The first US president, George Washington, said: “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of a civil society.”
The founding fathers had little enthusiasm for Christian theology but they valued Christian tradition. This distinction is pivotal. You don’t need a belief in the Holy Trinity to grasp the civilising role of Christian tradition.
In recent times the great British religious figure and philosopher Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put the issue most clearly: “A free society is a moral achievement. We’ve forgotten that without a shared moral code to which we are all accountable, into which we are all educated and which we have internalised, we will lose trust in our public life on which our very freedom depends.”
Sacks argued that our societies in the evolution of laws, education, and norms had abandoned, one after another, the moral principles in the Judaeo-Christian heritage. He, again, likened this to an experiment – but an experiment with a history. Invoking the Greek and Roman civilisations,
Sacks said: “We have begun a journey down the road to moral relativism and individualism which no society in history has survived for long. If men and women try to create a society in which there is no fundamental agreement about good and evil, they will fail.”
The backdrop to the demise of Christian religion in the west is no surprise. Every moral axiom on which our shared culture rested is dismantled, disputed, or lost – we cannot agree on freedom of speech, how we should live, how we should die, how children should be raised, what is a woman, what is a man, on the meaning of marriage, on what our schools should teach, on our nation’s history, on the limits of privacy, on whether religion should be allowed in the public square and, ultimately, on what is virtue.
In his study of the origins of the political order, Fukuyama said: “The rule of law in Europe was rooted in Christianity.” It was church law that initially broke down tribal norms by recognising the claims of the soul. This was a revolutionary event. It reveals the universalism of the Christian concept while also revealing its focus on the individual – as distinct from tribe or clan. Christianity asserted the fundamental relationship was between the individual and God.
Thank goodness, God warns us beforehand in His Word. the Bible, that what we are seeing unfolding in our world is exactly as it was in Noah’s day, a godless, lawless world, a world that will embrace the Antichrist. Jesus gives us incredible detail of the events that will unfold in the last seven years of this era before His Millennial Kingdom. We need to prepare for His return and do whatever it is that He calls us to do so that the Gospel is proclaimed to all the world. We also know that God allows tribulation for a short period of time before He takes out those that remain faithful to Him and pours out His wrath upon a rebellious world.
“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:7-14