Who Is to Blame for America’s Fall?

America in 2010 is very different from the nation of my youth. I remember the 1950s sitcoms (with a typical family of husband, wife, and their own children) and the threats of imminent nuclear war. I lived through the Cuban missile crisis, the radicalism of the 1960s, the 1973 oil embargo, the Arab-Israeli wars, the Supreme Court decisions outlawing school prayer (but promoting evolution) and enabling abortion (50 million baby murders and counting), and the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980s. The resurgence of fundamental Baptists during the 1960s to 1980s was followed by the rise of the evangelical megachurches of the 1990s and the last decade. Gay rights and gay marriage are now sanctioned and promoted. Internet-based business and internet-generated immorality go hand in hand. Emergent churches are bringing back old-fashioned Roman Catholic mysticism, conservative Christians are despised universally, and Islam is on the rise – a spectacular irony given 9/11/2001. Having invested 20 years of my life in the 1970s and 1980s in the U.S. Air Force to defend the nation against Communism, America now has a Marxist government. What was I fighting for?

America is already experiencing the beginnings of judgment. The economy is in chaos, the borders are uncontrolled, crime is rampant, and diseases are on the increase. It seems that every decision our federal government makes is aimed at the destruction of the country. Whose fault is it that immorality is flaunted, that government is worse than ever, that apostasy abounds, that the Bible / the family / the Christians are under attack? Should we blame the Supreme Court? Hollywood? Lying politicians? The education and labor unions? The liberals – political and religious?

Nope. The biggest blame goes to the “conservative” Christians – especially the fundamental Baptists (“fundies”) and the most conservative of the evangelicals (“gellies”). Why them? Because they know (or should know) Biblical truth. They certainly claim a Biblical foundation. In short they are accountable. Should we expect lost people to act Scripturally? But Christians and especially Christian leaders must stand in the gap for the land before the Lord (Ezek 22:30). We American Christians have not stood in that gap. And so God is bringing destruction.

Consider the Scriptural principles. At the end of Deuteronomy, God lays a warning on His people, especially the believing leadership that survived the forty years of wilderness. He isn’t preaching to the pagans or to the unregenerate. He warns:

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee . . . “ Deut 28:15

Please review the comprehensive list of curses in the passage to follow. Also consider that God gives such warnings multiple times over the course of the centuries to follow. (Read the rest of the OT.) God is explicitly gracious to the new king, Solomon, by offering a way out:

“If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.” 2 Chron 7:13-15

When the Israelites are finally given over to captivity, we find the Lord comforting the distraught prophet Jeremiah:

“For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.” Jer 29:10-13

Yes, I’m aware that these passages were specific to Israel, but the principles are universal. Read Psalm 33 to get the whole context, which makes clear that God “looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth” (verse 14). But especially:

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.” Ps 33:12-13

The prophet Daniel lived to see the end of the seventy year captivity. He was “greatly beloved” of God (Daniel 10:19). He was perhaps the most godly man of his age (see Ezek 14:14). We see him studying the prophet Jeremiah and realizing the time of God’s promised deliverance is near. Read Daniel Chapter 9. In his prayers to God, supplications, fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (!!), he reminds God of His covenant, and confesses that “we have sinned, and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly . . .” He humbles himself as one of God’s people. He doesn’t blame the apostate priests, the lying rulers, the corrupt educational and labor establishments . . . but rather he confesses the sins of himself and believers like him – God’s own people.

That’s part of what’s missing in the ongoing destruction of America and American Christendom over the last few decades. The fundies and gellies are decrying from their pulpits the ungodliness in the nation around them, but not their own sins. Let Daniel be the example. He didn’t have an ounce of self-righteousness in him, and that’s just what God was looking for.

What about me – Dr. Dave? Am I part of the problem? Yes, indeed. I’ve been part of the gelly / fundy system for over forty years now, investing in the sins and the silliness. I’m embarrassed that it has taken so much of my life to wise up about some very basic Biblical principles and the practice of Biblical Christianity. So yes, I confess my sins and implore Christians everywhere to repent and beg God to deliver Americans individually and America as a nation from the certain destruction that has already started.

