Spotlight Interview: Cal Thomas on America’s Expiration Date
Cal Thomas is a widely syndicated columnist and political commentator who has worked for various news stations, such as Fox News and KPRC-TV. He is the author of several books including Blinded By Might, What Works, and his latest, America’s Expiration Date.
Transcript (Begins at 21:15):
Carmen LaBerge: If you’ve looked in fridge recently, then you recognize that pretty much everything has an expiration date. Cal Thomas, nationally syndicated columnist, is examining the question of the expiration date of America. That’s right. He’s predicting America’s fall from power and he proposes solutions before it’s too late. The book is America’s Expiration Date and Cal Thomas will be with us next.
Carmen LaBerge: Joining me now is Cal Thomas, you know him as the nation’s most widely syndicated columnist for more than 30 years. He’s joining me today to talk about his latest book, America’s Expiration Date. Cal, welcome to Mornings with Carmen.
Cal Thomas: Thank you, Carmen. Nice to be with you.
Carmen LaBerge: Well, it’s a joy, it’s an absolute joy to talk with you and a great privilege. I’m an admirer of your work for many, many years. I appreciate the way that you help us look at the right things, you help us look at the right things in the right way, from a biblical world view, from a historically accurate perspective, and you’re not just descriptive, you’re also prescriptive. You help us know what to do differently today and tomorrow in order that the things that we don’t like that we see today might be different in the future. I want to thank you for the way in which you address the concerns of the culture.
Cal Thomas: Well, thank you very much, Carmen. I’d like to hire you as my agent.
Carmen LaBerge: Everybody’s for sale, so there you go. No, no, not really. I love what I do. I totally love what I do. Talk with us about America’s Expiration Date. I can look in my refrigerator, I see a date stamped on everything in there, I try to keep up with that. Nations rise and fall, that’s the historic acknowledgment of the book. The United States of America has a 1776 start date, print date, establishment date, and then a dash and you’re saying there’s an end date in sight unless we start doing things differently.
Cal Thomas: Well, I’m not a prophet and I don’t walk around with a sandwich board and a long beard in that old cartoon that says, “The end is near,” but you’re right. If you look at these empires and superpowers, as I do in the book, they all follow the same pattern toward decline and destruction. The one thing that never changes, Carmen, is human nature. You can change modes of transportation from horses and carts to airplanes, trains, and automobiles, you can change hairstyles and clothes, but you can’t change human nature. I think without an understanding of human nature, the best of which we get through the Scriptures, then we are in danger of losing this country that our forebearers established and sacrificed so much in order to give us the liberty that we enjoy.
Cal Thomas: This book was inspired by an essay by the late British diplomat, Sir John Glubb, who studied several thousand years of human history and found this pattern that the average empire and superpower lasts only 250 years. Now, there are a few exceptions. The Roman Empire, for example, is the most obvious, but even that followed the same pattern to destruction as all the others. The last stage before collapse, Sir John described as decadence. He defined that as uncontrolled immigration without assimilation, massive national debt, we’re at 26 trillion and counting, and neither side, neither politicians from either side want to slow it down, much less reverse it, and military overreach, too many troupes in too many countries, unable to keep up with the cost. I just fear that we’re on that same path right now and most especially, we need a moral and spiritual revival. We now tolerate everything except God.
Carmen LaBerge: I have a hundred directions that we could go. Let’s do this. You offer this incredible diagnosis and I’m feeling like the things that you are saying in your book, I’m also hearing from guys like Os Guinness and Ross Douthat. I’m hearing what you are saying. I guess I’m concerned, Cal, that not enough people are not only hearing what you’re saying, but then having heard the diagnosis and the prognosis, actually then taking the substantive steps necessary not just to survive, right, I mean survival would be one thing, but to actually then thrive.
Cal Thomas: Yes. Well, I think one of the things that each of us can do, I remember something Barbara Bush said years ago, “Our success as a nation, your success as a family, depends less on what happens in the White House and more on what happens in your house.” I think we have to reclaim the next generation and that’s going to require us to put our children in schools, whether it be primary, secondary, or especially universities, that don’t undermine the faith, the history, the values of their parents. This is so obvious to me. We don’t send our troupes to enemy nations or to ISIS to be trained. We train them here at home with our own ideology and with our own weapons, but we willingly send our children into these reeducation camps that dissect their faith and they come back as intellectual and moral zombies that their parents don’t even represent. We’re two generations away now. Our kids and grandchildren have been propagandized by these institutions and we’ve got to get them out and don’t send them there in the first place, so that’s one way.
Cal Thomas: The other things is neither party is going to save us. Now, we all have our preferences for president and congress, but that’s not the problem. The problems are not economic and political, although there are problems along those lines, the problem is moral and spiritual. Paul writes in Romans 8 that, “God has built futility, futility into his creation in hope that the creation will turn to him.” Now who has faith in any political party or in the political system to rescue us from our collective difficulties and problems? I certainly don’t and I was born in Washington DC and I’ve lived there most of my life. I’ve observed this up close and from afar and I don’t have any faith in politician. I think God is bringing us to the end to say, okay, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” There’s a crossroads; you better take the right road, or you’re done.
