BreakPoint: Continental Suicide

“The Strange Death of Europe” and European Christianity

What happens when a civilization forgets—or rejects—its roots? We’re seeing it right now. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

“Europe is committing suicide. Or at least it leaders have decided to commit suicide.” Those are the opening words of Douglas Murray’s controversial best-seller, “The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.”

What Murray means when he says that Europe is “committing suicide” is that “the civilization we know as Europe is in the process of committing suicide.” It’s a fate that neither his native “Britain nor any other Western European country can avoid . . . because [they] all appear to suffer from the same symptoms and maladies.”

It’s Murray’s diagnosis of these “symptoms and maladies” that should interest Christians.

As the subtitle suggests, Murray’s book covers much of the same ground as other recent books by authors such as Mark Steyn, Bruce Bawer, and the French novelist Michel Houellebecq. These books seek to warn readers about the threat to European institutions and values posed by mass Islamic immigration.

While Murray is, to put it mildly, skeptical about the possibility of successfully assimilating millions of Muslim immigrants and their children, this mass migration alone wasn’t enough to cause the “strange death” alluded to in his title.

As Murray tells readers, “even the mass movement of millions of people into Europe would not sound such a final note for the continent were it not for the fact that (coincidentally or otherwise) at the same time Europe lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy.”

In other words, it is mass Islamic immigration plus Europe’s spiritual exhaustion—my words not his—that threaten to put an end to European civilization.

And at the heart of the loss of faith Murray cites is Europe’s turning its back on Christianity.

In one chapter he writes about a sense shared by many European intellectuals, including himself, that “life in modern liberal democracies is to some extent thin or shallow and that life in modern Western Europe in particular has lost its sense of purpose.”

According to Murray, “Here is an inheritance of thought and culture and philosophy and religion which has nurtured people for thousands of years and may well fulfill you too.”

The “religion” Murray refers to is, of course, Christianity, which he calls the “source” of European ideas about rights, laws, and the institutions that protect them. He tells his secularized readers that “There is no reason why the inheritor of a Judeo-Christian civilization and Enlightenment Europe should spend much, if any, of their time warring with those who still hold the faith from which so many of those beliefs and rights spring.”

He also derides the varieties of “European Christianity [that] have lost the confidence to proselytize or even believe in their own message.” This lack of confidence, in Murray’s estimation, is why some young Europeans turn to Islam, which doesn’t suffer from the sense that “the story has run out.”

What makes Murray’s account especially interesting is that he is a self-described atheist. His reasons for disbelief aren’t particularly persuasive, but that doesn’t negate his much-needed reminder of Europe’s debt to Christianity and how its rejection of its Christian past threatens its future. The same, of course, could be said about America.

As Murray writes, “If being ‘European’ is not about race—as we hope it is not—then it is even more imperative that it is about ‘values.’ This is what makes the question ‘What are European values?’ so important.”

It’s a question that can’t be answered without first acknowledging the source of those values.

 

Continental Suicide: “The Strange Death of Europe” and European Christianity

Eric presents a sober warning about what may be coming to the Church in America. Europe’s rejection of its Christian heritage has led to serious consequences for many of that continent’s countries.  For more on this subject, check out the links in our “Resources” section.

Resources

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam
  • Douglas Murray | Bloomsbury Continuum Publishers | June 2017
European Suicide, Spiritual and Physical: One Follows the Other
  • John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | May 10, 2016
Is There a Europe without Christianity?: A Continental Divide
  • John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | April 29, 2016

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Phoenix1977

    “The “religion” Murray refers to is, of course, Christianity, which he calls the “source” of European ideas about rights, laws, and the institutions that protect them.”
    Really? Than please explain why our educational system, our laws, our medicine, our court system, etc. resemble the Greek and Roman systems of old more than they did the systems in place at the high days of Christianity?

    “As Murry writes, “If being ‘European’ is not about race—as we hope it is not—then it is even more imperative that it is about ‘values.’ This is what makes the question ‘What are European values?’ so important.””
    And that’s something Murray, and pretty much everyone else addressing this issue, has wrong. People in Europe don’t feel themselves European. We are first and foremost Dutch, German, British, French, Spanish, Greek, Croatian, Italian and go on like that. The average person in Europe despises the European Union while our politicians are determined to move forward with it, piece by piece tearing down our national identities. There are no “European values” anymore than there are “Europeans”. And trying to shove us some “values without borders” down our throat the more we resist and the less likely it is the social experiment called European Union will ever succeed.

