One of the major headlines this past weekend was about Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Spain where he admonished Spain’s resistance to church structure and lamented about Spain’s emerging secularization:
“In Spain, a strong, aggressive laicity, an anti-clericalism, a secularization has been born as we experienced in the 1930’s,”
The Associated Press article about Benedict’s comments described 1930s Spain as a time “when the church suffered a wave of violence and ill feeling as the country lurched from an unstable democracy to civil war”.
- While Spain is not experiencing a civil war now, it is enduring an economic crisis and is becoming more political instability as a result of its economic crisis. Therefore, Spaniards are departing from the faith at a time of crisis similar to another time of crisis when Spaniards also departed from the faith.
However, the point of this article is not talk about Spain exclusively. Benedict’s comparison of Spain today and Spain of the 1930s gave me the idea to talk about how people many people are likely going to depart from the Christian faith as times get tougher.
I expect the upcoming economic, political, social, and eventually geopolitical turmoil to have an extremely detrimental effect on many Christians’ faith. The reason I am pessimistic about many Christians’ ability to maintain their faith is that history has shown that people tend to turn away from the Christian faith during difficult times…
People tend to get disconnected from traditional religious beliefs as the world they know falls apart around them. Several segments from a Third Reich and Occult DVD collection I own spoke about how many Europeans lost interest in traditional Christian beliefs and became interested in alternative spiritual beliefs (the occult) as the world they knew rapidly transformed into something unrecognizable in the early 20th century:
- There was a lot of social and economic upheaval as the economies of many European countries went from agricultural-based economies to industrial-based economies.
- Many scientific advances and theories challenged many traditional religious beliefs.
The traditional way of living life and understanding the world was obliterated in a short period of time. The traditional Christian faith seemed to lack relevance for people in the rapidly changing and increasingly difficult world to live in.
I also own a DVD collection about Adolf Hitler which contains several eye witness accounts of what it was like to live in Germany before and during the time when Hitler was in power. One of the eye witness accounts came from a German woman named Isa Vermehren, a former actress turned nun who noted how many Germans lost their connection with religion. Vermehren described how Hitler’s fiery rhetoric helped fill a religious void that developed as a result of all the turmoil and change in German society (defeat in war, hyperinflation, political instability, etc):
“All this was most seductive for people in Germany. We were living in an ideological vacuum. We didn’t have a Kaiser. Our national pride had been wounded. A large part of the population had lost touch with religion. For many people it was a substitute for religion which inspired huge enthusiasm and unleashed vast reserves of energy…” 1
The examples above suggest that people tend to question or lose their faith when they encounter a difficult period in their life. What is going to make the upcoming turmoil ahead especially challenging for Christians is that it is likely going to last for a long period of time. We are likely going see crisis after crisis develop in many countries in relatively rapid succession: from an economic and financial crisis, to a societal crisis, to a political crisis, and then to a geopolitical crisis.
As we approach this prolonged period of turmoil it will be vital to remember that the events around us (good and bad) must happen and that God is still in control no matter how bad life gets. Recall that Christ noted that all these upcoming troubling events “must come to pass”
(5) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (6) And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (8) All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matt 24:5-8)
In addition, recall that there must be a falling away/a departing of faith before the Antichrist is revealed.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (1 Tim 4:1)”
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (2 Thess 2:3)
Therefore, do not be surprised if people you know lose faith as global conditions deteriorate in the future. Try your best to not to be one of the many people who lose faith too, and if you can, try to restore the faith of those who doubt in the face of a prolonged period of crisis after crisis.