Recently I was listening to a sermon from Martyn Lloyd-Jones in which he references 18th Century historian Edward Gibbon’s work entitled, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In Gibbon’s magnum opus, Lloyd-Jones draws upon the five primary reasons given for the fall of the Roman Empire. Lloyd-Jones, for his part, is preaching this sermon in 1967 and draws parallel to the situation of his own day in Great Britain. As I heard these five reasons, I could not help but bring them forward to our own day because of the way they describe our modern situation. The similarities are uncanny. Take a look at Gibbon’s list below, again written from 1776-1789, and let me know if you also think they apply to today:
- The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
- Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
- The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
- The building of great armaments when the great enemy was within; the decay of individual responsibility.
- The decay of religion, fading into a mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.
While you’re considering the validity and application of these five reasons for the fall of an empire in our own day, consider if this can truly be pinned on any one political party or whether in spite of the apparent party in control we have been on a steady trend towards a decline a fall as we check off each one of those listed above.