Skilled statisticians like George Barna and carefully researched studies from the Pew Reports all show a declining moral climate and a gradual but alarming number of youthful exits from the church in America. Is it chronic, should we be worried? |
Any writer, preacher, prophet or ordinary live a day Christian worth their salt is calling for America to come to her senses and return to the faith of our fathers. They are not moved by the rhetoric of socialisms priest and preachers whether found in academia, media, Hollywood or political office. They are driven by the proof shown to them in the fruit of America’s past, but they are not merely driven by common nostalgia.
That man is made in God’s image can be seen sometimes in what seems like anthropomorphic terms found in the Bible. Our best qualities and tendencies seem to come directly from God. Is God nostalgic? At times it seems he is and that’s exactly why those created in his image have moments where fond memory seems more real than the present. In scripture God often calls us to review our past with an eye to better days?
The Prophet Jeremiah called to Israel as the prophets of today call to America to return to the days when humble faith in God resulted in national dignity and success in every endeavor. Jeremiah said “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls…” (Je 6:16)
Sadly this call was ignored as the remainder of the verse says ‘…But they said, we will not walk therein.” (Je 6:16b) Only a few short years after Jeremiah gave this warning the Israelites were conquered and carried away captive by their harshest enemy, the Babylonians, which today is modern Iraq.
Rather than being just some small step in history that captivity was only the beginning of a long century’s wide ordeal. Israel remained subject to other nations or dispersed throughout the world from those days and forward for about 2500 years until the British Mandate of 1948. That’s a long day for anyone to be without their original home or any chance or re-establishing themselves as a free and independent nation. In fact that has never been accomplished by any other nation in world history except Israel.
Israel like every world power since experienced their downfall on the heels of their highest accomplishments as a nation. That time is sometimes referred to as Israel’s ‘Great Golden Era’ and it is not unlike our own here in America.
Religion was at its peak in Israel and was centered on the great Temple of Solomon which was almost fifty years in the building. Although that structure became a substitute rather than a supplement to what God really wanted of them. God wanted equity in judgment, honesty, and morality and to care for the poor, relieve oppression, refuse to shed innocent blood and to keep his commandments in their every form.
They had success in keeping their enemies at bay, success in the herds and fields and an economy that was the envy of every nation around them. For some of them that alone was their downfall. They had goods, free time and prestige among nations, all winning combinations that got them to resting on their laurels. But as their prophets so often warned the dregs begin to form in the wine when it settles for a long time.
The parallels to America are far more than coincidental, they are frightening. Israel’s history is our history but it does not need to be if we choose to change course.
In the slower moving times of the colonial period we struggled but still produced pioneers, statesmen and hard working entrepreneurs who were tutored in the faith by dedicated Catholic priests, Anabaptist, Quakers, Puritans, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Methodists and others far too numerous to mention here. All this transpired long before the day when Hollywood began portraying the preachers of the gospel as milquetoast spineless misfits who didn’t have a clue. But the church endured thus assuring us that Christ meant business when he said, “…I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18b)
Between WWI and WWII preachers like Billy Sunday and others began a great evangelistic push that lasted until recent years under the ministry of Billy Graham, Rex Humbard and others. In post WWII the church began to bog down in traditionalism and boredom. It was evidence of the truth in the adage that ‘the hardest thing for a church to withstand is its own success.’ But God doesn’t sleep.
Sometimes God used great preachers or ministries to jog his people. From Washington DC the messages of Rev Peter Marshall of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church swept across the nation and called many young preachers and their disciples back to a strong faith in the living God.
The work of the Catholic church in Father Flanagan’s Boys Town was given powerful impetus by Hollywood’s willingness to show the world this great work for orphans and fatherless in movies that told this wonderful story to America. To this day who does not know that even as some Protestants are falling by the way side, the Catholic Church is still hard against the national genocide we have embarked upon since the inception of Roe v. Wade in 1973?
Yet even as the churches slipped into a sleepy droll God moved. He moved again through the ‘Jesus Movement’ of the early and middle sixties, a time of great unrest during the Vietnam War. Millions of young Americans responded to the faith of our fathers during the Jesus Movement outpouring.
