THOSE BRITISH "PAGANS"?
Yet Another Bishop Gets It All Wrong
Many thanks to Emily Stimpson at the Heart, Mind, and Strength BLOG for bringing to our attention yet another Church prelate who seems utterly clueless about the true state of today's Postmodernist and post-Christian Western culture.
It seems that the head of the Catholic Church in the UK thinks the majority of his countrymen are now pagans. According to an AP report today, "Archbishop of Westminster Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was quoted as telling the Daily Telegraph that Britain "has become, from a Christian point of view, very pagan. Children are not really taught religion in most schools. 'And yet, even though it is a pagan country, people don't dismiss religion, don't dismiss God, don't dismiss the spiritual side of their character,' he was quoted as saying."
But Stimpson got it right when she wrote in response to this,
... Plato was a pagan. Homer was a pagan. Ceneca was a pagan. Most modern day Brits (and a healthy share of Americans too) are not pagans. They are post-Christian agnostics and atheists whose philosophy is steeped in relativism and irrationalism. Calling them pagans is too high of a compliment. Pagans, for all they lacked, still believed in truth, virtue, the natural law, and religion.
The sad truth is that Paul could reason far more easily with a first century Roman pagan then any of us could with a twenty-first century devotee of Sex in the City.
The late Christian writer and teacher Francis A. Schaeffer, a noteworthy Evangelical who sounded the alarm within the conservative Protestant community about the dangers posed by the Culture of Death over 25 years ago, understood full well the kind of age we live in. He warned decades ago, in his very prophetic little books The God Who Is There and Escape From Reason (published in the early 1960s) that relativism and irrationalism would overtake Western culture and end up running society within the lifetimes of the very same college students he and his L'Abri staff taught and led to Christ by the thousands during the Counter-Culture era.
Schaeffer and L'Abri knew this because, unlike too many Catholic intellectuals and churchmen, he and his colleagues made it a point of staying "in the trenches" ministering to --and, most importantly, listening to-- those most deeply involved in the culture around them. As Stimpson points out above, modern day Western agnostics and atheists are post-Christian, not pagan.
Schaeffer --one of the first Christian writers and teachers to use the term "post-Christian," and may have even coined the term-- understood that difference very well, and understood the radical significance of that difference. It's high time more of the leadership of the Catholic Church understood it as well.