Our nation is in a state of steadily declining morality, where our highest leadership cannot seem to muster the call to arms to label ISIS for the evil that it is, the arrogant boast to exterminate Iraqi Christians, Yazidis, and any other group opposing their ideology, and even after the horrific murder of an American citizen on YouTube.
On top of our inability to rally together as a nation to combat evil, we are polarized among each other, the racial animosity growing weekly from the events at Ferguson, MO. This decline doesn’t happen overnight. What are the steps we as a nation have taken that is moving us toward our own breakdown?
We can find very clear clues by examining the history of Roman culture. America is on a path to repeat the mistakes of Rome, and the similarities are striking. Below are five parallels between the Roman culture at the time of Christ and America today. These parallels are taken from Alfred Edersheim’s classic historical work, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”, chapter XI. See if you don’t agree - we are following this same path:
1) A culture of Entitlement: “The free citizens were idle, dissipated, sunken; their chief thoughts of the theatre and the arena; and they were mostly supported at the public cost. more than two hundred thousand persons were thus maintained by the State”
2) The spread of atheism and self-deification: “Religion, philosophy, and society had passed through every stage, to that of despair the issue lay between Stoicism and Epicureanism. Both ultimately led to atheism and despair - the one, by turning all higher aspirations self-ward, the other, by quenching them in the enjoyment of the moment; the one, by making the extinction of all feeling and self-deification, the other, the indulgence of every passion and the worship of matter, its ideal.”
3) The rejection of absolute truth: “à among the philosophers, all religions were considered equally false or equally true - the outcome of ignorance, or else the unconscious modifications of someone fundamental thought. The only religion on which the State insisted was the deification and worship of the Emperor. It would be unsavoury to describe how far the worship of indecency was carried; it has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience, as we understand it, was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right.”
4) The end of marriage and traditional family, the spread of abortion: “The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at last to an almost entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure and murder of newly-born children, were common and tolerated.”
5) A culture of hopelessness: “the noblest spirits of the time felt, that the state of things was utterly hopeless. Society could not reform itself; philosophy and religion had nothing to offer: they had been tried and found wanting. Seneca longed for some hand from without to lift up from the mire of despair; Cicero pictured the enthusiasm which would greet the embodiment of true virtue, should it ever appear on earth; Tacitus declared human life one great farce, and expressed his conviction that the Roman world lay under some terrible curse. All around, despair, conscious need, and unconscious longing.”
But it was into this Roman culture of moral bankruptcy that Jesus Christ came on the scene, and the gospel of Jesus Christ flourished. Edersheim documents the historical evidence of Christianity - the arrival of Jesus Christ: “Can greater contrast be imagined, than the proclamation of a coming Kingdom of God amid such a world; or clearer evidence be afforded of the reality of this Divine message, than that it came to seek and to save that which was thus lost? One synchronism, as remarkable as that of the Star in the East and the Birth of the Messiah, here claims the reverent attention of the student of history. On the 19th of December a.d.69, the Roman Capitol, with its ancient sanctuaries, was set on fire. Eight months later, the Temple of Jerusalem was given to the flames upon the ruins of heathenism and of apostate Judaism was the Church of Christ to be reared.”
There is not a greater time in history to be a Christian and share the solution for our nation, and the world’s, problems: the love of God revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.