Where Do We Go from Here?: Hope and Direction in Our Present Crisis

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The America you thought you knew is gone. We are a nation following our leaders willingly into economic, moral, and political decline. No longer is our country based on godly principles and morality. What are Christians to do?

Erwin Lutzer offers hope and a challenge to Christians. It is not time to despair even as you face these difficult realities. 2,000 years of church history are behind us to show that the church does not need freedom or ...

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Where Do We Go From Here?: Hope and Direction in our Present Crisis

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The America you thought you knew is gone. We are a nation following our leaders willingly into economic, moral, and political decline. No longer is our country based on godly principles and morality. What are Christians to do?

Erwin Lutzer offers hope and a challenge to Christians. It is not time to despair even as you face these difficult realities. 2,000 years of church history are behind us to show that the church does not need freedom or ease to be faithful. God's work, His calling on His people, can be fulfilled no matter what.

In this succinct book, Dr. Lutzer calls Christians to be agents of change in these increasingly secular times, and he offers hope and direction. As the nation changes, Christians are called to change too, to be faithful ambassadors for Christ in a country that cares little for Him.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802410139
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2013
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 494,714
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

DR. ERWIN LUTZER has served as senior pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago for over 30 years. A renowned theologian, Dr. Lutzer earned his BTh from Winnipeg Bible College, a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary, and an MA in philosophy from Loyola University. He is an award-winning author and the featured speaker on three radio programs that can be heard on more than 700 radio stations in the United States and around the world. Dr. Lutzer and his wife, Rebecca, live in the Chicago area and have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
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Read an Excerpt


Hope and direction in our present crisis
By Erwin W. Lutzer

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Erwin W. Lutzer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8024-1013-9

Chapter One

It's gone.

Some of you will remember when the Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer told us back in the 1970s that someday we would wake up and find out that the America we once knew was gone. That day is here.

We have crossed an invisible line, and there are no signs that we are capable of turning back. Like a boat caught in the mighty torrent of the Niagara River, we are being swept along with powerful cultural currents that just might put us over the brink. Seemingly irrevocable trends put in motion forty years ago continue to gather greater momentum and speed. Our Judeo-Christian heritage that gave us the freedoms we have enjoyed is for the most part gone, and in its place is an intolerant form of humanism that can boast of one victory after another. The "cultural war" we used to speak about appears to be over, and we have lost.

Daily, perhaps hourly, we are losing the war for America's heart and mind. We must understand the direction and speed of this cultural river that has spilled over and engulfed our land. We must also ask: what should we be doing at this critical hour?

This booklet is above all a message of hope, a message intended to help us refocus our priorities in a day of great opportunity. Rather than lick our wounds, withdraw from the public debate, and stand aside as we bemoan the fate of this great nation, we must regroup, get our bearings, and remember why we are here and what we are called to do. Never before in American history has it been more important for the church to be all that it can be in a society that is increasingly hostile to Christian values.

My prayer is that after you have finished reading these pages, you will be encouraged, hopeful, and excited to be alive at this moment of history. We as a church must embrace our present challenges with the sure knowledge that we are here by divine appointment. We have come to a crisis for which we must be prepared. We have work to do.

Before I seek to give both hope and direction to the church at this time of uncertainty, we need to survey the extent of the moral and spiritual devastation we see around us. Let's look at where we are before we outline what we should do.

There are at least five seemingly irreversible trends in our society that we as a church must be prepared to address. I have no doubt that God is taking us where we have never been before, but He is not taking us where His grace cannot keep us.

Here I simply list these trends with a brief explanation.


Economic Decline

Even as I write these words, our ticking national debt clock tells us that we are increasing our debt by 3 billion dollars a day. We hear repeatedly that the 16 trillion dollars we owe nationally is "unsustainable"; that is to say, we cannot continue along this path of spending without drastic and long-term consequences. Our politicians have not yet learned that we cannot borrow our way into prosperity and survive.

Although there are many differences between America and post–World War I Germany, history has some economic lessons to teach us. Remember that after World War I, Germany was saddled with huge debts the nation chose to pay through the printing of money, and more money. Not everyone was hurt as a result of this strategy; businesses with huge debts paid them off with essentially worthless pieces of paper. The result, of course, was rapid inflation until the mark became worthless, and many people's savings were wiped out. The resulting economic collapse paved the way for a strong leader who promised to end the madness, and thus Hitler rose to power.

