The following column was posted on Crosswalk’s e-newsletter Breakpoint on August 7, 2009. I don’t usually copy an entire column, but the subject is simply too important and Colson’s treatment of it too well stated to provide only an excerpt.
If you don’t subscribe to Breakpoint, I highly recommend it as an excellent way to stay informed about the issues and challenges impacting our nation today. Let’s not sink into apathy and watch all our Founders gave their lives for be stripped away! Please click on the links to check out the resources on Crosswalk’s site and to subscribe to Breakpoint, and then follow through and act on the issues you read about. Together we can make a difference if we fight to preserve our precious heritage and don’t faint! Crosswalk and Breakpoint are great places to start!
The Church and American Civilization
Many Christians, once motivated by protecting the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and traditional marriage, seem inconsolable—as if the fight is over and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But embracing this attitude is a certain prescription for disaster.
I received last month a newsletter by Don Reeverts of the Denver Leadership Foundation. In it he gives the following quote, often attributed to an 18th-century Scottish writer:
The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence . . . from bondage to spiritual faith . . . from spiritual faith to courage . . . from courage to liberty . . . from liberty to abundance . . . from abundance to selfishness . . . from selfishness to complacency . . . from complacency to apathy . . . from apathy to dependency . . . from dependency back to bondage.
These are sobering words. This question of where America is in the cycle should be extremely important for Christians. That’s because I firmly believe that culture is nothing but religion incarnate—that when we see a culture losing its moral footing, it’s because believers have failed to bring Christian truth to bear in society. We haven’t been, as Calvin put it, making the invisible kingdom visible.
So what stage are we in? Reeverts thinks we are entering the stage of apathy. And I hate to say it, but I agree. I am finding growing apathy among believers.
Apathy manifests itself in how people dress, how they talk, how they care for each other—and how concerned they are about the great issues of the day. It resembles what the Greeks called acedia, a languidness, a torpor, in which we stop caring about anything.
Apathy inevitably leads to dependency. And once we become dependent on Big Brother, we are back in bondage. Can anybody really watch the dramatic growth of governmental power and not be alarmed? For the fact of the matter is that the more government acts as God, the less people depend on the one true God.
Your congressmen and senators are home now for summer recess. Have you contacted them? Are you angry about what’s happening in this country today? Things like the elimination of the conscience clause for medical professionals, or embryonic stem cell research, or the advance of gay “marriage,” or threats to religious liberties, or government making life-and-death decisions in health care? If you’re not upset about those things, you’ve succumbed to apathy already.
I can’t imagine anybody sitting at home, comfortably watching us slip into a state of dependency without getting outraged, and then without expressing that outrage.
If we value our liberties, if we believe in the most fundamental principles upon which our civilization is based, then we owe it to our God and to future generations to speak out.
Institutions aren’t going to change the course of America; but great movements have changed the course of the nation and will again. And what better network to fuel a movement than the Church? Rejecting apathy and trusting in God, firm in our belief in human dignity and our God-given liberties, the Church can ignite a fire in this country.
Do we get it? I pray that we do.
The painting above is Peter F. Rothermel’s (1851) depiction of Patrick Henry giving his inflammatory “Treason” speech before the Virginia House of Burgesses on May 30, 1765, in opposition to the Stamp Act imposed on the colonies by Britain.