Zero Hour America

(Preaching Outline)

1)      The title of this message comes from the book by Os Guinness’ with the same title.  There are three reasons for this:

a)      I believe the message of his book is prophetic for America in this hour.

b)      We have 2 weeks left in our Foundations of Biblical Transformation class and will continue meeting on Tuesdays to explore the future of liberty in America using this book.

c)      One of the challenges of Christianity in our time is relearning how to wrestle with the problems facing people, communities, and nations in light of the truth of the gospel and God’s word to bring the salvation available in Jesus to the world. That is what Os Guiness does in Zero Hour America.

2)      The prophetic pronouncements in the end and the beginning of the book:

a)      Americans, the window of your opportunity is brief. The present moment is a moment for the ages and a moment that must not be missed. You stand before the bar of history, and history’s ultimatum is before you. Do you wish to continue free, and are you prepared to do what freedom itself requires of you? The time for your choice about freedom, freedom’s requirements, and your future is now. Choose wisely, and you and those who come after you may live long and well. Choose wrongly, and your decline is sure and self-chosen. Drift on and make no choice, if you like, but remember that no choice is a choice too and a bad choice. Freedom and freedom’s responsibility mean that both the choice and the consequences are yours. America, the present moment is your zero hour. The way to go forward best is to go back first. The time for your decisive choice is now. For God’s sake, for history’s sake, and for your children’s sake, choose life and choose freedom. And choose with no further delay. Your zero hour is upon you.[1]

b)      Howl for the way the fabled “land of the free” has turned its back on what made it free and is pursuing phantoms that lead to decline and ruin. Howl for how America has come to be what the world sees today—a world superpower still, wealthy, prosperous, and powerful but unrecognizable in terms of the ideals of its past and stumbling leaderless from one blunder to another. Howl for the way America is blindly ignoring its day of reckoning and opting for its own decline, careless about what it would take to avert it. Howl for the way a society fostering so much hate between its citizens appears to be yearning for its own destruction.[2]

3)      Os Guiness and the prophetic tradition

a)      Prophecy is God speaking to men, through men.

b)      Why I love Os – a man with a prophetic passion.

c)      When prophets hear and proclaim and people respond, there is hope:

d)      The influence of the Hebrew prophets, for example, has done far more to combat injustice than all the Hebrew kings combined. The same is true of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. They had neither formal authority nor powerful positions, yet their influence for freedom and justice has outstripped the work of almost all the American presidents and Supreme Court justices. This take-responsibility character of leadership is the reason why a free society flourishes when there is leadership in every sphere and at every level, not only at the top.[3]

e)      Prophecy vs. Prediction – Rabbi Sacks states the crucial difference clearly in his Studies in Spirituality: Hence there is a fundamental difference between a prophecy and a prediction. If a prediction comes true it has succeeded. If a prophecy comes true, it has failed. A prophet delivers not a prediction but a warning. He or she does not simply say, “This will happen,” but rather, “This will happen unless you change.” The prophet speaks to human freedom, not to the inevitability of fate.[4]

f)       One of Os’ prophetic challenges:  My claim is simply that faith in God provides a foundation for freedom and for free societies that is rational, solid, and deserves fair consideration. Indeed, no other social and political vision or model comes close. But of course, exploring and weighing such claims and putting them to the test in real life is a central task of our time.[5]

4)      A battle of ideas

a)      A recent discussion about the future of America and the war of ideas.

b)      America is a nation by intention and by ideas, and those ideas and ideals must be passed on without fail if freedom is to survive. The American economy may be powerful, and the American military is certainly formidable, but American greatness does not lie there. To make America great again lies in cultivating ideas and ideals, and that is where the torch of freedom must be kept burning brightly.[6]

c)      Exodus 20:1–2 (ESV) — 1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

d)      Deuteronomy 30:15–16 (ESV) — 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

5)      Another of the ideas Os wrestles with is the atonement and the future of America:

a)      From a guilt culture to a shame culture – the doer and the deed.

