In the grand sweep of history, the United States of America are but a blip in the timeline. Since the end of World War II, we’ve been recognized as the most powerful nation in the world. The late 20th century saw America at her zenith. We became the undisputed superpower technologically, economically, militarily, and influentially. Yet underneath it all was a societal core that was (and is) rotting out spiritually and morally. Sure, we can send a man to the moon and invent the internet. We can bomb any country in the world from afar with great precision. Yet America can (and most likely will) fade into the backdrop of history just like ancient Rome, Persia, and the empire of Alexander the Great.
In the last century, the so-called mainline Protestant denominations were gutted of any orthodoxy and their membership has been rapidly declining for decades. The Episcopal Church USA, for example, stands as a hollow shell of what it once was. Modern Evangelicalism as a whole has ceased to be a consistent backbone of biblical truth, instead imbibing a methodology of syncretism–trying to mesh with the culture at large rather than being set apart. Many prominent Evangelical leaders prostituted themselves and their ministries for shallow political gain, this phenomenon being most especially evident in the last presidential election. Overall, theology has declined along with practice. In most cases, your average churchgoer is almost as biblically illiterate as his unbelieving neighbor and has a lifestyle which is about the same.
This is America in 2017. On Friday, we saw the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of these United States. I’ve already spilled enough ink on this blog explaining how this man is a moral reprobate who is unfit for office, so I won’t rehash that here. Yet the fact that this man has actually been elected to the highest office in the land is indeed a barometer for how low our culture has really sunk. There is much here which I can lament about, but the time for that is past. What’s done is done. This man is our president and will be for at least the next four years. Let me be clear, however, in stating that having Trump as president represents the judgment of God upon our nation. As theologians have pointed out for centuries, God appoints wicked rulers when He wishes to judge a nation.
On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, I pondered over various passages of Scripture which I and the rest of the church ought to heed:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: and he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”
“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.”
“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
~1 Peter 2:17
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
~1 Timothy 2:1-2
God is sovereign over all things, including who leads a nation. The sovereign Lord of the universe has placed Donald Trump in office and for His own purposes. This is a time for us as the body of Christ in America to humble ourselves before the Lord, repent of our sins, and purge the worldliness from our lives. Unfortunately, many who bear the name of Christ have been acting with a sense of triumphalism since Trump’s victory. There is bliss when there ought to be humility and mourning. I’ve seen Christians publicly gloat as if there is some kind of comfort to be found in having this man in office. I’ve witnessed many of these same people bend over backwards to justify whatever this man presently does. To be frank, I’ve never seen anything quite like this before.
It will be interesting to see what happens in the first 100 days of his presidency. I will be watching the church most of all, looking to see if anyone in leadership will hold Trump accountable. I have a feeling this is going to be a painful exercise. And yet, God instructs us on how we are to act toward rulers. We are called to give honor to our civil authorities and to pray for them. And so I shall, regardless of my differences with the president. I do not wish him ill. May Trump and his household be blessed. I said the same about Obama. God holds the heart of the king in His hand, directing it however He pleases.
Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s fiat to start the full-blown mass murder of unborn children. The fact that this holocaust even started in the first place–and especially that it has lasted as long as it has–is indicative of the reality that we’ve been living in a post-Christian culture for a very long time. Harry Blackmun and his fellow justices didn’t come out of the blue to lay a blow against a robust culture with biblical foundations. No, they merely tore down a large portion of an edifice which already had a lot of gaping holes in it. This was a long time in coming and it didn’t start with the courts.
Long before the first baby was murdered through abortion, the erosion of American culture had already begun in the pulpits. It is said that you can judge the health of a society by what’s being preached in its churches. There is much truth in that. When the bulk of America’s churches abandoned the core tenants of orthodoxy which flowed out of the Reformation, the steady decline began. Once the apostasy took hold in the seminaries, it had the same effect as when poison hits the bloodstream of an individual. This was the fruit of the so-called “Enlightenment” and particularly its developments in the 19th century. Western civilization has never been the same since.
The year 2017 will see many historical changes, but it will also be the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. I pray that this year will be the start of another reformation within our own churches, one which is badly needed. Like King Josiah, we need to recover that which was lost. We can’t have revival without first having reformation. And we can’t have reformation without first having repentance, the latter beginning in the hearts of each of us. Pray that God would grant us repentance, that we would see our sin, turn from it, and live in the reality of Christ’s lordship.