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About this series
Hope of Nations
Standing Strong in a Post-Truth, Post Christian World
In the midst of these trying and challenging times, is there hope for America? In this new series called “Hope of Nations” our guest teacher John Dickerson, pairs his understanding of God’s Word with his skills as a reporter, to paint a picture of America’s potential spiritual future. Don't miss what we can learn from our past, and how we can protect our Christian values.More from this series
Did you know the vast majority of people ever born in human history never learned how to read? Where did reading come from? Well, here in the United States, it came from this same group of Puritans. They said, “Okay, we’re here! We made it to this new world to create a society where our kids can live out the Bible, so we need to get ministers for them. And secondly, we need to make sure they know how to read the Bible.”
So they created the first public school and they did so through legislation. A thing called the “Ye Old Deluder Satan Act” – Ye Old Deluder Satan. And here was their point. Satan is a deceiver, he deceives societies and people through ideas, and so we are going to create a school so that all of our kids can read so they can read the Bible for themselves so they are not deluded or deceived by Satan. First ever public school.
Social literacy came about as a result. And a first in human history, not only public education, but education for girls.
Global literacy, if you look back before the Protestant Reformation, was around ten percent. One in ten people could read, even in the Western world. After the Protestant Reformation, you see this explosion upward of literacy and it’s led by nations like the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. What did all those nations have in common from 1500 to 1800? Well, it’s a fact of history that those were all nations that were predominantly Christian.
And so, if you remove Christians from world history, you remove literacy as we know it today, because this is not just a graph of literacy in Christian nations, this is literacy in the world. Actually, this yellow line is the world and you see the world eventually catches up as the West spreads its education around the globe.
So, why does this stuff matter? Well, if you take Christians out of world history, you remove our ability read and that fundamentally takes society back a thousand years.
Well, as Christians started to read the Bible for themselves, they started to look at society and they started to realize where society was out of line with God’s Word.
And so, one of those issues was slavery. Quakers, predating the United States of America, started to write pamphlets and say, “We have to end slavery,” and their argument was from the Bible, that slavery is wrong. By the way, slavery was a global norm before this. You can look at every continent, every major civilization in world history had slavery. Egypt had slaves, Rome had slaves, here in North America before Europeans came it’s well documented that Native American tribes would enslave each other.
Slavery was a global norm before this time. And the Quakers started looking at the Word of God and saying, “We can’t allow slavery in our society.” And they started to spread this message. As I mentioned, it got to England. And in their writings, you’ll find that they are arguing from the Bible for the end of slavery.
I’m not making it up, you can go check it out for yourself. The point is if you remove Christians from world history, you remove the greatest overthrow of slavery in human history.
And the story continues into more modern history. Martin Luther King Jr. who no one would disagree is one of the most influential fighters for human rights in all of history and especially in modern history. Martin Luther King Jr., we often forget nowadays, his title was the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. because he was a pastor! He was a man of the Book. He was a man of God’s Word.
And you can look at his speeches on videos for yourself, his sermons actually. They are sermons. And you can read his writings for yourself. And if you do, you’ll see what motivated the greatest fighter for human rights in modern history and maybe in all of history was the Word of God.
Full of quotes like this, when MLK said this, “If one is truly devoted to the religion of Jesus, he will seek to rid the earth of social evils,” why? Because God’s truth sets individuals free and it has the power to set families free and it has the power to set societies free.
MLK another time said this, “Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for those that despitefully use you.’” MLK was a man of God’s Word. As he pursued God’s truth, he was key in continuing to set people free.
So, what have we learned? Well, we have learned that Christians who have pursued God’s truth established the university, created public education and the fact that we can read, launched the Scientific Revolution. We haven’t gone into detail on these, but it’s just like the evidence I gave you on the others, the founders of Western democracy, modern medicine and the vaccine – Edward Jenner, the end of slavery in the West, the Civil Rights movement, and the list actually goes on and on and on.
