(The audio version of this essay can be found here.)
This post has been a long time coming. It has been sitting in my drafts folder since January of 2019, just a few weeks after I first created this blog. I have long believed that a blind faith in the continued existence of the indivisible United States of America is a weakness that prevents us from doing what is necessary to prepare for her eventual fall. The message of this blog and podcast is not hopelessness, but preparation. Those who do not read history are condemned to repeat it, while those that do are condemned to play the part of Cassandra.
Nearly two years ago I had the idea to start a blog and a podcast that chronicled the decline and fall of the United States as it happened in real time. I remember reading stories about bridges collapsing and trains derailing and I wondered how future encyclopedias would write of this era in American history. I realized that they would sound just like our own entries on the end of the Roman Empire, or the Ottoman Empire, or many other bygone civilizations. I was not the first to notice this trend, of course. Aaron Clarey wrote his magnum opus “Enjoy the Decline” nearly a decade ago, and many other pundits and thinkers have been writing about the downward trajectory of American culture for even longer than that. Vox Day famously predicted that the United States will have collapsed in some fashion by 2033. I have humbly tried to add my voice to the chorus, to create a contemporary record of the decline and fall of a once-great nation, and to give whatever advice I could to those who would preserve her memory when she is gone.
Every empire, every great civilization rises and falls. Sometimes that fall is gradual, as when the Western Roman Empire slowly collapsed, leaving Europe a patchwork of formerly barbarian tribes that eventually grew into the kingdoms of the medieval era. Sometimes it is sudden, as when the French Revolution toppled the ancien regime seemingly overnight. Sometimes it is gradual, then sudden, as when the Austrians – the successors to the long-lived Holy Roman Empire –found themselves unable to keep pace with the great powers in World War I and were picked apart by the victorious allies. Sometimes a shell of the old empire remains, as with Great Britain after World War II. Sometimes a civilization collapses, only to be reborn as something different, as when the Roman Republic transformed into the Empire. It remains to be seen which form the ultimate fall of America will take.
Despite these examples from history, there are many in America who, even today, believe that it cannot happen here. The United States of America is special, they say, and the regular patterns of history do not apply to us. Some believe that there is an exceptionalism about the American people that will save us from the same historical forces that have destroyed other empires in the past. Some even suggest that there is a magical quality in our very dirt that makes us different. Many conservative Christians believe that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are inspired by God Himself, just a step below the level of Holy Scripture, and that the American people are a modern-day version of biblical Israel – chosen by God to spread the gospel throughout the world.
After all, many of America’s founders saw something uniquely divine about the way this country was born. How else can you explain how a ragtag band of colonial soldiers defeated the greatest military power on the planet? By any rational account, George Washington and his army should have been finished several times over, but they nevertheless claimed a final victory at Yorktown. How else can you explain how the United States rose from obscurity to become the greatest industrial, economic, and cultural power the world has ever seen? In the blink of an eye, our country went from exploring the continent to exploring the moon. It is clear that God has blessed America throughout her history.
In 1938, as war loomed on the European horizon, Jewish American songwriter Irving Berlin revised his 1918 version of “God Bless America” with some new words:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:
God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
One could argue that this prayer on behalf of the American people worked. While Europe and Asia were devastated by war, the United States thrived, coming out of the conflict with the greatest economy in the world. As the Cold War began, America stood for Christianity and freedom, while the godless Soviet Union stood for secular atheism and slavery. God blessed America indeed. Yet what did we do with those blessings? We sent tens of thousands of young men to die in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. We fomented revolution throughout the world, ostensibly for the sake of freedom. We threw off the shackles of Christian morality in the 1960s. We outsourced the very manufacturing economy that once provided good jobs to millions of American families. We won the Cold War, then imported the very socialist ideas that doomed the Soviet Union in the first place. While the eastern European nations that suffered the most under the yoke of Communism have come out of the crucible with renewed Christian fervor, we used our freedom to engage in all sorts of degenerate ideas and practices.
The song “God Bless America” became popular again after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, being sung everywhere from baseball stadiums to the US Capitol Building. As we watched foreign agents using our own technology against us, killing three thousand people in a single morning, we once again united as a nation to implore God to bless our country and to keep her safe from the dark night. Yet that unity did not last long, and it is difficult to see exactly how God has blessed us this time. Sure, our economy quickly recovered, and we have not suffered any further attacks of that magnitude, but now we face internal and external pressures like never before. America needs God more than ever now, but does God still want America? The question few on the conservative Christian right dare to ask is “Why should God bless America?”
