I read this article last Thursday but I am only now getting around to writing about it.
The April 12, 2007, Wall Street Journal ran an article by Andrew Higgins on its front page that grabbed my attention: “The New Crusaders: As Religious Strife Grows, Europe’s Atheists Seize Pulpit” with the subheading “Islam’s Rise Gives Boost To Militant Unbelievers; The Celebrity Hedonist.” You should be able to read it here. (If I am wrong and a subscription is required, let me know in the comments and I will provide another link that should work. EDIT: I have been told that a subscription is, indeed, required. Here is a longer excerpt, but it looks like that a subscription is needed to read the whole shebang.)
The article’s focus is on the rise of passionately evangelistic atheists in Europe. (Ms. Karen Armstrong, a former nun and prominent religious author calls the trend “missionary secularism.”) In particular, a popular hedonist, Michael Onfray, is prominently featured in the article…
“Mr. Onfray argues that atheism faces a ‘final battle’ against ‘theological hocus-pocus’ and must rally its troops. ‘We can no longer tolerate neutrality and benevolence,’ he writes in ‘Traité d’athéologie,’ or Atheist Manifesto, a best seller in France, Italy and Spain. ‘The turbulent time we live in suggests that change is at hand and the time has come for a new order.'”
The article argues (and rightly so) that a great motivation for the passion of these militant atheists is the growing influence of Islam in Europe.
However, to limit the phenomenon to this as its driving force would be too simplistic, and thankfully the article does not. The fact is that Europe is seeking to define itself. As it grows in influence and power, it needs an identity — something that will hold together its many different and diverse elements.
Pope Benedict XVI has made some powerful statements recently concerning the unwillingness of European leaders to mention Europe’s “Christian” (Catholic) history. The WSJ article quotes part of his comments: “How can they exclude an element as essential to the identity of Europe as Christianity?” He says that the leaders of Europe are guilty of committing “a peculiar form of apostasy.” (Click here to listen to a TW Special Report, with a great more detail about recent related Vatican comments.)
The most profound statement in the article, in my opinion, is this (emphasis mine):
“As with many fights involving faith, Europe’s struggle between belief and nonbelief is also a proxy for other, concrete issues that go far beyond the supernatural. In this case, they involve a battle to define the identity of a continent.
“Half a century after the 1957 Treaty of Rome laid the foundations for the now 27-nation European Union, Europe has secured peace and prosperity. But it is deeply uncertain about what binds the bloc together beyond mere economic self-interest. Says Ms. Armstrong: ‘There is a big fight going on to define European civilization.’“
Indeed, there is. Into this “identity gap” contenders may flood to fill the hole. But prophecy says there will be one winner.
The growing European Union is pictured in prophecy as the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, composed of iron and clay:
“Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.”
It is in the days of this final kindgom of iron and clay that Christ will return and God’s Kingdom will be established (v.44).
Europe will need something to hold it together, and prophecy tells us that it is the woman who rides the beast (Revelation 17:1-5). This woman represents a great false religion that has spawned many additional false religions (v.5). This religion and its powerful leader will appear to represent Christ, the Lamb, but will teach doctrines of Satan, the dragon (Rev. 13:11). It is this religious power that will point the people to the Beast, causing them to worship it (vv.12-15). It will do so until it is judged to have outlived its usefulness when the wrath of Christ comes, at which time the beast will turn on the woman (Rev. 17:16).
The Bible not only predicted this struggle for the identity of Europe, it also predicted the winner. This most ancient of texts provides powerful insight into the headlines we see today!
[If you are really interested in understanding what the inspired word of God says about the battle for the soul of Europe and how the outcome of this battle will affect you and your family, please consider ordering some of our free booklets. Here are some of our booklets relating to these topics in particular:
- Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled
- The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor, or Soon-Coming Reality?
- Who or What Is the Antichrist?
All of them can be ordered free of charge by clicking here. Or, click on the picture below of each booklet to read a simplified online version (some of the charts avaialble in the print versions may not be avaialble in the HTML versions):
The Bible has a lot to say about our future. Don’t miss out!]