b)      Fifth and finally, there can be reconciliation and restoration. The wrong that divided two people, or a family or a nation, is cleared away. Through genuine atonement enemies can become friends, and when truth and trust are restored, freedom can flourish once more. “Who is a hero?” the Jewish sages asked, knowing the traditional answer was “One who defeats his enemies.” Their answer was more powerful still, made possible by atonement. “Who is a hero? One who turns an enemy into a friend.” Or as Lincoln once replied to a bystander, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”[7]

c)      Ephesians 2:11–16 (ESV) — 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

6)      Zero Hour America!

a)      Joshua 24:14–15 (ESV) — 14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

b)      The future of America and hope – reconciled relationships.

c)      The opportunity for a great reconciliation and the brightest light in America’s history

d)      Backup plan – sow the seed in the next generation to resurrect liberty and justice for all.

Additional Quotes

America after two and a half centuries has grown into a wealthy, elitist, technocratic, bureaucratic, and corporatist world power that alternately suppresses and squanders freedom with a prodigal carelessness that defies all reason—and despite all this still seems largely unaware of the deadliest peril it faces.[8]

Americans must be in no doubt: neither freedom nor the faith that made freedom possible have let you down. You Americans have let down both faith and freedom, and it will be your tragedy if you blame the wrong sources, resort to false answers, and undermine faith and freedom with consequences that become irreversible. For one thing is certain and becoming clearer to more and more people by the day: the radical left, the progressives, and the explosive arsenal of their protests and policies are as decisive a secession from the ideas and ideals of the American republic as the Southern states were from the Union in the Civil War.[9]

In the nineteenth century Søren Kierkegaard famously announced his ambition to “reintroduce Christianity into Christendom.” Even at this late hour, it is urgent for Americans to reintroduce the first principles of freedom into the land of the free—to proclaim what those first principles are and to join hands with all those around the world who are striving to resist tyranny and to build their own free communities regardless of what happens to freedom in the one-time, self-proclaimed “empire of liberty.”[10]

For anyone who understands freedom, it is simply inescapable that freedom requires truth, a shared sense of truth, and therefore trustworthiness and trust.[11]

In short, when truth dies, all that is left is lies, delusion, and force, and when truth and words break down, abuse, violence, and authoritarianism are at the door. Mr. President, Madam Speaker, Members of the House and Senate, owners and editors of the mainstream press and media, and executives of Google and Facebook, consider your ways. The great American experiment cannot survive your carelessness, your delinquency, or your plain mendacity.[12]

Without a solid grasp of truth, an accepted notion of right and wrong, and the implicit commitment of the use of words, the core bonding of all American relationships is eroding.[13]

Without truth there is only power (a.k.a. force), and for those with no power, there is no right and no rights. The same blunt conclusion becomes plastered all over America at point after point: without truth there can be no freedom.[14]

In sum, America is a covenantal-constitutional republic in name only, and the citizenship a republic requires is becoming a relic of the past.[15]

Earlier, I had lived my first ten years in China—in a war in which seventeen million were killed in an invasion, in a famine in which five million died in three months (including my two brothers), in a city that experienced the most brutal massacre of the twentieth century (the rape of Nanking), and in a reign of terror that was an overture to a revolution that may have killed up to seventy-five million people (the Chinese revolution in 1949 under Mao Zedong). For any who have witnessed such realities, the experience inoculates the mind against falling for any facile revolutionary promise to change the world through political action. Indeed, the memory underscores the warning that runs through this book: the revolutions of the left never succeed, and their oppression never ends.[16]

The radical left is the child of neo-Marxism or cultural Marxism. It claims to be a revolutionary liberationism that sets free all who are victimized, marginalized, and oppressed. Following the French philosophes Voltaire and Diderot and their animosity toward God and the church, the radical left is militantly hostile to faith in God. And following Nietzsche and the philosophy of postmodernism, the radical left is post-truth and opposed to such notions as truth, objective reality, and moral knowledge. Thus, without either God or truth the sole remaining principle of the radical left is power, and all that it does in analyzing and confronting evils and injustices is couched in terms of power.[17]

