Our Present Crisis
by Michael Youssef
I hope and pray that by the time you read these words, the global crisis known as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which triggered a worldwide economic shutdown as well as civil unrest throughout America, will be history and that the civil unrest will subside, the economy will stabilize, and your life will return to normal. But even when these tumultuous times have passed, we must never forget that an even more dangerous crisis still confronts us. Like the COVID-19 virus, this present crisis is spreading invisibly throughout our society. It affects every one of us, though most of us are completely unaware of it.
Simply put, this present crisis is the decline of the influence of the Christian church. All across America and Europe, churches are emptying, and an entire generation is turning away from God. People today have many gods—money, pleasure, politics, the environment—but they no longer acknowledge the God of the Bible. The devaluing of the family and human life has led to countless abortions, fewer marriages, and more empty cradles. Social scientists who once warned of a population explosion now warn of a population implosion, as birth rates are declining disastrously in Western nations.1
The traditional values and social bonds that once held our society together are disintegrating, along with traditional Christian-based morality. Addiction, suicide, and crime are epidemic in Western society. The internet and social media, once thought to be bringing the world together, have unleashed humanity’s most hateful, sinful urges, dividing people into warring tribes. This is our present crisis—not an external threat from terrorists or warlike nations or a viral pandemic, but a decline of faith, truth, and morality. It is hollowing out our society from within.
We in the West have assumed that our democratic institutions, culture, and way of life would go on forever. We expected our economy to always be strong, our military to remain invulnerable, and our traditions to endure. But empires and civilizations have collapsed again and again in the past. As former US Comptroller General David M. Walker warns, Western society today shows signs of imminent collapse.
“Many of us think that a superpowerful, prosperous nation like America will be a permanent fixture dominating the world scene. We are too big to fail. But you don’t have to delve far into the history books to see what has happened to other once-dominant powers. . . . Great powers rise and fall. . . . America presents unsettling parallels with the disintegration of Rome—a decline of moral values, a loss of political civility, an overextended military, an inability to control national borders, and the growth of fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. Do these sound familiar?”2
Historian Niall Ferguson suggests that when an empire falls, its demise comes swiftly, often violently, and almost always without warning: “Empires behave like all complex adaptive systems. They function in apparent equilibrium for some unknowable period. And then, quite abruptly, they collapse.”3
I have had many conversations with Muslim thinkers, and they believe the fall of the West is already well underway—a result of the decline of Christianity. They tell me that, as Christianity disintegrates, it is leaving a spiritual vacuum in the West. Their extreme form of Islam is already rushing in to fill that void. They predict that Western civilization will, like Rome, continue its steady, gradual decline until it reaches a tipping point of sudden, catastrophic downfall.
One Muslim scholar told me, “Islam spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa by the sword. But Western culture will be handed to us on a platter. The people of the West are led about by their feelings and sentimentality. Their passions rule them. Soft and undisciplined, they are no match for the determined soldiers of Islam. The West will fall into our hands like overripe fruit.”
Is there no hope? Are our children and grandchildren condemned to watch our civilization collapse around their ears?
No; there is hope. As the late social critic Charles Krauthammer once observed, “The assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable external forces, is wrong. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice.”4
Ours is the generation that must make that choice. We will choose whether our civilization rises or falls. We must make the wise and godly choice for the sake of our children and grandchildren and generations to come.
This is no time for fear. This is a time for faith. Trust God for a great harvest as you become His agent of redemption and His witness for the truth of the gospel to your friends, your neighbors, your social media followers, and your world.
God calls you and me to report for duty and make a difference in this present crisis. How will you answer His call?
Jonathan Grant et al., “Population Implosion? Low Fertility and Policy Responses in the European Union,” Rand Corporation, accessed July 27, 2020, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9126.html.
2 David M. Walker, Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility (New York: Random House, 2009), 36–37.
3 Niall Ferguson, “America, the Fragile Empire,” Dallas Morning News, March 19, 2010, https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2010/03/19/niall-ferguson-america-the-fragile-empire/.
4 Charles Krauthammer, “Decline Is a Choice,” Washington Examiner, October 19, 2009, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/decline-is-a-choice-270813.
Excerpt from Introduction to Hope for This Present Crisis by Michael Youssef © 2021.
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