Thursday 26 May 2022

How rapidly could the world convert to Christianity?

The historical-sociological writings of Rodney Stark concerning the phenomenon of religious conversion suggest that the process is much slower than usually realized; it usually takes hundreds of years before a whole nation or empire really comes to believe in a new religion, or a new variant of an existing denomination. 

Also, much of this conversion has traditionally been due to 'natural increase' whereby the new religion (by one means or another) leads to higher rates of successful reproduction, out-growing the rival religions; and with the handing-on of religion from parent to child. 

Also, new religions tend to grow from a basis in biological relatives of the founder; and relatives by marriage; and the spread is often by friends and neighbours rather than by missionary activity. 

So that, in sum, traditional religious conversion has been much more of a 'family affair' than generally realized.

If such mechanisms applied today, it would mean that any resurgent Christianity could grow only a little faster than the rate of natural increase; and that it would probably take hundreds of years to convert the world. 

But these are unprecedented times; and many of the principles that previously applied to traditional societies are no longer operative - and have even been reversed. And this particularly includes aspects to do with marriage, families and fertility. 

Furthermore, all the major traditional religions are net-controlled by the 'New World Order' - which is leftist, secular, materialist/ anti-spiritual, and anti-religious (particularly anti-Christian.)

From this point of view the prospects of Christian conversion seem so bleak as to be all-but impossible.

Yet - exactly because these times are unprecedented; we might expect that God would ensure that there were also unprecedented opportunities for conversion, of a qualitatively different kind than in the past; and these might potentially be much faster than in the past.

In the past, religion was a social or group-level phenomenon; and without an institutional church it was hardly even conceivable and even less desirable - thus de facto impossible.   

But now it has become possible to conceive religion - including Christianity - as a personal matter; and (although many would disagree) as a thing so simple that it could be apprehended and implemented by wholly personal experience and choice. 

My understanding of Christianity is rooted in the Fourth Gospel, and the offer of eternal resurrected Heavenly life to all who 'follow' Jesus; where the 'following' is seen as something like a commitment spiritually to follow The Good Shepherd through death to everlasting list. 

Something as simple as this can be understood by a child, and can be reasoned out by anyone who desires the end result (i.e. resurrection, eternal life, to dwell in Heaven). 

It could, in theory, be adopted almost instantly, and by anyone who wanted it. 

And such a Christianity could spread very rapidly... as fast as human thought. 

That is, as fast as anyone who rejects what is on offer from the totalitarian global establishment - and instead (for instance by intuition, by contact with the Holy Ghost, by learning from the resources of Christianity that are almost ubiquitous) who decides that this is what he wants.  

Maybe it is now possible for the world to become Christian as fast as thought, in a few moments? 

Maybe that is what the demon-affiliated world-rulers most fear triggering by their actions?   

Rooted in my personal understanding of Christianity - this ultimately-Good outcome, or something en route to it, does seem at least possible


Phil said...

There is a seminary course about a new approach to world missions called, "Perspectives in World Missions". One of the things the team that put it together did was to develop a "lite" version, where laymen could get a certificate for completing it. This has gone on for 30 some years.
The early approach to missions was imperialistic - the new subjects were converted.
A later approach was to bring medical & educational opportunities - people learned English or French & the minister wore a suit.
In both cases, the original culture was seen as being in the way, something to be overcome. In many cases, converts would be separated from their people so they wouldn't relapse (or to keep them safe). This separated out a potential evangelist & was a big step because he had to leave his people & culture.
The new approach is to learn the language & customs, teach the basic doctrines & stories, translate the Bible into their tongue, & let them work out their own church structure & liturgy. You confer w/ them about who the elders should be, teach how to plant daughter churches, transition from teacher to observer, tell them you have to go find another people & leave. Repeat. Come back to visit once in a while.
This is multiculturalism done right. The people stay in their own culture, but they clean it up. It will seem strange & unfamiliar until you notice that Paul & Silas did something very like this.
When this is done right, you get church planting movements throughout the whole tribe or ethnic group. Exponential growth. That's fast.

The Social Pathologist said...

The act of faith is a bit like being asked to dance. The offer has to be made first and they you have to say yes.

