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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

Major Study Finds The US Is An Oligarchy” was the way Business Insider reported the findings of a 2014 Princeton University peer-reviewed study of American politics.  In it, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded,  “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

Since this is a Scripturalist blog dedicated to the proposition that the Bible alone furnishes us with knowledge, readers may question why this author would cite a secular, empirical study to make a point about the state of American politics in the early 21st century.  One reason for doing so is that, while this study reflects the opinion of its authors, he believes that their opinion is an accurate reflection, politically speaking, of the state of affairs in this nation.  Opinion, while not knowledge – knowledge is always true – nevertheless can be both true and useful.    

If this study is right, and the author is persuaded that it is, the United States, founded as a republic, has devolved into a vulgar oligarchy, which is defined as, “a government in which a small group exercise control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.”  Why has this happened? John Adams, one of America’s Founding Fathers put it this way, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Adams was, of course, right.  Paper restraints are wholly inadequate to hold back sinful man’s desire – and this desire is found both among those who would govern and those who are governed – for big government.  If the American people do not believe in constitutional capitalism, the political and economic expression of Christianity, then there is nothing to stop the nation from devolving into some form of authoritarianism.    

Now it may be worth pausing for a moment to explain that the common understanding of the term “religious” in Adams time meant “Protestant.”  The population of the American colonies at the time of the revolution was 98% Protestant, and it was this sort of religion that the framers had in mind.  Today, it is common for people to understand by “religion” or “religious” that the framers of the Constitution were referring to all religions – e.g. Romanism, Judaism, Islam.  But these three medieval religions are incapable of creating or sustaining a free society.  It is Christianity as expressed in the 66 books of the Bible and systematized during the 16th century Protestant Reformation, that alone provides the necessary ideas needed to constrain government to its proper, limited role of punishing evil doers and rewarding the good. 

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