Despite what some conservatives believe, the American people are not the capital-P People of God. That distinction belongs to the worldwide capital-C Church, which is the Body of Christ. The United States might once have been useful to God for the furthering of the Gospel, but that utility seems dubious today. Later in this piece I will take a discuss some of the reasons why God might not be inclined to continue blessing America as He once did, but first, let us walk through the history of God’s original chosen people.
The book of Genesis teaches that the people of the world built the Tower of Babel in order to reach and perhaps even conquer Heaven, so God scattered them by giving them each a different language. Out of the chaos He picked one man, Abram, and called him to come out from the pagan tribes and follow Him alone. Calling the man Abraham now, God promised that he would be the father of many nations. Three generations later, however, Abraham’s descendants were forced to leave the land of the promise for Egypt due to a famine. Their Egyptian hosts eventually decided to enslave them, and for four centuries the people of Israel toiled in a land that was not their own.
Consider that – four hundred years of servitude. That is nearly twice as long as the United States has been an independent country. Four hundred years ago this year was when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. That is a long time. The Israelites thought God had forgotten them, but God operates on a different timetable than humanity. The Apostle Peter said, “…do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God had a plan for His people, and in due time He used Moses to lead them out of Egypt and eventually back to their promised land.
For several centuries, the people of Israel lived in a sort of theocracy, where God raised up judges to administer the people, but without a strict hierarchy. The book of Judges says it this way, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” It was the very sort of anarcho-libertarian community that many desire today, an ancient CHAZ, if you will. Yet this form of society did not hold up. The people demanded a king who could consolidate authority and raise Israel to the same level as other regional powers such as Egypt and Assyria. Israel’s final judge, Samuel, warned the people that a king would send their sons away to war, make their daughters into servants, and confiscate their goods as taxes. He warned that, “…you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
The people persisted, so God decided to let them have what they wanted and let them have it good and hard. Their first king, Saul, was everything a king should be – tall, handsome, strong, charismatic – yet he ended up going mad. The second king, David, did not initially look the part but eventually made Israel into a regional power, despite his own personal failings. David’s son Solomon ruled over a golden age for Israel, building a magnificent Temple and expanding their borders to their greatest extent. His son, however, could not maintain control and the kingdom fell into civil war. The House of David ruled over the Southern Kingdom of Judah after the Northern Kingdom of Israel split away.
Throughout the Old Testament, God continually promised Israel that He would protect and nurture them as long so long as they did not worship other gods, yet Israel could never seem to hold to that bargain. Immediately after the civil war, the northern kingdom began worshiping idols due to their isolation from the Temple in Jerusalem. God delayed His judgment for several centuries, however, continually giving them a chance to repent, but eventually He allowed the bloodthirsty Assyrians to conquer the northern kingdom and scatter its people throughout their empire.
The southern kingdom fared somewhat better, but eventually they too met the same fate. The story of the kingdom of Judah is of apostasy followed by restoration followed by apostasy again. A wicked king leads the people into idolatry, then a good king restores the Law of Moses and proper worship, only for another wicked king to undo it all again. God eventually had enough. He allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to lay waste to Jerusalem, demolish Solomon’s Temple, and carry away the people of Judah into slavery in Babylon.
In a verse that you often see posted on Facebook by conservative Christians, God says that, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Yet repentance and restoration are not something that a people can do once and then call it good. Each generation must make their own choice to either follow God or leave the path of righteousness. Once a people fall into idolatry and apostasy, it is extremely difficult to return to the narrow way. As Ronald Reagan said in many speeches throughout the years,
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
Rather than using our freedom to honor our Lord and follow His ways, we squandered it on libertinism and degeneracy. Perhaps we are not so different from ancient Israel after all. Like America in the year 2020, God had extended His grace to the people of Judah because of the faithfulness of their fathers. Yet the patience of God is not eternal. Eventually He will exact judgment. The books of Isaiah and Ezekiel depict God’s message of doom for the people of Judah. In these prophecies, God explains not only how His people will be punished but specifically why they are being judged. Like an unfaithful wife, the people of Israel continually left their first love for the temporary pleasures of the world. God gave Israel its just deserts by allowing it to be plundered by the very foreign powers they envied all along.
