The moral and spiritual situation of America seems to have hit an all-time low, especially if you haven’t lived for all time (i.e., for all of us). Marriage disappears as births out of wedlock predominate. Divorce puts an end to half of marriages. Pornography and foul language proliferate, even among our national leaders. Corruption in our society runs rampant. Church attendance continues to slide. Historic denominations not only lose members, but drive them away by taking unbiblical, unorthodox doctrinal and moral stands. The church unquestionably needs a revival and the society needs an awakening.
Nevertheless, the idea that we face an all-time low in faith bears further consideration. Recently a friend of mine facebooked the following quote from J. Edwin Orr, a greatest historian of revival:
Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic … Profanity was of the most shocking kind. … Women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence. What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness … The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The … Episcopal Bishop of New York … quit functioning… The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote … that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.” Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place: they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College; and they put on anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth … They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790s that they met in secret … and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know. In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.”–J. Edwin Orr (see http://www.jedwinorr.com)
One of the most powerful functions of the Kingdom Net (what I call the global network of people who submit to Christ’s Kingly Rule) involves our ability to call each other to prayer. God has seen America descend into spiritual chaos and sinful squalor at several times over our history. (Remember the Wild West, the Gay ‘90s, the Roaring ‘20s, etc.) Things have been as bad as they are now, and we can indeed see a new revival of the Church and another Great Awakening in America.
And it can only happen as we use our personal networks to let God’s call to repentence and faith spread. It does not start with railing accusations of the sin of others. It starts with personal prayer and repentence. It starts with our own testimony of renewal. May it start soon, before the damage goes any further.
As Kingdom networkers, would you join me in repentence, sorrow, and earnest prayer for the awakening of our nation?
For more, see The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus (My Healthy Church, 2013). Pre-order it in paperback or Kindle editions at http://www.amazon.com/The-Kingdom-Net-Learning-ebook/dp/B00EDO1F6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376544126&sr=8-2&keywords=Joseph+Castleberry.
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Joseph Castleberry, President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington, is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.