Political Milestones: 1900AD to 2000AD
The 20th century opened with Russia, France, Germany, Britain and the USA in possession of most of the world’s people and territory. Only a few non-European nations, such as Thailand and Nepal were nominally free. Japan was the only country outside Europe to be truly independent, territorially ambitious and industrialising. The peak of European colonialism had been reached and would begin to decline during World War l.
The 20 million deaths caused by that war, once and for all destroyed the myth of European hegemony. How could a Christian continent tear itself apart so mercilessly? In truth Europe and already exited the age of the Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakening and Christianity was a shell of its former self on the continent. It was hostage to the forces of imperial greed, nationalism and arrogance. The war was a bushfire waiting to be lit. Four empires collapsed due to the war, old countries were abolished, new ones were formed, boundaries were redrawn, international organizations were established, and many new and old ideologies took a firm hold in people’s minds. The aftermath of World War 1 saw drastic political, cultural, and social change across Europe, Asia, Africa, and even in areas outside those that were directly involved. In the last year of the war another tragedy struck Europe and the world in the form of the Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 50-100 million people globally. Because this tragedy occurred within the timeframe of the war, it is now largely forgotten.
The anarchy and political bankruptcy created by the war led to the rise of Communism in Russia, the world’s first ideologically atheistic state. This God-hating ideology, a grandchild of the French Revolution and child of evolutionary philosophy, would eventually encircle the world and pose a direct nuclear threat to the existence of all Western nations. Its arch enemy, the USA would stand its ground through the century as the most overtly Christian nation in the world at the time. Proxy wars between the two were fought all over the globe and those countries who chose or fell to Communist revolutions destroyed human rights, private property and personal freedom in the name of the socialist cause. It was a huge step backwards for humanity and it is estimated that over 200 million people were massacred simply to keep Communist elites in power. By 1989 Communism was morally and financially bankrupt and collapsed under the weight of its own foolishness.
A humiliated and embittered Germany was blamed for the World War 1. This eventually led it to seek revenge in 1939AD under Adolf Hitler, an emotionally wounded and violent man who deeply embraced both the occult and evolution. He believed destiny fated the Germans to rule the world as a superior race. World War 2 decimated Europe for the second time in the space of 25 years. Some 70 million died in the carnage that is still in the living memory of some people alive today. The Communist Russia alone lost 25 million people, but it was a big political winner, claiming all of Eastern Europe for Atheism. The Jewish population of Europe was almost wiped out in a hideous German program of extermination, so a homeland was set up for them in Israel in 1948. Millions of Europeans were left homeless and fled to the far corners of the world for a safer life.
The war devastated Britain and marked the end of its Empire. The USA was the biggest winner of the war as its infrastructure was largely untouched. It became the leading superpower and from this point in time the whole of the non-Communist world looked to it for moral, political, cultural, economic and military leadership. The United Nations was also created as a means of settling future conflicts and was located in New York, the unofficial capital of the world.
The war also saw an Asian power engaged in a European war for the first time. Japan wanted an empire to rival that of the Europeans and brutally took over most of Asia, challenging American power in the Pacific and massacring 20 million Chinese in the process. This was truly the world’s first total war. German and Japanese defeat at the end of the war totally transformed those two nations and from then on they demonstrated their prowess only on the economic front.
Gratefully, life in the second half of the 20th century was far more peaceful and prosperous. In the midst of this rising economic tide Russia and the USA launched a race to the moon, while building 10,000 nuclear missiles that promised mutual destruction if one got out of line. There was also a baby boom after the war as millions of soldiers returned from the war. The great wave of young people born to them influenced global social and cultural trends to the end of the century. The now universal belief in evolution and materialism across the western world destroyed trust in Christian institutions and traditions. The baby-boomers turned to drugs, sexual licence, abortion, eastern mysticism and their own selfishness as they experimented their way to a full flowering of humanism.
