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Posts Tagged ‘Civilizational Collapse’

Rachel Levine’s Imminent Confirmation proves Transgenderism Is America’s New State Religion,” Revolver New, 2/26/2021.

Mr Potato Head to lose “Mr” title in gender-neutral rebrand,” BBC

“‘Transgender Mania’ is a Symptom of West’s Cultural Collapse,” CNS News, 11/3/2015.

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The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.  He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.

  • Deuteronomy 28:43, 44

Just a few hours before the Capitol Hill riot captured the world’s attention on January 6, Washington Post political reporter Dave Weigel tweeted out, “Protestants locked out of the top offices for the first time ever (president, chief justice, speaker of the house, [Senate] majority leader).”

Of the offices he referred to in his tweet, three – President, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the House – are held by Roman Catholics. Senate Majority Leader, Charles Schumer, is Jewish.

Jesse Curtis, whose Twitter bio states he is a historian of race and religion and is starting a job as Assistant Professor of History at Valpariso University in the fall of 2021, retweeted Weigel’s tweet, commenting on it, “The decline of Protestant supremacy (both as fact and ideology) is really something.  Less than a century ago this would have been front page news and major social tension.  Now it’s just quaint trivia.”

Another tweet by Sean Penn – yes, the actor – from 2/12/2021 reads, “Evangelical leaders should themselves be impeached by the Vatican if they themselves don’t follow Nikki Haley’s – The Monstrous Regiment (R-SC) – lead & clearly state they should not have followed Satin (sic) – this is a reference to Donald Trump – into the bowels of hell. But, perhaps they are too busy at sex parties.”

Now one could dismiss this as just another silly tweet from a confused Hollywood dweller.  But a response to Penn’s tweet caught my attention.  “thank you”, it began. “people often don’t like to acknowledge that the one holy roman catholic apostolic church has authority over the protestants so i’m glad you’re speaking out on this critical issue.”  That response was sent by Elizabeth Bruening, whose Twitter bio indicates she’s an “Opinion writer at @nytimes.”  That is to say, she is someone with journalistic and cultural clout.  Bruening also retweeted Penn’s tweet with the comment “absolutely.”

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Detail from The Sack of Rome by the Visigoths by JN Sylvestre, 1890.

“At the hour of midnight, the Salerian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet.  Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the Imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia” (Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ch. 31).

With these words the English historian Edward Gibbon captured the sacking of Rome by Alaric king of the Visigoths on August 24, A.D. 410.   Although the Western empire did not officially come to an end until A.D. 476, the sacking of Rome by Alaric was certainly an indication of the Empire’s fast approaching end. 

As something of a history buff myself, I’ve often wondered what it was like for people who witnessed the end of their civilization.  It must have been terrible and terrifying.  One wonders at the horror that must have filled the hearts of the inhabitants of Jerusalem when the Babylonian army broke through the city walls in 586 B.C. and proceeded to destroy the city and burn the temple, which at that time had stood for over 300 years.

Reflecting on the excerpt above from Gibbon, what was it like for the Romans, and even non-Romans, in A.D. 410 to hear that Rome had been taken by a barbarian Germanic king? 

At the time of the sacking of Rome, the Bishop of Hippo in North Africa found himself confronted by many angry and puzzled questioners, many of whom were refugees from Alaric’s invasion of Italy, asking how, if Christianity were true, God could allow Christian civilization – recall that Constantine had become the first, at least nominally, Christian emperor about a century earlier – to be destroyed by a pagan barbarian king and his army?        

That bishop, as you may already be aware, was none other than Aurelius Augustine, the greatest theologian of the early church.

According to one scholar,

More than any other single episode the sacking of Rome gave Augustine a reason to write the City of God. After 410 he found exiles, those escaping the disturbing events in Italy, arriving in North Africa where he was now Bishop of Hippo and asking how he could explain this collapse of a Christian Empire.  It was their angry challenge that led him to begin work on a book which was to appear in episodes stretching over many years of composition (G. R. Evans, Introduction, City of God. Penguin Books, London, 2003, ix).

It seems to me that, although our present circumstances are in certain important respects different from those faced by Augustine in his day, nevertheless there are some important similarities.  While Rome in the fifth century was sacked and burned by outside forces, America today is being sacked and burned – in some ways literally, in others figuratively – by forces from within.  In both cases – Rome in A.D. 410; America in A.D. 2021 – the civilizations were in advanced states of decay well in advance of their sacking.  One may fairly view the two events not as the beginning of their respective civilization’s collapse, but as another, more overt, step along the way to their demise. 