Yet the love of God is greater than we can comprehend. Despite their sin and idolatry, God allowed His people to return to their promised land. King Cyrus of Persia, after conquering the decadent Babylonians, allowed the Jews to go home and rebuild the Temple. There they stayed for several more centuries. The Persians eventually fell to Alexander the Great, whose generals ruled vast territories after his death. Judas Maccabeus led a revolt against King Antiochus, and for a brief time, Israel was a free nation again. In the year 63 BC, Roman general Pompey the Great was on a tour of conquest in the east. Two rival claimants to the Israelite throne approached Pompey, each offering bribes to secure his support against the other. This was short-sighted, however, as Pompey besieged Jerusalem and established Roman hegemony over the land. By the time of Christ, Israel was now Judaea: just another province of the vast Roman Empire.
It was in this place at this time that God chose to introduce His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This was the event that all human history had been building to, and it was the entire reason that God called Abram out of the paganism in the first place. The prophets of God had been telling of the coming Messiah, or Savior, for two thousand years. After Christ’s death and resurrection, many Jews heard His message and followed Him, becoming the first Christians. Yet the Jewish establishment resented Christ, denouncing Him as a liar, a charlatan, and a rebel. They had expected a Messiah who would free the Jews from Roman oppression, not one who would die for their sins. They persecuted the early church, but soon had bigger things to worry about. About thirty years after the Resurrection, the people of Judaea revolted against the Roman Empire. Titus, son of the Emperor Vespasian, laid siege to Jerusalem and eventually took the city by force. Like Nebuchadnezzar before him, Titus destroyed the Temple and carried off its riches to a foreign capital. Our Lord Jesus had known it was going to happen and had wept over Jerusalem before His death.
Several decades later, Simon bar Kokhba raised the remnant of the Jews in rebellion yet again. Some Jewish rabbis even proclaimed him to be the long-awaited Messiah who would finally throw off the Roman yoke. Yet it was not to be. The Romans once again took Jerusalem, this time forcibly scattering the Jews into what would become a two-millennium diaspora that only ended in 1948 with the establishment of the new State of Israel.
For a long time, the Christian Church believed that the destruction of the Second Temple and the scattering of the Jews were God’s judgment on the people of Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ, in the same way that Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the First Temple was judgment for their idolatry. This view has become politically incorrect today. After the Holocaust, many Christian leaders have been hesitant to condemn the historical Jewish people for much of anything out of fear of being labeled anti-Semitic. That is a discussion for another day, however. My point is that if God allowed such destruction to be visited upon His Chosen People back then, what hope do we have in America? If God does not judge America for our evil choices today, then what can we make of His justice? Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of the late evangelist Billy Graham, once said, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
When the Visigoths sacked Rome in AD 410, it was the first time in eight hundred years that a foreign army had breached the gates of the eternal city. A century after Constantine, many Christians had already begun to associate the political power of Rome with the spiritual power of the Church. Watching their holy city on fire shook their faith tremendously. St. Augustine had to remind them that the true Kingdom of Heaven was not geographically located in a specific place on earth. God was bigger than Rome, and the sack of Rome did not mean the end of Christianity. In fact, it was only the beginning. Many conservative Christians, especially evangelical Protestants, see the United States of America as the New Rome, the modern political center of the Christian Church. We tend to ignore anything that happened between the Resurrection and the American Revolution. Like the 5th century Christians, however, we need a reminder that God is bigger than our national borders. Jesus Christ is not American. The Christian Church existed before American was founded and will endure long after America is gone. We must have the right perspective.
What of the United States of America in 2020? What have we done to deserve God’s continual blessings?
The great sin of the people of Israel was idolatry – abandoning the worship of the one true God in favor of idols carved by hand. We tend to think of idolatry as an ancient sin that does not affect us today, but consider this: How many times have you gone to a Sunday church service and seen men and women wearing football jerseys? How many parents have outsourced the teaching of truth to their children to mass media? How many so-called Christians place so-called “social justice” above the truth of the gospel of Christ? As I speak, a new secular religion is developing in America. This religion is based on racial division, on socialist economic theories, and it makes government our new god. Is this new American religion any different than when Israel turned to Baal and Asherah?
While our media makes headlines out of every death from COVID-19, our nation is still quietly murdering more than 200,000 unborn children per month. Even our conservative Christian elected officials find it difficult to muster the political willpower to stop government funding of abortion mills like Planned Parenthood, much less ban the barbaric practice entirely. Even when undercover video revealed that Planned Parenthood literally sells baby parts, most of America could not care less. Since the Supreme Court imposed legalized abortion on America in 1973, more than sixty million unborn babies have been brutally killed. That is more than ten Holocausts worth of human beings. Do we seriously expect God to bless America after all that?
