The future is bright.
Jesus is Lord.
The American Christian future is bright.
The American foes of the Faithful are part of a fading generation and a youthful global population is turning to Christianity. Global Christianity will save the fading West, because of their Christian charity. Don’t head for the hills of Idaho, but for the cities of America, because it is from the polyglot American cities that a great revival will come as the global mission work the American Church has done comes home grown up.
Don’t buy gold, invest in God’s Kingdom.
American Christians are blessed: blessed in our allies and blessed in our foes. Looking abroad, I would not trade our allies for theirs.
Our foes have Richard Dawkins. We have Francis Arinze.
Our foes have most of cable television, but we have the witness of Sister Mary Prema.
As far as material circumstances are concerned, American Christians have no greater blessing than our foes. We are our biggest problem. The only thing standing in the way of the triumph of the Church is American churchmen.
Only our present vices could undermine an organization driven by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our sins are not greater than the grace of God, true, but still we must begin by confessing that we have many of the vices of the age in which we live. Facing this reality will do us no harm and a great deal of good.
Providentially, our vice is tempered by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit has no vice whatsoever. Against the Holy Spirit there is no ultimate victory and we can only pray that few humans are caught in any scheme to oppose Him.
Two chief schemes to opposing the Spirit are secularism and libertine morality. The secularist denies that the spiritual world matters while the libertine refuses to allow God to moderate his desires. Both the secularist and the libertine attempt to deny the lordship of Jesus Christ, but there the differences begin. The secularist and the libertine will make common cause against the Christian, because the Christian is the foe of both ideologies, but if these ideologies should defeat the Church in some local area they soon fall out or quickly fail.
Let me be plain: the true secular danger is not from ranting Internet atheists. They at least have a kind of intellectual consistency and boldness. The most dangerous secularist is the Christian who lives as if the size of his television is more important than the state of his soul. The true libertine danger is not from the sad wreck in Las Vegas who needs our pity more than our condemnation, but from American Christians who live for personal peace and affluence.
There are many variations of secularism, but most American versions are not really compatible with libertine goals. The libertine makes human desires the measure of all things and though some secularists embrace this vision, most do not. Most American secularists embrace “reason” or “science” as determining what should be.
Put simply, the libertine is guided by his desires and the secularist by unaided human reason. If the secularists see majority desires as unreasonable, then the many will have to give up on their desires. For example, if a secularist decides the environment “should” be protected, then any desire by the majority to pollute will be put in check. If the secularist thinks a thing “bad,” he can be as puritanical as any Pilgrim Father in punishing the secular vice.
The libertine on the other hand will not suffer even for his own long term good. He will often not even give up short term pleasures for long term gains. Note the small number of Americans that save for their own retirement, even though overwhelmingly they believe that they should.
Any libertine philosophy will lack the virtues necessary to carry on a generational fight against determined external or internal foes. Libertines thrive only when their opponents are seduced to abandon courage and prudence. Both secularism and libertine behavior need something to oppose, because both are parasitic ideas on cultural creating religious views. In America, secularists and libertines gain their energy and unity by reacting against Christianity.
This defeat of Christianity in the American “establishment” has already happened, though most American Christians are just realizing it. We are a hollowed out majority. Many Christians in the United States are Christians-in-name only, mentally secularists and often living as libertines. Still there are millions, young and old, who have not bowed to false gods and are ready for a revival.
If we are so weak, how can we have hope? We hope in God and we see His Spirit moving in nations around the globe.
Revival will come, thanks to our parents in the Faith. For decades American Christians sent their brightest and best to missions around the world. The Church is now larger, more diverse, and healthier than ever. The seed cast on the global oceans will soon return home and the mission fields will send us missionaries.
What is coming will be a Christian revival, springing from the energy of the world outside of Europe and America, which will revive our own national faith. Korean, Kenyan, Russian, and Chinese Christianity will lead the way and immigrants will bring a revived zeal to our shore. The mass of American faithful will follow the rest of the world with a revival of evangelical, traditional, and orthodox Christianity.