In the rest of the world things were very different, and on the ascent. For the first time since 1500AD most of the world was free to determine their own destiny again as they threw off their rusting colonial shackles. By 1945AD European/Christian civilisation lost its legitimacy in the eyes of the other cultures and was seen as weak. Independence movements sprung up everywhere to take advantage of colonial weariness. Unfortunately the concept of nationhood was new to many of them and their boundaries were a legacy of colonial ignorance. Human rights abuses were rife. Dictatorships and regional wars were common, as was the mistake of falling back into a new form of ideological colonialism under Communism. China’s embrace of the hollow Communist dream resulted in 100 million deaths, with another five million in the Communist states under its umbrella.
All told the 20th century saw some 175 million people die under the directives of their own governments, with another 75 million killed in war. This made the century by far the most barbaric in history. Unfortunately few have pointed the finger to the real cause; belief in humanism based on evolution. Man was no longer seen as sacred but mere animals and could be eliminated by the will of the state. Power and survival were the supreme values of the evolutionary-atheistic worldviews. In Western culture it expressed itself as a post-war, rich, promiscuous nilistic individualism. In the black and red dictatorships of the rest of the world it was expressed as the crushing fist of the all-powerful state and its enforcers.
The final decade gave some reason for hope and some for fear. Communism collapsed, freedom blossomed, and capitalism was unleashed in areas where it had been banned for decades. The world became a safer and more prosperous place where our common humanity rose above ideological power struggles. The USA exited the century as the sole super-power, but financially strapped. Its social values encircled the world in a cultural empire whose movies, music and literature were instantly transmitted to all of us via the internet.
However, with some 6 billion mouths to feed and all of them wanting the western lifestyle, the planet was beginning to groan under the stress of resource extraction and global warming. Major changes would have to be made in the next century if humanity was to survive this new and common threat.
Finally, and by no means least, after 300 years of western subjugation, militant oil-funded Islam began once more to raise its ugly head and challenge western hegemony in places like Iran, Arabia, Sudan and Afghanistan.
Spiritual Milestones: 1900AD to 2000AD
The 20th century also contained many exceptional spiritual events that have forever changed the nature of the world. First, there was the death of the Christendom model of Christianity in the western world under the withering onslaught of evolutionary materialism. Second, there was a major changing of the guard with the spectacular rebirth of true Christianity in the developing world. Third, there was the attempt to impose militant Atheism on the whole globe which failed spectacularly in 1989AD. Fourth, there was the greatest number of martyrs in the history of the church. Finally, there was the late re-emergence of an Islamic pride which threatened to influence the world both demographically, through immigration, and by direct force. Now let’s unpack that list.
The 20th century started with spiritually significant revivals in Wales and California. The former was the last of the spiritual harvests that had periodically touched both America and England in the previous century. The latter was something new, fresh from the Book of Acts. For the first time in nearly two millennia the gifts of the Holy Spirit were being activated, first by black American Christians and then by whites. Miracles, healings, words of knowledge and discerning of evil spirits now became common practice for a small but growing number of evangelical Christians. Like other eras when lost knowledge came back into practice, the Pentecostal movement was initially lampooned and ridiculed by mainstream churches.
As the two world wars rolled by, and Communism steamrolled previously nominal Christian countries. Western Christians, and especially those in Europe, became increasingly despondent about the future. To make matters worse, liberal theology, based on evolutionary humanism now made deep inroads into previously evangelical denominations across the continent. As a result, the great era of European Protestant missions came to a halt and church attendance declined sharply in all of Europe. Those that kept their faith retreated into defeatist eschatology. Evangelicals now viewed the future as one belonging to Satan via the anti-Christ, instead of Jesus via the onward expansion of his Kingdom. Christians began retreating from social engagement and manned the barricades of the local church. Secularism was triumphant.
The cause of this decline can be traced to the cosy relationship that existed between church and state for over a thousand years called Christendom. But now governments were firmly secular and the state-financed churches were a relic of a past that had allowed church leadership to grow spiritually lazy and increasingly humanist. Only in the free churches where there was no state involvement did evangelical Christianity survive the century in Europe.