Our media and public schools are pushing sexual propaganda on children as young as five years old. Pedophiles, homosexuals, and transgender activists have gotten themselves put in charge of curricula in our schools and are using their position to groom our children. Libraries host demonic-looking drag queens to propagandize children in the name of tolerance. Even cartoons are used to sexualize young children. One of the most grievous sins of ancient Israel was offering up their own children in sacrifice to the pagan god Moloch. Today in America, too many Christian parents offer up their children on the alter of inclusivity and tolerance, allowing them to be brainwashed and turned into broken degenerates. Even some conservative leaders tell us that transgenderism and drag queen story time are ok, just alternate lifestyle choices that we have no right to criticize. Our society castrates our boys and mutilates our girls, and when we speak out, we are called intolerant and hateful. Is God going to bless this America?
The United States could once have been called a Christian nation. Our founding documents all paid proper homage to God as the source of morality and justice in the world, and God was still a reality in media, in politics, and in schoolrooms as late as the 1960s. Today, nearly any public acknowledgement of the reality of God is denounced and censored in the name of tolerance. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, written to keep the federal government from establishing a specific denominational church such as the Church of England, has now been used to erase Christianity from the public sphere altogether. Courts force cities to remove crosses from public memorials, and schools go out of their way to pretend that Christmas and Easter do not exist. We have been propagandized to believe that traditional religion is something best kept to ourselves, even as the secular social justice religion is pushed down our throats at every turn. Should God bless an America that has explicitly rejected Him?
Public morality is a joke nowadays. Before the 1960s, people still committed fornication and adultery, and they were still covetous and deceitful, but everyone agreed that there was an objective moral standard. Today, not only have we erased the standard, we have inverted it. Chastity and faithfulness are mocked. Honesty is ridiculed. Whereas Christianity traditionally preached that there were seven especially deadly sins, the modern secular religion has turned those sins into virtues. Pride is now celebrated, especially pride in the most degenerate practices. Envy is at the heart of socialism, which is becoming more popular each day. Lust is promoted all over mass media. It would be one thing if Americans were simply falling short of a moral ideal – nobody is perfect. However, today we glory and boast of our great sins. Do you expect God to bless an America that calls good evil and evil good?
Charitable organizations take your money to make their CEOs rich. Government taxes us to death in order to fund foreign wars and promote gay rights in Africa. The conservative movement could not even conserve the women’s restroom. Churches skip the gospel in favor of meaningless pablum and social justice nonsense. Tens of thousands of young people are dying from hopelessness in our cities and rural towns while we send missionaries to China. American Christians are too busy watching sports on television to care that their nation is rotting away. Young people are leaving American churches because they see through the façades, never realizing that that the capital-C Church is more than this pale imitation, and that the real Jesus Christ is more than they can imagine. Why should God bless an America that has allowed all these things to go on?
Thomas Jefferson once said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Do you expect God’s justice to sleep forever, and His grace toward the United States to remain in place for all time? If God judged Israel, then surely God will judge America.
If you are wondering what God’s judgment might look like in the future, I have some bad news for you: It is already happening.
In the book of Isaiah, God warns his people what judgment will look like: “And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable.” Sure, we can see some of this in every generation, but it has certainly intensified in America over the last few years. Just look at the immature spectacle of Congressional Democrats haranguing Attorney General William Barr the other day as an example of this verse. This is the scriptural version of the saying that strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create bad times.
Dr. James White of Apologia Church mentioned in one of his recent livestreams that one of the effects of being under God’s judgment is the placement of weak and unscrupulous judges over the people. Look at what our courts are doing today: District court judges are making things up as they go, abusing their authority to turn this country away from its traditional legal foundations. Rich, powerful, and politically connected people get away with most anything, while the average Joe is punished. Anarcho-tyranny reigns in this country, from the highest levels of government down to the local district attorneys. Over the last fifty years, the Supreme Court has foisted upon us abortion, gay marriage, and transgender rights. Just last week they ruled that the State of Nevada could open casinos while closing churches. Is being ruled by such capricious judges a sign of God’s blessing or of God’s judgment?
