One of my very favorite films of all time is that glorious old 1951 movie, QUO VADIS, which starred Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov, and the patriot, Robert Taylor. You may recall that Quo Vadis was a love story that revolved around the clash between the corrupted Roman culture, based on the veneration of a “Supreme Leader” (Emperor Nero), and the new Christian faith, based upon the worship of a “Supreme Savior”, our LORD Jesus. One scene particularly impressed me, because while it wasn’t Biblically accurate, it did illustrate the film’s message of duty to God before duty to country. In it, the Apostle Peter, portrayed so well by the late Finlay Currie, was walking on a lonely road, leaving Rome to avoid persecution under the Emperor Nero. According to a tradition of men (written in the Apocrypha), Peter saw a bright light in the trees and heard a voice speaking to him. Supposedly the voice was that of his Savior, Jesus, a voice that Peter had often heard. Peter then asked the memorable question, “Quo Vadis, Domine?”, i.e. “where are you going, Lord?” The voice answers: “I am going to Rome, to be crucified again”, whereupon Peter decides to return to Rome and later suffers an agonizing death by being crucified upside down. (Biblically speaking, Peter did ask Jesus, “quo vadis?”, or “where are you going?”, in John 13:36, but in a different context). If you’ve never seen QUO VADIS you really should, because high quality classic films like it are no longer produced, and it’s totally appropriate for Christian families. (It’s available on Amazon.com. and other sources on the internet—just be sure to get the 1951 version).
So I ask: Quo Vadis, my dying country? Where are you going, country that we say we love—country that President Trump claimed was “dying” in his recent Arizona rally? As Americans and as Christians, I say it’s time for us to seriously try to answer that question, rather than turn our thoughts away from having to consider some unpleasant answers. Much has been written over recent decades about the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are convinced that His ‘Second Coming’ is so “imminent”, and will result in our rescue from the consequences of OUR neglect of our once honorable Christian culture, and the purposeful ravaging by evil men of the liberties given to us by our Creator, and codified in our Founding Documents, that we have retreated from the battle against evil and have, for all intents and purposes, hidden our cowardly heads in the “I’ll have to pray about it” sand, essentially becoming “so Heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good”, as someone once accurately observed.
Consider what our world and our culture will become if Jesus tarries for another 10, 100, or 1000 years. If we who call ourselves “Christian Warriors” (an apparently dwindling species) would be honest with ourselves, we’d look at the present-day political and social currents swirling around us (and impacting our lives more and more negatively) and extrapolate them to their logical conclusions, thus forcing us to admit that the future for the long term survival of our constitutional liberties looks bleak. Perhaps we need to look at the events of today and ask ourselves: Are they “the shadows of the things that will be?”, as Ebenezer Scrooge asked of the “spirit”, in Dickens’, “A Christmas Carol”. In that timeless 1843 tale, Dickens said, “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” We all recall that the “spirit” then showed old Scrooge his own grave, which prompted him to ask if the future he was being shown could be changed. That’s a question we Americans need to ask ourselves: Can what appears to be inevitable be changed?
Mankind was warned long ago by the Greek philosopher, Plato (ca. 428 B.C.-347 B.C.) that, “The people have always some champion whom they set over them to nurse into greatness. This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs, when he first appears he is a protector.” History is replete with numerous examples of Plato’s wisdom, and should have been heeded by Americans in the early 20th century, when they began to succumb to the siren song of socialism proclaimed by that progressive racist, President Woodrow Wilson and his constitution-despising advisors, who in 1913 allowed the two long-time Marxist goals of a ‘progressive income tax’ and a ‘powerful central bank’ (the Federal Reserve) to become permanent political fixtures in our body politic, thanks to the treachery committed by both political parties back then. The Marxist/progressive goal to expand the power of government has continued unabated since Wilson’s time, and ALL presidents and BOTH political parties have fostered the un-American and anti-Constitutional goal of building and worshipping ‘Big Brother’ government at the expense of our individual states, entities to which our Founders gave most of the political power in our 1787 Constitution and our 1791 Bill of Rights, power which has been slowly but surely usurped from the states by our federal leviathan, thanks to the carelessness and lack of concern exhibited by the American people over the past 100 or more years. “Federalism” as our Founders originally envisioned it, is just about dead in our day. Obviously it was planned that way! If you disbelieve me that’s your problem, not mine.
