Western world has gone badly wrong, says outgoing Moderator
The outgoing Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Frank Sellar, told his church's General Assembly last night that in today's secular world "it is no longer respectable to be a Christian."
Speaking prior to the installation of his successor, the Rt Reverend Noble McNeely, he said that the West "had gone badly wrong".
"We have abandoned the way of the Cross and opted instead for power and respectability," he said. "We have blessed the ways of the world, and we have legitimised sectarianism and racist xenophobia, and all in the name of God. Now we are being forced to the margins once more."
Dealing with the "post-truth" society, Dr Sellar said that "with the decline of Christendom, the Western world finds itself with a moral dilemma". He said: "We cannot agree on what 'the good' is, and what is good for human beings.
"We are unable to persuade people by reasoned arguments, because we cannot agree on what is good and reasonable.
"If we cannot persuade people, then only emotion remains, which is why discussions on politics and morality are increasingly loud and angry.
"We have arrived at a position of emotivism, the doctrine that all moral judgments are simply a matter of preference or feeling."
Dr McNeely said that he recognised the challenges of being "an everyday disciple in the 21st century".
"I speak to many of our church members and they freely tell of how they are finding it more difficult to share their Christian faith in their places of work, in the places they socialise, even for some they find greater family rejection," he said.
"Being a disciple of Jesus in the modern world is growing more and more difficult and intimidating.
"It seems to me that we ought to be raising up a generation of disciples who are equipped and prepared to tell the story and to share their faith and the Good News in the public square, the place of work, the corridors of power, among media workers, on social media and in the places where culture is created.
"This is what we can do this year when we are promoting my theme 'Everyday Disciples'."
Dr McNeely, who was born in 1954, has been minister of First Holywood Presbyterian Church since 1997.
Previously, he was minister of First Ballymoney from 1984.