Challenges to Western Christianity
The secularization thesis, if interpreted as the alleged decline of religion in the West, is intrinsically linked to the apparent demise of Christianity. Historically, Western societies have been dominated by the Christian faith in terms of belief and practice. In previous centuries, Christianity had important political, educational and social functions to play and claimed, at least nominally, the allegiance of the great mass of people through one or other of its major schisms whether the Orthodox Church, Roman Catholicism, or the numerous strands of Protestantism. Indeed, so dominant has the faith proved to be that the West has historically been referred to as the Christian civilization or ‘Christendom’. This is obviously no longer the case in many countries as its declining social and political impact, and the falling level of popular belief in Christianity, indicates. The fortunes of what might be referred to as ‘mainstream’ Christianity is, however, rather more complex than this simple appraisal suggests. This chapter will address some of these complexities.
KeywordsChurch Attendance Christian Tradition Christian Church Catholic Church Protestant Church
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