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The Church�s Moment in the Unraveling of the West

August 12, 2011
S. Michael Craven
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I do not think it too strong or sensational to say that we are witnessing the collapse of Western civilization. Across the Western world, the fruits of apostasy and secularism are manifesting themselves in overwhelmingly destructive ways. 

In my lifetime I have seen the rapid demise of the family. For the first time in American history, nonmarried households now outnumber married households (52 percent vs. 48 percent respectively). Today, only one-fifth of American households represent “traditional families—married couples with children” (New York Times, “Married Couples Are No Longer a Majority, Census Finds,” May 28, 2011). Out-of-wedlock birthrates in the US have reached 40 percent following a similar trend throughout Western European countries, some of which are as high as 66 percent. 

While out-of-wedlock births continue to rise, more and more people are simply not having children at all, leading to depopulation of the West on a scale unprecedented. Add to this the radical redefinition of marriage and family to include same-sex couples and the future of the natural family—an institution essential to a healthy society—only promises to worsen. 

Our academic institutions have shifted from teaching virtues and the pursuit of truth to intolerant platforms for secularized political values and godless indoctrination. Students are taught—with self-assumed authority—that God does not exist, your life is your own, sin is an archaic myth, and morality is a matter of individual preference. 

The fine arts have descended into prurience, voyeurism, gratuitous violence, godlessness, and mindless amusements. Revenue from the consumption of pornography exceeds that generated by all professional sports combined and the media, which was once governed by a modicum of journalistic integrity, has become another powerful force for indoctrination into socialistic progressivism and humanistic schemes. 

Our political leaders have abandoned statesmanship and true public service for personal power gains and government-driven social and economic engineering. Corruption has replaced integrity and the virtue of stewardship is almost nowhere to be found. America finds itself entrenched in prolonged wars with an enemy that it refuses to call evil, pursuing unrealistic aims of democratization in a culture that has no interest in democracy. Our governments have become oligarchies of competing political interests with little regard for the good of the people.

Recently, Europeans (and some Americans) have descended into barbarism and anarchy, as the State proves incapable of serving as savior and provider. In the wake of supplanting God with the State, personal responsibility has been replaced by selfishness, dependency, and entitlement. 

In the absence of any absolute moral and ethical foundations, our economic system is collapsing around our ears. Business is increasingly driven by personal greed and shareholder returns rather than hard work, creative excellence, love of neighbor, and service to mankind. The Western world has lived far beyond its means—both personally and nationally—to the extent that families and some countries find themselves on the brink of financial collapse. Fear and uncertainty have become the overarching features of our day. 

Finally, the church—which was once the moral authority in the West—has rendered itself irrelevant and marginalized in the public square. Denominationalism and division are rampant. Theological vacuity, consumerism, and compromise dominate the spiritual landscape in America. So much so, that Christianity is the only religion in America in decline while every other false religion and new-age construct is spreading like wildfire.

In the wake of all that is happening, countless pundits and politicians have emerged to offer their man-centered analysis and prescriptions as to the cause and solution, none of which come close to the truth of our dilemma. 

At the heart of all that ails us is our rejection of the Most High God! The Western world has rejected the biblical revelation as the source of truth in every area of public life—the very foundation of its historic rise and prosperity. Therefore all of our social and cultural institutions, which now rest on a false interpretation of reality, are coming apart. Should we be surprised? 

As for the church, we alone bear the responsibility for our own demise. The culture did not render us irrelevant—we did! We have been entrusted with the truth, the message of hope, and we have neglected this responsibility in exchange for security and comfort. We have tried, unsuccessfully, to build our lives in a way that seeks to comfortably balance the demands of following Christ with our own quest for personal peace and affluence. It doesn’t work! You either love Christ or you love your own life. 

In essence, we in the West are reaping precisely what we have sown. Mankind cannot construct a world devoid of subservience to God and hope to prosper. So in a seemingly sudden turn of events, the house of cards is folding. This should serve as the wake-up call—first to the church: repent and obey, and then to the world: man is not the measure of all things. This may be our generation’s moment to be found faithful. 

Let me just say that the solution is not to be found in the modernistic impulse of the institutional church; we can’t just “craft a program.” Rather, the solution is far simpler than that. It is found in Jesus’s command to “go and make disciples.” This can never be reduced to a program of the church but is instead a product of the organic church—individuals acting in obedience to Christ. 

Practically speaking, this means each of us should endeavor to be in relationship with the community of God’s people. We must place ourselves under the authority of the body of Christ, being discipled by those who are mature in the faith. Then we must form relationships with others whom we disciple. This is not a short-term enterprise but a lifelong effort. And then, we go forth into the world loving our neighbors. That may be just one or two people God has brought into your sphere of contact. It is with these that we share the love of Christ, bearing witness to his power in our lives, teaching them the truth of reality as revealed by God (making disciples) so that he may build his church (cf. Matt. 16:18).

