMAND YOU, and lo I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE” (Matthew 28:18-20).

      That’s been called the “Great Commission”; of which His children in every generation & culture have been COMMANDED to carry-out diligently, for the last 2,000 years, or so! “Hands-off approach” Chuck? Maybe the REAL problem is OUR spiritual BLINDNESS & SIN – and NOT GOD??Ever thought about that?

      And one last observation: in the final analysis, our Creator God will have been SO intimately involved amongst His human creatures in resolving the “problem of evil” – commencing about 2,000 years ago – that true peace, love amongst one another, genuine respect, compassion, righteousness etc. will have ultimately become the rule-of-thumb in the lives of ALL redeemed H#%o sapiens, possessing SINLESS “resurrection bodies” in the “new heavens and new earth; in whose unimaginable environment, all will no doubt realize that God ALONE actually eradicated the very concept & presence of sin & evil forevermore.

      Jesus unambiguously stated: “Truly truly I say unto you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

      How about you Chuck?? The Lord Jesus is reaching-out, or “speaking” to your heart within this very post. Are you listening? Do you desire to have your sins forgiven, thus receive the “gift of eternal life,” and enter-into an eternal relationship with the Creator of this universe (you included) – through His Son Yeshua/Jesus of Nazareth? I pray you will…soon sir!

      • Vincent J.

        Holy Moly! You don’t actually expect me to read all of this stuff, do you?

    • Gary

      God has revealed himself to everyone, but only some are willing to believe what information is available. God is being as “effective” as he wants to be. You have to do things God’s way because he is not going to do things your way.

    • Patmos

      The parable of the tares among the wheat will probably bring to light some of the things you remain in the dark on.

    • Jim Walker

      God will touch your heart one day Chuck and you will take all these words back, I pray, Amen.

    • Chuck,

      The “avatar” of whom you speak, Jesus Christ, is the absolute embodiment of a hands-on approach.

      Yes, there are different interpretations, and people can be cruel. The alternative is unconscionable, however. Would you rather have God control people so they always think the same thing? Or so no one can make a choice other than to do the most perfect thing?

      As for a good website, there’s one right here. You’re welcome.

      • Paul Duca

        If God was stupid enough to bring in free will…He has no right whatsoever to complain people are not obediently following Him.

    • Vincent J.

      All of our questions will be answered during that great after-action debriefing known as Judgment Day, imho.

  • The polytheism spoken of by the author was formally made part of State policy when the constitutional framers replaced the First Commandment (found intact in some of the 17th-century Colonial governments) with the polytheism-enabling First Amendment.

    “…Religious Freedom and Christian Liberty are not the same thing. They are, in fact, hostile to each other. The former is born of the First Amendment. The latter is born of the First Commandment. In 1789, the First Commandment and Christian
    Liberty were formally sacrificed on the altar of the First Amendment and Religious Freedom.

    “When the 18th-century founders replaced the First Commandment (found intact in some 17th-century Colonial Constitutions) with the First Amendment, America was transformed from a predominantly monotheistic Christian nation (a united nation under one God, Yahweh) into arguably the most polytheistic nation to exist (a divided nation under many gods, including Islam’s Allah).

    “It’s one thing to allow for individual freedom of conscience and private choice of gods, something impossible to legislate for or against. It’s another matter altogether for government to enable any and all religions to proliferate through the land and evangelize our posterity to false gods. This is what the First Amendment legitimizes. It is an unequivocal violation of the First Commandment and the polar opposite of the following First Commandment statute:

    ‘[Y]e shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves. For thou shall worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou … go a whoring after their gods….’ (Exodus 34:13-15)….”

    For more, see blog article “National Religious Freedom Day aka Celebrating the Founders’ Violation of the First Commandment.” Click on my name, then our website. Go to our Blog and search on title.

    Then online Chapter 11 “Amendment 1: Government-Sanctioned Polytheism” of “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective.” Go to our Online Books page, click on the top entry, and scroll down to Chapter 11.

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