The Tyranny Of Secularism

Following the horrendous debacle of two world wars, new Europeans are attempting to build a new civilization on the ruins of the old. No longer able to imagine another Holocaust or a war among European nations, we look to the other side of the world for such destructive tyranny, to Tiananmen Square and the killing fields of Cambodia, or to the hills of Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia. Yet a culture which invented the word genocide to describe its destructive bent, is not going to give up its penchant for tyranny and persecution so easily 

The New Tyranny 

Realizing at last that weapons of mass destruction hinder economic growth, we no longer annihilate entire countries, nations or races, but in its place we have embraced a fully-fledged secularism far more devious and subtle than any previous tyranny. Destroying the human soul, secularism spreads its lethal poison through saturation advertising instead of saturation bombing and relies on ill-informed public opinion rather than ministries of propaganda to further its deadly message. 

Unlike all previous prosecutions, secularism strikes at the very heart of our humanity, destroying all that is special or unique about us. Proclaiming that we can organize our lives apart from God, it ends up alienating us from ourselves and our neighbors. It then demands that we submerge our differences and forget all that makes us unique. Individuality is sacrificed to fads and fashion and all signs of local and national character are swept away. Everything is sacrificed for the sake of economic and political efficiency. 

Secularism and the Church 

The pernicious power of secularism is clearly evident in its effect upon the Church. Being a popular attitude rather than an organized tyranny, it is more potent than any of the church's previous enemies, striking silently and unceasingly at the heart of the spiritual, not by making any direct assault upon religious belief or practice but by tolerating every form of religion, no matter how bizarre, as equally irrelevant to the real world. 

Unlike the former atheist regimes which tried to stamp out religion, secularism merely moves it off center stage into the private feelings of individuals where it can have little if any effect on either society or personal character. Blinding us to the supernatural, it confines our perceptions to organized mechanisms of political and economic systems over which we have no control. 

Unable to satisfy the religious feelings of a privatized people, organized religion has become irrelevant in a secular society, and no amount of tampering with the organization will make the slightest bit of difference. 

Our very souls are being destroyed and, contrary to the naiveté of certain ecclesiastics, they are not going to be saved by updating traditional forms of worship and ministry, nor by revamping traditional beliefs in order to appeal to a secularized world. Far from winning the world over to our side, such collusion with the enemy will only more thoroughly enslave us to the tyranny of secular values. As G.K. Chesterton once said of the sixteenth century reformers, in attempting to make the world Christian we will only succeed in making Christianity worldly. 

The Victory of the Human Spirit 

By going over to the enemy the church is now in disrepute, but the human spirit itself is not so easily deluded. Though secularism continues to kill the spirit, it rises again in every generation. For example, the ‘60s witnessed a resurgence of spiritual energy which failed for lack of direction, and the New Age attempt to rebirth paganism is another similar resurgence which will fail for lack of a sound theology. 

Nevertheless, these and other similar movements are the birth pangs of a new Age of Faith, for secularism has had its day and the secularists are beginning to know it. The secular heart has turned cold and its spirit depressed. A secular enlightenment has led to psychological darkness and a boredom which by now even the committed secularist is finding boring. 

A New Triumphalism 

In its spiritual despair the world is beginning to look to different forms of religion, but it is looking for a triumphal religion, not a despairing one, and it will only be interested in a church on the move, not a church in retreat. Those trying to escape from the secular darkness desire a way of affirmation, not a way of negation. And though it is true that every man-centered triumphalism leads eventually to the demonic spectacle of the Nuremberg rallies, a triumphalism centered on God will lift our spirit and restore our confidence. 

Confidence that we, with God’s grace, will throw off the dead shackles of secularism as we have already thrown off the terrors of former tyrannies.

He served as a parish priest in England and America, as well as teaching on the faculty of Marquette University and as Editor of the Christian World newspaper, which he started with Dr. William Oddie.

In retirement he served as Canon Theologian for the Diocese of Fort Worth, and was the founding Editor of Forward in Christ magazine. Throughout his ordained life he tirelessly proclaimed, defended and lived the catholic faith as received by Anglicanism.

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