Is It Too Late For America?

Has America passed the point of no return? Have we fallen too far to recover?
Has America passed the point of no return? Have we fallen too far to recover?

It's true that we've had spiritual revivals and great awakenings in the past. But have we ever sunk this low?

We're talking about more than 60 million abortions since 1973.

About a radical redefinition of marriage and an all-out assault on gender distinctions.

About a widespread scorning of the Bible and biblical values.

About an epidemic of pornography.

About massive spiritual and moral decline, to the point that middle-school children are sexting each other - meaning, sending each other naked pictures.

And we're talking about tremendous division on every front - political and social and ethnic.

How do we recover from this? Could it be too late for America?

Based on the lessons of history, the answer is absolutely not. Another great awakening could be at hand.

We can learn something here from the modern history of England.

Now, it's very easy to remember Britain's Christian history. We remember the Puritans in the 1600s and George Whitefield and John Wesley in the 1700s and William Booth and Charles Spurgeon in the 1800s and G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis in the 1900s.

But there have been massive ebbs and flows in England's spiritual history as well, with periods of real religious darkness.

Apologist and author Alex MacFarland notes that Sir William Blackstone, who lived from 1723-1780, visited all of the major churches in London to hear sermons. Of all that he heard, he observed, "There is no more gospel in their sermons than in the writings of Cicero. One cannot tell by their statements whether they are followers of Confucius, Mohammed or Christ."

MacFarland also notes that, "One historian described England as 'one vast casino.' Newborns were exposed in the streets; 97% of the infant poor were sold into the workhouses (and) died as children. Bear baiting and cock fighting were accepted sports, and tickets were sold to public executions as to a theater. The slave trade brought material gain to many while further degrading their souls."

In fact, Irish Bishop George Berkeley, who lived from 1685-1753, wrote that morality and religion in Britain had collapsed "to a degree that was never known in any Christian country."

Yet it was against this backdrop that the Methodist awakening began, sparked by Whitefield and led by Wesley. And by the end of the century, the nation was transformed.

Not long after, slave trade was abolished in England and the entire British empire. It was not too late for England!

Professor Elie Halévy (1870-1937), a prominent French historian and philosopher, claimed that "it would be difficult to overestimate the part played by the Wesleyan revival" in transforming England, actually calling it "the moral cement" of the society and stating that the revival explained "the miracle of modern England."

In fact, in 1922, British Prime Minister Lloyd George said that the Wesleyan revival was responsible for "a complete revolution effected in the whole country."

That gives me hope for America!

Our nation has also had its spiritual ups and downs. Where it is written that there will not be another, even greater awakening?

During the days of the colonies in the 1720s, Rev. Samuel Blair stated, "Religion lay as it were dying, and ready to expire its last breath of life in this part of the visible church . . ." (And remember: This was a very Christian time in our history, yet still, there was backsliding.)

But a few years later the First Great Awakening hit New England, led by the great philosopher and theologian Jonathan Edwards, and the colonies were changed.

About 70 years later, it's reported that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall commented that, "The church is too far gone ever to be redeemed." But his observations were quickly swept away by the Second Great Awakening.

Things have been dark before, yet God has moved!

More recently, April 8, 1966, Time Magazine featured a stark front cover asking in bold text, "Is God Dead?" Five years later, June 21, 1971, the Time cover story featured a picture of a hippie-like Jesus with the caption, "The Jesus Revolution."

Who saw this coming?

In that same spirit, G. K. Chesterton wrote, "At least five times, the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs. In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died."

But there's another lesson we can learn from history. Revival comes when the church gets desperate. Revival comes when the people of God stop their normal routines and pray and fast and cry out. God fills the hungry, not the self-satisfied and complacent.

And that means that the real question for us is not, "Is it too late for America?" but rather, "Are we desperate enough for revival?"

That's a question only you and I can answer.