“What great sins?” you might ask. Aren’t the churches growing? Aren’t there more Christian publications, music, media, ministries, gurus, evangelistic crusades, and enthusiasm than ever before? Please consider the list below and think for yourself how you would explain such practices from a Biblical point of view. A relevant Biblical principle is:

“Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

“ . . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Rom 14:23b

The emphasis on doing profitless things fights hard against doing the needful things. Thus this list constitutes sin. In no particular order . . .

1. Money, money, money. Leaders are always pushing for money. For evangelism? For missions? No. Primarily for salaries, buildings, lush furnishings, orchestras, conferences, special projects, and other vanities. How did early Christianity grow at all without billions of dollars?

2. Facilities grow and grow, increasing in gravity to attract members of other churches and build their own empire. Thus new church plants are rare, unless they are hooked together by satellite feed. “Build it and they will come.” Prestige and pride are drivers here. Pastors look around and envy their competition. Huge facilities for competing churches are built literally across the street from each other in several parts of my own town. Concert hall-like auditoriums allow lots of people to be in one meeting so that the professional preacher can have a big crowd to dazzle. And, of course, the building has great “curb appeal” to bring them in. People must be comfortable, so seating is lush. You don’t want to lose their attention so you must have multi-media technology. It’s the “Lord’s work,” so the music must be professional. Etc., etc.

3. The crowds that come are composed of both wheat and tares, mostly tares. Evangelism, if done at all, is done primarily by inviting people to church, followed by the pastor inviting them down the aisle to “close the deal.” Find that approach in the Bible. Read the book of Acts. Evangelism is done in the street and door to door. For life within the church find phrases like “one accord” and “continue stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship.” Isn’t it God’s will that the local church should consist of believers and be of one mind? And that the church members – every one – are to go out to preach the Gospel?

4. Why so many tares? Because of the preaching of a repentance-less Gospel. Preachers are offering a ticket to heaven without calling for repentance from sin. Sinners are offered the blessings of God while they still insist on consorting with the devil. This huge perversion of the Gospel is driven by a desire to publish numbers and proclaim success. Every evangelist wants to recreate Pentecost, but is not willing to pay the price in holiness and prayer, and camp on the specific sins of the listeners. This is a big subject. Please read the following articles: Repentance Is Part of Salvation, A Simple Framework for Sharing the Gospel, and Why So Few Converts in America?

5. Fearful preaching: To keep the money flowing, the crowds must keep coming. Be careful not to offend them. So keep the preaching on selected topics. Don’t dare to teach the Bible chapter by chapter, because God’s balance of topics will be different from any given pastor’s. Example: Fundie preachers thump the pulpit hard about “soul-winning,” but do they ever make direct appeals to the seniors who attend every week and write the biggest checks? Or are they willing to let the biggest givers slide on serving God and use the teens for evangelism? Fundie preachers take pride in “preaching hard” . . . from the pulpit . . . to the church members. But you won’t find many of them preaching sin, judgment, hell, repentance, and the Gospel on the street to lost strangers. Gospel preaching is OUT THERE . . . not within the walls. There are too many chickens in the pulpits.

6. Topical preaching: Fundies and gellies have different ways of tickling ears by avoiding the whole counsel of God and choosing topics “as the Spirit leads them.” Fundies attract a certain demographic by thumping against worldliness, long hair on men, pants on women, rock music, etc. Are there issues here regarding culture, modesty, praise-worthy music, etc? Yes, and they will come up in proportion as God’s word is taught – without neglecting hundreds of other topics. Gellies attract a different demographic by being clever, funny, and sweet, emphasizing God’s blessings, how to have a happy marriage, and how to be successful in business. Are any of these wrong to address? No, but again, in balance. Both fundies and gellies hammer each other for what is emphasized and what is neglected. Both sets of criticism are right.

7. Doctrinal errors creep in: Please see my article The 10 Most Deadly Heresies. Considering the huge variety of disagreements in doctrine and practice, it must seem hard for some to figure out who is right about what. But there are really only a few “big problems” – doctrinally — afflicting our churches. And only the willfully stubborn will fail to see Scriptural truth to refute such heresies as works salvation, Calvinism, Pentecostalism, Nicolaitinism, Catholic / Protestant views of history, and others.