Our present circumstances offer a bleak picture, to be sure, but our situation is only hopeless insofar as we continue to trust in the structures and schemes of godless men, rather than the eternal promises of God through obedience to Christ.

© 2011 by S. Michael Craven

Michael's weekly commentary, Truth in Culture, is published every Monday on Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and The Christian Post. Subscribe via email or RSS.

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Responses
Response from : Michael Cooper  

August 15, 2011 9:21 AM
 

Powerful words that have need to be spoken and acted upon for decades in the church are clearly shared in this article.

We have organized ourselves to death in an attempt to cover up our disobedience. Only God can truly transform the Church into what she needs to be.

Our efforts at re-organization and man-centered strategies will only continue to lead us on the road to ruin.

Only God can save us now. In fact, it has always been this way, so maybe now we will embrace this reality


 
Response from : Bob Geiger  

August 15, 2011 9:24 AM
 

Bravo!
This is an unblinking assessment of the blight upon our country that our abandonment of God has brought about.
God, in His mercy will not let our beloved country extinguish the light of liberty without doing His level best to turn us around. In the words of C.S. Lewis, "pain is God's megaphone". And, in the words of P.T Barnum "You ain't seen nothing yet!"
I believe our country is forcing our loving God to remove His protective hand, exposing ourselves to the whirlwind we've sown.
Keep up the good work!
Your brother in Christ,
Bob Geiger

http://harborviewanimalhospital.com

 
Response from : (Mrs.) Lee Roberts  

August 15, 2011 9:54 AM
 

Well said! A clarion call. So appropriate, when today is a day I have set aside to pray regarding my service for "such a time as this." Thank you for the encouragement, Michael.


 
Response from : Timothy Trier  

August 15, 2011 10:35 AM
 

Truthful words in assessing the pandemic of financial and moral degradation that exists today. Should we be surprised that sin has corrupted national and international leadership again? Hasn't it always been so. In my cultural assessment it is often our American heritage that promotes our pride. Other cultures exhibit this similar trait, but our insiduous selfishness fosters a belief of immunity that we might befall similar fate as our ancestors.

Your advice is sound and biblical and where the only hope lies for the individual, community, nation, and world. Being a disciple making disciples. Let's participate in building the kingdom through obedience to God's purposes. Amen

http://web.me.com/tatrier/Site/Welcome.html

 
Response from : Carl T. Fynboe  

August 15, 2011 10:50 AM
 

Michael: I read all of your articles with interest. I think this article, "The Church's Moment in the Unveiling of the West", is one of the best I have read. From the 9th paragraph on, "Finally, the church", is compelling for all of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ. It confirms my commitment to what constitutes, "The Church", as the "The Priesthood of All Believers". There is only one Church of Jesus Christ established on the confession of Peter in Matthew:16:18 and given its impetus to carry out the Great Commission by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. God bless you in your ministry through the Center for Christ and Culture. Carl T. Fynboe

http://?

 
Response from : Susan C.  

August 15, 2011 1:44 PM
 

It is inevitable that America is going to change forever and not in ways we like to think about. When the idols we've been trained to lean on - crack and fall - it will be an explosive time for faith to be born in hearts who are dying for the truth of freedom in Christ. The Priesthood of sacrificial believers will finally stand up and be counted and love like never before even when it requires death. There is a book I just learned about "Into the Night" by author Ivy Scarborough that details what is in store for America and what to do about it - www.intothenight.com. I am amazed and so thankful at how God is waking up His Church to such a time as this!


 
Response from : Jeff Emhoff  

August 15, 2011 1:57 PM
 

Michael, I only want to comment on the portion of you article regarding discipleship. This effort requires the long view...and the hardest first step in many cases is being able to find someone who can help. This underlying work is slow, but it is vital, lest we fail once again to get the picture God has given us.


 
Response from : Tom Pryor  

August 15, 2011 4:34 PM
 

The Prime Minister of England agrees with you today. The Dallas Morning News reports that Cameron blames the deaths and damage in London is the result of poor morals. The church has failed to impact the world. What is your solution?


