The statistics on Catholic Church commitment continue to cause shock and dismay. The chart illustrating this post comes from Professor Stephen Bullivant the author of Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and USA Since Vatican 2
While it is commonplace to blame the Second Vatican Council for the Catholic Church’s decline and fall in the West, the reasons for the disastrous decay of Catholic Christianity is not simply Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council was the result of over 500 years of philosophical, theological, political, cultural and technological tumult. Put very simply, Europeans (and by extension North Americans) have been dealing with a revolution in world view which goes right to the roots of how we perceive everything. It is a clash between the old worldview in which there was a natural and a supernatural realm and the modern, secular, materialistic worldview in which there is only the natural, physical realm or an ersatz, alternative reality produced by the techno-entertainment masters.
This transition has jolted the European experience over the last 500 years and it is this clash in worldviews that has sparked what I call “The Age of Revolution”. This “Age of Revolution” has unfolded over the last 500 years and we are now living at the climax of the struggle. I believe we are at a turning point which explains the uncertainty, chaos and tumult of our time. We are unsure what we believe. We don’t know where to turn. We realize the materialism and atheism into which we have fallen does not satisfy and does not provide the answers to the great questions. However, we also realize that simply turning back to a pre-enlightenment worldview is impossible. Where do we go? What future can we build? What philosophy and theology will work? What religion will work?
Why are so many abandoning the established religions? Because they are not religion anymore. They are a sentimental blend of therapy, moralism and vague spirituality.
I believe in the future of faith and I believe we are on the threshold of something new and exciting. I believe this because I believe the promises of Christ the Lord and I believe in the gift of the Holy Spirit. While I have ideas of where we are going and what the future looks like for the church I have no easy answers.
All of this is what I will be exploring in my new six part online, real time teaching session The Catholic Church in an Age of Revolution. If you want to join in go here to learn more about it.