The world seems morally directionless. Dr. Robert Foote of Cornell, in his testimony before the federal Ethics Advisory Board on in vitro fertilization, opened with the following statement: “In some of this research, I am reminded of a story where the pilot came on and said, ‘This is your captain speaking. We are flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet and the speed of 700 miles an hour. We have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that we are lost. The good news is that we are making excellent time.’”[1]

A study by the Josephson Institute for the Advancement of Ethics concludes that today’s younger generation is “less anchored in bedrock ethical values than any other. . . . An unprecedented proportion of today’s youth lack commitment to core moral values like honesty, personal responsibility, respect for others and civic duty.”[2] The moral world has changed. In the first half of the twentieth century, moral choices were of the standard black and white variety. The Nazis were evil, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, so were the Japanese. Consider that today, many object to the notion that there is an “axis of evil.” On June 18, 1940, Winston Churchill said, “The Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization.”[3] Not just the survival of civilization, but the survival of Christian civilization.

Neither religious nor moral pluralism was an option, especially when the Nazis were bombing your cities and wanted you dead or enslaved. Self-professed Christian nations like Great Britain and the United States believed they had right on their side. There was the belief that it was a moral duty to destroy manifestations of evil: “In a mid-Atlantic summit with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the darkest hours of World War II, President Roosevelt—who had described the United States as ‘the lasting concord between men and nations, founded on the principles of Christianity’—asked the crew of an American warship to join him in a rousing chorus of the hymn ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers.’”[4] No one argued with them.

After World War II, Communism was the new ideological enemy. It was officially atheistic, and so were its laws. How could an atheistic government be trusted? They did not have the same respect for law that Christian nations did. Life was cheap. Treaties were scraps of paper. The Soviet Union was an “evil empire.” Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) understood this. In a speech to The National Association of Evangelicals, given on March 8, 1983, he said:

There is sin and evil in the world, and we’re enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might. I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil. Whittaker Chambers[5] . . . wrote that the crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which the West is indifferent to God, the degree to which it collaborates in communism’s attempt to make man stand alone without God. And then he said, for Marxism-Leninism is actually the second-oldest faith, first proclaimed in the Garden of Eden with the words of temptation, “Ye shall be as gods.” The Western world can answer this challenge, he wrote, “but only provided that its faith in God and the freedom He enjoins is as great as communism’s faith in Man.”

It was these views that led many intellectuals to conclude that Reagan’s worldview was simplistic, naive, and hopelessly outdated. The Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall fell without a shot being fired. There is such a thing as evil in the world.


[1] Quoted in John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004), 13. [2] ”Researcher sees dawning of the Age of Amorality,” Atlanta Journal (October 11, 1990), D‑3. [3] Quoted in John Baillie, What is Christian Civilization? (London: Oxford University Press, 1945), 5. [4] Larry Witham, “‘Christian Nation’ Now Fighting Words,” The Washington Times (November 23, 1992), A1. [5] A former Communist who testified that there were Communists holding highly sensitive government jobs. Chambers testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and named Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy. Best known for his book Witness (New York: Random House, 1952) from which Reagan drew his references.