Published May 29, 2012
"Forgetting Our Roots"
Alright, I confess. I'm a fan of the old "Hogan's Heroes" TV program. You remember "Hogan's Heroes" it was a very popular TV show that aired in the mid-to-late 60s. I have a boxed DVD set of every show they did. Really.
The show was set in a World War II German POW camp in Germany, Stalag 13, where a small group of Allied prisoners actually ran a clandestine operation to subvert German war efforts through sabotage and to help escapees get to England safely, all made possible by a gullible and thoroughly incompetent camp commandant. All of which strains credulity, but was a fun show anyway.
All of that is to say this. Recently while watching one of the shows and I even forget the context Col. Hogan happened to mention in making a point, "Well, even Moses sent a dozen spies to check out the Promised Land..."
Then the other day someone here in the office mentioned that she had been watching "Happy Days" reruns, a 1970s comedy set in the 1950s. Right in the middle of that sitcom, the family, gathered around their dinner table, prayed together before their meal. And, on another show from that series, the Fonz actually said that a certain hardware store was open six days but remained closed on Sunday "to honor the Sabbath, as commanded."
Wow. How times have changed. When I was growing up perhaps it was the same for you Biblical references were common in the culture, even on TV shows that were totally non-religious. And apparently the show's writers felt that such Biblical references were so widely known and understood as to make sense even as an offhand illustrative reference. And it seems that was a fairly valid assessment. Of course, in those days the Bible was read aloud each morning even in public schools during "opening exercises," and given proper respect.
But today... Well, when was the last time you heard a Biblical reference on a secular TV show other than in a mocking or even profane way? It just doesn't happen because our society is losing the Biblical roots that had permeated great literature and public discourse since the nation's founding (and before). Secular humanism has taken its place. Any mention of the Christian God has been banned from schools, even as non-Christian religions have been embraced and even promoted.
Last year an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked the question, "Thinking back to when you were growing up, would you say that the social and moral values of the United States were the same as today, higher than today or lower than today." As you can imagine, the vast majority felt that today's societal moral standards and standards of behavior were lower and are continuing their decline.
As if we needed proof, Christian researcher and author George Barna provides further evidence of a growing ignorance in matters of Christian faith:
- Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels.
- Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples.
- 60 percent of Americans cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments.
- 82 percent of Americans believe "God helps those who help themselves" is a Bible verse. (It is not.)
- 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.
- A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.
- A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount.
- Six out of ten Americans reject the existence of Satan.
- Four out of ten Americans believe that when Jesus Christ was on earth He committed sins.
- Five out of ten believe that anyone who is generally good or does enough good things for others during their life will earn a place in Heaven.
- Four out of ten believe that the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths.
- Seven out of ten born again Christians said they do not believe in moral absolutes.
- Only one out of ten Christians base their moral decision-making on the principles taught in the Bible.
- 54 percent believe truth can be discovered only through logic, human reasoning and personal experience.
Barna's conclusion is even more depressing: "Christians have increasingly been adopting spiritual views that come from Islam, Wicca, secular humanism, the eastern religions and other sources. Because we remain a largely Bible-illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives."
One radio ministry I heard called the Bible the "Maker's Manual." It's an apt description. The Bible is God's revealed word. He made us, after all, and knows what's best for us. Even beyond the vitally important Gospel message of salvation, the Bible includes important information about living life on a day-to-day basis. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4).
That's a command that's increasingly ignored in today's society. And, individually and as a society, we do so at our peril.
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln said, "It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
Reflecting Psalm 33:12, Lincoln's words unheeded as they may be still ring true today as a powerful warning for each of us and for our nation.
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