What is different about Modern Society that would suggest wholesale apostasy?
Maybe it would be easier to ask what is not different about modern Christendom compared to the pre- 19th Century Christianity; the changes have been so manifold. But let me try and list a few.
As I pointed out earlier, for almost 1800 years, there were very few direct attacks on scripture or the worldview supported by it. The Bible was sometimes repressed, banned, or not available in the common languages. It was sometimes controlled by church hierarchy, sometimes placed under church hierarchy, but never attacked or doubted in its God given authority or historical accuracy. The Church had plenty of trouble with false teaching and practice but for almost 1800 years there were no concentrated efforts to use science or philosophy or atheistic theories to overthrow the common man’s faith in the historicity or authority of the Bible.
This of course radically changed with time. At first the attacks were indirect, with an anti-supernaturalism being touted as a more rational way to view the universe by such early players as Hobbes and later Hume. Worthy of note, none of these men were empirical scientists; but rather they were atheist philosophers; you couldn’t find any atheist scientists in those days. No atheist ever made any empirical discoveries or founded any branch of science. All the great founders of science did their work in the very world view which Hobbes and his ilk hated; a Christian theistic world view. Kepler in Astronomy, Boyle in chemistry, Newton in physics, etc.
At first these materialist attacks on theism were rare and they only became a chorus by the late 18th Century. What is called existentialism began to challenge the biblical view of the nature of man, led by atheists such as Sartre, who denied any essential nature to man. Man could literally create himself; he was not made in the image of God and contained by those boundaries and his own fallen nature. We are not creatures made in God’s image and marred by the fall, nor are we bound by any moral absolutes. We must make them up as we go along.
Christian and theistic philosophers like Kierkegaard responded to this challenge, but still ended up moving away from the objective reality of the Scriptures. Even Kierkegaard and Barth had been impressed and influenced by the German higher critics (who turned out to be quite mistaken) and so even in an attempt to defend theism, they moved away from an absolute and objective faith based on the Scriptures first and foremost.
Later Charles Darwin (not a trained scientist or biologist) in biology and men such as Charles Lyell (a lawyer, not a geologist) in geology would purposefully construct their theories to undermine their fellow man’s faith in Scripture, even if they rarely admitted this goal publicly.
So the need for a god to create would be directly challenged by Darwin and the time frame that the bible proposed for creation would be challenged by Lyell. In philosophy theism would be attacked as irrational by Hume, and many others.
As these new ideas (for Christendom) began to sink in, more direct attacks on the bible began to take place. In Germany, the new so called higher criticism of the bible began to challenge the historicity of scripture quite audaciously. They claimed that the majority of the Old Testament could not have been written in the time period it claimed for itself, and that more than likely Moses and Abraham and the rest were merely fictitious characters made up centuries later by inventive sheepherders. And they claimed their attacks on Scripture were “assured” and need not be questioned by the layman, or anyone else. Not only that, but it became quite popular in higher academia to mirror and repeat these claims, to the point that no one who wanted to appear as knowledgeable or sophisticated would ever dare take the bible at face value. These views were highly regarded and espoused as the world headed into the 20th century.
These views in turn began to have their effects on governments. For millennia Europe and Christendom had operated under monarchies believed supported by God. The church also played an active role in the governing by the ruling monarchies. No one would argue that the results of this varying blend of faith and government were perfect, far from it. But the point is, the idea of a God having a role in government was quite prevalent, and at least at times played a positive role. With the coming of the first democracies in England and America, such as the parliament under Cromwell or the American experiment, the Bible and God still played a huge role in politics, being thought of as the foundation of true government. France of course was an exception to this rule and their bloody revolution was indeed one of the first atheistic attempts at self rule.
However, the French Revolution would not be the last attempt to remove the concept of God from the government. In Russia, Trotsky, Lenin, Marx and Stalin would lay out plans for governing that would virtually outlaw the idea of God from all forms of government and society. Using evolution as the basis for their philosophy they would ban any theistic teaching in the public school system or in public life. China would follow suit and Hitler’s Germany was in step as well. So for the first time in almost 2000 years, God was being actively banned from government, from the sciences of biology and geology and origin theories. And theism was being discouraged or removed from the schools and higher academia. This was indeed something new, and it was taking place in both the western and eastern regions where the Christian church had existed for thousands of years.
It’s no surprise that human morality itself would soon be engulfed in the anti-theist tsunami. Marxist Russia, for example was one of the first to remove the laws protecting children in the womb around 1917. Hitler’s pre-war Germany was next, allowing not only for the pre-natal killing of human infants but also the “termination” of the unfit, the crippled, mentally handicapped and eventually, the Jews. In order to help the creative evolutionary forces along the unfit were being forcibly eliminated.
