I know hysterical predictions tend to ruin one’s credibility. So I’ll say at the outset I don’t believe America’s collapse is imminent. Nor do I believe it’s inevitable; societies can and do successfully reverse their downward spirals. But I do think America’s collapse is probable. Our decline will continue in a gradual fashion until a crisis such as a pandemic or a major draught occurs, and then society will be unable to sustain itself. The collapse will seem sudden, but wise people (read: you and me) will have seen it coming for several generations.
I’m writing this blog because the Church is the only institution that can prevent this from happening. I’ll say again, only the Church can save America. So the thrust of this blog is not what they must do to avoid collapse (“they” meaning secular America) but rather what we the Church in America must do.
Something else I want to say at the outset is that both liberals and conservatives have necessary pieces of truth to contribute if we are to prevent the collapse. As pastor Tim Keller says, truth is neither from the left or from the right, it’s from above. So in this blog series I won’t be aligning with a political party. Unavoidably, though, I’ll be taking positions on hot-button political issues. And though I aim to do this courteously, I will also speak candidly. You are invited to disagree. Hopefully our dialogue will forge the iron clarity that we will need in order to rescue our nation.
What makes me think our church cares about this topic? Answer: your responses to the current sermon series on Daniel. You are clearly resonating with Daniel’s struggle to stay faithful to God in a pagan culture. You are also clearly concerned about the moral and spiritual decline of American society. So here is my goal: to call us to an informed, wise, and battle-ready conviction about what the Church must do.
Today we will start in Rome.
Roman civilization remains to this day one of the most impressive societies ever. Not for its goodness, to be sure, but for it’s power. Rome lasted a thousand years and encompassed at it’s height a quarter of the world’s population. It displayed incredible longevity. Nonetheless, Roman civilization collapsed. And many of the reasons why it collapsed mirror America’s decline. Secular historian Mike Duncan explains it as a fundamental change in Roman national character:
“The Romans, in a word, had changed. The Romans of the Republic had idealized the virtues of simple homes, strong families, steadfast piety, and above all devotion to the public good. The Romans of the Empire, though, as pointed out even by contemporary critics, had become a society of self-indulgent sloths whose lives revolved around ostentatious displays of wealth, petty gossip, and the next round of [gladiator] Games. At least that was true of the upper classes; the lower and middle classes, who had once been freeholding farmers, we’re now either oppressed tenants on sprawling aristocratic estates or else unemployed and crammed into Rome, living what could barely be called “lives” on the public dole.”
Does that sound at all familiar? The breakdown of the family, decline of religion, obsession with entertainment, and an enormous wealth gap between rich and poor leading to a removed upper class and an impoverished lower class that can’t survive without private charity or government support… this describes the America of today.
We’ve lost an understanding of what makes a society thrive. We need to regain that understanding, and that’s what I’ll be addressing that in this blog.
I’ll conclude with a telling incident. The US State Department approved $20,000 grant to a cultural center in Ecuador to pay for 13 performances of drag queens. Yes, drag queens. When criticized by Arizona congressman Andy Biggs, the State Department responded by saying: “The program will advance key US values of diversity”. This is sheer idiocy. No civilization can endure with such foolish thinking. In this blog I’ll be naming the key values that will return our country to health.