As of this moment I cannot predict what the long-term consequences of our spending binge will be, but most economists not only predict inflation (which is already happening) but possibly a severe recession, just as we witness one country after another in Europe struggling with high unemployment, wary investors, and the need for multibillion dollar bailouts. Yet because cutbacks are unpopular, Washington turns a deaf ear to the lessons of history.

Alexander Fraser Tyler, an eighteenth-century Scottish lawyer who was skeptical of democracy, ominously predicted:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote for candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that democracy always collapses over bad fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

We can be glad when the government helps the truly needy. But when elections are won or lost depending on which candidate promises the greatest "largesse," then we know that democracy is failing us. And when politicians are willing to keep increasing our national debt for immediate gain without regard for long-term consequences, then we know that we have lost our way.

Of course, it is not simply our national debt that should be of concern to us. Those of us who live in the state of Illinois are probably aware that the per-person debt in our state is among the highest in the nation. To be precise, our state is in debt to the tune of $21,000 for every person in Illinois! With the state treasury bankrupt, payments are either late or not paid at all. A day of reckoning is coming.

My concern about the nation's economy is not just the effect a serious recession (or collapse) would have within our borders. Just think of America's global economic impact; then think of all the missionary organizations and agencies funded by American Christians. These sources of income, so desperately needed for the cause of the Gospel overseas, would dry up, and many Gospel-centered ministries would suffer around the world.

In anticipation of coming financial upheaval, we as a church should be grappling with relevant questions and design strategies that will help us care for those who are in need. The early church faced an economic crisis and helped its most under-resourced members. Our pride in our individualism must give way to a spirit of generosity, sharing, and sacrifice. We may have to learn such lessons the hard way.

Moral Decline

President Obama would not have pledged his support for same-sex marriage if he did not believe that in recent years there has been a massive public shift in cultural mores. Again, I refer to Francis Schaeffer, who warned us that what is unthinkable in one generation can become thinkable in another. What this moral shift toward the acceptance of same-sex marriage means for our children and succeeding generations is frightening.

The media has played an important role in making the unthinkable, thinkable. Pro-homosexual lobbies have exerted pressure and control to make sure that homosexuality is consistently portrayed in a favorable light, disregarding all its negative practices and consequences. In effect, the homosexual lobby has veto power over anything that is portrayed or said in the media about the gay lifestyle. The strategy of the radical homosexual movement is simple: preach tolerance but practice intolerance at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, schoolchildren are being indoctrinated in the acceptance of the normalcy of homosexuality. Faith-based adoption agencies have already had to close because they were being forced to adopt children to same-sex couples, in violation of their religious convictions. If a bill such as ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) were to become law, not even Christian organizations could discriminate in their hiring practices.

That said, it is important for us to realize that there are many within our churches who struggle with same-sex attraction, and we gladly welcome them into our churches. We as a church are called to live with the tension of both accepting the scriptural understanding of homosexuality and also dealing redemptively with all who struggle with any form of sexual immorality, whether fornication, adultery, or pornography and the like. Those who come with a spirit of repentance, seeking forgiveness, healing, and help, should know that they are welcome among us.

The list of sins both outside the church and inside the church is growing. To drugs, alcohol, and sex, we can now add more recent addictions such as video games, the Internet, and social media. As Nell Postman warned nearly three decades ago, we are "amusing ourselves to death."

It is estimated that 60 percent of all pornography falls into the hands of children. Considering that this is a multibillion dollar industry, there is simply no way to estimate the damaging effects this flood of impurity continues to have as it spills into our culture.

We must ask: how do we as a church balance our condemnation of sin with a redemptive attitude that humbly acknowledges that the sins of the nation have become our sins? And, how can we best oppose those who would want to indoctrinate our children in various forms of immorality—and yet at the same time be known for our love and care for people who need to know the forgiveness of Christ?

As we sink into a moral morass, our role is difficult, but not impossible. Just ask the Christians in ancient Corinth who at times succeeded in their struggles against the sins of their culture but also at times failed. Their battle is our battle, and we had better not pretend our church is exempt from these sins. Christians are not always winners but they are always fighters, battling against sin. We can be encouraged to know that the church has been down this road before.

