Summary: Augustine the great early church theologian witnessed the downfall of Roman civilization. He had gone from a harlot, a pleasure seeker, important in the court of Rome, to converting to Christianity.
Augustine the great early church theologian witnessed the downfall of Roman civilization. He had gone from a harlot, a pleasure seeker, important in the court of Rome, to converting to Christianity. But things were falling apart, because Rome was about to fall. In America I often wonder: Are we the Augustines, powerless, watching the fall of the great empire? It was unthinkable then, and unthinkable for us today. Are we the Jeremiahs, calling in vain in the streets, in synagogues, unheeded, as Babylon lays siege to the city of God?
These are the times that try men's souls. These are the times that drive us mad in speculation and confusion, wondering what does the future hold. What part are we to play? What is God's will for this era of history? Do we even have any right to know?
The mass of evil spawning amongst our cities gives one images of apocalypse and a faint of the heart, a sense that all is lost. My soul trembles and the air rushes out of my lungs, and it seems as if a cold, cold wave threatens to thunder down upon my meek body. Like a starving cripple in the street, utterly ruined and despondent, utterly neutered, useless and unable to even cast a crackling caw to the air, my spirit festers in despair. Such chaos and confusion in our culture, people don't know which bathroom to use, child sex trafficking and child sacrifice through abortion are rampant, politics are getting even more ugly, the media is biased and crazy, and churches seem to be dividing over the issue of gay marriage as well as other issues. It's rough out there, and at times we shiver for fear of the future and the world that will be left for our children and grandchildren.
Yet something within calls, "despair not!" And something inside rallies like a shining white ray of light, a golden sword of defiance, bright as the sun, and I turn against the wave, suddenly donned in shining armor, strong and brave, blade and shadow brandished, teeth gritted, ready to fight to the death, and that wave of despair vanishes before my eyes, because it was nothing and has gone.
And I realize my true enemy, beyond all the cities, the west coast power houses, the powerful, the rich, the atheists and socialist activists, all the sin, all the multiplying evil and debauchery, I see my struggle is not with man, but with spiritual forces in high places.
I am so small in relation to the swings and tides of history. Yet I have a part to play, and so do you. We ought dare to believe that victory is possible. Or even dare to believe that victory is inevitable. That is what the patriots believed in 1776. They believed, even in the face of defeats in 1776, that it was inevitable, their victory was already written. Could we believe the same today?
When Churchill fought alone in the depths of world war II, hoping, praying, begging and pleading to get America into the great war, he never gave up. They were defeated at Dunkirk, and driven out. Churchill didn't give up. Great Britain watched Austria, Poland, and France fall to the Nazis. They were defeated in North Africa several times. Churchill still refused to even consider negotiating with Hitler. Churchill said, "never, never, never give up." And "If your going through hell, keep going."
Churchill fought a rear-guard action against the Nazis, fighting, and retreating, fighting and retreating, time and again fleeing at just the right moment to preserve the British military. Over the skies of Great Britain small bands of RAF fighters climbed to great heights, outnumbered 15 to 1, striking Nazi bombers flying from behind the sun, cutting their enemies to pieces. They fought, and many died. The price was high. But they fought the Luftwaffe to a stand-still. They fought to stale-mate. Hitler couldn't cross the channel. The price was dear, and high. But Churchill inspired the people of Britain to fight through intense, defiant speeches to stand against evil. V for victory.
The early church father Augustine was there to witness the fall of the Roman empire. This seemed as impossible to them as the fall of the United States would seem to us now. The possibility wasn't even considered, yet it happened. Vandals surged in from every side, barbarians crushed through the gates and Rome in all it's splendor fell to the rust heap of history. Nothing but empty columns soon enough, upholding nothing.
I believe the United States is so prosperous and filled with personal freedom today because the founders of the country and the framers of the Constitution built a system based upon God-given rights, God-given liberty, and God-given respect for the free will of the individual. They established freedom of religion, there was no such thing in Europe. If the King was Catholic, guess what, your Catholic! If the monarchs were protestant, your protestant! It makes sense really that God would bless a system based upon freedom, liberty, personal responsibility, and personal choice.