Chambers, Reagan, & the Spiritual Crisis

I finished another semester last Friday. The goal of my teaching is always to point students to Biblical truth; history is the vehicle. At the end of my course covering the second half of American history—after I’ve spent weeks showcasing the loss of Biblical principles in America over the last century or so—I like to close the course with a couple of quotes from those who clearly witnessed this loss and sought to reverse it.

Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan are two bright lights in a sea of political manipulation and a spreading humanistic worldview. They spoke eloquently about the need to return to the basic truths.

Chambers, in his magisterial autobiography Witness, offered a combination of affirmation and warning when he wrote,

External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. …

There has never been a society or a nation without God. But history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that became indifferent to God, and died.

That last sentence is a chilling perspective, but I believe it is accurate. Chambers’s clarion call was to recognize the centrality of God in society, and to realize that indifference to spiritual truth will kill any society.

Reagan was roundly criticized when he called the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire.” Yet his description was correct. He worked hard to build the American military again after it fell into political disfavor through the Vietnam tragedy, but in that so-called “Evil Empire” speech, he constantly returned to a spiritual theme, earnestly hoping that those who live in darkness might find true life in the Lord. One of his key lines was the following:

While America’s military strength is important … 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.

I like to use these quotes at the end of the course to remind students that the only path out of any manifestation of spiritual darkness is to shine the light of Biblical truth. My job is to plant the seeds; God causes the seeds to sprout and grow into viable fruit.

Chambers and Reagan also happen to be the subjects of my new book being published next year. My hope is that it too will be a seed that God can use to help turn back the tide of unbelief. We are a nation on the brink of complete disintegration if we don’t change the foundations upon which we are now building. Yet where God is, and where His people, no matter how small a remnant, stay faithful, there is always the possibility that real change can occur.

Keep the faith.