Why I Think American Civilization is Crumbling

The American way of life and civil government are founded on principles that are being renounced, both overtly and subtly. We were exceptional and, thus, much was required of us. President Abraham Lincoln called us, “the almost chosen nation.”

America was settled by Christians who took their worldview seriously. This does not excuse errors, such as how Native Americans were often treated or the terrible institution of slavery. But when the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution were written, they did not appear out of a vacuum. God gave us our fundamental rights. Religion must be neither established nor opposed by the civil government. We affirmed a government of laws, not of men. Hence, the three branches of government were separated and held each other in check.

The American moral compass once pointed to the Judeo-Christian work ethic, the responsibilities of citizenship, and the prizing of liberty over equality, since that latter cannot be achieved East of Eden. The power of private charity and non-governmental organizations were valued higher than any impersonal subsidies or structures. Religion was either assumed or encouraged through the work of Christian churches. National leaders quoted the Bible and called the nation to prayer, whether sincerely or not. But who could doubt the sincerity of Abraham’s statements on God’s bearing on the nation?

America saved the world from global tyranny at least twice in the Twentieth Century—from the fascist, axis powers and from the world domination of the USSR. (By the way, fascism is left-wing, not conservative. Remember Hitler’s ideology was National Socialism.)

And now, it is nearly all gone. The President of the United States denies American exceptionalism and confesses that he is a “citizen of the world.” He arrogates unconstitutional power to himself through executive orders and intimidation. Religious freedom for Christians is threatened by demands to recognize and accept same-sex marriage in businesses and schools. Churches will be next. While the Declaration states that God has given us inalienable rights, including “life,” about fifty-five million unborn humans have been slaughtered through abortion. Now it is federally-supported by The Affordable Health Care Act, which is also the most monstrous statist power move in the history of the republic. Statism, the foulest political idol, abounds. Individual initiative is not saluted. Handouts are demanded. Multiculturalism claims that no culture is better than any other—except that American culture is more guilty than any other because of our supposed imperialism, systemic racism, and the rest of the fictional litany.

The signs of this decay are both large and small. Internationally, the Commander in Chief will only “lead from behind.” He will not recognize Islam as the tidal wave of terrorism globally. A man shouting “Allah is great” slaughters a dozen of his military companions, including a pregnant woman, whose child also died. The Obama administration calls this “workplace violence.” The deceit is painful and deadly. While in prison, the Fort Hood murder continues to declare his worship of Allah and death to the infidels. American citizens want American flags taken down, since they are “offensive” to some. Police recoil from stopping violent protests, lest they offend racial minorities. Cities burn; authority is broken down; fear spreads. Ignorance of American history and the Bible is epidemic. Ignoramuses live by media images, slogans, and untutored emotions. They demand “justice” when they have no idea what the facts are.

America is crumbling from the inside, as did Rome. Its resistance to tyranny at home and attacks from abroad (ISIS) cannot keep hell at bay. Much of the church is either asleep or in bed with the world. Most Christians do not possess a biblical worldview adequate to expose error and establish the good, the true, and the beautiful. Few teachers and preachers explain the biblical theology of suffering and sacrifice. (Rev. Timothy Keller is a blessed exception.)

I was young and now I am old. I have seen just about everything, I have spent long, but meaningful, hours at my study desk; I have dared to step into many pulpits; for thirty-five years, I have presided in the classrooms, secular and religious; I have read and studied and wrestled with my Bible. I have been on my knees. That I write is not flippant, not reactionary, and not impetuous. My aim is truth.

The Kingdom of God is not limited to the land of my birth. God’s ways will not be thwarted, since the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. But nations come and go. God sets them up and knocks them down. I fear the worst for these United States. My hope is in the Kingdom and power of the God of the Bible. But I will go down fighting for the best of the American system.

Author: Douglas Groothuis

Author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, On Pascal, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture. Senior Fellow for Apologetics.com.

19 thoughts

  1. Your perception while bleak is the view of what Biblical prophecy forecasts as well. I believe the article is written using the “mind of Christ” as well as the way God sees the world.

  2. “This does not excuse errors, such as how Native Americans were often treated or the terrible institution of slavery. ”

    This statement completely negates what you’re trying to claim as what is Christian and what is the American moral compass. Your casual use of the word error to describe the raping of human culture is embarrassing and demonstrates your lack of Christ-like compassion. These events were a horrendous act orchestrated by the very government and Christian leadership you are pining to see again. An error is made when someone makes a miscalculation in a budget spreadsheet or when someone forgets something on a grocery list. An error is not the decimation of culture in the name of God and government. However, my favorite part of your article is where you prove your own point; “Ignorance of American history and the Bible is epidemic”. Honestly, I’m not surprised of your ignorance of American history. Most Christians possess a clouded lens on the topic. I can only pray that you will research history before producing another article written in an authoritative tone, because many people may mistake your opinion as gospel truth. God help them if they do.