The Jesus movement flourished even as college professors around the nation provoked young college students each with only about fifty years left to live to discuss the existentialist Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphoristic proclamation that “God is dead.” That discussion fell mute in the ears of those who found the eternal God was quite alive in the 1960s. Many of those converts are the preachers and prophets of today who are now warning us that our chosen path is dangerous and that we are muddying our own waters.
The next great movements that profoundly touched our national psyche were the ‘born again’ movement and the “Charismatic Renewal” Many churches were awakened by a surge of Holy Spirit driven power and began seeking spiritual gifts and calling for and seeing genuine healings and transformations. The charlatans who infiltrated this movement notwithstanding it brought new life to a floundering church and drew millions back into the fold.
The ‘born again’ movement was cross denominational and solidified many churches into what became known today as the evangelicals. Names like Bob Jones, Chuck Colson and the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell became household names. No one who knows and holds dear the scriptures would ever make light of the term ‘born again’ because Jesus said no one would ever see the Kingdom of God unless they were ‘born again.’ (Jn. 3:3)
Running concurrently with the born again movement was the period of the high profile televangelists. Some of them ended up in bitter controversies and scandals but not all. Many of the more serious ministries have survived to this day and are still spreading the universal gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
The problem with all great movements uniformly is that they become popular. Someone aptly has said that the church is at its weakest when it is popular and at its best when it is struggling or persecuted. Pure gold requires great heat.
So what can we expect in the near future? Now that America has pounded secular liberalism into the heads of two generations of our young with the help of liberal academia, Hollywood and media bias; is their any chance for a revival, a renewal or can we even hope to hold our own? In spite of secularisms idea of giving God his walking papers the most amazing biblical promise of all has just begun to be fulfilled. The next movement will be the last, but the greatest.
It is promised in many scriptural admonishments but it is clearest in one single verse spoken by the prophet Joel concerning the last days of time. “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28, 29)
The Omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth is not going to stand idly by while men destroy their own civilization and the very planet they live on. He will intervene and revival, prophetic warning, judgments and the final appearance of Jesus Christ coming in power will be how it all ends.
Before all this comes down a new kind of evangelism will emerge. It will be wholly prophetic in nature. The softer messages of the past will give way to dire warnings of last day’s events and their subsequent results. Look around it is already happening! It is spearheaded with power not panic and it will be followed by more immediate results. That means the warnings will be fulfilled much faster than in times of old. It will not take forty years but in some cases it will be only a matter of days or months for the fulfillment of prophesied calamities and disasters.
The new evangelists, prophets and preachers will be among the youngest in history. They will not be ashamed of the gospel or of the Lord. They will not be afraid of rebuke, jail time or society’s disdain. They will be aided by the visions of their older counterparts and will discern truth from error with remarkable clarity, they will not be fooled. It will take more than a socialist leaning newbie President to make them believe that their country is on the right track.
For the rest of us it will be a time to ask important questions. Specifically, the most important question of all will be if we should haste to return to the faith of our fathers. In spite of the wrangling of the ACLU and like organizations anyone who knows our real history can see that this country was founded and guided by faith filled men and women who knew the Bible, the gospel and the Lord who died for them.
They also see that the only source of strength this country ever had was its moral strength. All the preoccupation with the topsy turvy current economic upheaval is concomitant to our moral decline and all the promise of better times through the buck is extravagant misguided political hyperbole. This band of gospel soldiers will not be bamboozled, bushwhacked or besieged with the rhetoric of the media groupies and their political avatars. They will spot media bias from a hundred miles away and will shun pop culture trash like it’s the plague.
So what of the questions? Should America return to the faith of our fathers? Can America return to that place? Yes to both questions but time is of the essence. Perhaps the best call and the best reminder of what the call actually is can be seen in the words of the old and beloved hymn ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ written by Frederick W. Faber in 1849. This deeply moving song was sung at the funeral of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the East Room of the White House in Washington D.C. in 1945.
Faith of our fathers, living still, In spite of dungeon, fire and sword; O how our hearts beat high with joy Whenever we hear that glorious Word!
Faith of our fathers, we will strive To win all nations unto Thee; And through the truth that comes from God, We all shall then be truly free.
Faith of our fathers, we will love Both friend and foe in all our strife; And preach Thee, too, as love knows how By kindly words and virtuous life.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.
http://www.americanprophet.org is the place for news, articles, movie and book reviews and other insights for life. Rev Bresciani is a columnist for online and print publications and now has millions of readers throughout the world.
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