In writing of the spiritual emptiness, hollowness and despair gripping Western society, British journalist William Rees-Mogg said, "I have to report the affairs of a world which has lost its faith, which is like a fish out of water or a drowning man, desperately thrashing around for lack of oxygen. Since the time of Christ there has been no period in which there has been the same feeling of spiritual impoverishment." (Mogg cited by Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 2)
William Rees-Mogg hoped that Americans would escape the spiritual emptiness and help to redeem W. Europe. But spiritually astute observers in America disagreed with him.
The distinguished archaeologist William Foxwell Albright said American society had descended into a condition of spiritual darkness similar to that of the Hellenic world at the time of Christ while sociologist Robert Bellah believed the United States was undergoing a third time of trial more severe than those of the Revolution and Civil War. (Schlossberg, p. 3)
Eminent historian Arnold Toynbee agrees with Albright's assessment. Noting that the Graeco-Roman civilization had broken down long before Christianity, its' implosion nevertheless served as a handmaid to the rise of Christianity, the final perfection of all religions that had gone before. If religion is a chariot said Toynbee,
"it looks as if the wheels on which it mounts towards Heaven may be the periodic downfalls of civilizations on Earth." (Christianity and Civilization, From Civilization on Trial, Oxford University Press, 1948, Myriobiblos.gr )
Though Christianity is the greatest 'new' thing to have ever happened, Westerners in general are oblivious to this because our present view of modern history focuses attention on the rise of our contemporary Western secular scientifically-advanced civilization as the latest great new event in the world. We believe this because the past has been obliterated to make room for the designs of secular humanist conditioners and social engineers whose inverted history, or historicism, places everything on an evolutionary escalator forever going up, up, up.
Only with this vastly changed time-scale is the beginning of the Christian era an extremely recent date. Truth lies in the other direction. We must return to the old-fashioned time-scale said Toynbee,
"on which the creation of the world and the beginning of life on the planet were reckoned to have taken place no more than six thousand years ago (to see that Christianity is in fact) a very recent event --perhaps the most recent significant event in history--" (ibid)
But Western society and America have in fact descended into spiritual darkness. Toynbee comments:
"....our own Western post-Christian secular civilization might at best be a superfluous repetition of the pre-Christian Graeco-Roman one, and at worst a pernicious back-sliding from the path of spiritual progress. In our Western world of to-day, the worship of Leviathan --the self-worship of the tribe-- is a religion to which all of us pay some measure of allegiance; and this tribal religion is, of course, sheer idolatry." (ibid)
The most idolatrous therefore nihilistic thing of all is the egoistic will of man whose constant companion is rebellion and/or revolution:
â€œA government must rule by the Grace of God or by the will of the people, it must believe in authority or in the Revolution; on these issues compromise is possible only in semblance, and only for a time. The Revolution, like the disbelief which has always accompanied it, cannot be stopped halfway; it is a force that, once awakened, will not rest until it ends in a totalitarian Kingdom of this world. The history of the last two centuries has proved nothing if not this. To appease the Revolution and offer it concessions, as Liberals have always done, thereby showing that they have no truth with which to oppose it, is perhaps to postpone, but not to prevent, the attainment of its end." (Seraphim Rose, Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age)
Nihilism ends in death of the soul whereas the direct effect and deliberate aim of true Christianity,
"...is the opportunity which it brings to individual souls for spiritual progress in this world during the passage from birth to death. It is this individual spiritual progress in this world for which we pray when we say 'Thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven.' It is for the salvation that is open to all men of good will --pagan as well as Christian, primitive as well as civilized-- who make the most of their spiritual opportunities on Earth, however narrow these opportunities may be, that we pray when we say 'Thy Kingdom come." (Christianity and Civilization, Toynbee)
Salvation of the soul is the real meaning of earthly existence:
â€œThe meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.â€ Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward
Jesus Christ the Son of God the Great Physician came into this world for the sake of souls:
"The essence of the human is not the body, but the soul. It is the soul alone that God made in his own image and the soul that he loves....For the sake of the soul...the Son of God came into the world...." (Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 25, Ancient Christian Devotional, Oden and Crosby, p. 153)
But as the light of true Christianity grows ever dimmer under the suffocating darkness covering most of the West and America, even in so-called conservative churches focus is no longer on sin and salvation of the soul but on people-pleasing worldly matters, popular programs, spiritually-empty messages, peace initiatives, works-based faith, becoming fashionably'green,' and saving the world.
