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October 17, 2008

The Coming Economic Earthquake, Part II: The Seeds Germinate and Grow

Economic_earthquake The Great Depression ended with America’s entry into World War II. In retrospect, the New Deal did nothing to end the Great Depression. After WWII was won, the debt that America accrued because of the war could have been paid off with surpluses. Instead, the now stronger central government went on a spending spree and created a “government-backed expansion.” The GI Bill became law, America was helping other countries rebuild their economies through the Marshall Plan, FHA provided low-cost financing for housing, and several government agencies expanded. We had “an unprecedented postwar boom.” With surpluses throughout the Eisenhower administration, little thought was given to the national debt.

During this period in time I believe that since America was observing Judeo-Christian principles, God continued to bless this country. We were victorious in battle, helping other countries restore their economies, there was a population explosion (baby boomers), a flourishing economy, and we became a world superpower. God had promised all of these things in Deuteronomy 28:1-13, and He delivered.

However, we didn’t read or heed the rest of the chapter. The '60s came and we decided we didn’t need God or His principles. We started following other gods: materialism, greed, selfishness, and laziness. We decided God would always bless us no matter what and started to take things into our own hands. Several things happened:

1. I Want it Now with Instant Prosperity or Credit

In the fifties you could obtain credit for a mortgage and car loans. In the sixties you could obtain credit for just about everything, including television sets. In the early sixties Americans spent “15% of their disposable income on interest payments.” At the end of the sixties they spent “22% on interest.” Today you can get a Happy Meal at McDonald's with a credit card.

2. The Vietnam War & The War on Poverty

These two are lumped together because they happened simultaneously. Lyndon Johnson “was consumed by two strategies”: he wanted to protect South Vietnam and also eliminate poverty through government intervention. Johnson thought he could accomplish both because of this country’s prosperity and trade surpluses. But the costs were too big and required either “sizable tax increases or huge deficits.” Johnson increased both.

Americans spent 7% of their income on direct taxes in the early sixties, but by the end of the sixties it had doubled to 14%. The national debt had grown to about $400B by 1970.

3. Removing God from Our Lives

Since we couldn’t follow God’s principles and also do things our way, one of these had to go. We decided to oust God. It began with the decision to remove prayer from our public schools and it has continued to this day, with Christianity now looked upon as a threat to our way of life.

From the seventies right on through today, we have tried to maintain a booming economy through our own efforts and rules. As we believed the boom would never end, deficit spending by the Federal and State governments and consumers continued to increase at alarming rates. The federal deficit has risen from $400 billion in 1970 to over $10.2 trillion today. State government debt exceeds $2 trillion and consumer debt exceeds $2 trillion as well. As Burkett pointed out, “You can’t spend more than you make forever, and when the bottom falls out it is the lenders who will be protected, not the borrowers.” God said it even better: “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Proverbs 22:7)

We now believe the government will solve all of our problems and we, including Christians, now rely on the government instead of God. We look to the government to bail us out when we have problems, whether from a hurricane, lack of health care, or the current economic crisis. We only need to look at the failure of Johnson’s War on Poverty to see that the government is incapable of solving these issues. Today we have hitched our wagons to human institutions whose only answer seems to be to throw more money at the problems, and the hole keeps getting bigger.

God promised blessings if we followed his commands in Deuteronomy 28:1-13. He also promised curses if we followed other gods and turned from His commands. These curses are detailed in the rest of Deuteronomy 28. As we received the blessings in the middle of the 20th century, we are now receiving the curses in the 21st century.

Is it too late to avoid the big economic earthquake? Perhaps we can still avoid it if America is willing to make major changes. God has given us His plan. The question is, will we humble ourselves and put our trust in Him?

Part III of this series will focus on the solution.

Note: All quotes are from The Coming Economic Earthquake, except where noted.

(Image © Moody Press)

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Dan Gill

I'm not at all sure we were following Judeo-Christian principles in the post-war years. Greed was already part of our national standard. Jim Crow ruled the south, and de-facto racism ruled the north. We were a materialistic nation long before the '60s, and remain so today. Certainly, credit has become easier and a greater burden, but there was no sharp divide between the 50's and 60's.

Deuteronomy 28:1-13 was a promise delivered to Israel, not America. If we apply it to America, what of the other nations that we are supposedly raised over? Are there no believers there?

I love America. I believe we are exceptional among nations. But we are not ancient Israel.

Benjamen R. Meyer

Two things:

1) The securalization started long before Prayer was removed from the schools - though that was certainly one of the big tipping points as well. There are two other even bigger tipping points - (i) allowance to teach Evolution in the schools, and (ii) removal of the Bible in the schools. Both of these precursed the removal of Prayer. All three are cascading tipping points. Evolution and the Bible conflicted; one had to go. No Bible, no God - why pray? It goes too.

(And for those of you that believe in Theistic Evolution - that doesn't work either in a very Biblical manner. Just going through Genesis 1-2 breaks it apart very well. The biggest part: Creation as a whole was vegetarian until after the flood - Genesis 1 and 2 - God gives vegetation to eat; it's not until Genesis 9 that meat is given to anything to eat. There other points too; but that in itself is a big one.)

2) While I agree that America is not Ancient Israel; God's promise is to His people - Christians included. This comes to us through the promises of His blessing in the New Testament, though we're not promised an easy road.

That said, yes, we can turn this around. We can repent. Even Nineveh was blessed after repenting. But we have to repent - which does not just mean "Oh, I'm sorry; forgive me" and then going back and doing it again; it means doing a 180 and following God wholeheartedly. And it starts with the leadership.

Sadly, though, with the way our laws work that is unlikely to happen. Eventually it will catch up with us and the U.S. will pay a big price for its idolatry. Is this it? May be. May not. Only God knows.

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