The future of the United States belongs to a multiethnic American church. Hispanic Pentecostals, Jamaican Evangelicals, and evangelical Russian Orthodox will put aside their divisions to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus. Only the hopeful dare to dream or pray for it, but perhaps the Latter Day Saints will evolve in a more Evangelical direction and join the orthodox consensus and so become true saints in the latter days?
Nothing is impossible to God except failure. He does not need America, but there is no reason to think He cannot save our beloved nation. He can, we pray He will.
I am betting the future will not be heaven on Earth, but it will be a happier ending than pessimists expect.
We Are Our Foes: How We Fell For Lies
Evil ideologies seem triumphant locally, but it is a false victory. Secularisms should never be popular, because they are ultimately at war with reality and bound to be bad news. Secularism will hollow out goodness, truth, and beauty and make them mere human creations. The notion that I can create my own meaning is meaningless in the face of the problems of life that are beyond my comprehension.
The experience of the last century was that when men denied God it led to hell and not to heaven on Earth.
How then did the secularism gain the power it has in our lives?
It began by appealing to rebellion against moral restraint. Libertine behavior looks freer than the prudence needed to achieve liberty in the soul. Prudence saves our souls for liberty tomorrow, while the libertine philosophy takes away adult liberty for the fulfillment of childish desires.
It is all in Plato.
In America, traditional Jewish and Christian morality checked our appetites and limited our autonomy. Both said that just because Americans could do a thing did not mean that they should do it. A small minority survives and even has power, because the majority, the Christian majority, has eagerly embraced too many of their values.
Too often we have allowed our prosperity to make us self-indulgent and our freedoms to become excuses for vices or trivialities. To paraphrase a friend, some American Christians act as if Christ died on the Cross to win the right to use the f-word.
When we worship money, the moral will begin to flirt with socialist tyranny as a solution. Our liberty will be lost, because of our abuse of it.
Markets should be free, but being free to market everything does not mean everything should be bought and sold. Sadly, Christians compromised for money and began to buy and sell as if the accumulation of stuff was the highest end of mankind. We began to think that if a thing was legal, then in business it was moral.
We pandered to base desires to sell products. Americans had created a government that allowed them to do what they should not do. When we began to misuse our freedom, the result was corruption of us all.
The love of money was the root of all our evil.
An argument against restraint will always appeal to the folk, especially to the young. The old immortality will come decked out as the new morality and it will conveniently liberate them to do what they wish.
We always reap what we sow, of course, but the reaping comes so long after the sowing that a people cut off from nature and from their own past often forget the root causes of their problems. Prophets who say, “I told you so,” are irritating and the temptation is to ignore them.
Americans sow to the wind, reap the whirlwind, and then blame the weatherman.
Libertine lifestyles cannot continue, because no culture can long afford the party. The environment suffers. Excellence in education must give way to edutainment and the high arts will be subsumed by pop cultural pap. Secularism is marketed by libertine morality, but then must dispense with it or perish.
The free market cannot save slavish men, because slavish men will use their freedoms to make themselves twice the slaves of their desires.
In the end, Plato and the Biblical prophets saw the result: tyranny. Sensible secularists will attempt to intervene to save the libertines from themselves. They will regulate our shower temperature, our diet, and our behavior in ways no Puritan in New England ever dreamed of doing.
The Founding Fathers understood it: good people regulate themselves and do not need controls. Slavish men cannot be allowed freedom or they will destroy themselves and the culture. There is no greater fantasy in modern culture than the secular libertarian delusion that libertines can govern themselves.
There are no perfect men so even the Bible-toting-frontiersman will need some government. Even the institutional Church needs a state powerful enough to check ecclesiastical abuses. Those who look to the Church for salvation of souls are correct, but those who look to churchmen for the totality of societal transformation are as deluded as the statists.
God divides His authority amongst statesmen, churchmen, and parents. Each checks each other and thus allows humankind to survive in a fallen world. It was the providential genius of the Founders to devise a governmental system that allowed for just these checks and balances.