The culmination of God’s judgment upon Israel was when He allowed Assyria and Babylon to carry them away to exile, far from their promised land. In America today, the opposite is happening. Rather than being carried off to foreign lands, our lands are becoming foreign to us. The posterity of America’s founders is being drowned out by new immigrants who have no loyalty to our fathers or their philosophies. In fact, many new Americans are outright hostile to the heritage of the very country to which they came. The Israelites had to watch as pagan foreigners tore down their monuments, even the glorious Temple of Solomon that was the center of both their religious and cultural life. Here, we too are forced to watch pagan foreigners tearing down our monuments. The statues of Robert E. Lee, Christopher Columbus, and Teddy Roosevelt are only the beginning, mind you. It will not be long before the woke faithful are sandblasting Stone Mountain and Mount Rushmore, toppling the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and bulldozing Mount Vernon and Gettysburg.
The United States of America was the greatest nation in the history of the world, which makes our fall ever more tragic. The gospel of Luke says that, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.” In 1630, Puritan preacher John Winthrop looked ahead to the potential greatness of America, and how God would hold them and their children to account:
The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.” For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.
Nearly four centuries since Winthrop’s sermon, we look back and see the truth of what he said. America did become the city on a hill, an example of greatness and godliness to all mankind. Yet it also has become the “by-word throughout the world” that he feared. “God is not mocked,” the Scripture says, yet America is mocking God every day, and there will be a reckoning.
President Ronald Reagan invoked Winthrop’s sermon in his Farewell Address, suggesting that America was still a shining city on a hill. However, Reagan’s “morning in America” was only a brief respite on the road to judgment. Like King Josiah of Judah, who rediscovered the law and rededicated his people to the proper worship of God, President Reagan might have bought us a few more years of grace. Nevertheless, he could not stop our inevitable decline and fall. Perhaps the tenure of President Trump will be seen in the same light someday.
Roosh V, the former pick-up artist turned Orthodox Christian, said on Twitter this week that, “It is coming to an end that we live with ease and comfort from the inheritance of the greater men who lived before us.”
America is already under judgment. It is too late to go back and fix things now. Empires rise and empires fall and asking God to bless America in her current state is farcical. The same God who allowed Israel to be wiped off the map is not going to save an even more decadent America. If God would not stop the Goths and the Vandals from sacking Rome in the 5th century, why should He stop the ongoing sack of America in the 21st?
There is a silver lining to all of this, however, and that is that God always saves a remnant of His people. When Babylon sacked Jerusalem and carried the people of Judah off to exile, a remnant returned and rebuilt the Temple. When the Romans sacked Jerusalem and scattered the Jews to the four corners of the earth, a remnant believed in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. When the Muslims overran nearly all of Spain, the tiny Christian kingdom of Asturias survived and began the long Reconquista. When God finishes judging the United States of America, be assured that a remnant will survive to continue living out the gospel of Jesus Christ. This remnant will be purified by the fires of judgment – they will not be lukewarm like the modern American church has become. Following the zeitgeist is always the easier road than standing up for eternal truth, but a reckoning is coming. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Pray that you and your family will be part of the remnant. Raise your children in such a way that they will be prepared to lead that remnant back to the hard and narrow way. Do not let yourself become too attached to creature comforts, cheap trinkets, or nostalgia about the America that was. Do not be like the Jews who were looking for the wrong Messiah because they longed for a return to the golden age of yesterday. There is no going back, only forward. Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the cross of Jesus going on before.
We have grown soft over the past few decades. Our future is not likely to be so. It has been incredibly easy to be a Christian in America up until now. Think about the life of a Christian in 2nd century Rome or 8th century Spain. Picture the life of a Christian in Communist China or Iraq today. That is the future that surely awaits the Christian church of America in the coming decades. Last weekend, Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church held services against an explicit ban by the governor of California, who threatened to shut off their water and power if they proceeded. It was a bold stand, but it is nothing compared to the courage that will be needed in the future. Yet it is in persecution that the Church is forged and refined. At the close of his sermon on Sunday, MacArthur proclaimed that, “This is not a problem to be feared. This is a triumphant hour for the Church to be the Church.”
Let us close with a prayer that God bless America once again. Remember, though, that America is not just a place, and it is not merely an idea. America is a nation; it is a people – specifically the people who came to these shores hundreds of years ago. Remember that one of the reasons our fathers came here in the first place was to worship God outside the constraints of both Rome and Westminster. Let us pray that God bless our families and our communities, that God bless our children and their children, and that God preserve in us a remnant of Western Civilization and the America that was, and perhaps will be again. May God will find us faithful when having faith is difficult. May we be the remnant that will endure the hard times to come.
May God bless you all.