    • Steve

      It is nice to hear that you are opposed to the European Union, which is anti-nationalistic and tries to treat every culture the same, which they are not.
      I would think you would agree, however, that the cultures in Europe have more in common with each other than they do with Islam. For instance, their laws, courts, medicine etc are far different from that of Muslim cultures.
      Although ancient Greece and Rome were some of the first civilized societies that introduced many advances into the world, It is incorrect to say that Christianity was not equally or more important.
      The fundamental idea that each individual is important arises from the Judeo-Christian maxim of the Imago Dei–that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God and that each individual has inherent self worth and dignity. From that conception, which was not the case in the Greco-Roman atheistic cultures, all of the advancements in Western Civilization are based. Medicine, law, education all derive from that.
      You won’t find that in atheistic based cultures. It is considered heretical in Islam.
      The rights that you and I both enjoy in Western Civilizations all flow from that.
      You may have noticed that ancient Greco-Roman civilization is gone and Christian based civilizations remain for now.

      • Phoenix1977

        “I would think you would agree, however, that the cultures in Europe have more in common with each other than they do with Islam.”
        No, they don’t. Spain shows more resemblance to Morocco than it does to France and Greece has more in common with Turkey than it does with Hungary or Austria. The Netherlands pretty much blends in with everyone because we hardly have a distinctive culture. As the traders of the world we learned having an own culture hurts your business opportunities.
        But more importantly, there is no true trust between the EU member states. There has been too much war between the separate European Countries to make it possible we will ever be a unity. At best we will work together but there will never be a federal Europe, no matter how much our politicians push for it. The last federal country politicians tried to forge in Europe was Yugoslavia and that ended with the bloodiest civil war Europe has ever seen.

        “The fundamental idea that each individual is important arises from the Judeo-Christian maxim of the Imago Dei–that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God and that each individual has inherent self worth and dignity. From that conception, which was not the case in the Greco-Roman atheistic cultures, all of the advancements in Western Civilization are based. Medicine, law, education all derive from that.”
        Sorry, but that is simply not true. The idea of organised education is Roman, not Christian. There is a reason why doctors still swear the Hippocratic Oath without a bible in sight and the entire basis op hypothesis-driven science is Greek in origin. Independent judges were a Roman invention and the Catholic Church tried very hard to replace that by a Church-guided judicial system, not unlike Sharia-law. And the current idea of that every individual is important stems from the Renaissance as was first seen in the French Revolution, a quite terrible time for Christianity in Europe. Not to mention all modern civil rights, from voting rights for women to marriage equality, are all from a time of post-Christian dominance while the church did everything in it’s power to prevent these rights from distributed.

        “You may have noticed that ancient Greco-Roman civilization is gone and Christian based civilizations remain for now.”
        “For now” being the keyword here. All empires rise and fall. It’s almost a law of nature. Rome lasted for centuries before it was split in two because of Christianity. The West Roman Empire, which is now Western-Europe, went down pretty quickly after that and feel apart into all separate little countries and tribes. The East Roman Empire rejected Christianity and stayed around for another 1000 years until it was defeated by the Ottoman Empire. Just as the Chinese Empire crumbled after thousands of years due to Communism and the Japanese Empire went down after siding with Nazi Germany. Britannia stopped ruling the waves over time and the Dutch business empire never regained it’s glory after the 17th century.
        Christianity already lost it’s dominance over the world politics, being replaced by secularism in both Europe and the American continent. In Asia Buddhism and Hinduism are reclaiming it’s dominant position after Christianity is losing ground there and in the Middle-East Islam proves to be the one and only religion of consequence there. I don’t think Christianity will disappear completely but it will have less influence of things that matter. Your grandchildren and their children will probably never understand how Christianity had such an impact on the world, either because of atheism or another religion that has become dominant on this planet. In medicine we see often what we now see in Christianity: a last revival before the body gives up and the patient dies.