The comparison of Rome’s sacking in 410 to the events in America over the past year – namely, the massive civil unrest carried out by BLM and Antifa and supported by the political, business, entertainment and academic establishments; the brutal Covid lockdowns in defiance of the Constitution, medical precedent, and the teachings of Scripture; and an overtly stolen presidential election –  can be instructive to Christians today, because many of the same problems that plague America and the West today are the same problems that plagued Rome in Augustine’s day, and the answers he gave to his critics are just as applicable now as they were then. 

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Is feudalism in our future? Medieval illustration, circa 1310.

I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

  • John 15.5

There’s not much good news these days.  And not only is the news not good, it’s downright appalling. 

Just to give one example, consider the situation with the presidential election.  Here we are, about six weeks after the election with the nation deeply divided about the winner.  The establishment media have all proclaimed Joe Biden president-elect, yet there is substantial evidence that the election was stolen.  But in spite of what is, in my own opinion, clear evidence of election fraud, the Trump legal team has gone from defeat to defeat.  The latest loss, the refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the complaint by the Texas Attorney General against several other states for their failure to follow the constitution in their election procedures, suggests that there is little hope for Trump and his supporters to find redress for their grievances in the courts.  The bottom line: at this point it appears that, come January, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. 

As if this weren’t bad enough, there are several other pressing problems facing this nation, any one of which threatens serious destruction on its own.  Taken together, the threats seem overwhelming. 

For starters, we have the abject failure of many mayors, governors, district attorneys and police chiefs to do government’s most basic job:  punish those who practice evil.  For months we have witnessed destructive riots in some of our largest cities.  Not only have those who have deliberately destroyed and stolen property and caused bodily harm to peaceful citizens not been punished, but those who have sought to defend themselves and their property from the aggressors have found themselves in legal trouble.  In 2020 America, good is evil, and evil good. 

The state of our nation’s finances continues to deteriorate.  But the economic pain is not equally shared.  In fact, while many ordinary Americans are struggling financially as a result of losing their jobs and business from government imposed Covid lockdowns, the wealth of billionaires has soared

Wall Street is hitting records highs while Main Street struggles to pay the grocery bill.  This is not the result of capitalism, as many socialists like to point out, but the result of the oceans of printed money by the Fed.  Some observers have noted that about 23 percent of all US dollars were created just this year, 2020!

If all this weren’t bad enough, the federal budget deficit for 2020 hit a record $3.1 trillion.  This means that the federal government overspent its tax revenues by over $3 trillion. 

I doubt our culture has ever been more vulgar.  Sexual deviants are celebrated and those who oppose them are silenced.  Vulgar language and fornication are openly celebrated.  Internet pornography runs rampant. Oh, and did I mention that transgenderism has attained sacred status and that even the mildest criticism of homosexuality is taken for blasphemy? If you don’t think men who claim they are women are awesome, and women who claim they are men must be believed and have praise heaped upon them, then you, my friend, are the one who has the problem. On the other hand, the man in the dress screaming at you for making the mistake of “misgendering” him? He is above criticism. 

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Ebed-Melech resuces Jeremiah, Jan Luyken (1649-1712), 1712.

“For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,” says the LORD.

  • Jeremiah 39:18

Jerusalem was in trouble.  The powerful Babylonian army that had been besieging the city had temporarily left to fight the Egyptians but would soon return with a vengeance.  Many false prophets (false teachers) had been telling the people that Jerusalem would be spared, but Jeremiah knew better and was not afraid to say so.

This made the prophet a very unpopular fellow, especially with the ruling class. 

“Do not deceive yourselves, saying, ‘The Chaldeans will surely depart from us,’ for they will not depart.  For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.” Such was a typical rebuke Jeremiah would deliver to those optimists in Jerusalem who thought that somehow everything was going to work out just fine in the end. 

Perhaps even more disturbing, at least from the perspective of the ruling class, was that Jeremiah was telling the people of Jerusalem to defect to the Babylonians, the very nation then destroying the land of Judah.  “Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.  He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be as a prize to him.  For I have set My face against this city for adversity and not for good,” says the LORD.  “It shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.”’

Indeed, it was suspicion that Jeremiah himself was defecting to the Babylonians that landed him in prison.  And now that Jeremiah was in prison, his enemies in king Zedekiah’s court decided to move in for the kill.

In Jeremiah 38 we read, “Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedeliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence: but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’ Thus says the LORD:  ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’” 

In verse 4 of Jeremiah chapter 38 we read, “Therefore the princes said to the king, ‘Please, let this man (Jeremiah) be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of  the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them.  For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”    

To this demand King Zedekiah replied, “Look, he is in your hand.  For the king can do nothing against you.” 

