George Barna’s 2021-2022 American Worldview Inventory reveals a smaller and smaller percentage of American adults are living out of a Biblically integrated worldview.

The American Bible Society’s State of the Bible report concurs. 26 million Americans who had been engaging with the Bible in the past abandoned the practice of scripture engagement in 2021.

Three weeks ago Gallup released its annual Values and Beliefs survey findings. The findings of this survey align with the findings of others: increasing percentages of Americans do not believe in God and among those who say they do, a growing percentage of them do not view the Bible as God’s literal Word.

All those data points line up. So let’s connect a few other dots.

A week ago, Gallup released its annual look at confidence in U.S. institutions. Americans seem to be coming to consensus that our institutions are failing.

On July 11, Axios aggregated reports from the latest jobs report and concluded that “the government is having a hard time hiring” across all sectors. On July 12, it was reported that “not one branch of the US military is on target to meet 2022 fiscal year recruiting goals as young people are either disinterested or physically unfit to serve.”

So, how does a nation like the United States, with an all-volunteer force, compete in an increasingly hostile world when emerging generations are not willing to serve?

As we connect these points with others, a picture of reality emerges. At issue is the erosion of our foundational values, a loss of cohesion and a breakdown of who we the people think we are as a people.

How would you answer the question of national identity? Who are WE and what on earth is this nation on earth to do at this point in history?

Of interest on this topic is an extensive report by the RAND Corporation for the U.S. Department of Defense. RAND isn’t looking for Christian worldview threads to pull, they’re looking at whether or not America has already crested in terms of the enduring sustainability of a nation-state.

The report from RAND begins:

“Nations rise and fall, succeed or fail in rivalries, and enjoy stability or descend into chaos because of a complex web of factors that affect competitive advantage. One critical component is the package of essential social characteristics of a nation.”

So, what are those essential characteristics? RAND’s research reveals a list of seven leading societal characteristics:

  1. National Ambition and Will -think a sense of destiny and exceptionalism and the willpower to express that internationally. Literally a competitive ambition for others to be like us. VS casting America in a negative light and imagining that globalism is the future.
  2. Unified National Identity -literally a sense of “we the people” with a common set of values marking who we are and why we exist. Identity, belonging and purpose.
  3. Shared Opportunity -taping into the widest possible range of talents for every person without regard to the things that make us different.
  4. An Active State -this is not state-ism but a right functioning of the state in its primary role of security and freedom keeping.
  5. Effective Institutions -think here of everything from the institution of marriage and the family to education, food supply, criminal justice, healthcare, the military, news media, and yes, the Church. Each functioning rightly to build up the whole.
  6. A Learning and Adapting Society -think here a shared sense of what is good and true and reliance upon the government and the media to tell the truth consistently.
  7. Competitive Diversity and Pluralism -think historic American liberalism vs today’s illiberal cancel culture.

 

According to the report:

“The United States continues to reflect many of these characteristics, and the overall synergistic engine, more than any other large country in the world. However, multiple trends are working to weaken traditional U.S. advantages. Several, such as the corruption of the national information space, pose acute risks to the long-term dynamism and competitiveness of the nation, raising the worrying prospect that the United States has begun to display classic patterns of a major power on the far side of its dynamic and vital curve.”

That’s a nice way of saying we’re dying.

What then shall we do? How then shall we live? I am praying for revival and I am preparing to live as a stranger in an increasingly strange land.

So, it’s time to get back to the basics of the narrative of God’s redeeming love, God’s creative order, God’s goodness, glory and grace.

Our culture is in real decline but people think it is worse than it actually is. So, for our part, let’s fan the flame of the Good News, let’s be agents of grace and celebrate the Truth that stands and the hope that holds no matter what.

Questions the RAND Corporation didn’t ask or an indicator not considered in the report is the worldview question of God or not.

That’s a REALLY big dot to leave unconnected or unconsidered here and it’s the place where we, the people of God, must press into the opportunity before us as one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Amen? Amen.

Taking a moment to connect the dots

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