Because they undermine the church and the family authorities, the secularist and the libertine cannot sustain liberty. Their victory against the restraints of morality will be for nothing, because freedom from moderation will soon necessitate a check. Only the state will be left to provide such a check if either the libertines or the secularists win, but the state cannot be trusted.
Of course many (if not most) people calling themselves “secularists” are moderate in their personal behavior. No American is “purely” a secularist. We are all products of the Jewish and Christian culture of the United States, just as we are all tainted by American secularism and libertine morality.
All Americans, even those calling themselves atheists, are heirs to the Jewish and Christian culture of the United States and have divine Image within their souls. They rely on the inherited Law of Moses and wisdom of Jesus Christ while trimming out the parts that displease their desires or their “reason.” When an atheist attempts to follow Reason, he is following the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity.
Many an atheist follows the Logos more purely than we follow Jesus. As a result, many so-called secularists have virtues Christians would do well to emulate.
We are all infected with rebellion against the Spirit and a desire to live for our own personal peace and affluence. There is no American that can claim to be righteous, not one. Ultimately no human being is the foe of the Christian. The most confirmed secularist can teach us something and the wildest libertine will know some virtue, because the Image of God cannot be utterly destroyed in any man this side of Hell.
We must love every man, even our “enemies,” because only the demons are the true enemy. We can demonize ideologies, but we must never demonize men or we do the demons work for them.
We must embrace the reality that the fault lies in each American heart. We love money more than the soul of men. We allow children to go hungry while we overeat. We ask the government to do what we will not do and then refuse to pay for it.
We deserve doom, because we have denied reality by placing the material over the spiritual. We would rather make money than discuss philosophy. We would rather build businesses than educate children. We would rather increase our own comfort than serve others.
We act as if it is more blessed to receive than to give and this lie is the essence of secularism.
Secularism denies reality by refusing to recognize the spiritual realm. When American Christians preach a prosperity gospel, we preach secularism in religious language. Worse we drain secularism of the only virtue it has: intellectual cynicism.
Cynical and philosophical secularism can serve a valuable cultural task of being a philosophical gadfly when Christianity is dominant, but when it “wins,” the harsh and ugly side of secularism comes to the foreground.
With no stable basis for morality, history shows secular governments become ugly and corrupt or weak and ineffective. They either become overly aggressive or unable to defend themselves.
The United Kingdom after the Second World War has secularized. Self-indulgent social spending and a permissive private culture has left the Kingdom increasingly unable to defend herself and without a coherent cultural identity.
By way of contrast, secular North Korea has followed a different path. It has denied basic human rights and developed an aggressive and jingoistic public face. It has a massive army, but an economy that starves its own people.
Western Europe and the communist world present two unattractive future alternatives to Americans. The Founders of America were right: our Republic is based on the assumption that we would be a religious people.
For a Christian, secularism remains just another demonic lie. It is a religion that does not even recognize the existence of its own god and as it grows in power it will surely become more openly hostile to the Gospel. This lie is in the heart of every man and in every human being it competes with the love of God for domination.
In the short term, secularists may triumph, but Christians must stand ready to love the battered remnant that will be left when this demonic god fails. We must hate secularism, but be willing to die for the rights of the secularists. We must love our enemies.
What is a Christian to do in this situation?
We must recognize that we are the problem. Most of us have treated the Divine as a solution to our problems instead of humbly coming to God. We worry about “atheism,” but watch more television than we read books.
Many of us have made money our true God and consumption our liturgy.
Finally, many of us have been tempted to curry favor with the libertines and the secularists by being more publically critical of the Church than we are of the world. Christian academia has often done a better job showing the defects in the Church than in taking a prophetic stand against the spirit of our age.
There are brave exceptions, but these are all too rare.
We must abandon a failed “cult of youth” and once again have our young men and women taught by the older and wiser men and women in the Church. This will begin when all of us cease to endlessly list our forbearer’s faults, exposing our spiritual fathers and mothers’ spiritual nakedness to public ridicule.
Better to find the great good they did and build on these things, while quietly noting and moving past their errors. Any Church that cuts itself off from past generations by doctrine, liturgy, or practice will not be the Bride of Christ.