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Another week, another American city torched by “mostly peaceful protesters.” Police in riot gear clear a park during clashes with protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse late Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. | David Goldman/AP Photo

“In the second century of the Christian Era, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind.” With this sentence did Edward Gibbon open his famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Gibbon’s work, first published in 1776, is a sweeping work of history, following the fortunes of the Roman Empire from its height in the second century AD to the fall of Constantinople in 1453.  

It may come as a surprise to some people to find that the Roman Empire lasted into the 15th century.  When we think about the fall of Rome, we tend to focus on the collapse of the Western Empire in AD 476 and forget that Rome had a vibrant eastern portion that did not fall until its capital, Constantinople, fell to the Turks nearly seven hundred years later.  We call this eastern empire Byzantium, but the Byzantines did not call themselves Byzantines.  The term “Byzantine Empire” did not come into use until well after the fall of Constantinople.  No, the people we call Byzantines did not use this term.  They called themselves Romans.   

After the spilling of much ink, Gibbon concludes his work with a chapter in which he discusses what he believes to be the four main causes of the fall of Rome.  He lists them as: 1) The injuries of nature, 2) the hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians, 3) the use and the abuse of the materials, and 4) the domestic quarrels of the Romans.  Was Gibbon right in his assessment?  That is for another time to discuss.

Although Gibbon’s work is likely the first to come to mind when people think about decline and fall histories, his was not the first work to describe the chain of events leading from civilizational greatness to civilizational collapse.  As this author has mentioned before in this space, the Old Testament can be viewed, at least in part, as the history of the decline and fall of ancient Israel, or the Hebrew Republic as the 19th century American Presbyterian writer E.C. Wines called it. 

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Black Lives Matter protesters march through Portland, Oregon on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

  • Isaiah 1:7

Is America under the judgment of God?  Many Christians think so, this author among them. 

Some of our largest, most prosperous and best-known cities are literally burned with fire and will take years to recover, if they ever do. Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and New York have seen massive riots and property destruction on a level that few Americans could have imagined just six months ago.  On the internet one can view the daily, destructive handiwork of Antifa in Portland and Seattle.  The Portland riots have been going on for three months now and show no sigh of abating.  In fact, the riots may be spreading, as there are reports just today (8/23/2020) that the sort of disturbances that have been going in the Portland have spread to Denver.       

Our political system is a mess.  The Democrats have veered off in a radical socialist/social justice direction.  So overt is their radicalism that it has caused concern even among some of the older, mainstream liberals in the party.  The Republicans, relatively speaking a saner bunch, have nevertheless lost their moorings in many ways.  There was a time, not all that long ago, when Republicans at least pretended to be the party of fiscal restraint.  Yet under President Trump debts and deficits have exploded and almost no one says a word.  When Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) objected to the house passing the budget busting $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill without a vote, he was denounced by President Trump as a, “third rate Grandstander.”  Trump went on to say that Massie should be thrown out of the Republican party.  That was Massie’s reward for standing up for the Constitution.

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Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate as overthrown by strangers. Isaiah 1:7

“…because of Western civilization’s love of material comforts, there is an unwillingness to face unpleasant realities.”

  • Gordon H. Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, p.53

“‘How did you go bankrupt?’ Bill asked.  ‘Two ways,’ Mike said.  ‘Gradually and then suddenly.’“ So wrote Ernest Hemmingway in his novel The Sun Also Rises

Although Hemmingway’s book was a work fiction, what he said about bankruptcy is a phenomenon many of us have seen in real life.  Individuals and organizations that appear to be in robust financial health experience sudden financial collapse. 

Perhaps the poster child for sudden financial ruin is Lehman Brothers, a famous 150-year-old Wall Street investment bank.  Having earned record profits during the height of the real estate bubble from 2005-2007, early in the morning on Monday, September 15,2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.   

The collapse of Lehman Brothers to this day is still the largest bankruptcy in American history. 

Gradually, then suddenly.  That same pattern can be seen in the Scriptures as well.  In Deuteronomy 32:35 we read, “Their foot shall slide in due time.”   Some will recognize this as the text on which Jonathan Edwards based his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Wrote Edwards,

It [the saying “their foot shall slide in due time”] implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction.  As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in ‘Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction:  How are they brought into desolation as in a moment? (Psalm 73:18-19).

Sodom and Gomorrah met with destruction in a single day. 

After centuries of rebellion against God, Jerusalem was sacked in a single day. 

In Daniel’s time, the mighty city of Babylon was overthrown in a single day. 

In Revelation, the voice from heaven prophesies that the destruction of Babylon the Great will come in a single day.  The kings of the earth are said to lament her destruction, crying out, “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!  For in one hour your judgment has come” (Revelation 18:10).  

