The Byzantine Christian Empire lost what is now Turkey to the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks between 1071 and 1453, with the result that not only the seven important churches mentioned in Revelation 2–3 were lost, but the whole region declined in every way.
By contrast, from1517 the Protestant Reformation started to liberate northern Europe from feudalism. Sadly, by the end of the 19th century, Lutheranism had lost Germany to Modernism, paving the way for it to become Nazi—a terror not only to its own inhabitants but also to the world.
Similarly Russia, partly due to the other-worldliness of its Orthodox Christianity, was taken over by Communism.
Protestant England lost to secularism. Last week a British court ruled against a Christian couple for not giving a single-bed to two homosexual men. For twenty-five years they had observed a practice in their Bed & Breakfast facility of not giving single beds to two people who were not married. The court ruled that running a private business according to one’s moral conscience justifies punishment.
Now, the question is: Will evangelicalism lose America to postmodern paganism?
If so, the loss will be America’s and of those parts of the world that look up to America. The loss will not be simply economic or the relative global political stability of the last six decades. The damage will be much deeper.
Thirty years ago, Allan Bloom, a Jewish Professor in Chicago, touched on some aspects of the loss in his bestselling book The Closing of the American Mind. Let me paraphrase him in my words before quoting him:
If you faced a mountain of puzzle pieces—say the size of the Himalayas—but did not have a picture of what that puzzle was supposed to look like, would you begin assembling that puzzle together? Six hundred years before Christ, the Greeks did make a beginning. It took them a few centuries to conclude that there was no hope of making sense of the puzzle. They replaced philosophy and science with stories and myths — exactly what the West (including America’s neo-evangelicalism), is now doing. No culture can sustain the intergenerational discipline needed to make sense of life and universe unless it has the big picture, the bird’s-eye view, or the world-and-life-view of what that puzzle is supposed to look like. In order to sustain that effort, a culture also needs an intergenerational sense of duty to pursue knowledge.
The medieval and modern West began the intellectual revolution which created our world, because the Bible gave to the West the Creator’s overview of what the whole of reality— that mountain of puzzle pieces—was all about. The biblical worldview was never fully understood. There was always plenty of room for genuine disagreement about where a particular piece actually fits in the puzzle. Nevertheless, the biblical worldview became the West’s soul – its guiding compass. Without its soul, America will lose not just its family and health care but also its science and compassion, liberty and justice, innovation and virtue, music and optimism—all of which arose from the Bible, as is demonstrated by any comparison with a non-Biblical culture (in my new book mentioned below I look at many non-biblical cultures).
As James Cameron suggests in his film Avatar, America’s currently dominant non-Biblcal greed-and-unemployment driven economy will turn America into a greater terror to the world than what Hitler could have managed. Bloom was only scratching the surface of the problem when he lamented in the 1970s that by the end of his long career as a professor, he had noticed that students were coming to the university without knowledge of the Bible (the big picture) and, therefore, without an interest in great books, arts, music, science, or wisdom of the West — much of which was related to the Bible and could not be understood without it. Bloom may not have known why Paganism leads to mysticism, not science and knowledge, but intuitively he realized that there was some connection between ignorance of the Bible and the university’s loss of interest in the puzzle of life – in pursuing understanding, wisdom, and virtue:
In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture, one that united the simple and the sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and—as the very model for a vision of the order of the whole of things, as well as the key to the rest of Western art, the greatest works of which were in one way or another responsive to the Bible—provided access to the seriousness of books. With its gradual and inevitable disappearance, the very idea of such a total book is disappearing. And fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise—as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine. Contrary to what is commonly thought, without the book even the idea of the whole is lost.* [*Allan Bloom,The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 58.]
Bloom did not experience the full consequences of the loss of the West’s soul, that is, the Bible. George Orwell, who lived through the two World Wars, as did J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, did actually experience those. In 1940, at the height of a war unleashed by an ex-Protestant nation, Orwell wrote,
For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake: The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all; it was a cesspool full of barbed wire . . . It appears that amputation of the soul isn’t just a simple surgical job, like having your appendix out. The wound has a tendency to go septic. [George Orwell, Notes on the Way, 1940]
In my new book The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (to be published by Thomas Nelson in April 2011) I have explored how the Bible created the modern world and why the sun is setting on the West as it rejects the Bible. You can preorder your copy atwww.RevelationMovement.com and also watch the video-lectures “Must the Sun Set on the West?”