Carmen LaBerge: I’m talking with Cal Thomas, you know him as just a prolific syndicated columnist. He’s also written many books, the latest of which is America’s Expiration Date. We’re talking about how nations rise and… well, in particular how they fall. What happens when you come to the end of a national story and what you might be able to do before you come to that end in terms of a reversal, a redemption, a redemptive narrative, that’s what we’re looking for here. We are talking about moral and spiritual revival, and yes, a part of that would then be political revival.
Carmen LaBerge: Cal, let’s make a few of those parallels that you make in the book. You talk about these once great empires that now no longer exist, only in the dustbin of history. Tell us what some of the constants are across time.
Cal Thomas: Well, I do think there’s so many warnings, so I mean, in Scripture, Moses warned what happens to people who forget God. Jesus warned about it. Paul warned about it. I mean, if you look into even American history and contemporary history, Abraham Lincoln said the major cause of the Civil War was that we forgot God. We forgot that hand that graciously preserved us and vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our own hearts that all of these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom of our own.
Cal Thomas: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who is as much of a modern prophet as there ever was, came and spoke at Harvard about the decline and decadence of the West. Harvard hated it. The New York Times railed against him for making such a speech, but it’s true. I mean, if you forget God, you forget everything. You forget the purpose for living. Everybody has to have a transcended reason for living beyond getting up in the morning, going to work, making money, buying stuff. What kind of a life is that? I mean, it’s only three score and 10 average, a little more for some of us, a little less for others, but we have no focus on eternity anymore.
Cal Thomas: For the Christian community, there’s so many biblical illiterates out there. If you look at some of the surveys by Barna and others, there are people who believe… who go to church every Sunday who think that God helps those who help themselves is in the Bible. There are people who just don’t want to engage the culture with the truth that is Scripture and the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, who didn’t come to establish a religion, but came to reestablish a broken relationship. I think that’s the thing that we’ve turned away from.
Cal Thomas: CS Lewis warned against prosperity. Prosperity leads to contentment and contentment leads to a loss of a sense of a need of God in our lives, so I think we’re at the point, as they were in 1857, our last major revival, where we need to gather together and pray to honor God, not to honor ourselves, not to hope the stock market goes up, to confess our national sins and our individual sins and to ask God to send a revival. I believe we’re at the stage that that is the only thing that can save us. You look at the riots in the streets, the anarchists, the seditionists, this is something that is indicative of where we are morally and spiritually in this country in my view.
Carmen LaBerge: Cal Thomas and I are going to continue this conversation in just a moment. I do want to tell you I have copies of the book available if you are interested in entering the drawing for one of the copies that we have here in studio of America’s Expiration Date. Just text the word book to 877-933-2484. Text the word book to 877-933-2484. Cal and I will be right back. (singing)
Carmen LaBerge: Continuing my conversation with Cal Thomas about his new book, America’s Expiration Date. Cal, when you think about what is behind, not just here in the United States of America, but what is behind historically, because you’re just far more astute student of history than most of us. When you look back and then you look forward, what do you see?
Cal Thomas: Well, in the Scripture Jesus said, “Nation will rise against nation.” Isaiah talks about God regards all nations as a drop in the bucket and less than nothing, which ought to be humbling to all of us. I think there has been a trend, especially in the United States, in a certain wing of evangelicalism, to baptize the past and to look back to founders, some of who were deists and free-thinkers, other who were solid believers, and to think that somehow the United States is uniquely preserved from following the root of other nations in history that turned away from God. Yes, we have a lot of churches in America, yes, we have a lot of believers in America, but if you look at the trend, as I said earlier, about national debt, about 20% of millennials, according to the Pew Research Center, no longer believe in God or didn’t in the first place. There’s just a coarseness and a spiritual drought in this country. I think that’s a common denominator, as Sir John Glubb wrote in his essay, which was the inspiration for the book, in many, many other nations.
Cal Thomas: You look at Persia, you look at the Byzantine Empire, you look at even in more modern times, the United Kingdom, which used to be said the British Empire, it was something on which the sun never set. They dominated most of the world, but they were guilty of overreach as well and now they’ve become a largely secular country, a shadow of their former self. When Jesus stood before Pilot and Pilot says, “Are you a king then?” Jesus replied, “Yes, but my kingdom is not of this world.” I think that is such a profound statement. So many people put their faith in the kingdom and kingdoms that are of this world, hoping and praying that somehow if we just elect the right people, we’re going to get trickle down morality and all kinds of other good things from fellow sinners in Washington. It’s just not going to happen. It isn’t going to happen.
Cal Thomas: God has brought us to this place, I think, where… Billy Graham used to say, “We’re not at a crossroads as some say. We’re a long way down the wrong road and need to come back to the crossroads and take the right road.” I think that’s true, not only for the United States in 2020, it’s also true for every nation that has preceded us on earth.