In all of these cases, the sudden final destruction was really the end result of a process that had been going on for many years.   

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Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate as overthrown by strangers, Isaiah 1:7

“…because of Western civilization’s love of material comforts, there is an unwillingness to face unpleasant realities.”

  • Gordon H. Clark, A Christian View of Men and Things, p.53

Just yesterday, we celebrated the 244th anniversary of America’s independence from Great Britain, while, ironically enough, a substantial portion of the country found itself under house arrest due to dictates from various government officials.  It’s almost as if we’ve come full circle.

Actually, it seems as if we’ve come more than full circle.  Government was much smaller, and the tax and regulatory burdens were much less, under British colonial rule than they are now under own home-grown government.  This is not to suggest that it was wrong to have fought the Revolutionary War, but it does say something about how far America has drifted from its limited government roots.   

What has been the cause of this political sea change?

In his Forward to Gordon Clark’s A Cristian View of Men and Things, John Robbins explained it this way, “A Christian View of Men and Things presents the argument that the West is disappearing because Christianity, on which Western civilization was built, has already virtually disappeared in the West.” 

It needs to be pointed out there that when Clark and Robbins speak of “Christianity,” they are talking about the plain statements and logical implications of the 66 Books of the Bible, the centerpiece of which is the doctrine of Justification by Faith (Belief) Alone.  That is to say, they are talking about the Biblical Christianity of the Protestant Reformation. 

There are other systems of thought that claim to be Christianity, Roman Catholicism for example, but which are not Christian, because they teach that sinful man in some sense is able to put God in his debt, as if salvation were the rightful wages of the sinner’s good works.  These other systems are, in fact, not Christian at all, and their growing presence in the United States and elsewhere in the West are the collapse of the West. 

Western Civilization is rapidly disappearing from the face of the Earth, yet almost no one, even among those who lament its disappearance, understand, as did Gordon Clark and John Robbins, the connection between the disappearance of Christianity and that of Western Civilization. 

Writing about the Northern Kingdom in his day, the prophet Hosea commented, “Aliens have devoured his [Ephraim’s] strength, but he does not know it; yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.  The kings and rulers of the Northern Kingdom, for which Ephraim was another name, lacked the discernment to realize the precarious position of the nation and to see that its collapse was nigh.  Some scholars believe Hosea wrote from about 750 BC until just a few years before the dissolution of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC, when the Assyrians conquered the capital city of Samaria and took the inhabitants of the nation into captivity. 

So why did the Northern Kingdom fall to Assyria?  That is a very simple question to answer, one requiring no speculation: “[T]hey left all the commandments of the LORD their God” (2 Kings 17:16).  It was because of this that “the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight” (2 Kings 17:18).

It is this author’s contention that we in the West, the heirs of the Reformation, are in a position not entirely different from that of ancient Israel.  We have forsaken the Lord our God, his law and his gospel, and have followed after strange gods, which are not gods at all, but the work of the vain imaginations of men’s sinful hearts.  John Robbins put it like this, “the collapse of the West can be viewed as the collapse of the of the attempted Thomistic (Roman Catholic) synthesis of human philosophy and Christ, and the West’s fatal choosing of non-Christian philosophy, not Christ” (A Christian View of Men and Things, 12).   

It’s one thing to read about the collapse of the Hebrew Republic as documented in the pages of the Old Testament, or even about the collapse of the Roman Empire as recounted by Edward Gibbon.  It’s altogether another thing when the civilization in collapse is your own and you have the opportunity to watch it live streamed in high definition.

In the opinion of this author, it is high time that American Christians, and Christians in other nations of the West, face the reality of the situation we are in, as unpleasant as it is, and prepare themselves for the likely further collapse of the West. 

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An Auto Zone burns in Minneapolis early Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Nick Woltman / Pioneer Press)

Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire.

  • Isaiah 1:7

Writing late in the history of Judah, the prophet Isaiah’s work has long struck this author as having special application to our own time.  In his long career, Isaiah witnessed much, including the final destruction of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria in 721 B.C. and a remarkable restoration of the Southern Kingdom under King Hezekiah. 

In the opening chapter of the book named for him, Isaiah painted a stark and unflattering picture of the current state of Judah and Jerusalem in his day.  Although they had a Godly heritage, the people of the Southern Kingdom had not only abandoned that heritage but were acting in ways that were the exact opposite of what had been laid down for them in the Law of Moses.  Speaking through Isaiah, the Lord called them “children who are corruptors.”  Not only were they themselves corrupt, but they corrupted others.  Further, the Lord said of them that, “They have turned away backward.’  The inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah not only were off course but were going 180 degrees away from the direction God had called them to go. 

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