Looking back at history and comparing early America to today, few would deny the fact the transformation has been drastic and the moral decay great. Were there warning signs and if so, why were they not heeded? Consequences of Christians backing out of culture include open promotion of sin, a nation in which God has practically been blotted out, bigger government and less freedom, a virtually ineffective church, and the fact we have nearly lost the battle for righteousness.
Prior to the acceleration of our decline however, Christians in the 1800s were gaining converts, momentum, and influence. Some consider that century the greatest missionary century in history. Our culture, institutions, laws, and businesses were influenced by Christians who, for the most part, were not ashamed to live their faith publicly and discuss spiritual things.
As the 1900s rolled around, things began changing as America experienced economic success and cultural advances. Several factors including busier lives, increased population, and worldly temptations led many believers to back out of public involvement in political and social issues.
By 1918, all states required mandatory school attendance for children, and the public education movement in America rapidly expanded in the decades to follow, soon to be infiltrated by progressives. By more or less withdrawing from culture, Christian leaders gave humanists and secularists control of major institutions, including higher education, government, the judiciary, media, and the entertainment industry.
The results have been devastating. This spiritual war had been going on from the beginning, but suddenly it seemed as if the primary battleground and prize possession was the United States. Major conflicts were brewing within America. As you read this, you may be saying to yourself “but where were the religious leaders and why weren’t more Christians taking a stand?” Can we not ask the same questions today?
We must realize evil is at work all around us, and there is nothing new under the sun. When depravity and immorality appear more prevalent in society, one of the main causes can be traced to silent or inactive Christians. This environment sets the stage for emboldened agendas against God, His Word, and His people…
Discrimination toward Christians in America is increasing and we tolerate a faulty understanding of the First Amendment. As society becomes more corrupt and godless, those who hate God no longer feel the need to be subtle about it. Where they used to simply disagree with us, today they want to remove the “conservative opposition” by silencing us.
Opponents of the biblical Christian worldview are not satisfied with just denying God exists as they fight to stop our moral influence on culture. Our choice to trust in Jesus Christ rubs them the wrong way, and they now feel emboldened to go so far as to take away that option for anyone else. We are at this pivotal point in our history because Christians not only allowed the secularization of America, some have welcomed it.
The early 1900s saw an increase of industry, entertainment, liberalism, and modernism. Some churches became more accepting of secular ideas and those who promoted them. These battles would parallel the truth war – one which continues today even in the church…
If we consider how much ground Christians surrendered, it is quite shocking for some today who thought America’s problems were much more recent.
Most of our Founding Fathers would have testified to the fact that this country was based on the morals and values in the Holy Bible. Standing for truth demanded a firm foundation without abandonment of principles and standards. It is so much easier to compromise than to reverse the devastating consequences of compromise.
Citizens of Germany know all about compromise. Perhaps one of the more known and respected Christian martyrs of the 20th century is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and conservative Lutheran pastor famous for his stand against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi socialist party. He refused to compromise, and his beliefs and convictions ultimately cost him his life days before the Allies invaded Germany in 1945. Bonhoeffer once said:
If the heart is devoted to the mirage of the world, to the creature instead of the Creator, the disciple is lost … However urgently Jesus may call us, His call fails to find access to our hearts … for they have already been given to another.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words should keep true believers inspired and motivated: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil;”
During the time of Hitler’s rise to power, conservative pastor, Martin Niemoller, was another one of hundreds of church leaders arrested for speaking out against the policies of Nazism. Just like many religious people in Germany, it appears Niemoller originally supported Hitler for the first few years. He thought the national enthusiasm of new leadership would lead Germany to a spiritual revival. Like President Obama in his countless speeches, declarations, and press conferences, Hitler said all the right things to convince enough people to follow him, and through his charismatic delivery, many did not see the deceit and chose idolatry instead.
Representing the Protestant Church, Niemoller personally met with him before Hitler became Germany’s Chancellor in 1932. In a later response to questions about why he first supported the Nazi Party, Niemoller stated, “Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws.” Of course history proves the exact opposite; pastors were threatened, people were killed, churches were decimated, Bibles were replaced with Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and crosses were removed to make room for swastikas.
Early on, Niemoller said he hated the growing atheist movement, which he believed was “fostered and promoted by the Socialist Democrats and the Communists.” He said their hostility toward Christianity made him pin his hopes on Hitler for a while.
As Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hitler promised, “The rights of the churches will not be curtailed.” He flat out lied.
Looking back in regret for not opposing Hitler years earlier, Niemoller admitted he was betrayed. Laws were passed preventing churches from interfering in politics, and the Nazis systematically limited church influence in society…
In Germany, the churches were kept quiet by force; in America, the churches have been silent due to self-inflicted apathy (for now). Nationalized health care was already underway in Germany before Hitler came to power, while American government is now enforcing ObamaCare on people who were never given a say.
How long will true Christians and freedom-loving Americans allow a power-hungry, corrupt government to bully and intimidate us? How about when activist judges overrule the people – should we be silent? Governing authorities in Germany had the same agenda in 1935 as radicals and the left in America have today: Eliminate all Christian influence over public life…
After a sermon he gave in June of 1937, Martin Niemoller was arrested for abusing the pulpit and for treason. He preached that believers had a sacred duty to repent of idolatry and address the evils of Nazism no matter the consequences:
We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the Apostles of old. No more are we ready to keep silent at man’s behest when God commands us to speak. For it is, and must remain, the case that we must obey God rather than man.
Many have asked how such a thing as Hitler’s Nazism rose to dominance in a once Christian nation on the very cutting edge of civilization. Author Scott Alan Buss concluded that whenever God is removed, something or someone else must take His place. Buss writes:
I now know that a nation that is Christian in name only is no farther from hellish barbarism than that which openly professes allegiance to a pagan god or no god at all. I now know that the paths of historic Germany and contemporary America are founded on a solid, clear, and powerful line of logic. It all begins with one simple, all-encompassing and worldview defining principle: There is no God.
America has not been far behind Europe in many aspects of society. If there was ever a time for Christians to shout from the rooftops and warn others, that time is now.
Author and radio host, Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries, said it is human nature to allow compromise to get the best of us. In a 2014 newsletter, “When Government Becomes God,” Jan explained:
After the devastation of WWI, Germans in the early 1930s were promised a return to the “glory days.” Government started to paint a picture of the good life returning, but only if government could become their god.
The people thought that was a great idea, hanging onto every promise of “hope and change.” They simply had no idea Hitler’s change would cause the swastika to be burned across the very fabric of Europe. Once Germany began its transformation, they looked the other way as the supposed “good life” was going to return for them – or so they thought. Hope and change agents always promise utopia, and America presents some haunting comparisons to Nazi Germany.
Keep in mind this is but a set-up for the Antichrist. What is happening in America and around the world is paving the way for the ultimate government that will be god to the people. The “man of lawlessness” is waiting in the wings, but Jesus Christ will ultimately bring godly government to the world during the millennium.
America and the world are heading toward exactly what the Bible predicted…
Proverbs 14:34 states,” Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” America will either advance toward a God-sent revival or an irreversible decline; it depends on the course Christians choose. Who will stand for righteousness in culture?
Perhaps the better question is – who will stand for righteousness in America?
From the 2015 book, The Cost of Our Silence, this is a portion of an extensive book excerpt from chapter 2, “Failing to Learn From History – click here to read more: