The Decline of the Eden State

What is the “Eden State”? It is a nation that believes the self-evident rights of its citizens are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights — privileges — were precisely the ones bestowed on the first humans. And we all know how that turned out. Perhaps we are on the precipice of a similar catastrophe.

The trajectory of American culture should come as no surprise. Futurists like Francis Schaeffer predicted with uncanny accuracy where we were going in the West 50 years ago. Wherever the values of a nation rest on personal fulfillment, affluence and security, decline is inevitable. That’s what Schaeffer said.

Since then, many others have joined the warning chorus. Mark Sayers, who may be called a futurist, has written two insightful books on the subject, titled The Disappearing Church and, The Reappearing Church. I’ll be drawing more from them later.

Welcome to the Bleeding Edge

In the mean time, it appears we have arrived at Schaeffer’s predicted future. As the nation trembles in the wind of pandemic and civil unrest, established institutions are showing signs of weakening. We may be at the edge of decline.

A few years ago, I submitted a post I called, “The Culture at Midnight.” It was the first time I used the phrase that was to become a category all its own in my writing. In that post I decried the release, screening, and newspaper review of a movie that dealt, somewhat sympathetically, with the subject of bestiality. Frankly, I was uncomfortable even writing about it, so astonished was I that such a film had been made, much less screened and reviewed. Nevertheless, I mentioned it as evidence that, in the words of an unintentionally prophetic popular song of the mid-twentieth century, “it’s later than you think.”

Thankfully, the film was on the fringe of cinema. It came and went without much further notice, but considering how inexorably, if slowly, the fringe becomes part of the warp and woof of American society I feel compelled recall it. Now, we live in a world where sex and sexuality is newsworthy by definition. What would have been scandalous to discuss in public a decade or so ago, is now considered the next frontier of liberty. What lies ahead, we can only imagine.

Building an Ark

I may be grieved by all this, but I am not surprised. The decline of the Eden state seems inevitable. What is left to me as a follower of Yeshua’s way is to remain humble, devoted to my Master and compassionate toward a world that may, in not too long, become intolerable for many.

In the early days of our people, one of the symbols that was meaningful to them was the ark. It communicated that in the midst of the turmoil of the world there was a place of safety called the “ecclesia,” the church. I expect as the storm of decline in our society becomes intense, there will be many seeking a place of safety. I want to be ready invite refugees from this dying world into the ark.

I can’t do that alone, of course. This wasn’t to be an assignment for only a few. It was intended to be the mission of a new community of followers. Want to join me?