Last week the people of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. It is a major decision, and it seems to have split Britain itself in twain.
One wonders many things:
What might the “Brexit” vote have to do with the major migration of Muslim people into northwestern Europe?
Would the “Remain” campaign have won had not the Scots recently decided to stay a part of Britain? (And was anyone calling that vote “Scexit”? Sounds like something from The Dark Crystal.)
Are continental Europeans freaked out about losing the British?
And for me, there is the completely fantastical question: ‘What if the church decided to get out of the world-running business?’
It’s fantastical because, of course, there will never be anything like an official vote on “CHEXIT.”
The seat which church occupies at the table of societal and cultural leadership is getting increasingly crowded out, but it’s more of a ‘Cheviction’ or a ‘Chembarrassment.’
No, the church’s ouster from societal power is happening slowly and tendentiously, but not imperceptibly. The sun does not suddenly disappear from the evening sky, but if you pay direct attention to a sunset, you can almost see it happening before your eyes. And as it sets, the sun seems to assert its right to glow with all its intensity to the very last, before it finally gives way and goes under the Pacific Ocean or the western hills.
That is how the church is going out of social prominence in America: slowly, but noticeably.
For someone like me, with major anabaptistic leanings, this is not a very bad thing. Or at least, there is much about it that seems good. And yet, I too feel the culture shock every time I notice the growing shadows. What rattles me, though, is not the church losing societal or cultural influence. It’s the horrible misperceptions of Christians, Christianity and the Bible that attend each loss of a fingerhold. But that is a subject for a different time.
For the moment, I am just pondering again how the church is going to handle—is handling—its waning prominence in American society. Maybe we won’t celebrate it much. But maybe we can be glad about the fact that it just might have something to do with the call of God.
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, My people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities….”
— Revelation 18:1-5