The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article by Andrew Higgins titled: "The New Crusaders: As Religious Strife Grows, Europe's Atheists Seize Pulpit" (subscription required for full article). Its focus is on the rise of passionately "evangelistic" atheists in Europe, describing the growing popularity of zealous and militant "godless" humanists, who are seizing the moment to shape the identity of Europe.
The article argues that part of the reason for this zeal is the rising influence of Islam in Europe, but it points out, as well, an equally significant influence: The fact is that Europe is desperately seeking to define itself. As it grows in influence and power, it needs a strong identity that will hold together its many diverse and disparate elements.
As the article says:
As with many fights involving faith, Europe's struggle between belief and nonbelief is also a proxy for other, concrete issues that go far beyond the supernatural. In this case, they involve a battle to define the identity of a continent.
Half a century after the 1957 Treaty of Rome laid the foundations for the now 27-nation European Union, Europe has secured peace and prosperity. But it is deeply uncertain about what binds the bloc together beyond mere economic self-interest. Says Ms. [Karen] Armstrong: "There is a big fight going on to define European civilization."
Concerning this identity, Pope Benedict XVI has made some powerful statements recently about the unwillingness of European leaders to mention Europe's common "Christian" (Catholic) history. "How can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity?" he said, noting that the leaders of Europe are guilty of committing "a peculiar form of apostasy." (Click here to listen to a TW Special Report, with a great more detail about recent related Vatican comments.)
Shocking as it may seem to some, the Bible prophesied this "identity crisis" long ago, as well as its ultimate conclusion.
The growing European Union is pictured in prophecy as the feet of Nebuchadnezzar's statue, composed of iron and clay: "Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter's clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay" (Daniel 2:41-43).
It is in the days of this final kingdom of iron and clay that Christ will return and God's Kingdom will be established (v.44).
What force will eventually bind these hard-to-mix elements, this iron and clay? An identity rooted in religion. We are told in the book of Revelation that a woman, a great false religion, "rides" the Beast (Revelation 17:1-5). This religion and its powerful leader will appear to represent Christ the Lamb, but will teach doctrines of Satan the dragon (Revelation 13:11), and will point the people to the Beast, causing them to worship it (vv.12-15). It will do so until it is judged to have outlived its usefulness when the wrath of Christ comes, at which time the Beast will turn on the woman (Revelation 17:16).
The Bible not only predicted this struggle for the identity of Europe, it also predicts the winner, and it will not be secular humanists.
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