Note: Even though this was written in 2008, it is even more imperative that we heed history’s warning today.
Each moment of our lives we make decisions that lead us to either misery or happiness, liberty or tyranny, God or His evil foe. It is not the special interest group, political party or union that shapes our future. They are just groups that carry out the choices we, each one of us, have made to follow one of two very different roads.
Teddy Roosevelt, America’s 26th President, was intently aware of these choices, both for himself and his nation. Exactly 100 years ago he said, “I believe that the next half century will determine if we will advance the cause of Christian civilization or revert to the horrors of brutal paganism. The thought of modern industry in the hands of Christian charity is a dream worth dreaming. The thought of industry in the hands of paganism is a nightmare beyond imagining.” The choice that Roosevelt foresaw is upon us now as we face our nation’s greatest challenges.
The following true tale of two cities can give us insight into the current crossroads we are facing in America. Each of these cities and their nations chose a different path and, in like manner, the choices we are making now will determine our future.
For hundreds of years France was the richest and largest nation in Europe. Paris had begun the first university in Europe and France’s cathedrals and art were second to none. But by the 18th century, France as a nation had taken another road. They had imbibed deeply of the “free” thinking of the Enlightenment and humanists such as Rousseau and the atheist Voltaire.
Paris soon became the center of vice in Europe. For the first time since the Roman Empire, pornography emerged from the shadows and was emblazoned on the pages of the newspapers. Scandal and gossip about royalty, celebrities and the church began to fill the papers. This propaganda enraged the illiterate masses into a hysteria of class envy. This propaganda created scapegoats and people to hate and eliminate, including royalty, the productive merchants and the Christians. All forms of paganism and witchcraft were encouraged, but Christianity was despised. The people turned on the Catholic Church, killing thousands of priests and flaunted their infidelity by enthroning a dancing girl to be the Queen of France on the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral.
By 1793, however, the Revolution that was supposed to free the people turned into the blood bath of the Reign of Terror under Robespiere. He and his Gestapo-like “Committee of Public Safety” killed 40,000 Parisians, beheading them with the guillotine. Soon after, a young corporal named Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power and dragged the flower of the nation’s men off to war and death, devastating themselves and all of Europe for 18 years. France has never fully recovered from what has taken many nations of Europe down the same road to statism. The riots and strikes still continue today, in 2008.
Another city, with a much shorter history, was just beginning to thrive in the early 18th century. New York City, founded by Dutch Protestants in 1624, had grown into a major trading center of the British Colonies. Although founded upon a strong biblical faith and populated by people of various Protestant denominations, New York, like most of the colonies, had lost its passion and love for Christ by the beginning of the 18th century.
Professor Marvin Olasky documents that New York City was on the path to destruction by 1700, as were most of the colonies. He said that people threw raw sewage on the streets. Scores of taverns kept the men of the city well juiced. He records that “not trusting to conciliators or courts, men fought duels and women scuffled with various weapons.” The New York Legislative Assembly recognized that “prophaneness and licentiousness have of late overspread the province.”
In 1700 the French military in Canada planned a terrorist-like attack to destroy the cities of New England and burn New York City to the ground. For the next 45 years, the colonists lived in constant fear of being attacked and killed by the French.
Read the rest at World History Institute