A Warning from the Death of Christian Britain

A Warning from the Death of Christian Britain

Craig Hazen’s comments in Biola Magazine on a book by Callum G. Brown titled The Death of Christian Britain should serve as both a warning and an encouragement to us:
There is another part of Brown’s study that is truly provocative. And that is the speed at which he claims this massive shift took place that discarded the national Christian identity. Upon his analysis, and against traditional theories, Brown believes Christianity was lost in a single generation and maybe in as little as a 10- or 20-year time span. His data is quite convincing on the question of the velocity of change. It was a catastrophic and abrupt cultural revolution. Of course, he then tried to paint a picture of how such a thing could happen so rapidly and he offered up a number of factors with special focus on the “feminization of Christianity.” But in his analysis he seemed stymied in one area: How could a whole nation just seem to wake up one morning and simply not believe anymore?
Brown’s training as a social historian, with expertise in counting and measuring people and behaviors, did not serve him well in his attempt to answer the question. But for those of us who study the history of ideas, the question isn’t quite as baffling. Christian beliefs and practices did stop relatively abruptly. But something that was not part of Brown’s study was that the intellectual seeds of Christianity’s demise had been sown for decades prior to this abrupt drop off. And these ideas that seem to render Christianity untrue and irrelevant came to full flower between 1960 and 1975 — a period of time that Brown identifies as the crucial period of demise. Atheist, agnostic, skeptical and pluralistic professors at all the great British universities had been hammering on the faith for years before this — and there were very few defenders in their midst. Indeed, one reason C.S. Lewis was such a standout in Britain in his day is that he was so unusual. There were very, very few believers willing to make an intelligent public case for Christianity — and that is still the situation today.
The great lesson to be learned is one that was taught by Richard Weaver decades ago: that “ideas have consequences.” Once the British people thought there were no good reasons to believe or practice Christianity, they stopped.
The work you do to learn about, explain, and defend good and true ideas is important. Keep at it!
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