What Replaces Christianity? | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | CWR
A general outline of what is replacing Christianity as the public order of the old Christendom and its overseas enclaves
We often hear expressions like “the post-Christian era” to describe the time we live in. Just as Christianity preserved many pagan practices, a “post-Christian era” will retain many Christian customs and ideas. They will usually be disguised under different names or explanations. We will notice a pseudo-heaven and hell, an explanation for sin not based on free will, an inner-worldly immortality of sorts, an evil and a good in Manichean fashion.
But a post-Christian age will invent new names and explanations for them. It will logically “develop” ideas into a new form or synthesis that is anything but Christian. To know what a post-Christian era might mean, no doubt, it is helpful to know what Christianity is and maintains. And this knowledge, in spite of the General Catechism, is not easy to come by today. We used to talk of Christian “heresies”. These were explanations of one or other Christian idea in a different, erroneous, or inaccurate way. But the heretic generally did not disagree with the whole corpus of Christian ideas. In fact, he thought he was giving a better explanation of those ideas and beliefs.
What “replaces” Christianity, we can assume, will want to appear to itself, at least, to be logically coherent. It will claim to explain human life and its earthly condition, usually in what is called a “scientific” way. Indeed, that will be one of its basic propositions, namely, that everything can be explained by scientific method. What cannot be so explained will be said not to exist, or not to be worth studying. Scientific method itself depends on quantity and mathematics based on it. If reality also contains things that are not quantifiable, that can be reached by other methods, these facts will be denied or ignored.
What are the most obvious tenets to a world-view that replaces Christianity? I would begin by pointing out that other world-views like Islam, which also intend to replace Christianity, have remained pretty much consistent with themselves over the centuries. It is true that Islam can be considered a New Testament, or better Old Testament heresy. Most of its ideas were present in some form before its arrival on the scene in the seventh century. And Islam is indeed one of the major candidates to replace Christianity in many parts of the world, as it did in the early years of the Muslim conquest of Persia, North Africa, the Holy Land, and across the central Asian plains to parts of India.
One way to look at this issue would be to consult birth-rates among various nations and peoples.