8. Scripted worship services: Face it – it’s a show. Shows vary from fundy to gelly churches, but true discipleship and fellowship are impossible. In fact, the standard church program actively prevents discipleship. How do I get to know, encourage, and pray for the family sitting next to me in the auditorium? You can be quite lonely in a crowd, even in the midst of a “spirit-filled worship service” (small case “s” deliberate). For all the emphasis on church attendance derived from Hebrews 10:25a . . . “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” . . . note in the adjoining passage that the purpose of such assembling is to provoke and exhort one another to love and to good works. How do you do that within the standard church program?

9. “Global internet ministry” – This has become an actual excuse for not doing the work of the Great Commission. Doesn’t a church realize that its site is one of millions competing for attention? Yes, put up a web site. But don’t pretend that this replaces the command for diligence in reaching out to your community and sending missionaries around the world.

10. Conferences: Many pastors apparently lust to become big conference speakers. Watch out for pride, preacher . . . it’s a whopper of a sin. A lot of Christians have become conference junkies, hopping from one to another. When do they reach out to lost people? Also, both fundie and gellie preachers tend to “group think.” There is a culture for each camp and sub-camp that pastors want to be part of. So certain emphases and teachings tend to multiply within the camps. There is cultural pressure to avoid going against the flow – especially against the most respected and successful of the camp leaders. Biblical absolutes yield to new cultural traditions.

11. Pulpit ministry: A lot of pastors actually profess that their main ministry to people is through the pulpit. Do I really need to refute this assertion? Read Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus and Peter’s first letter. Pastor: Do the work of an evangelist. Teach the word. Be an undershepherd to the Christians that hang around you. Be an example – build a godly family. It’s just not complicated. But by reducing the pastorate to pulpit ministry, you become a hireling and a poor one, at that. By the way, consider the mere existence of pulpits, pews, and altars in American churches. These are Roman Catholic artifacts and have no place in a New Testament church.

12. Politics: Gellies are especially guilty over the last few decades of imagining that by walking with ungodly politicians we can “reach America for Christ.” How is it going? Getting better all the time, isn’t it?

13. Monasticism: Fundies are especially guilty of defining “full-time ministry” as the only worthwhile calling of God. So Bible colleges (find Scriptural support for them – see my article Don’t Go to Bible College) get filled and graduate under-educated young adults who scramble for jobs on church staffs. Where are the bright young fundies in the sciences, engineering, law, business, education, and even politics? If we had some serious Christians in higher places, we might be holding on to our freedoms longer. (Note that Daniel did OK as a godly professional.)

All of the above, along with other such areas, represent investments in trivialities at best, or collaboration with Satan at worst. And therefore rob from the work that God has for His people to do on this earth.

What are the results of such un-Biblical practices and misplaced emphases? How about . . .

a. Little Bible knowledge among the Christians.
b. Little love among the brethren.
c. Little zeal for the lost.
d. Little prayer.
e. Little power.
f. Many false converts.

Many false converts mixed with true, but weak Christians produce dysfunctional churches, worldly members, and no hope for the nation. “Too harsh!” you say. Well, thanks for not saying, “Too judgmental!” or we would have to discuss how a wicked spirit of tolerance for sin and error has permeated the churches. If you think the analysis is unfair, survey people in your own church. How much knowledgeable love is there in practice (Phil 1:9)? How much Bible knowledge? How many people have shared the Gospel with a lost person in the last week? Every week? How much prayer is there among the brethren for each other? How many are really born again and have evidence to show for it?

Just what should real Christians be doing in this age? In any age? Let’s start on our knees like Daniel and beg God to restore us to service, allowing us to be co-laborers with Him in an American harvest field filled with religious, but lost people. And then invest our lives in the two principal areas that we see in the work of the Lord Jesus when He walked this earth, and in the life of the apostle Paul: Evangelism and Discipleship. Is it going to take oppression and persecution to purify American Christianity? Probably. Christians under persecution in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran, and other countries tend to focus on the main issues. Sure, they can fall into error, too, but are usually in better shape as long as the Bible is precious to them and they care for each other and for lost souls.

What if it’s hard to find truly serious Christians and live according to the Bible? Take Joshua’s approach:

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

And Paul:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor 15:58

And James:

“Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:8

Please check out my many articles on these topics to begin to explore a Biblical approach to the only two ministries that will count for eternity.

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