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UPDATED: I was interviewed by Dennis Miller on his radio show today. It was a good and lively discussion, but as we were talking about Implosion, he scolded me for not getting to the point and asked in a somewhat crude manner if I really believed America had gone too far and was really in danger of collapse, of if I was just trying to sell books. Then he was even more pointed and essentially asked, “Is there any hope?”
I believe he was sincere in his questions — indeed, I appreciated them — so I answered them in the brief amount of time we had on air. But here is a more detailed response:
Yes, I do believe that something has gone terribly wrong with the American experiment. Our families are imploding. Our national debt is exploding. Experts on the left and the right warn we are on an unsustainable trajectory and urgently need to change course. Yet too many in Washington, academia, the media and even the church are in a “business as usual” mode. As result, millions of America fear the ice is cracking under our feet.
Consider the state of the American family. All around us we can see marriages falling apart. Marital unfaithfulness is rampant. Couples we never thought would get divorced are leaving each other, creating devastatingly painful wounds in them and their children.
“The decline of the American family is the hidden issue in our election,” notes Patrick Caddell, a long-time Democrat strategist. “Sadly, neither presidential candidate is talking about our family structure or traditional values in any positive or constructive way. But we are now facing a crisis of serious proportions that affects all Americans, regardless of race and class.”
William Bennett, the Republican former Education Secretary and Drug Czar in the Reagan and Bush administrations, concurs. He notes that “since 1960, even taking into account recent improvements, we have seen a 467 percent increase in violent crime;….a 461 percent increase in out-of-wedlock births; more than a 200 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a doubling of the teen suicide rate;….a doubling of the divorce rate.”
A new report by the Centers for Disease Control indicates 23 percent of American teens are now smoking marijuana, while 1-in-3 are regularly drinking alcohol, and 20 percent indulge in binge drinking.
Meanwhile, a new FBI report on crime statistics notes that overall crime declined slightly in 2011. But murders in small towns is skyrocketing – up 18.3% last year alone. Isn’t “small town America” the place we thought our faith and values were strong?
Now consider our fiscal crisis. The federal debt has blown past $15 trillion. We are facing an estimated $65 trillion of unfunded liabilities related to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yet even with these massive icebergs of debt straight ahead of us, Washington isn’t slowing the ship of state down or changing course. Rather we are speeding up. Annual deficits in Washington have climbed from $300- to $400 billion under President Bush to $1 trillion or more under President Obama. As a result, the economy remains weak, millions of Americans have lost their homes to foreclosure, and a new report by the Federal Reserve shows the average American family has lost 40 percent of their net financial worth in the last three years.
“We are steadily becoming more vulnerable to economic disaster on an epic scale,” warned Professor Simon Johnson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, in testimony before the Senate Budget Committee.
“These deficits are like a cancer [and] they will truly destroy this country from within if we don’t take care of them,” warns Erskine Bowles, the Democrat co-chairman of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
“We know we’re going to have an economic collapse if we stay on the path we are on,” warned Wisconsin’s Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, in a 2011 interview. “And so to me it’s unconscionable as an elected representative of people to know that that’s coming and not try to do something to prevent it from happening.”
The bad news: We are experiencing an epic failure at nearly every level of American society.
But I do believe there is good news: Twice in our history we’ve seen dramatic revivals in America. In the early 1700s, America experienced what historians call the “Great Awakening” as pastors like Jonathan Edwards in Massachusetts began pleading with God to pour out His Holy Spirit and turn people’s hearts back to Christ. Pastors began holding prayer and fasting meetings. They began preaching verses like 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.” And though that was a promise for the nation of Israel, they beseeched God to apply it to America, and God heard and answered their prayers and a massive spiritual revival broke out all throughout New England. In the early 1800s, we experienced a “Second Great Awakening,” which was even more sweeping in its spiritual depth and even broader geographically. Millions of Americans all across the country awoke from their moral and spiritual slumber and turned to a sincere and personal faith in Jesus Christ. They studied the Bible voraciously and obeyed God’s commands. They returned to church, and planted new churches, sharing the Gospel with their family and friends.
These new believers also turned their faith into action. They founded elementary schools for girls and boys. They established colleges dedicated to teaching the Scriptures and the sciences. They led social campaigns to persuade Americans to stop drinking so much alcohol and to abolish the evil of slavery. They didn’t expect the government to take care of all their needs; they believed it was the Church’s job to show the love of Christ to their neighbors in real and practical ways. They were right, and they helped get America back on the right track.
It’s time to do it again. Yes, we urgently need leaders to make bold reforms to solve our debt crisis. But we also desperately need to realize that our only ultimate hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. As Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believe in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” That’s the central question. Do you believe this? I do. I know that only Christ’s love, mercy, and transforming power can save us. We need to repent of our sins, and plead with Him to pour out His Holy Spirit. We need to beseech Him to give us a Third Great Awakening before it’s too late. Otherwise, I believe our nation will surely implode. How about you?
- My Spiritual Journey: a video of me speaking at a recent conference how I came to faith in Jesus Christ.
- A simple, concise explanation of the Gospel
(This column is adapted from Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges In Time?)
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