The idea that Europe is no longer Christian is no surprise to anyone. Secularists have long been telling us that we no longer believe and church attendance would seem to bear that out. So how bad is it?
Patrick Johnstone in The Future of the Global Church writes,
“A ‘Christian’ continent in 1900. Are we witnessing the death of Europe’s civilization? A high degree of nominalism, increasing secularization and growing influence of liberal theology, and disillusion and cynicism following two world wars led to massive decline in church attendance.
Increasing pluralism (as a result of immigration and experimentation with new religious ideas), growth of Islam at a time when the Church was discouraged and divided, and rejection of absolutes in society under the banner of ‘tolerance’ resulted in marginalization of Christianity. By 2050, Christians will make up less than 50% of the ageing population, with most being nominal in their adherence.”
There are plenty of books on how and why Europe became secular, how a continent ‘lost God’ and all the evidence shows that the rate of unbelief or non-belief is growing faster in Europe than anywhere else and the church is declining faster here than anywhere else.
He goes on to say,
“Europe’s slower growth rate turned into absolute decline by 1980. This has rapidly accelerated and is likely to far exceed even the general population decline.”
“According to official figures, 23% of Europeans profess to be non-religious, but polls suggest that the true figure is more like 51%, of whom 31% once had some link with a church but no longer do so. However, of the 40% who claim to be Christians, only about 16% have any current involvement in church life.
The solemn fact is that over half of all Europeans are loosely termed ‘Christian’ but have either rejected Christianity or have no meaningful relationship with it. Truly, Europe is the ‘prodigal’ continent!”