Implosion: Can America Recover from Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?by Joel C. Rosenberg
Bestselling author and international political expert Joel C. Rosenberg tackles the question: Is America an empire in decline or a nation poised for a historic Renaissance?
America teeters on a precipice. In the midst of financial turmoil, political uncertainty, declining morality, the constant threat of natural disasters, and myriad other daunting challenges,… See more details below
Bestselling author and international political expert Joel C. Rosenberg tackles the question: Is America an empire in decline or a nation poised for a historic Renaissance?
America teeters on a precipice. In the midst of financial turmoil, political uncertainty, declining morality, the constant threat of natural disasters, and myriad other daunting challenges, many wonder what the future holds for this once-great nation. Will history’s greatest democracy stage a miraculous comeback, returning to the forefront of the world’s economic and spiritual stage? Can America’s religious past be repeated today with a third Great Awakening? Or will the rise of China, Russia, and other nations, coupled with the US’s internal struggles, send her into a decline from which there can be no return?
Implosion helps readers understand the economic, social, and spiritual challenges facing the United States in the 21st century, through the lens of biblical prophecy.
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ImplosionCan America Recover from Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?
By Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Joel C. Rosenberg
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA COMING IMPLOSION?
implode—to collapse inward as if from external pressure; to break down or fall apart from within; to self-destruct —MERRIAM-WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY
Is it possible that the American economy—and, more broadly, American society in general—is not simply facing serious challenges or a season of decline? Could America actually collapse in the not-too-distant future if serious, fundamental, and sweeping changes are not made soon? Once, such a question would have struck most Americans as ludicrous—even offensive. But times have changed.
The first time I noticed any serious public discussion of the possibility of the American economy imploding was in September 2010. Senator Judd gregg, the New Hampshire Republican and onetime chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, was being interviewed live from the U.S. Capitol by Fox News host greta Van Susteren. They were discussing the massive increases of federal spending, astronomically large U.S. deficits, and unprecedented and unsustainable levels of national debt being racked up by an out-of-control political culture in Washington and the grave dangers these challenges posed to U.S. economic and national security.
"I don't want to be an alarmist," Van Susteren said, "but based on what you say, if Congress can't do a very good job, and if spending is a very effective tool for politicians, and if they add every year, and if the national debt is creating national-security problems as the secretary of state has said, at some point, it seems, we're going to implode."
"That's right," Senator gregg replied. "That's exactly what's going to happen."
At that moment in the interview, Van Susteren struck me as being taken aback by the fact that the senator had so quickly agreed with her. Perhaps she was expecting, as I was when I saw the interview, that the senator would dismiss the concept of an "implosion" as going a bit far. Yet that was not the case.
"So do you have any idea when that's going to happen and what that's going to mean?" Van Susteren asked.
"Sooner rather than later," gregg replied matter-of-factly.
Implosion? It's an awfully strong term. Van Susteren knew it. That's why she prefaced her comment by saying she didn't want to be an "alarmist." Still, to her the evidence Senator gregg was laying out suggested the United States might not simply be headed down an increasingly dangerous path but rather a cataclysmic one.
Yet as startling as the question was, it was the answer, not the question, that was news. A respected U.S. senator was suggesting on national television that he believed America was on the path toward "implosion" unless dramatic, historic steps were taken to change course. It was a sobering moment, made all the more troubling by the fact that gregg had never been known in Washington for fiery, wild-eyed, hyperbolic rhetoric. What's more, few in Washington, or in the country, were at that time in a better position than he was to truly understand the magnitude of the fiscal crisis we were—and still are—facing as a nation.
Over time, however, awareness of those troubles began to spread.
A few months later, a headline out of New York City—the financial epicenter of the American economy—caught my attention: "Rubin Warns of Bond market 'Implosion': U.S. in 'Terribly Dangerous Territory.'" The article began:
Warning of the risk of an "implosion" in the bond market, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says the soaring federal budget deficit and the Fed's quantitative easing [the printing and pumping of more money into the American economy by the Federal Reserve] are putting the U.S. in "terribly dangerous territory."
Rubin, a loyal Democrat who served as the country's chief financial officer in President Clinton's administration, had never been known for fiery, wild-eyed, hyperbolic rhetoric any more than Senator gregg had been. He wasn't running for political office. He wasn't pontificating before a left-wing special-interest group. He was speaking at an event for business executives, financial professionals, and federal budget experts organized by the Concord Coalition, a "nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to balanced federal budgets and generationally responsible fiscal policy." Also speaking at the event was former U.S. comptroller general David Walker, who has long argued that America "suffer[s] from a fiscal cancer" that is "growing within us," which if left untreated "could have catastrophic consequences" for our country.
