The Spiritual Death of America

In a 2010 USAToday article Kathy Lynn Grossman reported: "Most young adults today don't pray, don't worship and don't read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.

If the trends continue, "the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships," says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're "really more spiritual than religious."

Among the 65% who call themselves Christian, "many are either mushy Christians or Christians in name only," Rainer says. "Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith."

"(A) 2007 LifeWay study found seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30, both evangelical and mainline, who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23. And 34% of those had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30."

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“We are on the verge—-withinn ten years—of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity…” “The breakdown will follow the deterioration of the maimline Protestant world….Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of its occupants….This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West.” (Michael Spencer cited by Buchanan, “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? p. 54)

Just as Christian theism has all but died in W. Europe, its' death knell tolls here. Over and across a vast denominational spectrum, orthodox Christian theism is dying, yet as Cathy Grossman reports, 72% of Milllennials are nevertheless 'spiritual.'

So what does this mean both individually and collectively, meaning America itself?

Individually it means that the Triune God is dead in the hearts of all who turn away from orthodox Christianity, meaning the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

As for the future of America and of the post-Christian West, it was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) who foresaw their fall into ruination and death. When the Triune God has died in the hearts of a critical mass of Westerners the West will die as well. It cannot possibly save the civilizational fruits of its faith for the death of the true God heralds the spiritual death of all who have turned away from the supernatural Triune God.

Often regarded as a prophet for foretelling the rise of atheist totalitarian socialism in Russia, Fyodor Dostoevsky was also gifted with penetrating insight into the torments of mankind's soul.

Speaking through his character the Grand Inquisitor, he writes that men really do not want to be free. Men do not want God’s greatest gift, the gift of spiritual freedom, because freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil is a torment to man. It is man's greatest anguish.... an anguish that manifests itself as self-destructive rebellion.

The Inquisitor explains that it is God’s fault that things are in such a bad way. During His time spent here on earth as the Christ, His cardinal error was in exalting spiritual freedom and the spiritual bread of heaven above everything else said the Inquisitor. The Christ sought man’s love through faith freely chosen, but the effect of this has been to create man the rebel. Why? Because the promised bread of heaven can never compare with “earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man.”

Mankind wants to worship its belly in a utopian community of worship, said the Inquisitor. They crave a universal state so ordered as to promote free indulgence of their sin nature without any feelings of guilt and without risk of spiritual suicide, a requirement necessitating a false 'spirituality' or humanistic religion that allows them to deceive themselves as they freely march toward their own self-destruction.

Self-deceivers choose self-destruction, observed the Inquisitor, for in turning back from the true God a reversal of conversion occurs in which the soul ceases to live by the regenerated spirit and begins to live with the life of the body. The passions thereby revived absorb the life of the person who spiritually dies.

What does spiritual death mean?

The supernatural Triune God endowed man's soul with fundamental properties that distinguish it from matter. The noblest of these is spirit. Animals do not have spirits, which are linked to intelligence, sensitivity, self-consciousness, conscience and the freedom of reflection and liberty. Man is uniquely free because he can access the supernatural dimension as Paul affirms:

“Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17)

Spiritual death means loss of freedom. This occurs when God turns away from the man who has freely chosen to turn away from Him, whether through active rebellion or indifference. Worse, spiritual death also means that man's beastly nature reasserts itself, and this results in barbarism. Describing the days of Noah, Early Church Father John of Damascus said:

"Barbarism is that which prevailed from the days of Adam down through ten generations to the time of Noah. It is called barbarism because of the fact that in those times men had no ruling authority or mutual accord, but every man was independent and a law unto himself after the dictates of his own will." (John of Damascus, "The Fount of Knowledge," cited in Political Apocalypse, Ellis Sandoz, p. 131)

And finally, eternal consequences await the spiritually dead as noted by CS Lewis. Lewis observed that Heaven is for all who say to God, "Thy will be done" and Hell is for all who say to God, "My will be done." And so it is.

@Linda Kimball