The Next 100 Years
July 28th, 1968 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-28-68 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the evening message. It is entitled The Next One Hundred Years. As all of us know who are in this great auditorium and as many of you know who are listening on the radio, today has been the centennial celebration of our dear church. Today we are one hundred years old. And after today we begin our second century with Christ.
What will that century be like? As we look ahead, what shall we see? It is right for us to look ahead. In God’s Book the disciples came to Jesus as He sat upon the Mount of Olives and they asked Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?" [Matthew 24:4]. And the Lord did not disdain or scorn those questions. One of the most extensive of the passages in the Bible is the apocalyptic discourse of Jesus as He answered those questions.
You have a like revelation of the future in the concluding consummating book of the Bible. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and sign-i-fied them, sīgnified them" [Revelation 1:1]. When the word sign-i-fied is pronounced in our language it comes out signified. "And He sent and sign-i-fied it by His angel unto His servant John" [Revelation 1:1]. Then the command was given to the apostle to "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter" [Revelation 1:19], then unfolded the panorama of the consummation of the age.
It is a gift of God to man to scan the future and in many instances, in marvelous ways to reveal that future to the man. An animal may have an instinct to gather food for wintertime, but it is the image of God in a man that makes him look forward and outward and onward into the days that lie ahead.
I have read eclogues in Virgil that sounded like Isaiah as he predicted the coming of a wonderful child. I have copied here for us this evening a passage out of "Locksley Hall" written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the poet laureate of England. He died in 1892, long before there were airplanes and long before there were navies of bombers plowing through the airways of the sky. Yet listen to this prophecy of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Men, my brother men, the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest, but a promise, of the things that they yet shall do:
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down their costly bales;
Now that’s in 1892, seeing this vast commercial traffic through the skies. Then the ghastliness of its prospect.
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue;
Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro’ the thunder-storm;
Then finally a hope.
Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d
In the Parliament of man, and the Federation of the world.
[from "Locksley Hall," Alfred, Lord Tennyson]
I just took that little passage just to illustrate how it is the image of God in a man to scan and to some extent be able to know the future.
Now, the sermon tonight, The Next One Hundred Years, will not follow the pattern as I have preached so much and so many times, following through the apocalyptic discourses of our Lord, following through the great Apocalypse, the unveiling in the Revelation. For those discourses pertain to the end of the age, the end of the world.
So without the guidance of God’s Book as I speak and out of a multitude of things to say, I’ve chosen just two. Without the guidance of holy inspiration and revelation, I have to speak as a Christian minister, and in my reading things that I think that I see and some of which are prognosticated by officials and research artists of great confidence and assurance. Now I am going to take one and follow it down to our church. Then I am going to take one other and follow it down to our church. In both instances, both times will end in an appeal to our people.
First, I shall speak in the next one hundred years, I shall speak of life in America. The population in America will vastly increase. There are now something like two hundred million people who live in America. By about 2000, which is in a geologic flash immediately upon us, in the year 2000 we will number between three hundred and three hundred fifty million people. And by one hundred years from now there will doubtless be one half billion people who live in the United States of America.
And in that vast population, eighty percent and more will live in great cities. Four of those cities will comprise megalopolitan areas. One will be in California above San Francisco down to the border. Another, a second will be south of the Great Lakes. A third will be the Atlantic seaboard from above Boston down beyond Philadelphia. And the fourth will be the eastern coast of Florida where Billy Bob is minister of music and education.
But besides those four megapolises there will also be other vast cities, one of which will be the Dallas, Ft. Worth, Waco, Austin, San Antonio complex. The other one in Texas will be on all both sides from Corpus Christi to Orange including Houston and Beaumont in South Texas. Within this next one hundred years this exploding population will be found mostly in those vast teeming cities, one of which doubtless will be the largest city in the world.
Another thing about the next one hundred years and our life, the traffic, moving, travel, will take on an interplanetary complex. We have barely touched the hem of the garment in ability to move people and things. Within a hundred years there will be shuttle busses going to the moon. And how much beyond and beside I do not know. But you can buy a trip to the moon and back before this hundred years is out.
