The Reagan Perspective

One of my students asked me this week if the Obama administration would do so much damage to the country that there would be no hope of repairing it after he leaves office. I was of two minds as I tried to answer.

First, I think the potential damage is so staggering that America might not ever recover. The massive debt, the inevitable leftist court appointments, the unrestricted access to abortion [which has begun already], and the stamp of approval given to homosexuality by the government could be the death knell of this republic.

On the other hand [and I don’t say this cavalierly or as a knee-jerk response], with God all things are possible. We are going to have to recognize, though, that The Great Recovery will never come primarily through government action. It must occur first in the hearts of individuals. What we need is a spiritual awakening—and not “spiritual” in the sense of anything-goes New Ageism, but an awakening specifically Christian.

Ronald Reagan recognized this even as he faced off against the threat of the Soviet Union. In his 1983 speech to the National Association of Evangelicals—the one often referred to as the “Evil Empire” speech—he constantly made reference to the need for such an awakening.

Reagan Gave a Message of Christian Renewal and Hope

Reagan Gave a Message of Christian Renewal and Hope

There is so much of value in this speech that it is difficult to pull out the most significant lines, but I will try. Reagan could have been talking about our present time when he said:

Now, I’m sure that you must get discouraged at times, but you’ve done better than you know, perhaps. There’s a great spiritual awakening in America, a renewal of the traditional values that have been the bedrock of America’s goodness and greatness. . . .

We must never forget that no government schemes are going to perfect man. We know that living in this world means dealing with what philosophers would call the phenomenology of evil or, as theologians would put it, the doctrine of sin. There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might.

One of my favorite paragraphs in the speech points to exactly what we see today via the government policies and the politicians and bureaucrats who make them:

It was C. S. Lewis who, in his unfogettable “Screwtape Letters,” wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warm, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

And then there is this key paragraph that deals specifically with what I stated above:

While American military strength is important, let me add here that I’ve always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

Reagan’s words from 1983 are still true today. The real crisis we face at this hour is not an economic crisis; that is only the result of the real crisis. That real crisis remains one of moral will and faith. Will we be up to the challenge? With God all things are possible, but it depends on our obedience to Him.