Faith Permeates Transition

When the citizens of a fading society are on the downside, they seek to find some demon on which they can place the blame for their demise. They conclude that some foreign demon has surely interfered with their continued prosperity and success, and thus has diabolically sought their demise. This outside force has surely been the cause of why they are doing so badly, and specifically, why their system of free-market democratic government has been impaired. Finger pointing and criticism of suspected demons even from within become the norm of a society that is suffering.

When we are paranoid about the rise of other contemporary empires, we know we are in trouble. A lack of confidence in the strengths of our own civilization leads us to be in fear of others. By our own telltale division and mutual criticism from within, and the rise of other competitors, we know that our civilization is supposedly under attack, or transforming into another paradigm of existence. Social division is the impetus that leads us to question our own social structures.

Whether perceived, or ignored, societies that are in chaos are seeking to give birth to something new and different. The physicist, Margret Wheatley, in her book, Leadership and the New Science Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, alerted us to the fact that both in the physical and social world, chaos always gives birth to something new and different. We may recognize this sociological conflict within of a society in transition, but we are always apprehensive about the new and different that is coming. Nevertheless, we must realize that social tension is simply a natural process in the social world that is constantly in change. The Holy Spirit knew this when He used the word “sea” as a metaphor to illustrate the restlessness of the people of society (See Rv 4:6; 5:13; 7:1-3; 8:8,9; 10:2,5,6).

The generation within a restless civilization that is most sensitive to social change is usually the older generation.   The uncertainty of the society in which this generation resides, will, in a democratic government, motivate them out of their easy chairs to go to the ballot box. They go because they perceive that there are candidates to be elected who will preserve the past, and thus, stabilize society and prevent change.

The younger generation, however, is often the engine of change. The youth are on the streets, marching in protest to the status quo. They seek for a change and the possibility of a spring that will cause the winter of the past to go away. If the society of youth who seek for a change dwell in a society of autocratic leadership in government, then the street protests become more radical. Autocratic leaders often use live bullets to maintain their power.   People subsequently die in the streets.   But if the majority of the protesting generation is young and unemployed, then they will stay in the streets and face the bullets until an “Arab Spring” is realized. If the cries of a peaceful revolution are not heard, then the peaceful turns into violent revolution.

Democracy is certainly not the most efficient form of government. But it is the most free. And that freedom is worth fighting to preserve. In the marches for change in autocratically governed societies, those in power load their guns with bullets to put down a revolution. But in a democratically governed society, the police load up with tear gas. And there is a vast difference between guns and tear gas.

Our advice to the older generation who resists social paradigm shifts is not to become indifferent. They must assume their responsibility to vote in a democratic society. We must be thankful that we can make our way to the ballot box in peace. And when bombarded with overwhelming information that pours into our minds because of our obsession with social media, we must be patient.   If the reported protest march in some area of the society is over an issue that does not involved a paradigm shift in civilization, then patience is in order, for there are those on the streets who are seeking relief from social stresses that have built up within the society.

Christians who live in democratic societies must be thankful that marches and ballot boxes exist. When these two rights of a democratic society are threatened, then it is time for Christians to be on their knees for the king. They must be there in order that they lead a quiet and peaceful life (See 1 Tm, 2:1,2). We must always keep in mind that those social forces within a civilization that change the direction of the civilization, transpire over decades, if not centuries. Therefore, it is not a time to become anxious when we are messaged a news report on our smartphones of a minor disagreement of some segment of society where a group of people are in a march for something that will soon pass away.

The beautiful thing about Christianity is that its principles of gospel living are applicable to all societies of all history.   The reality of the gospel is that it brings peace of mind that surpasses anything that can be offered by any government of any society. The Christian understands that Jesus is in control of all things, for He now has all authority over all things (Mt 28:18).

Rome fell, but the fall was because of a society that could not sustain a self-imploding government that could not militarily rule over all the people of the Empire. The people of Rome (Italy) continued to exist after the fall of Rome, but the new and different social order that continued was new and different.   So it will be with the fall of Western civilization. The people will continue, but they will continue with new and different social standards than that which we experienced in the past generations.