    1. I have read much American history and know the philosophy of the founders. Further, my comment on “errors” was obviously meant to refer to moral errors, and not slight ones. But whatever the moral failures of America, we are falling from American ideals. That was my point, which you missed.

      1. I truly enjoyed your article. I replied to this comment because this person is one of the many problems with America today. You’re entire article was discredited by them because of your use of the word error. You’re wording was not wrong, just this person’s understanding of it. However, instead of keeping an open, neutral and intelligent position, they chose to let their biased views cloud their mind.

        Anyone who doesn’t see America’s society is failing is only concerned with their own well-being and not with their country. This is similar to the hellenistic society Ancient Greece had before its fall as well.

        Great article.

    2. Chris Powers, I fail to see how Doug’s “statement completely negates” his assertions. “Completely”? And his choice of the word “error” somehow “demonstrates [his] lack of Christ-like compassion”? The insertion of one word in what is probably one of hundreds if not thousands of articles, papers, journals, etc. “demonstrates [his] lack of Christ-like compassion”? Wow, what juridical world operates like that? I think, instead Chris, it demonstrates your lack of fairness and objectivity in the analysis of what Doug has said. Your hyperbolic and baseless criticism reveals more about your heart than it does about Doug’s knowledge and analysis of history. “Most Christians possess a clouded lens…”? Your authority for that statement, Chris? Is it possible Chris, that the beam is in your own eye?

    3. Chris:
      I dont think Mr. Groothuis is being cavalier in the least. History is ALWAYS looked at in the context of the times. If I judge a man or nation based upon a standard thats improved today I will misapply myself as though if I were there at that time I would have been more advanced than those people, The times of the founders were ripe with slavery throughout the world. Much of the initial African slave trade was initiated by Blacks in Africa themselves. Does this justify the practice? Of course not. The only way slavery could be eradicated just like Jim Crow in the South was through reference to a Higher Power with authority. A LAW above the law so to speak. The United States as other western countries failed for decades to their shame BUT it was their form of government and belief and trust in the God of scripture that paved the way for the abolitionists and the end of slavery. To UNIQUELY attribute the US to some monstrous deed is not reasonable, Undoubtedly it was part of a larger system that was monstrous. We were part and parcel of that BUT we also were on the cutting edge of ending it.

    4. Upon reading this I have hope now. Never stop reading the book my brother. Gods wrath will come upon the iniquite of those who intended to make lives harder for the righteous of the world and our country. I applaud not only the intellegence of this article but I also admire your hearts aim at rebuilding a nation that can perhaps realize its true goal of freedom. However, until these demons are overcome by their own destruction we will all see a change globably that will awe the planet. Defeat evil with good. Win the war and tell people we can have a beautiful place to live, work, learn, and most of all love one another once again. -Revelation is only beginning

  3. Chris. You need to study American history from a different perspective. The Indians were treated terribly and Slavery was an abomination , but like everything in history it needs to be placed in its historical context to fully grasp its role. Slavery was an institution that was widespread and the slave trade was instituted and perpetuated from Africa to all nations both predominantly Christian and non Christian. America and Great Britain both led the way in abolition and the predominant aspect of that was Christians and the Christian church. The Indians were a different story- and while mistreated the whole story is far from the blanket indictment you state. http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/7302

  4. It is a good time for us to reflect on Augustine’s City of God which reminds us that while earthly kingdoms pass away, God’s kingdom in Christ will last forever. This gives us the hope and faith to strive and pray for change in this world now.

  5. Dr. Groothuis, I live in the so-called “bible belt” of the United States and could not agree more. I think America is in desperate need of another “great awakening”, one which brings the Church as a whole closer to the Puritans in every way.

  6. Lincoln was no friend to the Declaration or the Constitution. He was willing to trade away slavery with the Corwin Amendment while proclaiming his true motives, taxes in his first inaugural.

  7. As A Buddhist American, born on Election Day, who has read the Bible over many years and taught it to nuns and priests, and whom married a Catholic from an important political family, and loves The Pope, I find your comments here wide brush pained by a nearsided artist. This is all silly. The first rule of a great being is to abandon clinging attachment to self, other including benefactors and nation. I love America with the whole of my being but I also realize how badly the “Christians” have twisted Jesus message of love and peace for identity and national politics. He’d never agree with you on this and find it silly. May peace be upon you and may realization find you.

    1. Jesus gave us the entire Bible both Old T and New T since He is God as part of the Trinity. Red and black letters have the same weight. Jesus was with Adam, Noah, Moses, Joshua, etc.

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