My purpose in writing this letter is to say that America need not be lost. America is not being lost because Paganism is a superior philosophy or that its spirits are more powerful than the Holy Spirit. Nor does the blame lie with secular humanism. The failure is that of American evangelicalism. Few people have explained that better than historian George Marsden in his books,Fundamentalism and American Culture and The Soul of American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Unbelief, both published by Oxford University Press. In the months ahead, in a series of letters, I plan to explain in simpler language why America is being lost. You can get these letters regularly by joining www.RevelationMovement.com). For now the important point is that although 20th century evangelicalism is losing America, it was biblical thinking that built America as one of the greatest nations in history and Biblical truth and action can also revive it.
Can America be saved? Another Great Awakening will have to be God’s gracious act, and He can use anything. Here is what I propose: your congregation can appoint one academic pastor each year who will recruit 15 students to come to Church, Monday to Friday to get an accredited university degree—Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Nation Building. In four years, your church could have 4 academic pastors and 60 students, each paying under $10,000 a year to get a college degree. The courses will be online; the professors will remain in the college; on most days they will meet with the class online and travel occasionally for face-to-face seminars. Students will go to colleges, private labs etc. for specific training that cannot be given in a church-setting.
At this moment, 100 Christian colleges and universities are discipling about 200,000 students a year. Within the next two decades, the same 100 colleges can disciple 4 to 6 million American students each year by having classes in 100,000 local churches, mentored by godly men and women. Cutting the overall cost of college education down to 25% is a small benefit of the scheme. The real purpose is to equip the church to take responsibility to disciple America, to make character formation an integral aspect of education and, most importantly, to revive America’s soul in the hearts and minds of the next generations.
Please visit www.RevelationMovement.com to see some of the details, join the Discussion Forum on that site to comment, as well as to raise questions and to help answer the questions that others are raising.
During these two weeks, we are preparing the groundwork for this education revolution at the University of the Nations, Kona, HI. Allan Carrington, who teaches professors how to turn their content into an e-Learning course, has already reached Kona to help build our initial team of curriculum creators. Along with his wife Glynis, Allan is helping me develop the core of my new book into a sample curriculum. Dr. Takim Adriono, the Chairman of the Indonesian Christian Education Council for East Java, who launched the first center for Hybrid-Church-based e-Learning on October 9, 2010, has also reached Kona to plan how to prepare the curriculum in Indonesian Bahasa and how to get 10,000 Indonesian churches involved in discipling their nation using this strategy. I am sending this from Los Angeles airport, on my way to join them in the postgraduate school of Community Development at Kona from January 29 to February 4, to teach a 25-hour course on “Developing a Community’s Soul.” This content is based both on my new book as well as on Genesis 1–Exodus 20: How did a “people-group” become a “great nation.”
Why am I sharing this with you?
- I need your prayers—I have been packing my home and office to move to a new (as yet unknown) location as soon as I come back from Kona, and I have not yet mastered the pedagogical principles Allan has been trying to teach me. (He has put these up on his Moodle and he is accepting up to 40 students for free coaching.) So, he will be in the class teaching me how to teach.
- On Wednesday Carolyn Rafferty also reached Kona to work with Allan and Glynis to film and edit my teaching into a sample eLearning curriculum.
- All of this means an expense of about $10,000—and we need your prayers and donations.
- Long term—to be honest, I have been struggling with the question if I should be involved in trying to “save America.” I am quite fulfilled babysitting our granddaughter, assisting Ruth in the kitchen, and writing. However, the fact is that in less than 10 weeks, when my new book is launched, I will have my 15 minutes in the media—and the inevitable question will be, “So what? The Bible was the soul of Western civilization; it created the modern world; but that is history. What about the future? Can it save America? . . . ”
My answer is an emphatic YES. America can have a greater future. It can become a greater blessing to the world than ever. The darkness need not overcome the light. God’s word is true and powerful and His church is a social force against which the gates of hell will not prevail. . . . For me, the question is: am I to be involved in this revolution to transform America?
- I am putting a fleece before the Lord—“if YOU want me to catalyze this revolution, please raise enough people who will join RevelationMovement, commit to pray and donate $20 or more per month.”
- That, in short, is the immediate purpose of this letter. Besides your prayers and donation we will also need
- your ideas—please post them online
- your help in promoting my new book to help people understand how the Bible built America and can rebuild it—I would love to come to your city for book launch
- your church to consider becoming a center for discipling college students
- one or two assistants to come on board ASAP to help with research and administration.
- If we are to stay then for a local church, university, or college to become the home base for Ruth and I after September 2011 to catalyze this project.
- Please pray for the board of the Book of the Millennium International that will meet on Saturday, February 19th to think through the organizational implications of this revolution, if we are to be involved.
Thank you for taking the time to read and pray. If you also become a regular prayer partner and donor, then you will become a part of God’s voice that will give my board and me the needed courage to act on this simple vision that is, in fact, far bigger than any of us.
Anticipating your response with fear and trembling as well as with a certain amount of excitement. . .
P. S. Click Here to read the Proposal “How to Save America?”