In the 1950s and 60s, when our American society was racing away from Christ and our American founding values, the church was silent. When the Courts were ruling against prayer (1962) and the Bible (1963), the church was silent.
With good intentions we sent our kids off to public schools, then to state and private colleges and universities, ignorant of the fact that many of the teachers/professors were guiding our children away from God and their parents.
As a nation, we have lost our way because:
- Overwhelmingly, Christians no longer care about America — maybe we never did.
- Doctrinally, we have come to embrace a theology where it is practically “unchristian” to care about our culture and our country.
- Instead of Christians shaping the culture, the culture has shaped those who call themselves Christians.
For whatever reason or reasons, America has lost her way because the church in America has lost her right to be heard.
For the purpose of this post I want share with you the condition of the church in America and how we got to where we are today.
I was born on July 3, 1959 — I know, I’m old.
I remember a time in America when the church and pastors were respected — even by those who weren’t Christians. I remember when businesses were closed on Sunday, in honor of the Lord’s Day. Any of you old fogies remember the old “Blue Laws”? I remember when community recreation departments would never schedule a game on Sunday or on Wednesday night.
Divorce was unheard of in my community. Every one of my friends had a mom and a dad — at home. Teachers were respected and discipline in our nation’s schools was the order of the day. Most, if not all, of my teachers were also Sunday school teachers at their church.
As Christians, we sat on our “blessed assurance”, and let our children and our country slip away. You know, like the frog in the kettle. You remember this one, don’t you? If you place a frog in a kettle of boiling water, he will quickly hop right out of it. However, if you place it in cool water and turn the temperature up slowly, the frog will sit there and boil to death.
Welcome to the New America.
It’s as if the church in America is Rip Van Winkle.
The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the time just prior to the American Revolution in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Rip is a fine man, liked by all, but unfortunately he had a knack for avoiding work. His wife was constantly nagging him about his chores. Eventually, his house and farm began to slip into disrepair.
Tired of his wife’s incessant complaints, Rip took off with his dog, Wolf, for greener pastures. He came upon a band of travelers who offered him some of their moonshine. Rip drank it and quickly fell asleep.
He awakens to discover many shocking changes. His musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Van Winkle returns to his village where he recognizes no one. He discovers that his wife has died and that his close friends have died in some war or moved away.
When Rip returns to his favorite drinking hole he discovers that the portrait of King George has been replaced with one of George Washington. After a fair amount of investigation, Van Winkle discovers that he had been asleep for 20 years. He slept through the American Revolution and awoke to find an entirely different world.
Rip Van Winkle was asleep for 20 years. To the best of my recollection, the church fell asleep some time during the late 1950s to early 60s and now we are waking up from a slumber of fifty-plus years to an America that is vastly different from the America we once knew.
The changes in our country have been vast and, frankly, too numerous to mention in this one blog post. We awaken from our slumber to find that society as we knew it in the early 60s has been redefined. As we wipe the crusty “sleep” from our eyes, we notice that is no longer Christ’s picture we see hanging in our local schools and court houses; it is Charles Darwin’s, Albert Einstein’s and Sigmund Freud’s. Dad is no longer the bread-winner and mom is no longer at home to raise the kids. As a matter of fact, most children do not have a dad in the house, period. If there is a dad, he is most likely working hard to make the ends meet. Mom works, too. The government is now raising the children.
Our church houses are nearly empty and no one cares what we have to say any more.
When we fell asleep, it was Elvis who had left the building — now, it is God who has left the country. And we wonder why they are not heeding to the Word.
No one forced the church to fall into our 50-year stupor. We weren’t given cosmic sleeping pills. No one pushed us into the corner in which we now find ourselves.
What are we, as the Church, to do? What do we do about what we know?
Next Post: Developing an Action Plan. Hint: We must learn to C.A.R.E.