Senator Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee at the time, also spoke at the event. He agreed with Secretary Rubin's assessment, saying the U.S. was facing a "defining moment" in terms of our fiscal crisis and noting, "If we fail [to act], our nation will be condemned to second-class status."
Not long after this, Congressman Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, began briefing fellow members of Congress and speaking at forums in Washington and around the country on the grave danger facing the American economy in view of the skyrocketing federal debt. While Ryan didn't use the term implosion, he might as well have; his message was just as sobering.
"We're on a path where our debt goes from about 68 percent of gDP [gross Domestic Product] to 800 percent of gDP over the three-generation window," Congressman Ryan said. "I asked CBO [the Congressional Budget Office] to run the model going out, and they told me that their computer simulation crashes in 2037 because CBO can't conceive of any way in which the economy can continue past the year 2037 because of debt burdens."
Ryan has noted that by the time his young children reach forty years of age, "just ... three programs—Social Security, medicaid, and medicare—will consume all federal revenues. There will be no room for anything else in the federal budget." He has also warned that "every year we delay fixing the debt problem, we go about $10 trillion deeper in the hole ... adding to unfunded promises that we are making to Americans."
The St. Petersburg Times ran an article on its website, PolitiFact. com, analyzing Congressman Ryan's case. "Paul Van de Water, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said it's plausible that the [Congressional Budget Office] model could implode as early as the 2030s, though he added that other models analyzed by the CBO do not predict an implosion that soon," PolitiFact reported.
Slowly but surely, the concept of the "implosion" of the American economy was entering the national conversation.
An Unexpected Question
It was during that period that I happened to be invited to the United States Capitol for a private meeting with a group of congressmen. The purpose was to discuss the future of Israel in light of the rising Iranian nuclear threat and the future of the U.S.–Israel relationship given recent partisan political tensions in Washington. Given the subject matter, I decided to accept and a few days later arrived at the meeting just off the floor of the House of Representatives.
During a break in the meeting, I began chatting with the congressman sitting next to me. Soon the discussion shifted from the challenges facing Israel to the challenges facing the United States. We compared notes for a few minutes on the federal government's runaway spending, the exploding national deficit, the out-of-control debt, and our stagnant economy. Then the congressman leaned over to me and whispered, "This city doesn't get it, Joel. If we don't make major changes—and I mean sweeping reforms—really quickly, I'm not sure how much longer as a nation we can actually survive."
I certainly agreed the situation was bad, but in two decades of living and working in Washington, I had rarely heard a lawmaker speak in such an apocalyptic tone. "You really believe it's that serious?" I asked.
"I've never seen it worse than it is right now," he replied. "And most of Congress is absolutely asleep. They're arguing over cosmetic changes, but few people around here seem to realize just how much trouble we're really in."
Then he asked me the question I wasn't expecting.
"Joel, what does the Bible say happens to America in the last days?"
I have to admit, I was startled. It's not that I'd never been asked the question before. I just had never been asked it by a sitting member of Congress, inside the U.S. Capitol.
A few weeks later, I was on the phone with the governor of a large American state. We were discussing the revolutions underway in the Arab world, smoldering turmoil inside Iran, and the growing threats to the nation of Israel from radical Islam. Before long, however, the conversation turned back to the United States. We began discussing the enormous economic and spiritual threats facing our own country and the daunting prospects of how to turn things around. We also wondered who—if any—of the emerging crop of presidential candidates might have the vision, strength, and wherewithal to get this country back on track.
Then the governor surprised me by asking me a question very similar to one the congressman had asked a few weeks before.
"Joel, I'm curious; does the Bible give us any indication as to what will happen to the United States in the future?"
Though it doesn't typically make news because it doesn't happen in the public eye, many world leaders through the years have asked deeply personal and profoundly important questions of Christian pastors, ministry leaders, and authors, as long as they have been confident that while they were still alive, those sensitive conversations would be kept private and their names would be kept confidential in connection to those discussions. Billy graham is an example of a prominent Christian in whom many world leaders have confided.
In may 1954, for example, Winston Churchill, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, said to graham, "I am a man without hope. Do you have any real hope?" In reply, graham asked, "Are you without hope for your own soul's salvation?" Churchill answered, "Frankly, I think about that a great deal." The pastor gently opened the New Testament and took the great British wartime hero through the gospel's plan of salvation from the teachings of Jesus Christ.