His Bride is one.
Merely trendy answers are inadequate, because the Church of a timeless God can never be as dated as to be up to date. There is a need to return to the hard work of building Christendom, Christ’s Kingdom. We cannot demonize any epoch, we have gained from them all, or valorize any period, even the Founding.
We learn from all publically, but privately allow the dialectic to bring every thought captive to Divine Love.
As American Christians we must avoid any mere disdain for the Enlightenment and protect its blessings. One blessed lesson from the Enlightenment period was respect for the liberty of people holding other faiths. Christians learned through bitter experience that forced conversions to the Faith were evil in every way: they were evil in practice and in consequence.
Scientific advance has been a great blessing from the Enlightenment. Building on the work of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish philosophers in the Middle Ages, science changed the world. This change would so profound that we now take its benefits for granted.
“Science” is as flawed as any other activity, because humans must practice it. However, it too contains checks and balances and over time can be trusted to come as close to the “truth” about the material world as humans can. Trust no scientist, but we can put some hope in science.
Material problems are not, however, the main problems. Science can tell us what the case is or what could be the case, but can never show us what we should be the case. This is the job of religion and science.
Here the Enlightenment era was also helpful. The political work of the Christian apologist and philosopher John Locke should not be ignored or taken for granted, not least his Second Treatise and the American Revolution it helped guide and inspire. The Constitution of 1789 is the fruit of centuries of Christian development with a helpful dash of deist skepticism to leaven the document.
It is not perfect, but there is no better human alternative. Americans should cherish it, because we are very unlikely to get anything better if we reject it.
We need not only look to the past. We should appropriate any benefits from contemporary culture where we can. Post-modernity, to the very limited extent it actually exists in popular culture, does some good. There is no full blown secularist or libertine any more than there is any perfect Christian.
We can redeem any work of art, any advance, because all truth belongs to the Church.
Publically, we must continue to defend the Christian ideals of personal morality, free markets, limited government, and the right of religious people to apply religious knowledge to any political questions. Conservative Evangelicals can be proud of their stands against abortion, for marriage, and against Communism during the Cold War. Evangelicals remain a bulk work against growing statist tendencies in this Republic. We have a noble tradition of supporting groups like the Salvation Army that effectively minister to the poor.
We must strengthen all these traditions and renew our patriotism. Of course, we are members of a global Church and should also keep a Kingdom perspective, but how can we love our brothers and sisters abroad when we have not first loved our brothers and sisters in our own nation?
The love of our own nation recognizes that Heaven will be organized by people groups! Americans will stand together before the throne of God. Much as we admire other nations by birth and heritage, we are Americans and cannot truly be anything else as individuals.
This realization causes American Christians to understand why men and women of other countries love their nations. We must respect this and support a modest Washingtonian foreign policy that stands for liberty and no longer props up evil regimes like that foisted on Arabs by the House of Saud. The flow of oil should not justify our support of vile dictators, hypocrites to their Islamic faith, who respect no decent human impulse.
We must ask the global Church to send us missionaries and teach us where we have gone wrong in our defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I know one thing for sure: in one hundred years Christianity will be thriving somewhere on this planet.
Either Jesus will return and rule or bad values will have caused a revival of the Faith in some part of the Earth. Any Christian is a citizen of the Kingdom and gives his love and loyalty to King Jesus first. This greatest love is not incompatible with lesser loves. The lesser loves are strengthened by the greater loves and so the man in love with God will also be in love with his people.
No man is a global Christian who is not first a national one. You cannot love the Christian you have not seen, if you cannot love the irritating American parishioner you have seen!
We pray that Christianity is renewed in this Republic we love. We thank God that our opponents folly, though not our own virtues, have made this outcome likely in the next century.
There is a global revival coming that will make this Republic even greater than it has ever been. We will be as honorable as Washington hoped to be, as united as Lincoln believed we could be, as protective of the weak as Roosevelt strove to do, as just as King dreamed, and as safe as Bush tried to make us.