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The Disenchantment of the West: Why Christianity is Waning in the United States and Europe

 

The Disenchantment of the West

Image: Oskars Sylwan

It seems that this declension could be traced to a pervading skepticism. For centuries, Western Christianity has questioned the viability of the supernatural. Although individuals appreciate the stupendous biblical accounts, many are convinced that those encounters are not replicable.[13]

Max Weber lamented that “The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization, and, above all, by the ‘disenchantment of the world.’”[14] With scientific rationalism and advanced technology, there is no longer a sense of awe.

Stark concurs, suggesting that Europe and North America no longer “experiences the world as ‘enchanted’—Westerners no longer live in a world of spirits, demons, and moral forces.”[15]

Joining this chorus, Peter Kreeft writes:

The master heresy of our civilization, our culture, our times, is not terribly new. It’s been around for well over a century or two.  One … called it Modernism, and it’s basically the loss of the supernatural, which means either loss of belief in the supernatural, to the loss of the sense of the supernatural.”[16]

While the Church is advancing in much of the world, it is diminishing in the West—due to skepticism about the supernatural.

Commenting on this travesty, missionary-evangelist Randy Clark made the following remarks:

North America along with Western Europe has long been considered by some to be the Nazareth of the Church world. We are a nation of skeptics, and proud of it. Regardless of the evangelist that I have spoken with, I hear the same report; they do not see the same degree of healing and miracles here that they do in other non-western countries.[17]

George Otis Jr., who has been documenting revivals for over twenty years, believes that stagnation has gripped the West. Of the 800 awakenings that he has recorded, only two have occurred in North America. Otis writes:

Since my colleagues and I began studying transformed communities in the mid-1990s, we encountered nearly 800 examples. Astonishingly, as of late 2011, only two of these could be found in the borders of the United States, with only one other possible case in all of sub-Artic North America. I know of no recent instances of transforming revival in Europe, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia, or New Zealand. As a researcher, I have to at least wonder about this ratio. How can it be that within the entire range of Western society and culture we can define only two definitive cases of transforming revival?[18]

The reason Western leaders are not keeping up with their counterparts in the East and global South is that they are hesitant about charismata. For the most part, Christians in the industrialized world are opposed to the supernatural.

 

Conclusion

While evangelists in the Majority World provoke the imagination of the masses, Western preachers are trying to persuade with politics, moralism,[19] and hollow philosophical arguments. Leaders from the emerging world give the people something to see and hear, and all we do is placate and talk.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2018

About the Author: J.D. King is an instructor at Revival Training Center, an independent researcher, and presently serves as a pastor at World Revival Church in Kansas City, Missouri. His pastoral work has provided regular opportunities to create case studies and conduct in-depth research on healing methodologies.

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