First, the radical left analyzes social and political discourse or how a society or nation speaks about what it takes for granted as real and good. It aims to look for what the society considers the majority view and the minority view and above all who are the oppressors and who are the oppressed or victims. This analysis is called “critical theory” and is undertaken by “social justice scholars.” Critical theory has many branches, such as critical women studies, critical race studies, critical queer studies, and so on. Second, the radical left or “social justice warriors” weaponizes the victims and uses them to attack, subvert, and overthrow the status quo in the name of liberation and revolution. The radical left in America is a form of cultural Marxism rather than classical Marxism or communism in that its tactics engage the cultural gatekeepers of society rather than radicalizing the proletariat and working to foment an industrial strike. But its endgame is the same: subversion and revolution.[18]

The other inescapable feature of the radical left is unsurprising: authoritarianism. In setting up a conflict with no operating principles except power, the result can only be a conflict without end or what the Romans called “the peace of despotism.” If power is the be-all and end-all in the conflict, only one peaceful outcome is possible—Caesarism, Big Brother, brownshirts, the jackboot, and the iron heel. There can only be peace when a power emerges that is victorious and unrivaled, a power so strong that it can put down all other powers. In short, the outcome of the revolutionary struggles of the radical left, whether classical or cultural Marxism, is the end of freedom and authoritarianism’s encore. This outcome is no accident but the logical implication of the principles by which the radical left operates.[19]

In his monumental survey of history, Social and Cultural Dynamics, he described what the radical left represented. Champions of freedom and justice? The vanguard of the future of humanity? No. No. No. “These mobs and their leaders are the vultures that appear when the social and cultural body is decomposing. Their eternal historical function is to pull it to pieces, and thus, though involuntarily, to clear the ground for a new life. Creation is not given to them.” Liberals who view the radical left as liberals with an excess of energy, who condone the riots as “peaceful protests,” and who plaster their walls with Black Lives Matter slogans as a surrogate to cover their inactivism are in for a nasty surprise. In seeking to right America’s wrongs, the victory of the radical left would rule out American freedom and democracy altogether.[20]

First, truth must be addressed to power in confronting the evils, abuses, and hypocrisies. Under God there are three vital standards by which to assess and confront wrongs: the dignity and worth of humans made in the image and likeness of God, the objectivity of truth as the reality of reality, and the power of words both to create worlds and destroy worlds.[21]

All this is possible because Yom Kippur and Good Friday point us to the answer—God’s free forgiveness for the wrong when we repent and confess to him. In other words, as we experience atonement and reconciliation with God ourselves, we can strive for atonement and reconciliation between others. “The problem of the world is me,” but we can forgive because we have been forgiven, so we can be agents of reconciliation in our turn. We can become the change we would like to see in the world, without condescension and without self-righteousness, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and overreaction.[22]

Is it any accident that those most outraged by the horrors of chattel slavery and the lynchings of the Jim Crow era are the loudest voices calling for justice as reparation in one form or another? With every fiber of their being they know that suffering people have paid a terrible price and somehow an equal price must be paid in return. To which the Bible agrees again, but it points to a judgment and a sacrifice more than equal to the evil it atones for. There is forgiveness for the vilest and the worst because of the sacrifice of the best. There is mercy for the least of us because of the death of the greatest. One who was innocent paid the price by giving up his life for the guilty that we might be forgiven and go free.[23]

After more than four hundred years of slavery, they were going free. Yet remarkably, the rabbis point out, Moses did not mention freedom. Nor did he refer to the long-promised land, the land of milk and honey they were going to. Instead, three times Moses talked of children. The stories they were urged to tell their children would be the key to their identity and continuity as a people. [24]


[1] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 192-193). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 3). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[3] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 84-85). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[4] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America: History’s Ultimatum over Freedom and the Answer We Must Give (p. 184). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[5] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 65-66). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[6] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 151). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[7] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 139-140). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[8] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 5). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[9] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 8). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[10] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 11). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[11] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 33). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[12] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 40-41). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[13] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 41). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[14] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 44). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[15] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 114). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[16] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 123-124). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[17] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 132). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[18] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 133). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[19] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 134-135). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[20] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 135-136). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[21] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 137). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[22] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 141-142). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[23] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (pp. 142-143). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

[24] Guinness, Os. Zero Hour America (p. 150). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

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