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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Only Hope for the West

Feb 18, 2016

Leaders come and go and nations come and go. God can use both for his purposes. Think of a Moses, or the judges (as in the book of Judges), or Esther, or even a pagan king like Cyrus of Persia who allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. God providentially raises up people and leaders for crucial times in world history.

He certainly did this often in Old Testament times, and I believe he is still doing so today, even when we may not be fully aware of what God is doing behind the scenes. I have often mentioned for example that I believe God providentially raised up three mighty leaders during one of the West’s darkest hours: the Cold War. As I wrote elsewhere:

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that God in his gracious providence raised up three extraordinary leaders back then to help bring about the end of that hideous failed experiment of Soviet Communism. These three were of course, US President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013), and Karol Józef Wojty?a (Pope John Paul II – 1920-2005). These three monumental leaders did as much as anyone to help bring the Soviet system to its knees, and to help bring back freedom to the godless hellholes of the USSR and Eastern Europe.
I often recommend that if you want to get the full picture on these three giants and their contributions to modern history, you pick up John O’Sullivan’s terrific 2006 volume, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister (Regnery). Rightly did he subtitle this book, Three Who Changed the World. And they most certainly did.

The threat of godless communism was endangering the entire world, and these three giants were raised up to meet the challenge head on. And they succeeded, by God’s grace. In the same way a few decades earlier the challenge of Nazism was threatening the planet, and great leadership was required to meet this danger.

One of the key players to turn the tide was of course the indomitable Winston Churchill. And Churchill had a very clear sense of destiny, of providence, of divine calling. This is made crystal clear in a brand new book which you all should grab: God & Churchill: How the Great Leader’s Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World and Offers Hope for Ours by Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley (Tyndale House, 2015).

It is often assumed that Churchill was basically a secular, non-religious character. Here a great grandson of Churchill (Sandys) and Christian columnist (Henley) make it clear, as the subtitle states, that he had an unmistakeable sense of divine destiny from a very early age, and this sense of purpose and mission sustained him and helped to keep the West free from tyranny – both from Hitler and from Stalin.

The authors say this at the end of their important volume:

Churchill understood himself as an instrument of God’s intervention, which is why he sensed a mission to save “Christian civilization” from the threat of Nazism. Here, then is our hope for the cataclysmic time in which we live: The same God who brought forth Winston Churchill (and other deliverers) still rules over history, and he has a deliverer – or deliverers – for our season as well.
It might even be the ultimate Deliverer.

Nazism and communism were two mega-threats to the West and the free world. We of course have another major threat on our hands today. Islam is making the same menacing inroads as the other two political ideologies did, and is just as dangerous.

I was just alerted to a piece from Barnabas Fund, an organisation devoted to helping persecuted Christians. The title of the piece is this: “The survival of Western countries depends on embracing their Judaeo-Christian heritage”. That was certainly Churchill’s view, and Reagan’s, etc.

They all knew that without the sure foundation of the Judeo-Christian worldview, the West cannot stand against its many adversaries. An interesting historical fact is found at the end of this article and is worth sharing here:

Secondly, during the Second World War the Western world faced an ideological threat of a similar magnitude to radical Islamism from Nazi ideology. In the UK the government of Winston Churchill recognised that it was not enough to defeat Nazism militarily, it must also provide a counter narrative. Churchill in fact, spoke of it as a battle for the survival of those Judaeo-Christian values which he termed “Christian civilisation”, famously declaring in 1940 on the eve of the battle of Britain “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation.” One small, but significant step his government took was to pass an Education Act in 1944 requiring all children to be taught Christianity in order to prevent any ideology similar to Nazism ever taking root in the UK. Similarly, Konrad Adenauer, Germany’s first post-war chancellor, facing an even greater challenge of rebuilding a destroyed country while de-Nazifying an entire generation, consciously sought to rebuild Germany on the basis of Christian values.
The West is slowly waking up to what the Islamist agenda really is, but on the whole is failing to construct a counter narrative. It must reassert its Judaeo-Christian values if it is to do so. At the moment its failure to do so is not only leaving it vulnerable to Islamism, but as we have seen in the case of Nigeria, is also making it difficult for Western governments to fully recognise the suffering that the enforcement of sharia and other aspects of classical Islam such as jihad and dhimmi status create for Christians in many Muslim-majority contexts.

Yes a secularised and demoralised West is no match for militant Islam. But that Education Act really got my attention. I was not aware of this Act, so I did a bit of research on it. All that the Wikipedia article on the Act says about the religious aspect is this:

The Act also introduced compulsory prayer into all state-funded schools on a daily basis. This clause was amended by the Education Reform Act 1988, which specified that the act of worship should be of a ‘broadly Christian nature’ unless such a message was deemed to be inappropriate for a particular school or group of children. The amendment also specified that the act of worship could now take place in classes, rather than the previous system of conducting worship in assemblies. The Act was repealed on 1 November 1996 by the Education Act 1996.

