The Current Scene
Religion and Politics
The President and his conservative position on economics has discovered a powerful and sympathetic ally in the fast growing ranks of fundamental Christianity. In spite of its being a risky business to mix politics and religion the President said at a Dallas prayer breakfast, “Religion and politics are necessarily related.” This brought a scathing rejoinder from Walter Mondale. He accused Reagan of embracing zealots on the “extreme fringe” who want to impose their beliefs on the nation. The President later said such could never happen with a Constitution guaranteeing the openness to people’s beliefs. Dr. Charles Stanley of Atlanta accounts for the trend of conservative Christians to throw their weight behind old fashioned morality, because “of the growth of pornography, the disappearance of Biblereadings in the schools and abortion on demand.” In our pluralistic society, when someone sounds the religious theme, there are never lacking persons and groups with their counterarguments.
Up to the present the “Brethren movement” has shied clear of making their congregations fronts for political campaigns. They are well known for this by the governments of the world. This has often stood them in good stead when nations have fallen into the hands of dictators. In turn they have not been harassed and their property confiscated. Generally, their world property has not been sufficient to raise the cupudity of enemies. The New Testament church is so constituted that it can adjust and survive wherever it may find itself. All the furniture it needs is a cup of wine and a loaf of bread along with a nearby body of water for baptism. Such are pilgrims in the world but not of it. Whether such vote, it is a personal and private exercise.
All of the safeguards that society imposes upon itself for protection against fraud can be upset by clever counterfeiters. We are referring to the alarming circulation of bogus diplomas and fake passports. Although there are fake lawyers and psychiatrists, it appears that the well-paying medical world is especially infiltrated by falsifiers. Applicants who lie about their credentials probably are very articulate and fortified with prestigious but fake ivy league degrees. They are practicing life and death procedures on hospital patients. Their present distribution and numbers have created an alarm.
This surge in dishonesty has called for a new industry, and that is, credential checking. Here experts investigate the genuineness, or otherwise, of an applicant’s qualifications.
If the secular world is plagued with fakes, the religious scene is even worse. Here there is no permissible voice of authority to inform the public what is true or false. This is an area where all are free to proclaim their nostrums. The tragedy is that many are deceived by their pernicious ways. In fact, mankind is more prone to embrace a religious phoney than it is to believe the truth. The only safeguard is to be sure one is born again by the Holy Spirit. This is described as an imparted “unction” whereby we “know all things” (1 John 2:20). Such are likely to be appreciating the Holy Scriptures, or possess enough discernment to seek the counsel of one who is knowledgeable in the Word of God. Like Nehemiah who was confronted with the palaver of an enemy who was seeking to entrap him, he was able to conclude that, “And lo, I perceived that God had not sent him, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me” (Neh. 6:12). Satan’s emissaries often come as ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15), and no wonder since Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light.
Before examining others with competence we should, as Scripture enjoins, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5). Then we shall be in the tradition of the elect lady and her children of John’s second epistle: “… they that have known the truth: for the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever . .. Whosoever, transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (vv. 2, 3, 9-10). This discernment was found in a godly sister.
“What think ye of Christ?” is the test.
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of Him.
The Church of God is bidden to “remember them which have the rule over you” (Heb. 13:7). The word translated “rule” is better understood as leader, or guide. The local church is not dominated by authoritarianism, but by elders who are an example to the flock. It is not a gift, but something to be desired. The qualification is godliness that has been recognized by the outside world, the home and the church. Those lacking morality and spirituality would not be desirous of being a New Testament guide, elder or overseer. In Christendom it is a different matter. Even “gays” are pressing for ordination in the main line churches. An assembly seeks to maintain New Testament standards especially among the elders. They in turn are to be examples to the flock. The Bible which is the source of the highest demands of righteousness must be equal to its demands. It can be known by its fruits. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit” (Matt. 7:17). The Bible is as good as its claim to be the inerrant Word of God. Man could not write such a book if he wanted to, nor would he write such if he could.
Whence, but from heaven could, men unskilled in arts
In several ages born, in many parts,
Weave such agreeing truths?
Or how or why should all conspire
To cheat us with a lie?
Unasked their pains, unheeded their advice,
Starvation their gain, and martyrdom their price.