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Has America Lost the Vision of God?

The following article is 100 years old. What the writer describes is what we see today, except that our condition is much worse. Also, we cannot say what he did about the morals of the nation. We’ve lost that too. Still, these words are a sober reminder that God must be in our hearts before He can be in our lives. The Bible hammers this point home time and time again. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) in the context means God’s people not did not acknowledge Him. They failed to recognize Him with their lives. Their minds were on other things. I pray that this article will wake us up to the need for more Bible study, more prayer, and more sincere talk of God and His Word.


This simple, splendid, fruitful, energetic, prosperous America of powers is not, perhaps, conscious enough of all its needs. It has many of them, but none is greater or more pressing than its need of God.

This is not an arraignment of our morals. For all our outcry against political and financial corruption, we are, as the world goes, a moral people. We are a generous people, kindly people, a sympathetic people, ready to respond abundantly to the appeal of any form of want or suffering.

But this habitual kindness and conventional morality, on which we pride ourselves so much, covers but cannot hide the deeper need of which we wish to speak. Look back at the past, at the history of all the nations of the world; how many people do you find who show in their common daily lives as little sense as we show today of what you may call, if you will, “the not ourselves,” “the spiritual mystery,” “the divine”? There is no better name to call it by than God.

We have churches, you protest. So we have. But there are some who did not go to them, and not all of those who do go listen; and what is far more important, in most cases God is left in the church. Who names his Name in the rush of business, or in the tumult of pleasure? How many of us—writer, lawyer, doctor, broker, politician, or club woman—connect the thought of him with any absorbing interest of our lives?

There are various reasons for this. One is the real decay of belief, due to the subtle infusion of science, or misunderstood science, into all our thoughts. And there are others. But the most curious of all is an excess of reverence. From the time of the original Protestant revulsion against the undue familiarity of the Middle Ages with the saints and things divine, there has been a growing tendency to remove God further and further from common daylight and common dust and toil and common tears and laughter into the shadow of shrines and the dim odor of sanctuaries, until we have taken him from all contact with our real lives, where everything must dwell that is to touch us with any vital power.

The process has gone on so quietly that we have not been conscious of it; has gone on so far that we have lost all appreciation of its significance; yet it offers one of the greatest problems that the 20th century has to deal with, greater far than any political or economic problem. A nation can get on without kings, without navies, without airships, without telephones, but no nation has ever long grown and flourished and triumphed without God.

Gospel Advocate, April 10, 1924


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