A Christian education site offers more detail:

The 1944 Education Act stated that ‘the school day in every county school and every voluntary school shall begin with collective worship on the part of all the pupils in attendance’. In accordance with Britain’s traditional respect for religious freedom, the 1944 Act also gave parents the right to withdraw their child, perhaps in favour of separate arrangements.
By the time the 1988 Education Reform Act was going through Parliament, Britain had become a much more diverse nation. As a result of moves within the state educational establishment, either to ignore the legal requirements for daily worship altogether, or to lump all religions together into a multi-faith, multi-cultural mish mash, many felt it was necessary to reinforce the position of Christianity as the main, traditional religion of this country. Consequently, the Education Reform Act 1988 reaffirms that ‘all pupils in attendance at a maintained school shall in each school day take part in an act of collective worship’ (though parental rights to withdraw their child are retained).
It should also be noted that legal opinion suggests that ‘mainly of a broadly Christian character’ does not mean that other faiths can be mixed in with Christianity – that would be multi-faith or syncretist worship, which the law is intended to prevent. Nor is the law intended to force any child, whose faith is not Christian, to attend Christian acts of worship against parental wishes.
The law clearly says that acts of worship may be for all the pupils or for separate groups within the school. Exactly like the 1944 Act, this allows schools with pupils whose religion may be other than Christianity to make provision for these pupils to have their own separate act of worship in their own faith group.

Imagine a leader today advocating anything like this: worship and prayer in our schools, especially to help deal with an international crisis. I don’t think many Western leaders today would dare to try it. But Churchill saw it as a fully appropriate action in those very dark days. This is another indication of how Churchill was providentially raised up during this critical period.

So God can and does raise up people to fulfil his purposes, especially at strategic periods in human history. I am wondering if America may not be at such a place – indeed, at a tipping point. After eight years of Obama trying his best to destroy America, it is crucial that no more destructive Democrats get in. And either Clinton or Sanders would be utterly disastrous for the nation.

With six Republican contenders left, only three of whom are real conservatives, we must pray like never before that God has mercy on this once great nation and allows one of the three to make it into the White House. For what it is worth, my choices would be (in order of preference): Cruz, Carson, Rubio.

No one man can save America. And politics alone cannot turn around the mega-mess the US is in. But who knows, God may again raise up a leader who can at least stop the rot and allow some room to move there. America is on the ropes and does not seem to have long to last, unless some radical changes take place.

A genuine conservative and Christian leader will be a big help. We must pray and work for that to occur. But unless God’s people get on their faces before Almighty God and repent, and seek his face, and decide to stop playing games and start getting serious with him, the nation is basically lost.

Please God, raise up a deliverer. We need one, and soon.

billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/08/commemorating-the-fall-of-the-berlin-wall/
barnabasfund.org/news/The-survival-of-Western-countries-survival-depends-on-embracing-their-Judaeo-Christian-heritage?audience=GB
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_Act_1944
www.cre.org.uk/docs/re.html

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16 Responses to The Only Hope for the West

  • Australia, as well as the United States, needs to get on its knees and pray as never before. Both countries need strong, Christian leaders in order for God to use them to turn their nations around. The media is ridiculing Cruz, and yet he appears to be a man with strong Christian principles and convictions. (Most of the media attention in the US seems to be on that childish and churlish Trump who, I suppose, is good for a laugh, but little more.) As for Turnbull… enough said. But until we as a nation turn back to God, what can we expect?

  • Thanks for your article Bill. My wife and I pray for the Prime Minister in our (mostly) daily prayer and we are part of the Rosary Crusade of Catholic families praying for the preservation of natural marriage; near 160,000 rosaries. So we join our prayers with all our brothers and sisters in Christ all over Australia; as the Lord said: “That they may be one.” Your prayers to the God of Abraham who is God’s Son Jesus Christ and our prayers (in this instance) to the Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our faith is not in any church – our faith is in Jesus Christ and it is Him that we shall all be one. Thank you Lord. Dear reader ease forgive the Catholic slant.

  • Finished reading Churchill’s HISTORY OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR Vol. 2 ‘Their Finest Hour’ today. He talks of the “miracle” of the Dunkirk evacuation and more. A very instructional text in standing against tyranny by a leader who was not afraid to invoke God in his prayers and memoranda. One gets the sense that God was on the side of the British in their stand against Nazism and despite the Blitz, led them through to victory.

  • “One small, but significant step his government took was to pass an Education Act in 1944 requiring all children to be taught Christianity in order to prevent any ideology similar to Nazism ever taking root in the UK.”
    This actually fills me with some unease. Not because I am against public teaching of Christianity but because it evidently did not prevent Britain from becoming less Christian since then. Something’s gone wrong somewhere.

  • Thanks Mark. But your unease appears to be misplaced. It was not prayer and worship in schools that led directly to the UK being less Christian today of course. Quite the opposite, it was the elimination of prayer and worship, along with advancing secularism and anti-Christian ideology in schools and elsewhere that led to it becoming less Christian.

