The End of the World As We Know It

from Dec 13, 2014 Category: Articles

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. —Yeats

I have long argued that Genesis 3 sets the stage for our lives, the Bible, and all of history. We live in a context of battle, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. I have argued in turn that that over-arching battle will be determined based on two other battles. First there is the battle inside the seed of the woman, between our new man and our old man. The more sanctified we become, the better things will go in the great battle. The other battle is within the seed of the serpent. There the battle is between the remnants of the image of God and their own fallen nature.

Ironically, this last battle is going best when the unbelievers steal our foundation, our moral direction. In their unbelief they have no transcendent source of moral authority. As Dostoyevsky said, “if there is no God, all things are permissible.” William Butler Yeats was getting at the same point when he warned us that the center cannot hold, and mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. And this is precisely where we find ourselves in the west.

The culture wars are not a simple battle over swear words on television, or which performance artists get federal grants. Those kinds of issues are so many dandelions growing atop a toxic waste dump. The leading issues of our day, the destruction of marriage, and the wanton murder of the unborn, on the other hand, are no mere social ills or skirmishes we are losing. Instead they are the center that is not holding, the anarchy loosed upon the world, the blood dimmed tide that has been loosed.

This friends, is one of the reasons I am given to raising these issues so forcefully. The evangelical church may be uptight about homosexuality. They may be concerned about abortion. But how often do we hear evangelicals, in response to such, wonder aloud, “I wonder how long it will take for God to judge us.” That we miss that this IS the judgment is a sure sign of judgment on us. Were God inclined to judge a nation, what greater destruction could He reign down on it than to destroy the family? To give over men and women to vile desires? To let fathers, and more damaging still, mothers, turn their hearts against their children, even at their most vulnerable?

The utter destruction of our culture isn’t just around the corner. It has been here for some time. But we only notice when our idols, the ones we evangelicals worship, are endangered. Then we weep, and moan, and cry out for deliverance. Until then, we remain at ease in Sodom. We go about our business while there’s blood on the streets. This is the end of the world as we know it, just another day.

R.C. Sproul Jr. is rector and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College. Originally published at