My working theory as to why the faith has collapsed is because there has been a withdrawal of the offer. For what reason I can't really say for certain. As a Catholic though, it's my strong suspicion that the Church is in a period of heresy.

And for the record, the heresy lays in the mutilation of the traditional conception of Caritas. The modern "Kentoic" rework of Caritas has poisoned Catholicism, and Christianity in general, to its core.

The shepherds have gone bad, the sheep are just lost.

jason said...

The world needs a new religion that is more right wing than Christianity.

Bruce Charlton said...

@jason - There is no meaning to 'right wing' except in relation and subordinate to a religion. The non-religious 'right' is simply a variant of the left. Obviously!

See my online books Thought Prison and/or Addicted to Distraction (linked on the sidebar).

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - "My working theory as to why the faith has collapsed is because there has been a withdrawal of the offer."

I would regard that theory as an impossibility for God who is creator and our loving Father and who desires to see all Men choose salvation.

I regard it as attributing worse behaviour to God than even a normally-decent human father or mother; or else to regard - God's goodness as fundamentally incomprehensible to human discernment; which is an Islamic (or Jewish) rather than Christian understanding of the nature of God.

The Christian difference is that because of Jesus Christ; we know that we can and should understand God as the Father of Jesus, and of all Men - and we can understand sufficiently what kinds of parental behaviour this implies, and what kinds of behaviour it rules-out.

God might do many things, but He would never withdraw the chance of salvation from any who desired it primarily.

Bonald said...

SP's suggestion doesn't strike me as particularly unChristian. After all, Christians of most denominations have long believed that God creates many reprobate souls whose damnation is a foregone conclusion. There's no reason they couldn't be concentrated at a particular time, although Saint Anselm did suggest that God would never create a generation with no saved souls. I often ask God to have particular mercy on the upcoming generation; given the ubiquitous Satanic propaganda of the establishment, it seems like they never had a fair chance.

Your post made me marvel once again on how quickly a large segment of the world could de-convert from Christianity. People don't exchange a belief for no belief; they exchange one belief for another. What we call apostasy is really a conversion, a conversion to Leftism in the overwhelming majority of instances. This belief system seems to be able to spread very fast, not limited to natural increase, but being spectacularly successful in stealing the allegiance of other people's children.

Controlling the media, the schools, the government, and the corporations helps one immensely, it turns out. It's not just that Christian hegemony has been replaced with Leftist hegemony. The sort of hegemony the Left commands has never existed before. No Christian ruling class (of Christian Rome/Byzantium or any medieval/early modern European kingdom) ever commanded such a powerful propaganda network or such a vast cadre of fanatical devotees. The Middle Ages was much more decentralized, more socially pluralistic. For that matter, the United States in 2019 was much more decentralized and socially pluralistic than the United States today. As you often say, there has been an unnoticed totalitarian coup (although I date it to the "racial reckoning" rather than the pandemic). I would like to think that there is a limit to the destruction and ugliness that humans can be taught to embrace, but we're already far past where most people would have once thought that limit would be.

The Social Pathologist said...


There's precedent:

Isiah 54:7

For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.

In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,

but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord your Redeemer.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bonald - You are regarding Christianity as defined by the history of people in major denominations - regardless of whether they were in error or not. The way I am talking about Christianity does not start from those assumptions; but discerns among them.

"People don't exchange a belief for no belief; they exchange one belief for another."

Not so. The evidence is that people are more demotivated than ever before in history. In other words, people have rejected God and cannot replace Him; and are severely damaged by the deficit.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - "Isaiah 54:7"

Yes, but then there was Jesus Christ!

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP and Bonald - If you are still listening (!), we might finesse away the disagreement by distinguishing God's attitude to individuals, and towards a particular civilization (The System); somewhat as here:

Epimetheus said...

Fountains of platonic love dry up (families), people turn to sex, wither away and become dead inside. Somehow it has to do with loss of connection to God’s love.

The Social Pathologist said...


Civilisation is the cumulative effect of many individuals. It is my contention that the proportion of individuals affected by Grace has been diminished. i.e there has been a withdrawal of it. This withdrawal has not been complete, but has crossed a critical threshold which is resulted in society turning away from God.