    Indeed, no one likely said that prayer and worship in schools would “prevent” this from occurring. It may however have at least slowed it down for a while. And it goes without saying that prayer and worship are only really effective when uttered by devout Christians, and not when they are engaged in by non-believers in a ritualistic, rote fashion. There may well have been more real Christians in the schools in the 1940s, but as the nation become more secular over time, so too would have the schools.

  • A “top-down”, “trickle-down” government support for Christian faith in education and public life must be matched by a genuine, grass-roots, community-pervasive turning-of-heart to God and His Christ if the present inexorable moral and spiritual paralysis of Western civilisation is to be halted before the West falls to its power-hungry ideological antithesis, fundamentalist Islam: Old Testament spiritual revivals during the eras of the Judges and the kings of Judah and Israel were all too short-lived because they relied largely on strong leadership from a monarch or a judge with no real lasting undergirding groundswell of genuine turning of hearts of the common people to the LORD.

  • I recently read “The King’s Speech” from the diaries of Lionel Logue. I was fascinated to discover that King George IV (who loathed the microphone his whole life) made a national call for prayer over the radio the night before D Day.

    All of us need to be praying for our nation, and we all need to speak out for Christianity. The mainstream media constantly malign and denigrate Christians, but I believe that we can do a lot to change that simply by being ready to always give an answer for our faith. The less we allow the MSM to bully us into silence, the more we can show their hypocrisy and bias.

  • @Bill
    I wasn’t actually saying it was the fault of having prayer and worship in schools. Sorry if I gave off that impression. I did say something has gone wrong somewhere.

  • And yet Mark, in other parts of Britain after the war there were revivals too.

    I am part way through “Sounds from Heaven” by Bill & Mary Peckham recounting the revival 1949-1952 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the north west coast of Scotland.

    That was driven by earnest, persistent prayer and a recognition of much “soul travail” over sin, at a level rarely seen but still necessary today.

  • Mark, maybe the problem with the prescribed prayer is more the underlying intent, which appears to me to have been utilitarian rather than a sincere wish to worship the true and Living God. Once the threat of Nazism disappeared, so the need for prayer, where as if worship of the Living God had been the motive all along, the prayer would have continued.
    As for Trump, Anne, I wish it was as simple as him being good for a laugh, but I think he is more dangerous than that, combined with the stupidity of those who are blindly carried along by his charisma certainly.
    Bill, could the need for a strong leader not be a two edged sword in the sense that the balance of how things are viewed in the world has tipped more towards ungodliness and the need could usher in the antichrist rather than someone coming to rescue us once again? It just appears to me that from the scriptures the entrence of the antichrist will come at a time of global instability and turmoil. So far we have had despots rising out of national crisis, Hitler in Germany, Stalin in Russia, but in an increasingly globalised world, not sure if this can possibly stay on a national level.
    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • The education acts of 1944 and following were only superficial and did not stop UK declining into secularism but they did have some effect as I found traveling in England in 1999. On a train trip I got into a discussion with some teenagers (not real Christians) and was surprised how well versed they were in the Bible compared to Aussies of that age. We have a big reconstruction job to undertake in Australia if we are to recapture what Christian heritage we have. Praying for our leaders is at least a start; we do have strong believers in parliament who need our prayers. But we also need to be more educated and aware of issues and Christian theology. Also praying for God to raise up strong leadership in our churches

  • Ursula, I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that Trump was merely good for a laugh – I agree wholeheartedly that he could cause a lot of damage if he were to be elected as POTUS – just as Sanders, and Hillary, could, each in a different way. Personally I don’t think Trump has an ounce of charisma – I find him completely offensive.

    So Ursula, I’m not quite sure of what you are saying. Do you believe that a strong leader could pose a danger of one kind, whereas a leader who is easily influenced by others may be less of a threat? If, for example, Ted Cruz were to win the election, I would think that would be a better outcome than the others I’ve mentioned.

  • Anne, maybe I should have placed the word “charisma” into quotation marks, I absolutely agree with you, he is offencive and arrogant, but people must think he has charisma or otherwise they must think he has got something worth voting for, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. A previous comment mentioned the groundswell which must go with the rise of a leader, I guess that is what I am concerned about, that the “ground swell” now would be tipping towards a strong ungodly leader rather than a godly one, hence my concern that we may not see another strong godly leader again as you can see with what is happening with Trump and Cruz, Trump is promising them greatness without morality and it appears that is what they want.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • @John
    “And yet Mark, in other parts of Britain after the war there were revivals too.”
    Good to hear of that.

  • “Giving the people what they want” seems to be a common thread throughout history, Ursula: from Pontius Pilate giving the people what they wanted, and delivering the Son of God to be crucified, to what is happening in Australia today, where so many are demanding unspeakable things be taught to our school children, and homosexuality is being promoted more and more blatantly by the minute. How often we read in Scripture that God gave people up to their evil desires because they refused to change. It is incredibly sad to see this unfolding before our eyes.

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