The National Debt and the Future

When President Franklin Roosevelt launched his New Deal, Winston Churchill commended “the courage, the power and the scale of his effort,” and likened him to “an explorer who has embarked on a voyage as uncertain as that of Columbus, and upon a quest which might conceivably be as important as the discovery of the New World.”  While such comments from a Brit may well be expected, seeing how the United Kingdom went off the gold standard two years before the United States, it is the analogy that is striking.  Just where was Roosevelt taking America on his voyage into the unknown?

There are three federal programs that line up like stars pointing to the pole star: The New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the Great Society–three programs with positive names and an ominous future.  While Truman’s Fair Deal mainly ended up preserving the New Deal, the third program, launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson, contained a new element and is very important biblically in forecasting America’s future.  In his 1965 inaugural address, President Johnson reasoned that poverty in American did not need to exist, given the land’s abundant wealth, medicine, and education.  While some in the audience may have worried that new welfare, leading eventually to Medicaid and Medicare later that year, would take from the rich in order to give to the poor, Johnson assumed an increase in common resources.  “By working shoulder to shoulder,” he argued, “together we can increase the bounty of all.”  In other words, American bounty seemed assured through union.

Biblically, Johnson’s reasoning is disturbing on three counts.  First, in aiming to eliminate poverty, Johnson assumed what Jesus said would not happen (Matthew 26:11; cf. Deuteronomy 15:11).  Second, Johnson spoke of blessing without giving credit to God, whose blessing alone can eliminate poverty (Deuteronomy 15:4-6).  Third, Johnson sought to renew an American covenant of faith in “justice and liberty and union” and “in ourselves,” but not in God.  In contrast to the Bible’s assertion that obedience generally brings blessing, Johnson launched his “Great Society” fresh on the heels of the Supreme Court decisions to remove Bible-reading and prayer from the nation’s schools.  In essence, the American government was stepping out on its own, boasting of great things while trying to gag God.  How fitting that American coins lost their silver in that same eventful year, testifying to the lie printed on the face of each coin, “In God We Trust”!

There is a cardinal rule in God’s universe that will not be broken: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man sows, that he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7).  It is impossible for a nation to reject the knowledge of God in the very institutions that train the next generation of citizens, and then to experience the blessing of God indefinitely.  God is slow to anger, but He will not be mocked.  Eventually those who sow to the wind must reap the whirlwind.  How will that whirlwind come?

Though I am not a prophet, I do know what one prophet wrote about another proud nation.  Granted, America is perhaps not as bad as Babylon in some respects, but this nation resembles that ancient superpower in pride, in greed, and even in bloodshed, with one out of every three conceptions ending in abortion, according to a recent report.  The prophet Habakkuk pronounced “Woe” upon the king that increased what was “not his” through interest on loans.  In light of divine justice, the prophet announced that this greedy creditor would become a debtor, and its creditors would eventually arise to “bite thee.”  How long, asked the prophet?  Not giving a direct reply, God only indicated, “Suddenly” (see Habakkuk 2:6-7).  Such is the fitting end for a proud man, whose soul “is not upright in him” (2:4).

Again, we ask, how long for America? How long will it be before a nation addicted to credit is bit?  With China holding a sizable portion of our debt, having become rich, in part, through our greed for cheap goods, how long with it be before America is bit?  Our forefathers would have never dreamed that this nation would someday owe so much money to a communist nation!

Interestingly, one sign of an unjust nation is the corruption of its language.  According to Isaiah, the categories get confused.  Not only is evil called good, and good called evil (5:20), the “vile person” is said to be “liberal” (that is, philanthropic), and the “churl” is said to be “bountiful” (32:5).  In other words, crooks are called philanthropists and fools are noted for their generosity.  We have definitely reached this point in America.  Even our language is corrupt, and we fail to realize it.  Future generations were not given a “Fair Deal,” nor did our cities become a “Great Society.”  The “New World” chartered by Roosevelt’s New Deal has instead led us right into slavery to foreign powers, similar to the curses threatened to Israel’s disobedience (cf. Deuteronomy 28:43-44).  It is really true: “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7)–even in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

What should a Christian do, in light of such news? Please visit this site again for the next essay, and the answer that genuinely surprised me from the Scriptures.  (God be praised!)  In the meantime, consider these words from Habakkuk, in the midst of his anticipation of national calamity:

“O LORD, I have heard Your speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

Sources: Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), 959 (Winston Churchill quote); Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, A Short History of the United States, 6th ed., revised and enlarged (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), 535-37, 659-60; O. Palmer Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 185-91; “Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Inaugural Address, Wednesday, January 20, 1965” (

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