        • Steve

          Phoenix,
          You seem desperate to see the downfall of Christianity. I know you personally hate Christians who were mean to you, but really?
          You do realize that the early Christians actually saved Rome initially until it decayed from within and that Christianity maintained culture through the Middle Ages. The French Revolution was actually perpetrated by secularists as they wished to kill every last priest. Look at the difference in brutality between the French and American revolutions. One driven by the quest for freedom of religion (American) and one to put down religion (French).
          Why don’t we look at the positive side, if you can.
          Name one religion that has started more schools, hospitals and missions than Christianity.
          Name one Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu worldwide charity off the top of your head. (no cheating on the internet…)
          Tell me what group of people while getting persecuted by the Romans were actually saving infant Roman girls who were put out after birth to die by “exposure” (infanticide by neglect to the weather.)
          Name the religion other than Christianity that founded all of the ivy League universities in America (ok, the answer is none.)
          Name a religion that goes into poverty and disaster stricken countries more than Christianity to save people neglected or even murdered by their own governments.
          Name the faith of William Wilberforce, who nearly single handedly effected the end of the slave trade in the British Empire (which was started in Africa by Muslims)
          What religion did Mother Theresa follow as she gave up everything to care for the poor in India?
          Sure there are some bad Christians and some large institutional mistakes that have been made by humans who run those institutional religions.
          As Europe is overrun by Islam, I would hate to be a gay man living under Sharia law. Tell me with a straight face that you would be comfortable with that.
          It is strange that you say that civil rights are post-Christian when the leading spokesperson for civil rights in the US, Martin Luther King Jr., based his “Letter from a Birmingham jail” on the writings of Augustin and Aquinas.
          You said Christianity will have less dominance on things that “matter.” For you, what is it that “matters”? What happens when you get what you want in this world? Are you then satisfied?

          • gladys1071

            I think the problem is not with being a Christian , but with human beings in general. Human beings are flawed and no matter if one is a Christian, athiest, the propensity for cruelty and violence is in all of us. I am a Christian, but i also recognize that we are first and foremost human beings. All Human beings are selfish to a degree, all human beings are capable of oppression in the name of either “religion:” government, or fill in the blank with whatever ideology you like.

            Remember the inquisition, remember the holocaust, etc…ISIS, etc… The problem is with US , not so much with our belief system, we use our belief (religious) belief to oppress and slaughter others.

            Christians are NOT innocent of such cruelty, when we all stand before God, all will be found guilty i mean ALL HUMAN BEINGS.

          • Phoenix1977

            “Human beings are flawed and no matter if one is a Christian, athiest, the propensity for cruelty and violence is in all of us.”
            I agree the potential for cruelty and violence is in all of us. I know I have a dark side, at least. However, nothing is as dangerous as combining that potential for cruelty and violence with the certainty you are right and the notion that you are “chosen” as a special people. History is filled with zealots who preached by the sword because their holy book said they were right and everyone else was wrong. And more than a few of those were Christians, even in modern times. And I have the (mental) scars to prove that.

            “Christians are NOT innocent of such cruelty”
            Trust me, I know.

          • Steve

            Currently the U.S. is filled with zealots in the form of radical LGBT activists who feel and are being treated as “chosen” and special people. They are the ones who are saying they are right and everyone else is wrong. Just because others have done it before doesn’t excuse these people from doing it now.

          • Phoenix1977

            “Just because others have done it before doesn’t excuse these people from doing it now.”
            It’s called “to reap what you sow”. I take it you don’t like the harvest Christians are about to get?

          • Steve

            I thought this was about rights. Apparently it is about revenge.
            So you are against one group subjugating another in your opinion unless it is your group doing the subjugating.
            This “outs” you as just another group identity radical who doesn’t really believe what he says, but wants power.
            You say you want “fairness” unless you are the one who has to act fair.
            I get it now.
            Identity politics is bad for all involved because it glorifies the group and the individual is denigrated. This is wrong whether it is the denigration of an LGBT person or a Christian.
            Until you start looking at people as just people you will never get beyond your myopia.

          • Phoenix1977

            Justice and revenge are hardly ever far apart. And for quite a few in the LGBT community, especially the older gay men who were forced to undergo “treatment” for being gay as well as teenagers who were forced to reparative therapy (good example here: ), it is exactly the same in this case.

          • Steve

            Phoenix, your comments indicate that you are stereotyping Christians because of the personal experiences that you have had. It is clear that you have “scars” to prove it. I’m sorry, again, that you have been hurt.
            I would like you to take a look at the history of the 20th century, arguably the bloodiest in history. Communism was the cause of the deaths of over 100 million people in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia and Cuba. Today we see the same death occurring in North Korea. All of these murderous regimes were based on the “holy book” of Marx. They were/are atheist states where religion is prohibited because it takes away from loyalty to the State. When Man (person) buts himself as the supreme being who claims to be capable of creating a future utopia only murder and destruction occur.
            I urge you to read the Gulag Archipelago, if you haven’t already, to get a first-hand account of someone who witnessed what happens when God is displaced and man is put in his place. There you will read about true suffering.
            Those totalitarian regimes were formed by eliminating religion and pitting groups of people against each other. What you are advocating is putting us on the same path.