In the USA all denominations were free churches, competing for market share. So those that embraced liberal theology, such as the Anglicans, Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, started to die quickly after the 1950’s. Conservative denominations, such as the Baptists and Pentecostals continued to hold ground or grow significantly as the century progressed, until the last decade where they too started to decline in absolute numbers. The USA exited the century with 84 million people self-reporting as evangelicals, but only a quarter of that figure reported as adhering to orthodox Christian beliefs. The Mormon sect was the only group to experience sustained growth throughout the entire century. The year 2000 saw the secular majority culture of the USA turn openly hostile toward evangelical expressions of Christianity.
Outside of European Christendom and its Anglo-Saxon colonies the first 60 years of the century were a dark period for the Gospel. Missionaries were being driven out from former colonies as churches came to represent colonial impositions. Local church leaders were harassed. Communism was violently hostile to any expression of the Christian faith. Martyrs multiplied and the era from 1916 to 1989AD saw some 45 million Christians killed for their faith, three quarters of them at the hands of Communists determined to exterminate Christianity. This was the greatest shedding of blood the church had ever experienced in 2000 years. The seed of the great 19th century evangelical missions movement was dying, or so it seemed.
Then, in the decades from 1960-80, something changed. Freed from colonial leadership, vibrant indigenous churches began to multiply. The changes was first noticed in Africa and South America, then in China, Asia, India and finally inside Islam itself. These churches did not have the 2000 years of cultural baggage and tradition of the Western churches as they were penetrating their host culture for the first time. The Gospel message also became increasingly evangelical and Pentecostal/Charismatic, with signs and wonders following. These people understood the power of the spiritual realm in their own cultures and attacked it head on with the power of the Holy Spirit. By 1980AD the growth of these churches had become so significant that they were 50% of Christian believers globally, or some 100 million in absolute numbers.
Then, in the final two decades of the 20th century this new and dynamic expression of the church surged to 75% of all believers on the planet, approximately 300 million in absolute numbers. This was the greatest gathering of souls into the Kingdom of God in world history, and possibly the greatest we will ever see, given the falling birth rates around the planet. Some statistics are needed to demonstrate the magnitude of the harvest:
|Country (Top 10)||Millions of believers in 1960||Millions of believers in 2000|
|Totals||15.3 million||201 million|
As you can see the majority of the growth occurred in Africa, but in absolute numbers the growth in China eclipses them all, and this was in a country where becoming a Christian could get you killed. The strength of individual commitment in all these countries is high as they were first generation Christians coming from unsympathetic backgrounds that covered Atheism, Hinduism, Islam, Catholicism and tribal religions. The fire of persecution had purified the church and burnt off the dross of Western cultural baggage.
The inclusion of Indonesia is very significant, as it is the world’s largest Muslim country. In the 1960’s there was an attempted Communist coup. Some half a million suspected Communists were executed and the population were told to choose one of the four great religions. Many Muslims chose Christianity. This mass movement has now spiritually matured into the world’s largest ex-Muslim church.
Elsewhere in the Islamic world there was no significant openness toward Christianity until around 1980AD. But in the next two decades there were some 11 people movements of a thousand or more coming into true Christianity in Algeria, Iran (2), Albania, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, the Sahel in West Africa and Kazakhstan. These were small, but highly significant because apart from the two 19th century indigenous movements into Christianity in Indonesia and Ethiopia, these were the first ever recorded spiritual harvests in Muslim countries. Something was changing and would be the harbinger of things to come. The rise of Islamic extremism was being matched by defections to the one true God.
The world finished the 20th century with 6 billion people needing food and shelter and salvation. True Christians now numbered 7% of that population, up from about 1% of the 1.6 billion in 1900AD. It was truly a great spiritual harvest. However, it was actually accelerating into the close of the century so the best was yet to come for the expansion of the Kingdom of God on planet earth.