Many Christians, trying to explain the de-Christianisation of the West, place the blame on people deliberately turning away from God. The underlying assumption here is that people are conscious enough of God to want to turn away from him. Yet the reality is that God is about as much of a real presence in people's lives as the tooth fairy. What I'm trying to say is that you've got to know that God exists before you can be guilty of turning away from him. Many in the West simply don't have that notion.

One of the things that deserves more attention is the phenomenon of "good faith atheism". I have quite a few friends who admire Christianity but simply bring themselves to believe because they feel that they would be intellectually dishonest in doing so. The reality of God's presence simply escapes them in the way that world of colors escapes the blind. There is no experience of His presence.

Grace opens up that experiential faculty so that the realty of God is sensed. Hence my notion that that widespread loss of faith may due be a phenomenon of "degracement" rather than considered rejection of God.


Somehow it has to do with loss of connection to God’s love.

I think the central problem in the modern Christianity has been the transformation in our understanding of christian love or "Caritas". Increasingly I think that Nietzsche was right in recognising that Christianity was morphing into a type of Buddhism. Interestingly, he did not see the original Church fathers in that light but thought that Christianity was going to assume this form in its terminal phase of degeneration.

The transformation of our understanding of Christ into Kumbayah Christ. God's "edge" has been so totally removed in modern theology that our we think of him as some cuddly father that turns a blind eye to every vice and never punishes disobedience or asserts himself. This in turn flows into our understanding of how Christians should behave.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - I accept your broad diagnosis of the problem (lots of bad people around today), but reject your solution because (as I said before) it entails God designing and creating Men for damnation - which seems an obviously evil thing to do.

Yet my metaphysical assumptions are completely different than yours. I regard God as always desiring salvation for every Man - but each Man is incarnated into mortal life after a pre-mortal existence as a spirit. And each incarnated spirit already has a 'nature' - a personality. So that some Men are born net-evil; with evil traits.

I also consider that God does not incarnate Men 'randomly' but in accordance to various strategies, so that broadly speaking the kind of people born into a particular time and place are those kinds of souls that would be most likely to benefit from that time and place (benefit being in terms primarily of salvation, secondly of theosis).

This is (in very broad brush terms) why there are different civilizations, races, historical development, families etc.

(But God's concern is always with his individual children and their eternal well-being; which of course is neglected in any generic argument such as this one. It is only fully valid to analyze individual actual persons - including ourselves and those few that we know and care for; if we really want to known God's specific intentions.)

Thus I assume that the people being born now (who are exceptionally attached to their evil, apparently) are likely to be 'the kind of people' who are (from pre-mortally) 'hard cases' with an innate indifference or hostility to God (etc); and who therefore require stark and hostile spiritual conditions for them to have their best chance of agreeing to accept the gift of Jesus Christ.

Modern Man (in general) does not respond well to easy material conditions, nor to reason, and has become incapable of living socially-communally (and does not even desire this).

I suspect that typical Modern Man's best chance is to be brought to recognize the intrinsic nihilism and futility of his ideology and life-goals. He probably needs to be brought to a point of despair where he will either knowingly choose to seek his own annihilation (we can see the effects of this choice everywhere) - or to discover and recognize that his *only* escape from this self-chosen Hell is to recognize Jesus Christ as saviour.

We are going-through this process now, especially since 2020; where more and more 'compensations' and distractions are being stripped away, where materialist optimism is less and less possible. This is inflicted by the choices of the mass of Men - God would much rather that we chose otherwise - but God makes the best use of our evil choices; moment by moment, personally as well as socially.

However, I strongly disagree with your diagnosis of goof faith atheism and the like. We Men Just Are *responsible*, individually, each for his salvation; and this refusal to take responsibility for one's soul and assumptions becomes more and more obviously culpable.

Those people who were (more or less) 'harmless' softy-nice leftists (often members of Christian churches) are *nowadays* being revealed as more and more actively, destructively, inversionally evil in their wishes and demands. They are supporters of the totalitarian and purposively-evil, demon-affiliated, New World order, and what that entails: such as the official/ top-down, worldwide (and astonishingly, unprecedentedly, evil) transagenda.