In America, a country firmly established on the theistic principle that all human rights were derived from a creator God, the progress of the war on theism was a little slower.
However, another indirect attack on the morals of the bible exploded on the scenes in the 1960’s; with the sexual revolution; the rise of feminism, women’s liberation; which virtually flipped America on its ethical head. Divorce exploded, sex outside of marriage and homosexuality went from being unusual to being accepted behavior. Single parent homes became the norm and teenage pregnancy and cohabitation reached levels never seen before. Child abuse skyrocketed also. In addition, just as Marxist Russia had outlawed theism from the classroom, so did America. Government mandates to increase the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution were instituted and in 1963, despite a Constitutional amendment that explicitly denies the federal government the right to pass a law concerning the exercise of religion, the U.S. Supreme Court passed a law removing the freedom to exercise prayer or acknowledge God in the public school system.
In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court followed the lead of Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany and Maoist China and passed a law removing the protection for pre-natal infants; giving sanction to pre-natal infanticide for the first time in American history.
Again, I can’t emphasize enough that these changes are not just events that cycled through the last two thousand years, back and forth with time; they are all new changes to the culture of the Christian nations that radically changed the way the common man and woman thought. These were not small, inconsequential changes. They indicated a strong and overwhelming desire on the part of Christendom to really spit God out of its mouth. In a very real way, we as the inheritors and offspring of the Christian nations have systematically removed God from almost every reality in our lives. In essence the Christian nations appear to have served divorce papers on the God of the Bible.
A further evidence of this apostate movement has been the formation of the “youth culture’, something that only came into existence during the last century. We will look at each of these aspects in separate chapters, and we will look at the effects of apostasy on and inside the church, not just society in general.
So in the space of less than two hundred years the authority of the Scriptures and the views of the human being, roles of gender, origins and science, moral values and even the very concept of God came under direct or indirect attack. The main attacks could be listed as;
1) The “rationalist” atheist and existential challenge to the existence of God, absolute morals or objective truth, as well as a challenge to anything existing beyond nature or material itself.
2) The challenge of German higher criticism; a direct attack on the historicity of Scripture, it objective reality and reliability as a source of historical truth or knowledge.
3) The Darwinian challenge to the need for a supernatural creator. Design and complex information, a language or code such as found in DNA could arise all by itself and all could be explained in a rational materialistic manner.
4) The Lyellian challenge; everything in geology could be and needed to be explained through the filter of uniformitarianism. The present is the key to the past. Vast river canyons and river plains were not formed by past catastrophes; they were formed by the slow processes we observe every day. All the layers in the rock strata were formed over millions of years representing vast ages. Therefore the world was millions of years old and the bible had been proven to be unreliable in its presentation of world history.
5) The feminist challenge. The biblical roles of gender were all wrong, and not inspired by an all powerful and wise God. The bible was a book written by sexist men, in order to dominate women, and the sexual mores were un-necessarily strict and prudish. The biblical lines were not drawn to protect fallen man from himself; they were there to limit man from exploring and enjoying his full sexuality.
6) The Marxists challenge; all these new ways of thinking that were accepted very quickly by modern society led to a popular rejection of theism and particularly the biblical brand of theism. If God didn’t exist, then there was no need to allow room for Him in politics. If there was no god, then there were no moral absolutes or need to seek His blessing or rule in such a way to avoid His curse. In essence, Man was his own God. Instead of looking to God for our morality and modes of government and provision, we must look to government instead. Few people at the time realized how devastating this would be to the concept of human rights; all they saw was a new “freedom”.
We will look at each of these challenges in future chapters, but I think what we have witnessed is a relentless acceptance of atheism in every realm, or man’s ideas replacing biblical standards. And this is true even in the part of the church which claims to be true to the scriptures.
So, just to reiterate; we have removed the concept of the Christian God from the sciences; Biology, Geology and Astronomy; We have removed God from having any role in government; We have removed God from the public school system and theism from the majority of higher academia; We have removed God and biblical morality from being a basis for modern morality and have, even in the church rejected his roles of gender. We have allowed the Bible to be marginalized, standing accused of being historically inaccurate and a unreliable source of objective truth (despite the fact it defends itself quite well in any one of these arenas) and all this has taken place for the most part in the last hundred years.
And we have replaced the former biblical views with atheistic views. We haven’t just removed Christianity. A vacuum will always fill itself. We have replaced God with dozens of silly and failed theories and philosophies, which are wreaking havoc on the family, the schools and society in general. But we show no sign of relenting, or repenting.
Excerpt from, The Apostasia