Carmen LaBerge: Give us something tangible that literally each and every one of us could do, everyday Americans, to prevent our country’s expiration date?
Cal Thomas: Well, I don’t know if we can prevent it or not. I mean, it’s pretty well down that road, but I can tell you that how many times have we said when confronted with a seemingly impossible situation, “All I can do is pray.” All you can do is pray? All you can do is speak to the Creator of the universe who has the whole world and everything in it in His hands and you leave that last? Prayer should not be a last resort, it ought to be a first resource. It humbles our self before God and we’re told in Scripture that God regards humility as one, if not the highest character quality in his creation. When you humble yourself before God, when you empty yourself of yourself, when you call upon his name, when you seek revival for His glory and not your own, and not your own benefit… Solomon asked for wisdom and God said, “Because you asked for wisdom and you didn’t ask for great wealth, long life, or the destruction of your enemies, I’m going to give you wisdom like no one has ever had before and no one ever will have, and I’ll also give you a long life and riches.” That’s the priority.
Cal Thomas: When we glorify God and then we put our children and grandchildren in the kinds of schools and surroundings that teach them of the love of God and that integrate the truth of scripture with science and all of these other disciplines, then we produce a well-rounded child who is able to take on and face the decaying culture of the world. I don’t know how much longer America’s going to last. On July 4, 2026, we’ll be 250 years old, the average length, Sir John Glubb wrote, of most superpowers and nations. I don’t know if we’ll be destroyed by that date, but I know if we’re not interested in turning this direction in which we’re headed around, we’re going to be a lot closer to it.
Carmen LaBerge: July 4, 2026 doesn’t sound that far away. I mean, it just doesn’t.
Cal Thomas: Six years.
Carmen LaBerge: All right, so Cal, when you… Yeah. When you think about six years, there’s just a lot of people who… they’re not even sure they can think six months out right now. Life is complex, everything is controversial, it seems like every direction we look there’re just problems on every front. I see a lot of people just isolating. Not just isolating because of coronavirus, but literally they’re just disengaging in every way. Could you invite a reengagement by my Christian brothers and sisters who are listening right now, a reengagement in order that this prescription might not just be pushing off, but potentially inviting real moral and spiritual revival in the United States of America?
Cal Thomas: Well, look, God has a will and He also has a way. If we think that the political system or confronting non-believers, the natural man doesn’t understand the things of the spirit. If you were a believer and you go out and you try to tell a pagan we shouldn’t have abortion, God decided that marriage ought to be between a man and a woman, and you argue about transgenderism and all of these other things, they’re not going to be persuaded. I used to debate people all the time on television, who are not believers, about these things. They were never persuaded by my point of view because they didn’t know the Lord, but those I’ve led to Christ then had a different world view.
Cal Thomas: I’ll tell you a story about my long-time friend, Bob Beckel, who I had the privilege of leading to Christ a number of years ago. He was a pro-choicer on abortion, a number of other things, and he used to do fundraisers every year for Kate Michelman and NARAL, National Abortion Rights Action League. After he came to Christ, she called him and said, “What are you going to do for us this year, Bob?” He said, “I can’t do it anymore, Kate.” She said, “Why not? Did Cal get to you?” He said, “No, Jesus did.” You see, that makes the difference and that’s the only difference. I’ve never argued anyone to accept my point of view on the economy, on social issues, or anything else, but those I’ve led to Christ and others who I’ve seen born again, then are transformed by the renewing of their minds.
Cal Thomas: The biggest and most powerful thing we can do is be more effective witnesses for Jesus by following his instructions, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, care for widows and orphans, visit those in prison, clothe the naked, feed the hungry. How many pagans see this when they consider what it means to be a follower of Jesus? Then the education thing I mentioned earlier. We’ve got to get our kids out of these reeducation camps that teach them they evolve from slime and their nearest relative is down at the zoo and that’s why they like bananas on their cereal. That’s just not going to cut it for followers of Christ and all the excuses about, “Well, this is a private school. In home school, there’s no football program,” well, there’s nothing in Scripture about sports other than running the race that Paul uses as an analogy.
Cal Thomas: There’s plenty we can do, but most of all, God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Small things widows mite, all of that. Focus on him.
Carmen LaBerge: I love it. All right, prayer, evangelism on the conversion, discipleship, including education, leading to moral and spiritual revival and the thriving of the nation in which we live, bringing the principles of the king and the kingdom to bear, amidst the kingdoms of this world, that is Cal Thomas’ prescription really for dealing with America’s looming expiration date. Thank you so much for joining us today on Mornings with Carmen. If you’re interested in entering a drawing for the book, text the word book to 877-933-2484. Cal Thomas, thank you so much.
Cal Thomas: Thanks, Carmen.
Carmen LaBerge: We’ll see you guys tomorrow. Thanks for listening to this podcast of Morning’s with Carmen LaBerge from Faith Radio. If you haven’t, you can subscribe to automatically receive the podcast through iTunes or the Google Play music app. That way you never miss an episode. It’s also available any time at MyFaithRadio.com.