It is painful.
I find myself groping for words. It is hard to express this sorrow, this story I could never have anticipated, the surprise of my life, this thing I have lived through, this ongoing scenario, the drama that will not go away. Each day brings new horrors; the end is nowhere in sight. New grotesque personages parade across the television screen, appear everywhere on the Internet and in the news, crowding out everything else, names that numb the mind: Rand Paul, Rick Santorum. Levin, Limbaugh. Megyn Kelly. Ann Coulter. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina. Greg Gutfeld! It's a kind of Apostolic Succession, an integral organic stream that connects with the monsters of old, continuous and parallel with my own personal narrative, all the way back to Akron. 1947 Fuller Seminary opens in Pasadena; 1949, the Reverend Billy Graham holds his first Crusade for Christ in Los Angeles. 1954: Francis A. Schaeffer and L'Abri. More names: Rushdoony, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell. Carl F. H. Henry, Edward John Carnell, George Eldon Ladd. Glenn Beck. Bill O'Reilly….
1958. I was sitting in the refectory at Fuller Seminary, having coffee with Billy Graham and a few other students. The topic of the conversation turned to eschatology, and Graham became pensive, brooding, deadly serious. That toothy, ear-to-ear grin vanished from his freckled face as he shared with us his vision of an imminent return of Jesus Christ to this troubled world, urged us to be faithful witnesses, to wait and pray. We all agreed: it would surely be any day now. All the signs pointed in that direction: wars and rumors of war, the Jews back in the Holy Land, the rising tide of immorality. The Lord would most surely soon return. After the meeting broke up I sat there alone, having a vision. I was seeing my own life, peering into my possible future. I hadn't yet had Dr. Ladd's course on the Kingdom of God, so I still believed in the Rapture. I remember it distinctly, sitting there with the dirty dishes, the empty coffee cups, staring at the big bushy palm tree out there in the courtyard. I was imagining my last days. I was thinking that surely I would see the Great Falling Away, the appearance of the Antichrist, maybe the start of the Great Tribulation. What would it be like? What would I do? I vowed I would be faithful. It would be a horrendously difficult time, but I promised myself and the Lord I would hang in there.
I couldn't know, I could never have guessed, not in a million years, what the future would really be like. And now that it's here, nobody seems to notice. Nobody cares. Nobody knows. Nobody wants to know. Except Franky Schaeffer, my newly recognized soul mate… He knows. He cares. He was there when it all started. He knew the principal players, even became one himself. The video linked below tells the whole story.
I was one of those Village Idiots.
Or at least a member of the subculture that would eventually become today's grotesque caricature of what we were then, once they added Republican politics and the postmodern lust for power. I couldn't have known that I would end up not waiting around for the Rapture, but spending my days and nights in dismay, trying to figure out how the Enemy had become the Christians themselves. A strange American transformation had occurred. A new American Jesus had emerged, allied now with the Beast and the Antichrist himself, given over wholly to some vague notion of protecting something called American Exceptionalism, a new gun-loving, war-loving, money-loving sentimental Jesus, hankering for Family Values and his own version of a New World Order where he was king and the whole wide world would be restored to a new version of Old Testament patriarchy where there would be no abortion, no homosexuals, no" liberals…" I had no choice but to oppose them.
We were on our way--midway now 'twixt Bing and Bush. Next time we'll look at some of the men and events that brought us down. Franky Schaeffer knows all about it, even if you don't. Go here for the video. "Straight ahead!"