Summary: Have we become a nation like King Nebuchadnezzar, abandoning civilized conduct and behaving as beasts? A survey of classroom literature textbooks from the previous century reveals just how far we have fallen. It is time to acknowledge God as our God.
Daniel 4:1-37 A Nation of Beasts
George Barna reported in his book The State of the Church in 2002 the results of a survey he conducted of self-professed Christians and here’s what he found about their knowledge of the Bible. Please keep in mind these are people who think they are Christians in America today.
• 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.
• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments.
• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.
• 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse.
Based upon this survey, Barna concluded, "Americans revere the Bible, but by and large they don’t know what it says. And because they don’t know it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates."
People today are woefully biblical illiterate. No wonder 21st century Americans are failing to finish their spiritual marathon race. No wonder Christians by the thousands are falling prey to the false teachers of our day. They are being feed cheap animal food and don’t feed themselves on the Word of God. They are desperately in need of a solid diet of good food, Scripture. Americans today, all of us, need to get into "spiritual shape"! But spiritual PE is no longer a part of our public school curriculum
When compared with past generations, American society has degenerated, though most people don’t realize this. It’s not really the fault of the churches. But it is the fault of our public schools. Of course most preachers in America today are the product of a public school system that increasingly disrespects the Bible and all classical standards of morality and ethics. But have things really changed?
To listen the popular politically correct rhetoric today, this whole idea (actually it’s not an idea, it is truth) that there has been a moral decay, a rot, in our standards and expectations today is dismissed. Some will say that America never really was a so-called Christian nation, that this is merely a lie. They say that if anything we as a society are better today than we were in the past because kids are being taught to more open-minded and accepting of one another. As I see it, we are not better off today, though most people have no idea.
Nowhere today in our public school curriculum is God mentioned. Children are no longer taught standards of morality, ethics, and discipline. Christian character and personal decency are not mentioned. Truth is relative—it is up to every child to decide their path. Today’s children are indoctrinated in concepts of mindlessness. And because they are being taught these things, they don’t know any better. Instead of spiritual food, they, like King Nebuchadnezzar in today’s Old Testament lesson, are being fed food fit only for animals. In effect, the majority of the people of our nation today, like Nebuchadnezzar, are out of their minds, behaving like animals rather than as children of God.
Am I exaggerating? You be the judge. I’m going to read to you a brief selection from a 7th grade literature reader used in our public schools in 1897. You decide. Does this reading have merit. Does it hold up ideals that we would like our children to learn? Is this reading textbook, so typical of many used in our public schools in times past, be likely to be found in any public school system today? Would such a textbook even be tolerated? Would children who tried to live by the ideals expressed in that selection be likely to succeed in today’s public school classrooms??--in our colleges, our universities, our seminaries?
Would 7th grade kids even be capable of reading such a selection yet alone understand it today?
Now, before I read this selection to you, I want you to know that I didn’t have to look very hard for such an illustration. In fact, I simply opened at random an 1897 seventh grade public school reader, and this is what I found: The poem is called Character of a Happy Life.
“How happy is he born and taught, that serveth not another’s will; whose armor is his honest thought, and simple truth his utmost skill! Whose passions not his masters are, whose should is still prepared for death, untied unto the worldly care of public fame, or private breath; who envies none that chance doth raise, or vice; who never understood how deepest wounds are given by praise; nor rules of state, but rules of good: who hath his life from rumors freed, whose conscience is his strong retreat; whose state can neither flatterers feed, nor ruin make oppressors great; who God doth late and early pray, more of his grace than gifts to lend; and entertains the harmless day with a religious book or friend; this man is freed from servile bands, of hope to rise, or fear to fall; lord of himself, though not of lands; and having nothing, yet hath all.”