In the summer of 1955, Dwight eisenhower, the former supreme allied commander of all Western military forces in the european theater, who had recently been elected president of the United States, asked Billy graham, "Could you explain to me how a person can be sure when he dies he's going to heaven?" grateful for eisenhower's sincere question, graham shared with the president some key passages from the words of Jesus Christ explaining how a person can be absolutely certain that his sins are forgiven and that he will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.
In January 1961, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic to be elected president of the United States, took the Protestant Christian minister aside for a discreet conversation and asked, "Do you believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ?" graham was surprised by the question but responded, "I sure do." The president-elect asked, "Why doesn't my church teach it?" graham told Kennedy that the Second Coming was written about in the creeds of the Catholic church. "They don't tell us much about it," Kennedy replied. "I'd like to know what you think." The minister then shared from the Bible prophecies about the last days, including some of the teachings of Jesus Christ's promise to return to earth in the end Times.
We didn't learn that these powerful men had asked these specific questions until after each of those leaders had passed away. Yet these brief conversations give us a fascinating glimpse into their hearts and minds. Churchill, having helped defeat Adolf Hitler and the evil Third Reich, was serving in his second term as British prime minister. Now he faced a new threat. As he stated ominously just after the war at a college in the American midwest, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent" of Europe, controlled by the Soviet empire. Churchill warned that if the Western democracies were not unified and steadfast in their resistance to Communism, "then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all." He saw a terrible new war was looming with the Soviet bloc powers, a war he feared could prove far more horrific than the one the West had just survived and won. Eisenhower and Kennedy, too, saw a nuclear-armed Soviet empire rising, horrible wars engulfing the Korean peninsula and Vietnam, and the risk of apocalyptic new wars erupting in Europe and Asia. The future of their nations and the world looked very grim from their vantage points. No wonder they were looking to the Bible to see if the Scriptures held any answers, any hope at all.
It is one thing, however, for leaders to discreetly ask soul-searching questions about how to know Jesus Christ personally, how to walk with god more closely, how to better understand the relevance of the second coming of Christ and other personal matters related to the Bible. We would hope and expect that they would ask such questions, and it's heartening to know—even years after the fact—that some do. But it is quite another thing for leaders to privately ask whether the Bible offers clues to the possible decline or even implosion of their own country.
There is nothing wrong with doing so. To the contrary, all leaders should feel comfortable asking honest, genuine questions about what the Bible says on any subject, including their nation's future. most of us, however, simply would not expect such questions from our national leaders. In many ways, this is new, uncharted territory. Yet given the state of our economic and cultural troubles, these are the questions people are asking these days.
And it's not just politicians. In my experience, people at all levels of business, media, the arts, sports, ministry, education, and elsewhere are asking as well.
The Most Frequently Asked Question
Until recently, the question I was asked most frequently when I spoke and did interviews in the U.S. and around the world was, "Joel, how can you be Jewish and believe that Jesus is the messiah?" Within the last few years, however, that important question has been significantly eclipsed by another one. These days, the question I am most frequently asked is this: "What happens to America in the last days?"
I also get plenty of variations on the theme:
Is America simply in decline, or are we like the Roman empire, stumbling toward collapse?
Do you believe America's days are numbered?
Are we approaching the end of America as we have known it?
Are we living in the last days?
What does the Bible say about the future of the United States?
Is America even mentioned in end Times Bible prophecy?
Is America mentioned, described, or hinted at in the Bible at all?
Christians are certainly wrestling with such questions. But I find that Americans from a variety of religious backgrounds— including Jews, muslims, and others—are asking these and similar questions as well. Indeed, often when I am on a secular talk radio show, I'm invited to talk about geopolitical issues related to Israel, the broader middle east, and radical Islam. The conversation tends to come around to my views of how Israel and the nations of the epicenter fit into Bible prophecy, and then it's not uncommon for the radio host to ask me, "So what about America? What does the Bible say about our future?"
Some people ask because they are certain America is, in fact, described in the Scriptures as a significant or even major player in the end Times, and they want to know more. They are looking for hope that we are going to weather the economic, political, moral, spiritual, and other storms now battering us so intensely. Others, however, ask because they are fearful the U.S. is not described in the Bible, and they are wondering, "Why not? And if not, what will happen to us, and how much time do we have left?"
Excerpted from Implosion by Joel C. Rosenberg Copyright © 2012 by Joel C. Rosenberg. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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