There will be sky busses everywhere, and the travel will be cheap. The whole world will belong to the jet set. Go out there, get on a sky bus, be in London, be in Hong Kong, be in Rio in a matter of minutes. There may come a time when people are placed in a capsule and shot within a few minutes anywhere in the earth. Just sit down and boom goes the cannon, and there you are.
And without doubt there will be tremendous highways from coast to coast and from border to border. And you can get on those highways in your individual vehicles that may be powered by atomic energy. And you will be guided and directed automatically. You just get in the vehicle and down those super highways you go, within the next one hundred years.
What shall we work at and what shall we do in the next one hundred years? Every government statistician says that within a hundred years we shall not work more than about fifteen hours a week. Every governmental statistician will say that half of the jobs at which men will be working ten years from now are not even in existence now. There will be such technological advances that men will be doing things and building machines that now they haven’t even dreamed of.
And that brings me to the church. For in the leisure time of America and in the decimation of the work week there is also the decimation of human character and the tremendous secularization of the human soul.
As we face apparently an inevitable process that is taking place in America, we hardly know the extent of the socialization of our native land. Can you imagine Hubert Humphrey, the founder of the ADA being looked upon as a moderate and as a conservative today? America is swinging so far to the left until these men who one time were far out to the left are now looked upon as being moderately conservative.
America is drifting into socialism. And as I look ahead I do it with great trepidation and foreboding. Now, I am not a politician, and I never intend to take this pulpit and use it for political purposes. But I have a comment to make out of a leaf in my own life. And then I have an address to make to our church in this category.
What happens to a country that moves into socialism? I visited Sweden and Sweden is a socialist country, not a communist country, it is a socialist country. And while I was there I was the guest of one of the finest Christian men I ever saw. And he had married an American girl. She was a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. They were devout people. He was a senator in the parliament of Sweden and one of their most respected and reverenced leaders.
And he said to me, he said, "I believe that Sweden owes every man born in Sweden a living, a guaranteed annual wage. Whether the man works or not is immaterial. Whether a man contributes or not, whether a man labors or not," he said to me, and he expressed it emphatically, "just by virtue of the fact that he is born a citizen in Sweden we owe him an annual wage."
What is the result of a socialization of a nation like that? As I say I haven’t time to expatiate, but I will give you one instance. And it was impressive to me because while I was in Stockholm I went around with an American engineer. If you want to marry in Sweden you must put your name on a waiting list, and maybe in ten or fifteen years you will find an apartment and a place to live. Maybe in ten or fifteen years. That’s one of the things, may I say aside, that contributes to the unbelievable immorality of a nation like that.
Now may I continue? As I walked through the streets of Stockholm with that American engineer and we were talking about what we had just discovered; that if a couple wishes to marry they must put their name on a list and maybe in ten to fifteen years they would find an apartment house, an apartment place, the American engineer said to me, "If they would just turn me loose I could build more apartments over here than there are citizens in Sweden to fill them up"; free enterprise. I am just pointing out to you that as we socialize our nation and as people work less, and less, and less, and as the government subsidizes laziness and lack of dedication and work, you are going to find want and need increasing, and increasing, and increasing, and increasing, and increasing, for it is God’s order according to the Book that men shall work [2 Thessalonians 3:10], and the most deteriorating of all of the influences in human life is to live without work.
And when America comes to the place where people live off of the largess of the government and we are all on welfare and live off the state, you are going to find what you find now, trying to get somebody to do anything, and you can’t get anybody to do anything; you are going to find that increased one hundred times. Why should I work? The government will support me. That socialization of America is increasing, and increasing, and increasing, and increasing. And it is a debilitating influence.
Now I come to the brief word of our church. For I have another one of these to follow down. As we face the future in this next one hundred years, if there is the progression that we now see in American life, people not working, people not dedicated to creating something, people not doing and increasingly, increasingly doing less and less and less and less, you are going to have a disintegration of the human soul and the human spirit such as destroyed Rome and the Roman Empire.
Ah, how the church must measure up in its appeal to people, men, women, youngsters for God and all of the virtues and all of the marvelous programming that God has for us in this world. When I get something for nothing I am therein hurt just that much. But when I labor and work and it comes as a reward, what I have done, I am strengthened. My soul is full of encouragement and optimism for the future. I ought to work. God made it that way. And our people ought to work. And our people ought to give themselves to those great holy virtues that are so marvelously presented in the Christian faith. As the days come more and more and more, and yet more and more and more are we going to need the church and its message calling men to a dedication to God.
Now stay with me. I have another one to follow through. I wish I could speak far more in detail about some of the things that I would like to say. We are going to follow through the increase in learning, the machine, the man and the machine.
The first time that I was ever introduced to what a modern machine could do, the computerization of this age; this coming presidential election is going to be the most vastly computerized political public event the world has ever known. Before anything happens you are going to have it all fed into a computer and the results already published. Everything computerized.
The first time I was ever introduced to that was by Mr. Clare Zachary who was president of the Southern Union Gas Company, whose home offices were in our Burt building before we bought the Burt building. They have all New Mexico, they have cities like Austin and El Paso and Orange, where they are the public utilities selling gas. And each one of those subscribers gets a card, a bill. And on that bill is the date, and then the meter reading, how many meters of cubic feet of gas that they use, and then how much that cost and then how much it would cost if they paid it by such and such date, and then a final total there. Well, if you were to figure that out one at a time I don’t know how long it would take you to figure it out, how much each one of those bills would come to. The address, the date, the cubic feet, how much it comes to, how much it will be if you pay it by such and such date is all on that card.
I went over there and he had a machine. It’s the first time I had ever saw anything like this, and that machine was taking those cards and figuring out every one of those bills this way, brrrr! Brrrrr! Just like that. I couldn’t believe my ears. The day in which we live, it is a day of an unbelievable fantastic increase in knowledge!
When God said to Adam, "Subdue the world and all that is in it" [Genesis 1:28], he never had any idea of the depths, of the depths and the heights of that mandate. For when Adam looked at an apple, he just saw an apple. Or when Adam looked at a donkey, he just saw a donkey. The world was the world of visual outward reality. It took thousands of generations before the descendants of old man Adam began to look at the inside of that world that God commanded him to dominate. An apple is not just an apple. It is enzymes, and proteins, and carbohydrates, and acids, and processes and I don’t know what all else. And a donkey, a lowly donkey, an apple is a simple thing compared to the systems on the inside of the systems of the systems of the systems of the systems that you can find in a donkey.
Did you know that every year now there are published two hundred fifty million pages of scientific research? Two hundred fifty million pages. The man would find himself bogged down, absolutely beyond ability to comprehend any section of his field of study had it not been for the most marvelous invention since the dawn of creation, and that invention is the computer. And we are just now beginning to touch the hem of the garment of this electronic computerized age, for the computer seemingly is infinite in its ability to keep, and to store, and to relate, and to solve all kinds of facts and problems.
For example, at Los Alamos in New Mexico what the scientists worked on for a solid year in 1945, in Los Alamos the great center of our atomic weaponry, what all of the scientists there worked on a year to discover in 1945, any college undergraduate can do in seven and one half minutes on a computer used also by thirty other college students.
Our armies are being computerized. They are in the air. They are under the sea. Some of them are buried near Omaha, Nebraska, the great central command. And the wars of the future, and there may not be but one more and that is Armageddon, will be fought with those computerized atomic weapons.
The amazing ability of the computer is beyond imagination. In the world of business and commerce, it is astonishing what the computer is able to do! There are forty-four million checks a day in America that are processed by computers; forty-four million. American Airlines can handle thirty thousand reservations an hour, and in a split second they can find any one of those reservations to add to it, to cancel it, to change it, to do anything; thirty thousand in an hour all over America.
JC Penney has seventeen hundred department stores. They are all in one big computer chain. And every time a sale is made the card is punched and it is immediately recorded in New York City. And the computer sends that out the trends and what merchandise is needed and orders it and mails it out. And in the realm of medicine not long ago a team of five doctors studied for fifteen hours to find an answer about a head injury. And they studied one hundred cases. A computer did that in about three minutes, what it took five doctors fifteen hours to do.
We are living, and we are approaching, a computerized age. Now, when you speak of that age that is immediately upon us you find two different kinds of people. There are those who positively believe, and it is amazing to me their assurance; there are those that positively believe that the day will come when the computer will take all of its related facts and experiences and be able to pour it into other computers. And they say the day will come when the computer will be able to reproduce itself, only better and finer, relaying to one and the other and the other these incredible, fantastic, astronomical, multitudinous facts.
And there are others who laugh at such sky dreamers, saying they are like fellows climbing up a tree an inch at a time saying they are going to get to the moon. But however the way, the man and the machine are going to live together in this next one hundred years. And what is that going to do to the man?
Now I am coming down again to our church and its message of God. We can hide our faces from this new age; just bury our heads in the sand. There is nothing, everything is just as it was, and nobody needs to be concerned or full of care. We can be that way.
The elder Pliny was that way in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted and Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried. Somebody came up to the elder Pliny and said, "Run, escape for your life!" And the elder Pliny said, "Why, there is nothing to be concerned about least of all to be excited about." And he was entombed in the ashes and in the lava.
We can be that way. We can go on with our heads in the sand saying there is no difference in the age, in the times, in the people, in the nation. We can do that. But if we do, we shall die. This is a new age, and there are new forces, and one of them is this machine that the man has made.
I wanted to expatiate, and I haven’t time, on what the machine does to a man. It makes himself a gadget. It dehumanizes his soul. He loses all perspective, and he finds himself buried in things, mechanics, technology, the materialities of the world. And this, I’ve come back again to the message of the church.
For a machine can’t give a man purpose in life. And a machine can’t tell a man about God. And a machine can’t minister to a human heart. And a machine can’t answer what lies beyond death. And is there some other world? Is there some fairer day? Is there hope beyond the years of this trial and suffering? This is the message of the church.
And if men lose purpose in life and meaning in life, and their hearts are empty and their souls are full of despair, nothing lies ahead but ennui, satiation, satiety, boredom and all of the attendant temptations that pull humanity into those tragic aftermaths of indescribable sin and finally the existentialist’s philosophy of despair. It has no meaning. It has no future. And nothing lies ahead but inevitable death.
This world is falling into that existentialist despair even now. All up and down the land and all through our university systems and everywhere you will find that response. There is no use. There is no meaning. There is no purpose. There is no tomorrow. And it blocks out the image of God in the soul of the man that He made. That is our great dedication as a church and as a people of God in an age of secularism and materialism, in an age of the machine, and in an age of crass values. The church is to preach the gospel of the grace of the Son of God.
The machine is still a gadget, and material possessions are still the cheapest rewards of life. But the great benedictions that bless our souls are those that come from the love of God, and the love of one another, and the building of Christian families and homes, the worship and praise of Jesus and the optimistic victory that lies in the souls of those who believe that there is a greater day, a more glorious world, that we shall see King Jesus someday reign Lord God over all the creation [Revelation 11:15]. And we shall be gathered in His presence to sing His love, and to praise His name, and to be with one another in Christ, world without end [1 Thessalonians 4:17].
Oh, I am persuaded that in the next one hundred years there has never been an age or a time when the voice, and the ministry, and the message of the churches of Christ need to be sounded forth with such clarion clarity. God help us as we dedicate ourselves to that holy and heavenly assignment. Are you with me? Yes. Yes. As we begin this second century, we begin with our hands in the hands of Christ our Savior, lead on, oh King, eternal. God bless His servants as we follow after to the glory of His name. Amen.
Now, we are going to sing our hymn of appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or one somebody you to give himself to Jesus, to come into the fellowship of our dear church, in the throng in this balcony round, there is a stairway at the front, at the back and on either side, come. The press of people on this lower floor; you, in that aisle and down to the front, make it tonight. Come tonight. Do it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS
A. Our eagerness to
know is acceptable to God
B. A gift to man and
animal to reveal the future (Revelation 1:1)
II. Our life in America
A. Vast population
C. Increase in leisure
1. Decimation of
2. Drift into
III. Man and machine – a computerized
A. Increase in
B. Use of computer
1. Los Alamos
C. Servant or master