IAN Boyne's treatise on the perceived demise of Christianity, the subject of his In Focus column of November 4, was certainly thought-provoking. As with the cyclical historic decline of other great world powers, Christianity is destined to eventually regain its pre-eminence as the world's greatest influence for peace among all humanity.
Western history is replete with the decline of temporal superpowers, notably the Greco-Roman Empire, the Portuguese and British empires, and America's diminishing global influence while maintaining technological superiority in all spheres of human endeavour. Conversely, the rise of China, India, Russia and other Asian countries demonstrates the shift in the balance of power from West to East, also enveloping Africa.
The example is relevant though materialistic, when compared to the spiritual experience throughout the ebb and flow of time. Christianity's prescription for peace, love and equality among the world's citizens is unequalled. It has withstood the test of 2000 years and will continue until climate change or nuclear devastation engulfs the planet.
The increase in the number of unbelievers demonstrates two of God's greatest gifts, namely intellect and free will, which endow mankind with the ability to choose their ultimate destiny, with or without the guidance of religious belief. No greater freedom exists, and how it is employed is the responsibility of each individual when life's journey ends. It gives true meaning to the popular fast-food slogan: "Have it your way!"
By example, Boyne refers to a Pew Centre poll which states: "The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the US public and a third of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentage ever in Pew Centre polling. Their ranks include more than 13 million atheists and agnostics - nearly six per cent of the population and nearly 33 million people who have no particular religious affiliation. Astonishing indeed, so it causes you to ask, is the next "progressive" change to be the removal of the prayer "In God we Trust" from the national currency? These fundamental considerations seriously affect the future determinant of the "American Dream".
Since time immemorial, children were brought up under the strong influence of their parents when the structured family unit prevailed. With the disintegration of the nuclear family, some children are left to fend for themselves, and many fall under the malevolent influence of their peers, which frequently results in gang membership of one kind or another. Consequently, the difference between right and wrong has never been cast in the process of character-building. Religious Christianity, therefore, has little bearing on their lives, giving way to the shallow "pop culture" that consistently changes with each new trend. This scenario is responsible for today's political appeasement in the name of "freedom" as illustrated by excessive liberalism, most of which results in social toxic political mandates that are anathema to the religious community.
Christian religion has, as stated above, withstood the test of time and many have been martyred in defence of the faith. On reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, still the largest Christian Universal Church in the world, "we can perceive the wonderful unity of the mystery of God, his saving will, as well as the central place of Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, sent by the Father, made man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be our Saviour. Having died and risen, Christ is always present in his church, especially in the sacraments; he is the source of our faith, the model of Christian conduct, and the Teacher of our prayer". This emphasises the observation of a senior Jesuit cleric, now deceased, that "the faithful attend church to pray, not to be entertained". The church has to tread carefully not to overstep the mark between entertainment and grandiosely improving the scope of the Liturgy.
The following briefly describes the life of the greatest Leader who is with His church till the end of time.
"Many years ago in a remote village there was born to a humble peasant woman a son.
He never read a book. He never went to school. He never even travelled more than 300 miles from the place where He was born. In truth, He was never associated with those things to which we usually attribute greatness. At 12 years of age He went to work. He became a carpenter.
As a young man, He gathered small groups before him to discuss the problems of the day. When he was 30, because of His ideals and His philosophy, He was betrayed and forced to stand trial for His very life. When a friend denied Him, He was declared guilty and condemned to death.
To add further to His betrayal and misery, He was hanged between two thieves. But even through the pain and the mockery of the crowd, He had words of solace for His companions in death."
Centuries have come and gone, and yet it is beyond question or dispute that all the armies that have ever been built, all the navies that have sailed the seas, the men who rule, the kings, the emperors, the presidents - together with the parliaments and the congresses - have not contributed as much to the civilisation of mankind as this one solitary figure - the greatest leader of them all - Jesus of Nazareth.