Can Europe be saved? This is not just a theological question. It is also one fraught with enormous political, economic, social and cultural consequences. The demographic writing is on the wall--and the interpretation is that Europe stands at the crossroads of Islam and Christianity.
The European Union (EU) currently comprises 25 nations and approximately 455 million people. By 2050, however, its overall population will have shrunk to 430 million, and one in every three Italians, Greeks and Spaniards will be over the age of 65.
How will Europe replace its vanishing population? One obvious remedy is to admit Turkey to the EU. Turkey has been recognized as a candidate for EU membership since 1999. Its current population is 69 million and is expected to climb to 100 million within a few years.
Another solution is to admit more immigrants. But immigration in Europe, as well as unlimited migration within Europe by the Turks if Turkey is admitted, presents a very special problem.
Turks are Muslim, and most of Europe's immigrants also will be Muslim. How can Europe assimilate all these followers of Islam without entirely changing its personality?
Speakers who took part in a forum about Islam in Europe that was held at a prestigious New York private foundation in October all agreed that Islam is making rapid advances in Europe. They acknowledged that Muslims had used Europe as a terrorist recruiting ground for attacks on the United States.
One speaker even suggested that the French may be taking the best approach to the assimilation issue by enforcing blanket secularization on newly arriving immigrants through the country's national education system. He missed the point completely--which is that Europe's main weakness today, with or without an Islamic influx, is secularization.
It is impossible to defeat a faith with a nonfaith: that is, with the lowest common denominator of politically correct mishmash. Europe is metamorphosing into an aimless, shifting culture characterized by an abandonment of Christian truth and values and a surrender to whatever lifestyle is most aggressive in selling itself. It is dead meat for any determined Islamic evangelization, chiefly because living in community requires ordered values, which Islam provides in abundance.
The post-Christian dilemma in Europe was illustrated vividly in 2003 when a draft version of the European constitution did not acknowledge that Europe had ever been Christian. National representatives and former government chiefs protested this. But the omission stayed in.
It reflects Europe's accelerating abandonment of Christianity--from Sweden, where less than 55 percent of people consider God important in their lives, to Ireland, where churchgoing is still quite high but hatred for President Bush is generally expressed as abhorrence for any expression of evangelical Christianity.
The answer to Europe's dilemma is actually obvious: Europe must be re-evangelized. The question is how most effectively to do this.
First, in the face of Islam's pressures, European Christians must sign a truce not to steal each other's sheep or refight old wars; the common peril of Islam must unite Christians.
Second, if American missionaries brave all and go to Europe, then they must exhibit a servant's heart. Christianity was often seen in European history as a source of tyranny and obscurantism. We must practice the antithesis of that.
Third, we must pray that God will send the most effective missionaries to Europe--Third Worlders, Africans, Asians and South Americans, who are not looked upon as representatives of the hated American religion.
Fourth, we must recognize that the re-evangelization of Europe will require time and a preparedness for martyrdom. The original christianization of Europe took close to 700 years, and many missionaries died in the effort. Europe, especially with Islam on the march, will not yield spiritually without the same commitment.