“The Whole World Really Lies in the Power of the Evil One.”

René Malgo

It seems to be getting darker. Church historian Carl Trueman notes that perhaps for the first time since the 3rd and 4th centuries, loyalty to both society and the church is mutually exclusive. Some European believers are already dreaming about emigrating to Russia with their families. Who could have imagined that twenty years ago?

The Christian West has perished. The seed for this was sown by an event that also became a blessing to many: the Reformation. The subsequent bloody religious wars in the name of God made people cynical about matters of faith…and more lax. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Netherlands turned out to be a barometer for future developments. While mostly-Catholic dictatorship in other countries was replaced by one that was Protestant or Reformed, the young Dutch republic maintained relatively broad freedom of belief and conscience for its time.

Refugees streamed into Holland, especially Jews, Baptists, and Reformists. For about a century, they made the new republic one of the richest and most powerful nations on earth. Even today, the Dutch look back fondly on this time, while the rest of the world has largely forgotten the “golden age” of the Netherlands.

In this 17th century Holland, philosophers such as René Descartes or Baruch Spinoza, anticipated enlightened ideas from Germany and France that would become established all over the West a hundred years later. The Reformists saw God’s blessing on their land when Dutch warships (on which the Bible was read daily and psalms were sung and prayed) plundered the rest of the world. From their pulpits, many preachers praised the republic as the “new Israel,” won from the sea, just as the children of Israel under Moses had been saved through the Red Sea. But godlessness was rampant in the heart of the nation.

Strict Calvinist colonial ruler Jan Pieterszoon Coen burned Jakarta to the ground to build a new city, and wiped out an entire population just to gain a trade monopoly. He hired Japanese samurai fighters to massacre insurgents in the Banda Islands. But God saw it. The rich prevailed at the expense of the poor, except that in the “golden age,” many of the poor were considered pagans somewhere far off, out of sight and out of mind, and lost their lives. Meanwhile the rich considered themselves to be faithful, blessed Christians.

From a spiritual perspective, there never was any “golden age.” If anything, the “new Israel” was the old “whore of Babylon.” Holland’s hoarded wealth became a spiritual pitfall for the people. Although it’s an orderly and quite likeable country today—in which the citizens’ moral standards are still ruled by the Reformed influence—the Netherlands is also one of the most atheistic nations on earth. The Dutch have sought prosperity and enlightenment apart from God. How many souls has the “whore of materialism” claimed for itself in an outwardly Christian culture, without anyone noticing?

Salvation simply isn’t found in this world’s political structures. The “whole world” really lies “in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Russia won’t be able to help Christians, either. A Russian Orthodox believer once complained about how difficult it was to live his faith, because the Church was so interconnected with the state. Yes, in the “golden age” it was easy to be a nominal Christian: you lived externally according to Reformed standards, and otherwise endeavored to increase your wealth. But that isn’t Christianity. And it doesn’t save souls. Christianity is (and remains) to die with Christ to the world and sin, and to live in Him. Paradoxically, this could become more logical for believers in a society that is currently stripping itself of external Christianity, making its ugly face of godlessness, hidden for so long, now publicly visible.

May God help us and have mercy on us; Maranatha, our Lord, come!

Midnight Call - 03/2020

ContactAbout UsPrivacy and Safety