(Note: Although you seem a pleasant and decent chap; I have to say that from reading your blog over the years, I regard you as having failed in several crucial spiritual discernments and currently on the wrong track; therefore you are someone who I am Not confident is 'on the right side' in the spiritual war of this time. So I write the above comment without much hope of its being effectual!)

The Social Pathologist said...


Sorry for being unable to reply earlier but its been a busy few days. entails God designing and creating Men for damnation

Grace operates on many levels. The graces which illuminate the intellect aren't necessarily the ones which save you. For whatever reason, the Graces which previously permitted Christians to believe in God don't seem to be there.

That doesn't mean that those who are "ungraced" in this context are necessarily damned. I also think that God desires that all men be saved. I think we'd be surprised at who we would find in Heaven should we end up there. It would appear that God takes into account circumstances when it comes to times Scripture clearly indicates that there is an element of relativity in judgement and I imagine that many of the damned will be damned by their own standards. Different judgements await those who were aware of his existence and rejected Him to those who were never aware of Him in the first place.

Those people who were (more or less) 'harmless' softy-nice leftists (often members of Christian churches) are *nowadays* being revealed as more and more actively, destructively, inversionally evil in their wishes and demands.

I have a far more nuanced understanding of evil. I'm fully aware that Niceness =/= Good. When I said good faith atheists I did not necessarily mean the "nice" ones. Knowing which knife to use when you stab a man in the back may be good table manners but it is still murder.

C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters did a masterful analysis of evil there.

"Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

I'm fully aware that congenial gentle evil is far more dangerous than overt evil. I imagine that the UK Medical Board (whatever they're called) are fairly congenial chaps and would be lovely next-door neighbours but they're persecuting those who oppose the whole transgender ideology and are thus a manifestation of evil.

When I say "good faith atheists" what I mean is those atheists who honestly look around and cannot see God. I think we even might see some hard core Communists in Heaven: those who honestly believed that they were building a better world and were true to their principals. In the light of revelation they will loathe what they did but in not knowing God, or His Law, he might cut them some slack. As I said He is just.

C.S. Lewis in his Screwtape Letters did a masterful analysis of evil there.

"Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."

*Charles Peguy's writing's on the Dreyfuss case are particularly relevant here with regard to the concept of "honest and honorable" atheism.

I regard you as having failed in several crucial spiritual discernments and currently on the wrong track

I understand Bruce.


Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - Well - the thing about your analysis (which is quite traditional and mainstream - unlike mine) is that it implicitly regards almost everyone as wanting to get to Heaven, but God judging them (with whatever mercy and mitigations) and then excluding/ forbidding many or most of them.

Whereas my understanding is that Heaven is mostly chosen; in the sense of an individual wanting then choosing to follow Jesus Christ. This of itself seems pretty rare.

But to be fitted for resurrection entails that we voluntarily 'make a repentance' by which (as it were) we freely give permission for all our sinful motivations to be stripped away and left-behind. (We must voluntarily make an eternal commitment to live by Love.) Because Heaven can have no sin, and Heavenly Beings must not desire sin. Clinging onto one single sin, no matter how 'small', may therefore prevent someone choosing Heaven (as illustrated in Lewis's Great Divorce).

I see the modern problem as rooted in lack of desire for Heaven. In the old days, the main reason for not wanting to be a Christian was probably unbelief - that someone did not believe it was true (this is the impression I get from Pascal's Pensees, some 400 years ago, and the early conversion stories from the first millennium).

Now, we get plenty of people who apparently do not want Heaven, even if they knew for sure it was true and that they could have it - merely for the cost of giving up their favourite sin. They would hold-fast to that sin and accept the consequences, proud of doing so and actually despising those who put Heaven above 'favourite sin'. The Milton's Satan kind of attitude.

I can actually remember feeling much this way myself, and not all that long ago (I did not become a Christian until my late forties) - and I think I recognize it in many others.

These kind of rejection of Christ and God is indeed something new, at least as a common thing - as we both agree. What is the reason? Society yes - but society is primarily an effect, not a cause. SO we both agree it is to do with the mass of individual persons.