 
Response from : Jerry Rodgers  

August 15, 2011 6:45 PM
 

Omens are more clearly recognized in retrospect than prospect. Looking back on the last 100 years, three ominous events stand out as signposts marking the decline and fall of our Western civilization:
4/15/1912. The sinking of the unsinkable British liner Titanic foreshadowed the First World War and the sunset of the British Empire, which had boasted for 100 years that the sun never set on its dominions.
5/6/1937. The incineration of Hitlers dirigible flagship Hindenburg at Lakehurst NJ presaged the fiery fate of the German thousand year Reich in the Second World War.
9/11/2001. And it is now becoming clearer by the day that the collapse of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center by Muslim terrorists was a sign equally ominous of the abrupt eclipse of American world hegemony and economic dominance.
Is it possible that Oswald Spengler was right in his prophetic vision of the Decline of the West? It is. And I think until we are able to reconcile ourselves to the fact, and the implications, of this historic turning point, all our plans and hopes will collapse around us with the devastating impact of the Twin Towers on 9/11.
The most ominous event, however, not only for Western civilization but for the entire human enterprise, took place on 7/16/1945 in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico with the explosion of the first atomic bomb. When J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project which developed the bomb, saw the huge mushroom cloud rising over the desert, he was reminded of this passage from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita: I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds.
For the Christian, however, Death has lost its power to terrorize. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian church, gave us this assurance: "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin....But thanks be to God, He has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 15:54-57)
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was the ultimate omen -- not of Death but of Life.

http://www.filedby.com/author/jerry_g_a_rodgers/2906990/

 
Response from : Diane Wilhelm  

August 16, 2011 7:37 AM
 

As usual, you are right on target. We as Christians have so removed ourselves from teaching right from wrong that the West is in decline.
The only peace I get is that God is still in charge,even when we let Him down.
Diane


 
Response from : Tim Childs  

August 16, 2011 5:07 PM
 

Really enjoyed reading your post Michael! We in England have just had some really bad civil disturbances and I feel that a lack of morality, both at the top and bottom of society, has helped cause the problems we find ourselves in in the West. Christianity has been watered down, to make it 'nice' and 'acceptable' to people who probably don't want to believe anyway; we need to get back to a living faith, one that challenges us each day, and we need to take that message to the whole world, not just to the converted! Please check out my blog for my radical ideas about Christianity.

http://tchildschristianityblog.blogspot.com/

 
Response from : rodolfo  

August 17, 2011 11:00 PM
 

Brace up American Christians. Live THE LIFE of Christ I pray, we pray. The US maybe yet be restored. Keep THE FAITH for even if,...God is Faithful who will not let HIS Children to the enemies.


 
Response from : Joseph Oppong  

August 18, 2011 4:30 AM
 

The article for today should be taken seriously by all and sundry.As matter of facts, anybody at all who trains himself or herself for six months in Bible school comes out only to establish church. What is happening? This is not only happening in the States alone, here in my country Ghana, it is terrible.It is time that true disciples of God should think about the way they proclaim the word of God instead of talking about prosperity always. The true Christians should wake up.Let's all joins hands together to fight for Christ. Christ should help us.


 
Response from : GW Bill Warren  

August 18, 2011 7:22 AM
 

Very well composed and written essay on the state of our culture. We need to read this essay from every pulpit, and copy every one we love.
In many congregations "disciple" is a scary word, because it means I must consider becoming "religious."
I can imagine that these words fall on many ears that hear "the sky is falling." School Boards could turn our culture around in five years by seriously demanding that the curriculua denounce irresponsible "freedom." We would also have to reeducate two generations of parents raised on "MTV" as their religious choice.


 
Response from : Robert Bingham  

August 18, 2011 8:20 AM
 

Great article! Written with the same heart as Jonathan Edwards sermon, "Sinners in the hand of an angry God!"


 
Response from : Jan Bryan  

August 18, 2011 6:59 PM
 

AMEN! How very true. May we all fall on our knees before the Almighty God and repent for our failure to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. May God empower us to reach out to our neighbors in love and share with them the Gospel message.


 
Response from : Russ Mangiapane  

August 19, 2011 5:34 AM
 

While Christianity overall may be decreasingin numbers, Eastern Orthodox Christianity is on the rise. I myself am a convert to this ancient Christian faith which I fully embraced shortly after discovering it. Many in the West (as did I)only know of the Roman Catholic and Protestant forms of Christianity and remain ignorant of the Eastern branch that has maintained an amazing continuity with the New Testament Church. I pray those who are strugglingwith the issues presented in this article will look into and discover the riches of this ancient faith. Some resources to help get one started can be found at www.ancientfaith.com or www.oca.org


 
Response from : wendy  

August 20, 2011 7:26 AM
 

something great is happening in the apparently haphazard events around the world.Almighty God is in charge as always and will bring about His purposes regardless.

http://australia

 
Response from : vicky g. dionio  

August 22, 2011 5:40 AM
 

What is happening to the "In God We Trust"
Motto?


 
Response from : Ralph Moffitt  

August 26, 2011 1:41 AM
 

You have hit the nail right on the head!!I am a avid bible study person 2 to 3 hours a day for th past 4 years.I still haven't found any place where the church,part of the body of Christ is instructed to be a Business venture.


 
Response from : Cathy  

September 1, 2011 10:05 AM
 

I would add that individuals need to live the reality of Christ in their life before they can hope to teach anything....I'm afraid the church is modeling what it really believes.


 

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