So, where do we stand today? Where do we stand today? Well, I have used the analogy of the fruit on the trees, we have inherited a society that has these fruits. They seem normal to us, because we have always lived in this society, many of us have not known life in Haiti or in Sudan or in India.
And so, it seems normal to us. But people from those countries come here and they’re like, “Whoa. How does a society like this even come about?” It doesn’t happen by accident. We enjoy those fruits.
Now, my assessment, and this is my assessment as a researcher, as a reporter, is that what is happening in our lifetimes, and actually started shortly after World War II is that many of our smartest people are being trained at many of our best universities to take out an axe and to chop at those roots. In other words, we don’t want God and Christianity anymore, even while they are still eating the fruits.
And so, here’s point three on your outline. Today, many free and wealthy inheritors are rejecting God’s truths. And this is largely because of what they have been taught, how they have been taught to view the world.
In time, this is my opinion based on principles from the Word of God, the freedom and wealth that we take as normal will decline if the rejection of God’s truth continues.
In other words, you can start chopping at the roots of a fruit tree and still eat the fruit for a little while, but if you keep chopping at those roots, eventually the tree is going to stop producing the fruits if you’re chopping at the roots.
You know, and as we mentioned, starting in about a 1000 A.D., Oxford University, founded on the pursuit of truth, if you look at the mottos of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cambridge – in almost all of them, you’ll see the Latin word for truth: veritas. Or you’ll see the idea of light and God’s Word. It was this uneven, imperfect pursuit of truth and it was bloody, and it was not pretty, and I’m not saying that any of these societies along the way were perfect because they weren’t. They were messed up.
But they rose above the historic norm in freedom and in life expectancy and in human rights. Why? I believe because of their pursuit of truth.
And so the thing is, when you’re in a family, you know the worst stuff about the family. You know the warts; you know the underbelly. And so, even if your family is a really good family, you know where it’s not perfect. And my generation is inheriting this whole machinery of what used to be called Western Civilization. And because we are born into it, we know where it’s not perfect and a lot of those things are very legitimate concerns where we still need to make progress.
But the thing is, we have lost our perspective of how good our family is compared to other families out there. We have lost our perspective of how unique this civilization is compared to the rest of the world. And so, right now, people are saying things like, “We need to blow the whole thing up and start over.”
The thing is, other countries have tried that. We don’t need to blow the whole thing up. We need to keep improving, but the improvement came from pursuing the truth standard. How do we further improve women’s rights? How do we further improve racial equality and the striving toward that? We’re not there yet. How do we get there? It’s by continuing to pursue God’s truth, and what He says about human dignity and human equality. And if we throw out the standard of truth, we are not going to get to where we want to get as good as our motives might be.
And so, here’s what has happened, I believe, based on my assessment and I’ll show you some evidence for this, is that in the 1800s, Germany was a very, very Christian nation. Ninety-plus percent Christian. This was before World War II, before the Holocaust, before racism in Germany at the level of World War II.
And a number of their smartest philosophers started to say in their highest universities, “You know what? We could make a better society without God. That old Bible stuff we think is maybe myths and fables. Let’s create a new society without God’s truth. Let’s do better. We have now have science and philosophy at a level that didn’t used to exist, so let’s create a better society without God.”
And that’s what this point is, is this is a moment in history that I believe was a defining moment when a famous German philosopher, you have maybe heard of Nietzsche, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote, “God is dead.”
And at the time, it was an idea in an elite university that sounded really neat to smart people. And Nietzsche and some of his peers like Karl Marx started to come up with new visions for a society that doesn’t need God or churches or the Bible and Marx got so excited about his, he wrote a whole system called “Marxism,” the foundations of Communism.
And it started as ideas in the university. But as more and more of the professors started to believe this, they started to train the culture-shapers, the teachers, the lawmakers, the artists, and so you got a trickle down from the university where the smartest people and now all the shapers of culture believe, “We don’t need God anymore. That Bible stuff is outdated. We can do better.”
