A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage . . . . Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elite, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society.”
A certain tension between religion and society marks the highest stages of every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For as knowledge grows or alters continually, it clashes with mythology and theology, which change with geological leisureliness. Priestly control of arts and letters is then felt as a galling shackle or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the character of a “conflict between science and religion” Institutions which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and punishment, education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend to escape from ecclesiastical control and become secular, perhaps profane. The intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and — after some hesitation — the moral code allied with it; literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct, deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike, to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed, another myth arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after centuries of chaos builds another civilization.
“Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named…but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”
Ray C. Stedman on Romans 1:
Knowing that harm is coming from their wickedness, nevertheless they attempt to spread it more fully. They invade the field of education; they dominate the media; they seek legal status for their wickedness and defy all attempts at control. As you can well recognize, this is what is going on today.
Thus the Apostle Paul traces the deepening darkness of his own day. And yet it is ours as well. Though this is an honest record, it is also clear that God does not turn his back on man. This account is not a record of what God despises, and thus turns aside with contempt. Man is never treated here as an object of contempt, or as a worm. Rather, God’s concern underscores this whole passage. He is at work to try to bring men to their senses, to wake up a civilization as to what is going on in its midst, and to show it how desperately it is in need of deliverance — which can only come as a gift of righteousness from God’s hands.
You may ask, “Why does God give a civilization over to this kind of thing?” He does it because it is only when darkness prevails, and despair and violence are widespread, that men are ready to welcome the light. Remember Isaiah’s prediction? “They that dwell in darkness, upon them has the light shined. They that live in the land of deep darkness, unto them a great light has shined,” (cf, Isa 9:2). In the 1st century, the world was sunk in the darkness of despair. Idolatry had penetrated the whole world; men had turned from the true God, whom they could have known. Hopelessness and rank despair lay like a heavy blanket upon the earth.
~Expository Studies in Romans, from Guilt to Glory, Ray C. Stedman, http://raystedman.org/romans2/
Source and read more: http://www.ldolphin.org/collapsing.html
Rev. Mark H. Creech on God’s judgment of the Babylonians by the Persians:
The truths of this story are self-evident for our own time.
To trifle with God, who is sovereign over the nations, is to invite disaster…Dr. George Sweeting, former chancellor of Moody Bible Institute has written, “No nation can rise above the faith and character of its individual citizens. America has a choice to make. Either we turn back by faith in Jesus Christ, or we will join the fate of other long-forgotten nations.”
“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.”
William Gairdner on the end result of Western governments attacking their own deep culture, which in Canada is “Judeo-Christian, Graeco-Roman, and Anglo-European:”
A government that imposes a multicultural policy and non-traditional immigration on any nation in a calculated attempt to neutralize its deep culture is guilty of subverting the ethos of the nation… Unless we learn the lessons of history, this can end, at best, in long-term erosion of our civilizational greatness, and at worst in intra-ethnic strife and militancy on our own soil.