And most important of all in reference to the fall of Rome was the continued existence of the people of God within the civilization. After the fall of the Roman Empire in A.D. 476, Christians continued to thrive throughout the former boundaries of the fallen Empire. We must not as Christians forget this. Though Christianity was treated as a hostile “religion” in the Empire from about A.D. 150 to A.D. 311, and Christians, in that darkest hour hid in the catacombs of Rome, after Jesus took away the persecuting Caesars, Christians continued to exist, even unto this day. And thus the encouraging prophecy of Revelation was realized when Caesar Constantine issued the Edict of Toleration in A.D. 311:

These [enemies of Christianity] will make war with the Lamb and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings. And those who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful (Rv 17:14).

[To be continued.]

Too Big to Sustain (7)

Israel did not have, but we do, the example of millennia of empires that have fallen because the societies of these empires moved into social conditions that could not be reversed. For example, we again refer to the Roman Empire, which one hundred years before Jesus, had, because of its strength, conquered every nation encircling the Mediterranean basin. The problem with the expansion of the Empire, however, was that Rome began to reach beyond the Mediterranean basin to territory that overextended their financial ability to sustain after they were initially conquered. By the end of the third century A.D., their expansion and control aspirations eventually caught up with them. It was then that the Empire began to collapse when civil wars and invasions, which national tensions, taxed their financial strength. The end was in sight when the Visigoths attacked and took the city Rome in 410 A.D. However, the collapse of the Empire had actually begun far before this date as the society had already begun to implode.

In the area of government and finances, Rome ignored the principle of “social thermodynamics.” In the realm of natural law, the law of thermodynamics is a principle that the energy that sustains the physical world is constantly degenerating into entropy, that is, the universe is simply running down and will not be restarted. As a burning match that is going out, the energy that maintained the “burn of the universe” cannot be recaptured to burn again. The energy that maintains the continued existence of the physical world will eventually evaporate into uselessness (entropy). Lost energy will not be regenerated, and thus there remains no more energy to sustain that which is now running down.

The same is true of societies and governments.   There is a social thermodynamic that cannot be reversed. In a democratic government, the government is based on the energy of the society to produce wealth and continue its existence. When the society begins to lose its power to sustain the government, then the government and society is crippled. Rome exercised great social ingenuity in order to continue for several centuries, but in its last century of existence, the signs of consummation were evident. The energy of social strength was digressing into a realm of “social entropy.”

Rome grew its military force in order to conquer and intimidate a vast number of nations. To encourage continuity and a strained patriotism, she permitted self-rule of those people whom she conquered, and sought to integrate them into Roman culture and government. Rome sought to encourage patriotism to the Empire that would keep the peace. Rome even gave a limited autonomy to regional courts within the societies of the conquered people. But as Gibbon and other historians have concluded, these things were to no avail. As the society of Rome began to follow the course of “social thermodynamics,” the government and war machine headed into “social entropy.” There was eventually no more social energy (patriotism) to continue the Empire.

When social structures within the society and government of Rome were crumbling, it was only a matter of time until the final collapse. Historians give 476 A.D. as the date of the end of the Roman Empire. Ths was the date when the Germanic Odoacer deposed in Rome the last of the Western Caesars. One thousand years of Roman influence came to an end.

And as went Rome, so goes all empires of this world, including Western civilization. As we previously stated, it is not if, but when Western civilization will eventually consummated its existence as we now know it, and give way to another. No civilization can withstand the changing forces of “social thermodynamics.” Even as we write, Western civilization is giving way to another predominate social civilization that will eventually make itself known by the end of this century.

The people of Western civilization will not vanish away. Only the means by which they morally conduct and govern themselves will pass away. When that time comes, it may be more advantageous to be a poor farmer in the fields of Palestine, than an elite resident in the crime-ridden urban centers.

[Lecture series will continue.]