And so, from the time of Nietzsche, about fifty-some years pass and this trickles down from the intelligencia to mainstream. And now you’ve got normal people in the Boy Scouts of Germany learning, “We don’t need God to make a better society, we can do it on our own.” And learning these lies like the Jewish people are our enemy.
Here’s a picture of Adolph Hitler next to a statue of Friedrich Nietzsche. And to me it’s a symbolic image that shows, “Here’s what a largely Christian nation, when it turns away from the truth standard and says, “We can do better without God,” here’s where it can end.
And Germany is not the only case study in how terrible society becomes when it has the science and technology and power that came about from Christian study, but then throws away Christianity.
And Satan, who came into the world to kill and steal and destroy primarily kills and destroys people through ideas. And Satan loves to get a whole society or group of people to adopt a lens of reality that says we don’t need God or the Bible. It happened in Germany and the ends were some of the worst industrial-scale killing and genocide in all of human history with the Holocaust.
But Germany wasn’t the only nation to adopt this idea from the German thinkers in the 1800s that we don’t need God. In fact, a little further east in a giant nation called Russia at the time there was a young academic who also came across the writings of Nietzsche and his friend Karl Marx.
And this young academic started to think, What if Russia, which at the time was known as the “Holy Rus”, Holy Russia, land of a thousand domes or steeples. Eastern Orthodox Christianity was the prevailing cultural center in Russia. A little different flavor of Christianity, but still Christianity.
And this young academic thought, Let’s make a new society in Russia. Let’s have a revolution. Get rid of the churches, get rid of all the Jesus and Christianity stuff. Let’s outlaw that stuff. Make a new and better society without it.
This young academic had a really long, hard to pronounce name. He knew if he was going to get famous and make a change in the world, he had to shorten it, so he shortened it to Lenin. And Lenin and his friend Stalin took the writings of another one of these German thinkers and they launched about a hundred years ago what was called the October Revolution in Russia, which was the beginning of the Soviet Union.
Now, it should be just well-known history, but I’ll declare it, that under the Soviet Union, tens of millions of people were killed. Freedom of speech completely disappeared. Freedom of religion completely disappeared. The largest scale tyranny and just stamping out of human rights in human history happened as a result of ideas that were embraced and spread across a nation.
Now, in Russia, which became the Soviet Union, there was a brilliant writer. And forgive me on the name, Solzhenitsyn, bear with me, okay? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a genius writer who, like all the smart people in Russia eventually, if he didn’t toe the line of the Soviet Union, he got sent to the gulag, similar to a concentration camp in Siberia, where he nearly froze to death. He lived; he became a Christian while he was there.
And after the Soviet Union fell, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn looked back at the sixty million people who died from famine and from outright murder by a fist of a government, and here’s what he said, looking back, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says this, “If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people,” translation, “Why did sixty million people die in my country?”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says this, “I could not put it more accurately than to repeat men have forgotten God. That’s why all this happened.”
The crazy irony of history is that after the United States won World War II physically, its leading professors in universities started to adopt the same view of reality that Germany and Russia adopted before World War II.
And this is documented in a book called The Soul of the American University written by a guy named George Marsden. And the point is this, in this book, it’s very academic, it might be boring, but the point is he documents to the month and the day and the year when Yale University turned away from the Word of God. For hundreds of years, it believed this was the source of truth. There was a time when it turned away.
He documents when Harvard turned away. He documents when Princeton, which was the most recent, turned away. And the subtitle of his book, From Protestant Establishment to Established Non-Belief. And the reality, whether we like it or not, is that now the smartest people in our society for a number of decades now, have been taught the same thing that the smartest people in Germany and Russia were taught, that we don’t need God to make society better, that actually Christians are the dangerous ones, and we could do better, make a better society without them.
Now, I’m not predicting exactly how it’s going to end, where it’s going to go for the United States. Hopefully it takes a long time. Hopefully there’s major movement of God and there’s a revival and things change. But what we know from history is that when societies do this, it doesn’t usually end well. And we can’t predict exactly how it will end.