My inclination is to assume that that is how we come into the world - bringing our 'character' from pre-mortal life; but as a Catholic you presumably believe we were all created ex nihilo and therefore must have been deliberately made thus.

That is what I reject - because it seems like wicked nonsense for Christians to posit a God who makes Men without grace, and then places them in an evil world.

The Social Pathologist said...


I suppose I disagree with you with regard to how many people are actually aware of Heaven as a reality. I think a lot of contemporary people regard it nonsense. I think that is also the principle thesis of Charles Taylor's, Secular Age and it squares up with my experience as well.

But I don't think that these people are deserving of damnation because of their lack of awareness of Heaven. As said before God is a just judge and he won't damn you for not seeing if you are blind.

Now, we get plenty of people who apparently do not want Heaven, even if they knew for sure it was true and that they could have it - merely for the cost of giving up their favourite sin.

I would say that these people are graced in the sense of their awareness of the reality of God and Heaven, but they're on far more dangerous ground since their rejection of God is made in full knowledge of his reality. This is also the territory of the "ethical" man who is of the opinion that his version of "improved Christianity" is better than God's. Pride cometh before the fall.

That is what I reject - because it seems like wicked nonsense for Christians to posit a God who makes Men without grace, and then places them in an evil world.

A just God is just that: Just. There'll be no one in Hell unjustly. In fact that there will probably more in Heaven than should be because God is merciful. The whole message of the Passion, to me at least, is just how far God will go to save us. He's got his thumb on the scales in our favour.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SP - Well, justice is not God's primary value - any more than it is for a good (say ideal) parent. The idea that God is primarily just has, in my view, been responsible for a great deal of tortured logic, misunderstanding and mischief.

It strikes me that I have not made myself sufficiently clear of a further distinction. You seem to assume that it is our decisions made during this mortal life that are decisive about whether we want Heaven, and are prepared to do what is necessary.

But I think that this decision is made after death. We are, in so far as possible, shown truth and reality after death, and decide then. But our choices and behaviours during life affect that decision; as does the love of others (which we become aware of, again 'objectively', in that post-mortal situation).

It has to be post mortal or else salvation would depend absolutely upon our experiences in mortal life - and no loving creator God would rely upon such vast contingencies as mortal life for anything so vital!

This sounds much more complex that it really is! We go to Heaven by *following* Jesus; from love of Jesus, and what he has made possible for us; for love of others - such that we want Heaven above all (the place of love).

If you want to see it stated simply, it is in the Good Shepherd section of the mini book Lazarus Writes - see sidebar. This parable and the extended discussion in the Fourth Gospel is, I believe, the core of Jesus's message.

Bonald said...

"The evidence is that people are more demotivated than ever before in history."

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "demotivated". I see the opposite--enormous numbers of fanatical Leftists, willing to dedicate their lives to eradicating the last insignificant traces of dissent, terrifying in their single-mindedness, far more devoted to their creed than any but the greatest saints of the medieval clergy were to theirs. Even among the people who don't make their living off of Leftist politics, I see no evidence of doubt or cynicism, but absolute trust in Leftism and Leftist authorities. It's impossible to think of the Western populace today without despair. They've been brainwashed from childhood. To all appearances, they're lost souls, completely beyond reach. Has God preserved some small part of their consciousness from Satanism? Perhaps some private meditations or memories of family life that seemed sufficiently irrelevant to escape ideological framing?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bonald - I am bewildered! After 2020?

With the whole world abandoning en masse... *whatever* was supposed to be their passionate/ fanatical motivation, and obediently being herded indoors to cower there for months until allowed out again. And with almost nobody making any protest (and nobody in leadership positions).

This would have been unimaginable even 50 years ago.

Being fanatical in the way you seem impressed-by is merely the 'passionate' expediency of a middle manager. It is to be a weather vane, obediently expressing enthusiasm for... whatever is currently the latest careerist thing; until that becomes inexpedient - and then passionately embracing... whatever you are next told to embrace.

Expediency is the opposite of motivation.

Average and peak motivation is so utterly feeble that the problem has become almost invisible: we live in the country of the blind.