Christianity News & Commentary

The Death of Cultural Christianity

"Queen Elizabeth’s generation had lost the faith but kept the forms of Christianity. It was a generation who knew the value of Christian values and believed in the life of Jesus as an exemplar, but who didn’t really believe."

In mid-44 BC, several months after the assassination of Julius Caesar and during public games in his honour, a week-long comet display was visible in Rome. Called Caesar’s Comet, it became the most famous comet of antiquity and a sign to the pagan Romans that Caesar had been accepted into the pantheon of gods. 

The educated elite in Rome didn’t believe in such superstitious nonsense, of course. The uneducated proles did though, and it was a politically useful symbol for Caesar’s successors. 

We in the postmodern West don’t believe in such superstitious nonsense either, but were we to see a comet display over London any time soon then well may we see it as a portent of just how significant the death of Queen Elizabeth II is for our time. 

Like Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, there is nothing new under the sun. 

Future historians will identify the death of Elizabeth II as a key marker for the decline of the Anglo-Saxons. For two hundred years Britain and then her errant daughter America ruled first the waves, then the air, then the airwaves and finally the stars. As with Rome, it may only be once the empire is a distant memory that future foreigners appreciate just how singular and mighty the Anglo-American imperium has been. 

Perhaps you think that is too bleak, and seeing the death of Elizabeth II as a harbinger of impending imperial collapse is a bridge too far. Perhaps you still think the collapse of Western societies is impossible. 

If so, perhaps you’re not paying attention. 

The cultural order that the royal family, and particularly the queen herself, embodied, is dissipating as you read this. The foundations of Western civilisation, drawn from Greek reason and Roman governance made just and good through the refining fire of Christianity, have been systematically demolished by a neo-Marxist identity cult that sees its end goal in sight – the destruction of the West. 

These are dark and perilous times, and assuming that our grandchildren will inhabit a society at all similar to what we grew up in is delusional. Our society is moving from order, reason and common civility to disorder, hysteria and universal mistrust faster than any of us thought possible. We can see this even in the queen’s own family. 

How could members of the royal family have become so vulgar and so debased so quickly? 

How could this happen in what is presumed to be England’s most Christian family? 

If Christianity has power to save and to redeem, and it does, then how can the family of the head of the Anglican church have become such a debauched trainwreck? 

To answer this question, we must be willing to be honest with ourselves about what public Christianity became in the West during the twentieth century. We must return to the simple truths of what it means to be a Christian and evaluate where we might have gone wrong. Here goes. 

A Christian is a person who fears God and remains in relationship with Him through Jesus Christ and who also walks out that relationship in his or her dealings with others. We must love God with everything we have and reflect that love in our love for our neighbours. This is the royal law of love commanded us to obey directly by Jesus (Mark 12:28-31). 

As you can see, this light yoke given us by Jesus has two parts. The first requires faith in the metaphysical reality of the existence of God. We must know Him. The second requires us to live as Jesus lived and lay down ourselves for others that they may see Jesus in us and believe. We must live like Him. 

Christianity is not about being a ‘good person.’ It is not about being nice. Those are shallow and superficial understandings of the faith. Christianity is about having a relationship with the celestial king of kings, the Creator God who will one day sit in judgement on the living and the dead. 

If you don’t have the first part, the second is meaningless. 

Was Queen Elizabeth II saved by grace through faith and washed clean and made righteous by the blood of the Lamb? We don’t know. We never can. As Elizabeth’s 16th-century namesake famously said in an effort to end the wars of religion ripping England apart, “I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls.” We can’t know if another person is saved. 

We can, however, look for fruit as evidence of salvation (Matthew 7:15-19). We can also read the queen’s public statements about her faith and see what they reveal about her beliefs. Many conservative commentators have been praising the queen’s annual Christmas and Easter messages as paragons of Christian expression, so they’re as good a place as any to look. 

Here’s an excerpt from the queen’s 2016 Christmas address: 

“Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.(emphasis added)

This is not a statement a Christian would make. Belief is not unimportant for a Christian when talking about Jesus. It is everything. 

What we see evident again and again in the queen’s public statements regarding her faith is what we can call cultural Christianity. It’s a form of Christianity that places sole emphasis on the second part of the royal law of love; but by abandoning the first, it makes itself null and void. 

This is not intended as a personal critique of Queen Elizabeth II. She was, after all, a woman of her time. The cultural Christianity we saw evident in the speeches and actions of the queen were reflective of the faith of most in her generation.

My own grandparents, each born a few years after the queen, shared her beliefs. It was common among both the Greatest and Silent Generations, and it is my argument that it played a key part in triggering the spiritual rebellion and abandonment of Christian belief displayed so publicly by the postwar Boomers. They knew their parents didn’t really know and fear this God they talked about. So why not just be authentic and live free, man? 

Queen Elizabeth’s generation had lost the faith but kept the forms of Christianity. It was a generation who knew the value of Christian values and believed in the life of Jesus as an exemplar, but who didn’t really believe

Those who grew up in the first half of the 20th century were impacted by two enormous and contradictory forces which shattered Christian conviction for the majority of them. The first was the horror and suffering of World Wars I and II and the Depression. The second was the spread of technological marvels such as radio, the automobile, electricity, flight and telephony. 

The first force made many raised Christian begin to doubt God’s provision. How could God allow their brothers, fathers and uncles to face the horrors of the trenches? Where was God then? 

The second made them think they didn’t need God. Man could save himself. Technology and science were humanity’s saviours. Who needs God then? 

These trends have been ongoing and have led us to this current civilisational impasse. We still tolerate cultural Christianity in our politicians, public intellectuals and even church leaders, and then we wonder why our faith has no power to roll back the darkness spreading over the land. 

We can’t afford cultural Christianity anymore. The hobgoblins of postmodern Marxism are breathing down our children’s necks. Tyrants are laughing at nostalgic ideas like ‘rights’ and ‘the rule of law’ as they implement utopian political agendas which will forever erase our liberties. Foreign powers scoff at our ineffectual and deluded rulers, eyeing the rich territories our ancestors conquered and civilised. Brokenness is everywhere, injustice goes unpunished and the hearts of even the children are hardened by sin. 

Cultural Christianity made empty shells of those who follow the faith. It has to go. We need to truly believe again, or there is no hope at all. 

For those of us who attend church and identify as Christian but don’t experience the reality of a lived relationship with Jesus, pray harder. Don’t give up. Mean it. He’s there, he really is. He’s more real than the nose on your face, and the life He has stored up for you is better than anything you could ever come up with. Find it. 

Christians must also demand more of those who lead the flock and govern the nation. If a man or woman seeks to put themselves forward as a Christian leader, they must proclaim and display Jesus and his truth boldly before we believe them. No more fork-tongued double-talkers. There has to be fruit. No more letting fake phonies get some photos taken at Hillsong with their hands in the air to get our votes. No more confusing worldly conservatism with Godly faith. 

Don’t be fools like Eve. Don’t listen to the serpents. Be wiser than the wolves. 

Jesus commanded us to be wise, and in this we have failed. Our splintering families and destabilised society are the result. 

We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Do we have the confidence to truly believe that anymore? If we don’t shine his light and seek him daily to maintain our purity, what hope is there for the nation? For any of us? 

The material world our immediate ancestors put their faith in is crumbling to dust. The idols are falling. Judgement is coming for Sodom. 

The queen is dead. Forever live the King!