Here’s Alan Bloom. Alan Bloom was a professor at Yale and at Cornell. He himself was not a Christian. Alan Bloom is not writing as a Christian. He lived through this era where the leading American universities that trickle down culture to the rest of the country adopted the German philosophers that led to World War II, he says, “The popularization of German philosophy in the United States,” does that make sense? “The popularization of that is of peculiar interest to me because I have watched it occur during my lifetime.”
And he writes this, he’s now dead but he says, “I feel a little bit like someone who knew Napoleon when he was six.” There was a time when Napoleon was six years old and playing on holiday and no one knew that someday millions of people would die because of this little boy.
And Alan Bloom, writing as a non-Christian in the Ivy League setting says, “I have seen my peers adopt the very ideas that led to death and destruction in other countries and I kind of can’t believe it’s happening.”
Also writing as a non-Christian, Alan Bloom says this about God’s truth, the Bible, which was the center of American society until that turn. He writes this, “In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture.” Now to people my age and younger, they’re like, “Oh, someone is making that up. A pastor is making that up.”
No, it’s true. You can read books from the 1800s, if you could go back in time, almost every American home had a big old Bible in the middle of the living room, even if the people didn’t do what it said or read it, they had one, okay?
And Alan Bloom, writing says, “That’s what made this melting pot possible where people could come from Ireland or from Russia, from all around the world and some were Catholic, some were Protestant, but the one thing they had in common was they at least had a respect for the Bible and for Jesus. They weren’t perfect people, but they had that in common.
Did you know that as recently as the 1940s, ninety-eight percent of Americans identified as Christian? So, some of our kids nowadays get taught, “Well, America was never a Christian nation.” Well, it was a nation primarily of Christians, okay?
But Alan Bloom says this, “The Bible was the one thing that united simple and sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old. Without the Book,” the Bible, “the idea of the order of the whole, a stable American melting pot society where people are all treated equally, is lost.” Because that’s where it came from. That’s his assessment as a non-Christian academic.
Without the pursuit of God’s truth, we know we lose the roots that made freedom possible. So, here’s the real question: how can we respond? Very simply, we cannot control society. We can’t control society, but we can control ourselves.
And we can control our families, and we as a Church, can control our movement, which is a pretty significant movement, by the way. So, don’t despair. God has given us great responsibility with what we can control.
How do we respond to all this? Well, first, we decide that we will remain rooted to the Christian Scriptures. No matter what happens in culture or in society, no matter what names we get called, no matter as the society turns away from God’s Word.
And so, we have got to decide right now, when the pressure comes, if someday churches lose their non-profit status, if pressure comes, we’ve got to decide as a group of people, we will remain rooted to the Word of God, because it’s His truth that leads to freedom. And we won’t give it up. And because we are committed to His truth, we will always be loving, we will pray for those who persecute us, we will forgive our enemies, we will love our enemies because we are committed to it. But we are also going to be unapologetic that this is the standard for what we do and believe. And that’s the people we are.
Second thing is the training of our young. I believe based on the rate of cultural change and the current of cultural force that if we are not very intentional about how we train our young people, that we will lose them ideologically. Because they are getting a lens to view the world that says you don’t need God or the Bible almost everywhere else they turn.
So, if we really want them to live those lives of freedom, we’ll be intentional. We want to help you be a family that trains your young people to know the Word of God – why? Because that’s what leads to freedom. And we want them to live lives of freedom and prosperity.
Well, let’s close by just imagining for a moment our kids and our grandkids being rooted in the Word of God and living lives of freedom. Freedom that keeps them away from vices and addiction, freedom that hopefully will keep them from divorce, has the power to. Freedom that can set them on the path of their best life possible. And what we know is that apart from God’s Word, there is no true freedom.
And so, as the world around us perhaps gets darker, because some people will be pursuing their idea of freedom without God and the consequences may be bad, we can be a lighthouse that shines brighter and brighter, the hope that in Christ there is freedom.