One of the blogs I subscribe to recently included a post that quoted this excerpt from an article in Crux (a Catholic magazine that you can find here):
Fourth, the Vatican also understands that China is rich with missionary potential, though it sometimes seems to struggle to know what to do about it.
Many experts regard China as the world’s last truly competitive spiritual marketplace. No matter what happens, Christianity in some form almost certainly will remain the majority faith in Europe and North America, Hinduism will be the majority in India, Islam the majority in the Middle East, and Africa will be divided between Islam and Christianity with significant pockets of indigenous religious practice. [Note: The original article does not bold this last sentence. That is my doing.]
Now, to be fair, I understand (I think) what the author means by his last sentence. And yet, still I want to stand up and shout, “No!” Are we really ready to surrender Europe and North America to the half-baked, Gospel-less “Christianity” that too often passes as the “majority faith.” Are we ready to turn over India to Hinduism (or its close cousin, Buddhism), the Middle East to Islam, and large swaths of Africa to a mix of Islam, animism, and the ridiculous “Prosperity Gospel.” Regardless of one’s view concerning eschatology, the true Gospel imperative expressed in passages like Matthew 28:18-20 is clear, and it is militant (in the best of senses). We are to make disciples of Jesus from those of every nation (i.e. people group). There is no part of the world that we can, or should, cede to the ravages of Satan. While I can be charitable as to the larger intent of this author, I find his manner of expression wonderfully provoking. God forbid that we, Jesus’ church, should ever conclude that anything other than total surrender to Christ will ever finally characterize a portion of this globe.
One final thought. I’m encouraged in my response to the excerpt above by this realization: In God’s providence, the false religions that seem so dominant now may someday, even before Jesus returns, become only relics of history. Where are the once dominant gods of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, or the Canaanite peoples of present day Israel? They’re now nothing more than artifacts, buried in the sand for archaeologists to discover, or languishing in ancient texts for anthropologists or philologists to study (and yes, such study can be a very good undertaking). Indeed, you can travel to any number of museums around the world and look with interest at the worthless idols that once held such sway over the hearts and minds of human beings like you and me.
Why would we assume that Islam, or Hinduism, or Buddhism, or any other “ism” will not one day walk the same road as these derelict religious systems? Remember, prior to about 500 B.C., there was no such thing as Buddhism. Muhammad didn’t come along until the 600’s A.D. Even the amorphous Hinduism, despite a long oral tradition, didn’t exist in any written form until probably the third century B.C. at the earliest.1 My point is this: The false religious systems raised up against the knowledge of God that we contend with now did not always exist. They are only the latest manifestation of humanity’s response to Satan’s age-old deceitful temptation: “Did God really say…”
- I’m helped on the point concerning Hinduism by a quick look at the much maligned (as an academic source) Wikipedia entry on the Rig Veda, and, somewhat more “appropriately,” by Bradley K. Hawkins’ Asian Religions: An Illustrated Introduction.