Along with all apostate and spiritually anesthetized Westerners and Americans, they have forgotten that the entire New Testament is,
â€œâ€¦overshadowed by the certainty of a coming day of universal judgment, and by the problem thence arising; how may we sinners get right with God while there is yet time?â€ (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)
For all of these reasons Francis Schaeffer's book, â€œDeath in the City, seems disturbingly prophetic. His central theme is that â€œtrue truthâ€ is revealed in the Bible by the living â€œGod Who is there,â€ but men have turned away from Him, the living fountain of life, and now there is â€œdeath in the city,â€ meaning in the minds (spirit and/or heart) of men.
Spiritual death means death of conscience thus of morally-informed reason. This results in the nihilist sophistry that suffocates truth, meaning, morality and purpose, leaving behind only a spiritually impoverished void characterized by egotism, hedonism, contention, confusion, moral relativism (no right way, no wrong way) depraved reasoning (i.e., Jesus Christ was 'gay,' He approves of abortion, euthanasia, and green 'pagan' sustainability agendas), lawlessness and chaos.
The will of the narcissist or egoist is the most nihilistic thing of all and has brought our spiritually-dead society to the brink of disaster. Even now our nation is being shaken-apart, thus Schaeffer concludes that our age is the age of Jeremiah:
â€œThe book of Jeremiah and the book of Lamentations show how God looks at a culture which knew Him and deliberately turned away. But this is not just the character of Jeremiahâ€™s day of apostasy. Itâ€™s my day. Itâ€™s your day.â€ (p 33)
Like Robert Bellah, Stephen Stone, President of Renew America, believes the United States is undergoing another trial, perphaps the one that determines once for all our future:
"Most informed, decent Americans realize that we as a nation are faced this election with a choice that is entirely unthinkable on the one hand (Barack Obama), and profoundly unacceptable on the other (Mitt Romney) (and) I would argue that this election is a perfect divine test of our faith in God â€” or alternatively, our faith in man." Stone adds,"I think it's fair to say that God has had a hand in the absurd "lesser of evils" choice placed before us this year, as part of His judgments, to see how we will act with our nation's very existence on the line, and with seemingly no real choice for president. He wants us to demonstrate whether we will trust in Him, or rely on ourselves, in determining what to do. Our nation's continued existence, I believe, hinges on which way we opt to go in the face of this reality. If we prove ourselves worthy, by doing what God wants us to do, we have nothing to fear. He will stand with us and fight our battles, and we will survive the calamitous future we would otherwise lose."
Mitt is a proven liar and deceiver said Stone,
"(and) to vote for a proven deceiver who possesses a progressive/socialist agenda that rivals Obama's in its power to weaken our moral, cultural, and political foundations is to forfeit any claim to God's intervention at a time when our nation needs it most. God is not only merciful... He is just, and we will be found wanting if we are deceived by the sophistry of the "Romney-is-our-best-and-only-hope" phenomenon. We will not merit God's merciful blessings if we succumb to such sophistry. And if that happens, we will only have ourselves to blame."
(read Stones' essay here: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/stone/121015 and for a reasonable alternative to voting for Mitt Romney, check out Alan Keyes' "Platform Republican" here http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/keyes/121013 )
No man can cure Americans of their spiritual sickness nor save the United States from its' self-destructive course. We must recall that everything in this life passes away; only God is eternal. Only He is worth struggling towards, therefore:
â€œDo not pursue what is illusory - property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade and can be confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life - don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is after all, all the same: the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. â€ â€• Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
Our age is an age of apostasy said Schaeffer, which means that as it was during the time of Jeremiah, so it is in contemporary America and the West. Western civilization is under Godâ€™s Judgement and man himself under the wrath of the living Godâ€¦and even more so for those who deliberately turn children away from God. We must humble ourselves, repent and seek the will of God, and said Solzhenitsyn:
"...resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.â€ Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn