The Current Scene
By and large 1986 has been a year of technical accidents, thus calling into question, “Are we really better off with the amenities science has made possible?” The alternative is as has been said, “To revert to low-tech solutions means we have to be prepared to die young of cold, disease and hunger.” The genie of the atom has been released for better or for worse. There is no getting him back into the bottle. The consequent potential dangers are matters our civilized world must learn to live with. The biggest nuclear disaster so far took place in Chernobyl, Russia. We have yet to learn the full effects of the radiation fallout on humans and soil fertility. The Challenger disaster after take-off at Cape Canaveral has left the nation shocked and our space program halted for the time being. Nor must we forget the Bhopal mishap in India, killing more than 2,000 people and seriously injuring many more. Yet India badly needs the chemicals that Bhopal produces to insure her crops from insects.
The Lord Jesus applied a calamity of His day as a voice of warning from God. The collapse of the tower of Siloam killing 18 persons, says our Lord, “Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jersusalem? I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5). The perishing here is not physical but what happens to the unrepentant after death. The man that has repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ is ready to die and at the same time a good candidate to live, for he constitutes the salt of the earth.
Then, too, after the experimental stages of technology are left behind, the general staff takes over from the scientific pioneers. Their punctiliousness gives place to routine and possible human error. As one expert states it, “I’ve always been comfortable with the technologies but not the personnel running them.” “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good,” so goes an old adage. The recent tragedies are spurring more safety measures and precaution.
We are witnessing the failure of assemblies and individual Christians. This, too, calls for inquiry and a call to “strengthen the things which remain” (Rev. 3:2). Failures can teach us lessons. “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
God often takes it upon Himself to curb man’s pride. Nebuchadnezzar is a glaring example as he said, “Is not this great Babylon that I have built, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). Before the words had left his lips, he was stricken with humiliating insanity for seven years. Maybe God is reminding us we are not so wonderful after all.
When certain social conditions develop an environment is created that can lead to the popularity of demagogues who advocate the policies of the far right or left. Just now both are at work in South Africa. Prime Minister Botha is in the middle trying to work out a modus vivendi with the moderates of both parties. Most of the young blacks see their interests from a Communist outlook. This in turn tends to polarize many of the white Africans toward neo-Nazism. We quote from a June issue of “World Report”: “A bitter backlash from South Africa’s radical whites, those who cry, ‘Never.’ Most dramatic is the growth of the Africana Resistance Movement, right wing extremists unashamed of their Nazi like style.” In three months its rallies have drawn more than 20,000 people. The young toughs among them have broken up major meetings of the present Prime Minister’s reform policies. This, we judge from “World Report,” is a growing movement waving a flag with a Swastika-like symbol. The followers wear brown shirts with a “storm falcon” displayed on the upper arm. A sort of para-military discipline and an anti-Semitic rhetoric can be heard. Along with this is Bishop Desmond Tutu’s “Liberation Theology.” He said in Montreal, “But there can come a time when it (violence) is justified to overthrow an unjust system. It’s the same argument used to fight Hitler.” So when the right circumstances are developed the doctrines of the Stalins or Hitlers spring up like weeds. When and if they gain power, in their own interests they become ruthless with their opposition.
If the present moderates can keep in line the two fringe movements a blood bath can be avoided. Otherwise it is not hard to foresee what could happen in that fairest country in that still “dark continent.”
Civilization wears a very thin veneer. Man’s wicked heart is curbed but not tamed. Whenever man’s vital interests have been threatened, whether religious or political, like Paul before he was converted, the hidden passions of the human heart soon surface. Of Paul, we read, “Yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter” against the early Christians he “verily thought” he was doing God’s will by so doing. Paul, along with his Lord, saw the whole world given over to sin. As for Paul, after he became a Christian, he did not stand in the public corners and arraign the municipal corruption of Athens, Corinth and Rome. As another has said, “Whether it was corruption in office, the squandering of the people’s money, or the shameless, open sin in the temples of Venus, he did one thing, and one thing only: he preached the gospel of Christ, declared that it was the power of God unto salvation.” The neutrality of assembly Christians, either black or white, could be an annoyance to the fanatic champions of either extreme.