Each president since Wilson has promised to protect and defend our constitution and our form of government, and each one has violated, to a greater or lesser degree, that oath. Socialist-loving Franklin Roosevelt (CFR) used WW11 as an excuse to grow the federal monster; the corrupt and racist conniver, Lyndon Johnson, used the courts and his kept toadies in Congress to enact laws giving Washington vast new powers over the people; Slick Willy Clinton (CFR) grew the government regularly, as did “Republicans” Bush 41 (CFR) and Bush 43. Even “Saint” Ronald Reagan was only a “sometimes” conservative, being totally controlled and forbidden by his mostly progressive, CFR-dominated cabinet and Vice-President George H. W. Bush to seriously turn away from our headlong rush into the morass of collectivism and huge budgetary deficits. The progressive Marxist known as Barak Obama did his best to “fundamentally change America”, and did a credible job at destroying our constitutional liberties by vastly increasing the disloyal bureaucracy and propelling our federal deficits into the stratosphere.
Even presidents with an “R” after their name have done little to stop the massive growth of government and the never-ending increase in freedom-destroying budget deficits, which in our day is threatening to engulf us in economic catastrophe. So I again ask: Where is our country headed? We had a “Populist/Conservative” for a president for four years, Donald Trump, who was also plagued with huge deficits, who promised to “drain the swamp” in the District of Corruption, but who discovered that the swamp dwellers didn’t like the idea of their “swamp” being drained. The “swamp” arose in all its slimy righteousness and did its best to destroy a President who dared to proclaim that he was going to “always put America first”, which is the LAST thing that the “Deep Staters” and the “Swamp Dwellers” want.
Looking at the sorry record of many of our pubic “servants” in all levels of government, we need to ask ourselves if they are really “servants” (i.e. our employees), or do they masquerade as such when in reality they consider themselves to be our masters? Perhaps we need to recall the wisdom of a great preacher from our colonial past, Reverend Jonathan Mayhew, of Boston (ca. 1770’s), who reminded us, “It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God’s ministers…. When magistrates rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare, they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen”. Seems to me that Rev. Mayhew, who supported our Glorious Revolution against Great Britain, must not have understood Romans 13:1. Or perhaps he did understand what it really teaches, unlike so many of our modern preachers who urge submission to “the State” under virtually all conditions. It goes without saying that I reject that false teaching.
A final thought might be in order. Consider the wisdom of John Bradshaw (1602-1659), who was the British judge who presided over the trial of English King Charles 1, and who sentenced that king to be beheaded in 1649. Bradshaw was the first to proclaim some of the wisest words ever spoken when he said, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”. Tom Jefferson and Ben Franklin used that same sentiment to help foment our American Revolution (the first one). These words are as true today as they were in 1649 and in 1776. There are many ways for a people to rebel against budding or actual tyranny perpetrated by their rulers, some of them peaceful and some otherwise. Only “we, the people”, can decide, and indeed MUST, for tyranny is raising its ugly and dangerous ‘head’ all around us today.
In America of 2022 deceptiveness is the order of the day. It should not be that way in our land. Perhaps all patriots and Christians need to ponder author John Prebble’s words: “All of mankind have received the gift of freedom from our Creator, and we EACH have a duty to defend God’s gift with our lives if that becomes necessary.” Prebble’s truth has been understood and accepted by countless people in the past. Now it is our turn to ask—“Quo Vadis, my dying country?” God has given us the gift of freedom, and it is now up to US to determine how we are going to preserve that gift, or whether or not we’re even going to try to do so!