          • Phoenix1977

            “Those totalitarian regimes were formed by eliminating religion and pitting groups of people against each other. What you are advocating is putting us on the same path.”
            I’m not advocating it. I’m simply stating what simply is. It’s “you against us” for a very long time. As I mentioned in the comment on the Supreme Court taking on the Jack Phillips case: the winner will take all, without possibilities for a middle ground. And, for the who-knows-how-manyeth time, it was not the LGBT community that created that rift.

          • Steve

            As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “the line between good and evil runs down the middle of every human heart.”

          • Phoenix1977

            “You do realize that the early Christians actually saved Rome initially until it decayed from within and that Christianity maintained culture through the Middle Ages.”
            Perhaps you need to go back to the history books. Constantine the Great finally caved to Christians after decades of unrest, caused by incursions and attacks which we would now call acts of terrorism. He had himself baptized as a sign of Rome’s surrender to Christianity, after which Christians didn’t like the new status as one of Rome’s religions. They wanted Christianity to become the only religion in Rome, destroying the temples of Rome’s traditional gods and goddesses (exactly as the bible orders them to), causing the split that, in the end, would destroy the Roman Empire for good.
            And Christianity did not maintain culture during the dark ages, it maintained the status quo with the church as absolute ruler with everyone, even kings and emperors, at the pope’s feet.

            “The French Revolution was actually perpetrated by secularists as they wished to kill every last priest.”
            Yes, and do you know why? Because the church had supported the French kings and nobility through their reign of terror throughout the centuries. Freeing themselves from the French nobility meant freeing themselves from the church as well.

            “Why don’t we look at the positive side”
            I told you before: no amount of good will ever erase all the evil done in name of your god.

            “Sure there are some bad Christians and some large institutional mistakes that have been made by humans who run those institutional religions.”
            More than a few, actually. Did you know. for example, while Mother Theresa is worshiped in the West she is despised in India? She actively withheld children access to their own culture because Christianity would be so much better for them. To the outside world she saved so many Indian lives but the Hindu community in India considers these lives lost anyway because they will never return to their own culture.

            “As Europe is overrun by Islam, I would hate to be a gay man living under Sharia law. Tell me with a straight face that you would be comfortable with that.”
            Like I said before, it’s hardly worse than living under Christian rules. Compare the bible and the quran when it comes to homosexuality. There is absolutely no difference between the two.

            “For you, what is it that “matters”?”
            I have no definition for it. Thinks that have an impact on the world, on it’s history, on it’s future. Pretty much on mankind.

            “What happens when you get what you want in this world? Are you then satisfied?”
            Good question. No idea, to be honest.

      • Scott

        You make some great points Steve.

        Phoenix, I find your statement below interesting.

        “People in Europe don’t feel themselves European. We are first and foremost Dutch, German, British, French, Spanish, Greek, Croatian, Italian and go on like that. The average person in Europe despises the European Union while our politicians are determined to move forward with it, piece by piece tearing down our national identities. There are no “European values” anymore than there are “Europeans”. And trying to shove us some “values without borders” down our throat the more we resist and the less likely it is the social experiment called European Union will ever succeed.”

        First of all I would agree with it… but what I find interesting is why you (Phoenix) can’t seem to apply this same notion to the concept of differing ideologies? You are speaking from both sides of that paradox you and I identified.

        • Phoenix1977

          “what I find interesting is why you (Phoenix) can’t seem to apply this same notion to the concept of differing ideologies? You are speaking from both sides of that paradox you and I identified.”
          Well, first of all I can argue both sides of the Möbius strip 🙂
          And second, it’s not possible when dealing with ideologies because, as I said before, some ideologies are mutually exclusive. Take Judaism and Islam, for example. Sworn enemies due to Abraham’s decision to send Ishmael and his mother Hagar away. Also theologically they are adversaries without any possibilities for reconciliation. After all, they can’t both be right. Same goes for several other ideologies, like capitalism and communism, or religious liberty and LGBT rights.

  • Jonathan de Assis

    The book “Inventing the individual – the origins of Western liberalism” by Larry Siedentop may give great insights to the discussion of you two.
    *I haven´t finished it yet, but so far I had read, it has covered many topics you two have mentioned.