Educational Breakdown

Speaking of moral decline, our public schools have, for the most part, become government schools; often they are places of indoctrination for the nation's degrading values: homosexuality, premarital sex, and atheistic evolution. Sex classes are held that break down the natural resistance that young people have to sexual intimacy by teaching them how to have sex without having a baby or feeling guilty.

Recently, a volunteer here at Moody Church told us that in her daughter's school students were asked to choose sides in a classroom. On one side were the students who claimed to be gay and those who supported their lifestyle. On the other side were the bullies. Now, her daughter was forced to decide: should she join the bullies or should she walk over and endorse the gay lifestyle? Stories of how our children are being forced to affirm the homosexual lifestyle can be found in virtually any public school. And sadly, parents are often told that they have no input or control over the content of the curriculum.

Enough has been written elsewhere about the crisis in America's schools for parents to be educated about the cultural and moral philosophies intended to shape the thinking of our youth. What the church must be doing is to be both empowering and instructing parents how to protect their children from the kind of indoctrination that is purposefully imposed on so many of our nation's children.

Prejudicial Legal Rulings

Ever since the Supreme Court, without constitutional authority, legalized abortion for any reason or no reason, judicial rulings have frequently become more arbitrary and prejudicial, often violating respect for religious freedom. Today, the First Amendment is turned on its head and the establishment clause is interpreted to mean that every expression of Christianity in the so-called public square violates the constitution. Organizations such as the ACLU have done all within their power to intimidate believers, forcing them to privatize their faith.

Elane Photography, a photography studio in New Mexico, was fined $7,000 for refusing, on religious grounds, to photograph a commitment ceremony for a same-sex couple. In 2008 the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of the New Mexico Human Rights Commission that the studio had violated the state's non-discrimination law. In numerous cases, when homosexual rights and religious rights conflict, homosexual rights win.

This attitude of marginalizing those who hold to traditional values spills over into the public sphere. Who would have dreamed that the mayor of Chicago would declare that he would prohibit a business whose founders support traditional marriage from being able to set up a franchise in the city? In October 2012, Angela McCaskill was suspended as an administrator from Gallaudet University for signing a petition to put Maryland's same-sex marriage legislation on the November ballot. In other words, even such an innocuous act, interpreted as questioning the right of same-sex couples to marry, is enough to cause suspension. Incredibly, the university justified its decision because of its view of tolerance!

As a church we must not be intimidated by the threats and actions of those who would want us to keep our faith to ourselves. When believers in the book of Acts were told that they should not preach in the name of Jesus, they continued to proclaim His Name even though it meant prison. Our challenges are not new; new to us yes, but not new to our brothers and sisters throughout the ages.

The Privileged Position of Islam

While biblical Christianity is in decline and often vilified, Islam will continue to enjoy a privileged position in politics and among a good percentage of the masses. For years the OIC (the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) has tried to get the United Nations to approve an amendment regarding "defamation of religion." If this universal blasphemy law were approved, it would mean that all criticism of Islam would be criminalized. Fueled by incidents such as a Qur'an burning and a video that evidently ridiculed Muhammad, Muslims are demanding that nothing should ever be said or done that would be offensive to Islam.

Americans make a mistake when they judge Islam by its more tolerant American version. If we want to see what Islam is like as a religion, we must judge it by countries where it is in control: Saudi Arabia and Iran to name two. The laws of Saudi Arabia, for example, explicitly stipulate that converts from Islam to Christianity are to be executed. Also, in Islamic countries Christians are often put to death for "dishonoring Islam" not because they have spoken against it but simply because they believe in the Trinity, and this in itself is an insult to Islam.

Europe, which has a greater Muslim population than the United States, has, for the most part, forfeited any right to criticize Islam. Choosing to self-censor, politicians speak only favorably of Islam; to do otherwise would mean that they would be demonized by the media and the "politically correct" population as a whole. Meanwhile in Europe and now increasingly in the United States, crosses are being removed from hospitals and churches so as not to offend Muslims. And more serious concessions are being made in educational textbooks, the media, and in finance. Since the Quran teaches that Islam must establish itself as a superior religion, the concessions we make are but the first steps in a larger agenda. All of this poses a great challenge to the church in the coming years.


Excerpted from WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? by Erwin W. Lutzer Copyright © 2013 by Erwin W. Lutzer. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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