The Current Scene
The age old principle of supply and demand is receiving fresh attention. There was a time, not too far back, when America was a land of surpluses. Now the changes that will affect the life style of most of us are in the offing. An observer has written: “For one thing, our present system works when there are plenty of resources to go around, so that even the losers get something. We can’t depend on that happening any more.” It must be to the chagrin of the Communist bloc nations that the world’s bread basket is found in the land where free enterprise is still respected. The Bible makes a point here, when it says, “In all labor there is profit.” When labor ceases to receive an appropriate reward, then its productivity wanes. The socialism so prevalent in our world today describes capitalism as a system of greed. On the other hand, capitalists consider themselves as examples of motivation, daring and hard work. Lamenting that the present government refuses to remove its muzzle on free enterprise, the above writer already quoted says with some irony, “The old ways don’t work any more and the new ones may not be any better.”
A noticeable recoil is taking shape and it is against this equal shares are fair shares philosophy. A recent book, The Aftermath of Slavery, has this to say: “Slavery was most destructive not because of its inexcusable brutalities but because it imposed a system of dependency. The lesson of American history is that the most successful groups — Jews, Japanese and black West Indians, for example — are not those which are heavily aided by government but those who achieve their own successes, even against heavy resistance, as American poor blacks were doing until the programs of the Great Society reduced them to wards of the state.”
Great Britain recently gave a surprising vote to the party that promises to end at least some of the abuses of the socialist’s mentality. America is now hearing some voices crying in the wilderness that are by contrast to the present ultra conservative. Unfortunately, we personally can see nothing but a polarizing of either left or right. The present economic scene has left the Biblical work ethic far behind. The atmosphere appears to be ripening for party strife. Let the world work out its problem and let the Christian by example and word give out the Gospel of Christ.
Whenever a crisis occurs it is natural for us to look around for someone on whom to lay the blame. The gasoline crunch has interfered with the American’s love affair with his automobile. The rider on the third horse of the apocalypse was ordered to “touch not the oil and the wine” (Rev. 6:6), these undoubtedly being the symbols of luxury and pleasure. The OPEC nations have had the audacity to do just that. At least that is about it if we listen to the President of the United States. In his memorable Sunday night speech President Carter blamed the Arab oil barons when he said, “This is the direct cause of the long lines that have made millions of you spend aggravating hours waiting for gasoline. It’s a cause of the increased inflation and unemployment that we now face.” This, at best, is only a half truth. For one thing, the oil consortium was adjusting its prices to our inflated dollar. They threatened to keep this up and with the steady slippage of the dollar men will look back a few years from now and refer to a dollar a gallon gasoline as the good old days.
We would wish to compliment the President for his bit of sermonizing as he rebuked the nation for its downward moral trend. There was one listener who did not like the President’s moralizing and in an open letter wrote to him as follows: “Some people like the party, and some people like to teach Sunday School. What nobody likes is setting the thermostat at 78 degrees.” This letter writer cannot blame morals for shortages when he says, “You may tie it all in with the decline of the family and self-indulgence; rather it’s a problem to be solved, the stuff of moral life rather than a symptom of spiritual crisis.”
The long letter revealed the mentality of the materialist. The President’s thought in this connection was obviously molded by the Bible.
Here, we learn that shortages are a reflection of a nation’s moral fiber, or the lack of it. The Old Testament abounds with remarks of this nature: “The Lord hath called for a famine.” Sin was always the cause of God showing His displeasure. On the other hand, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
Of the many reasons that have been given to us for the oil shortage, no doubt there are elements of truth in every explanation. The whole truth is hard to come by. Often preachers in their zeal give us only a one-sided gospel — everything rosy if you’ll just become a Christian. The Lord Jesus never left out the blessings but added, “The servant is not above his master.” As they have treated Me, look for similar persecution from the world. On these terms will you follow Me?.
We live in an atmosphere of oversimplification, exaggeration, rumors and one-sided reasoning. It is a question, perhaps, whether the majority has any stomach for the whole truth. The writer realizes that his present thinking is “far from the maddening crowd’s ignoble strife,” but there it is. The straightforward truths of the prophet Isaiah were notwanted in his day. Consequently, he was advised to “Prophesy not unto us right things: speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isa. 30:10). Pilate, no doubt disillusioned by the events of his day, said as he presided over the trial of Jesus Christ, “What is truth?” This may bother our conscience, but truth must ultimately be reckoned with, if not always here then most certainly in eternity. Jesus said, “Thy Word is truth.”
Another episode of man’s inhumanity to man is being enacted before the eyes of the world. Eventually, it is expected that some one million ethnic Chinese citizens will be expelled from South Vietnam. Just now hundreds are adrift in unfit boats and thousands ghettoed in various places, homeless and unwanted. There are some striking similarities to Hitler’s decision to exterminate the Jews. In both cases there was an authoritarian decision to reconstruct society to its liking. This called for the elimination of an unwanted minority. Incidentally, the Chinese have been daubed as the Jews of Southeast Asia. Being for the most part successful merchants, they have provoked the envy of the nationals. For this same reason the East Indians were ejected from Uganda. The dominant majority quickly capitalize on such suppression. At the same time the government strengthens its popularity. The present situation reminds the free world that dictatorships, whether to the far left or right, can be equally heartless.
Critics of the democracies have often made note of the corruption, crime and lawlessness that seem to thrive under such regimes. The same people praise the orderliness of authoritarianism. Such fail to realize that these governments can ride roughshod over the elements that they deem cannot be assimilated into the world they envision. In the early days of Protestantism it too was considered incompatible to a would-be monolithic church.
Democracy and free enterprise, with all of its failings, comes nearest to giving liberty and justice to all. Nor can it be overlooked that where cold-blooded governments gain an upper hand, then evangelical Christianity eventually comes under its axe.
Man, in substance, is still saying in regard to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Until He comes, “whose right it is” (Ezek. 21:27), inequities will prevail. What is one man’s justice is another man’s injustice. At least that is how it too often appears. It is heartening to see America again showing signs of its Christian heritage and doing a lion’s share in caring for these unfortunate boat people. We suppose that most of these refugees subscribe to one of the oriental religions. There is no mention of them pleading their needs; rather it is Christian institutions that are showing the empathy that is within their means. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
People at heart are religious. This is witnessed wherever man is found. True, his religion may be base, cruel and immoral; but he believes in something supernatural. All religions that we are aware of espouse some sort of sacrifice. This certainly favors a common origin, probably the dim remembrance of what happened after our first parents had sinned —namely, animals were slain to surrender their skins to cover Adam and Eve. In spite of this, there has always been the tendancy for religion to degenerate. Both history and the first chapter of Romans confirm this.
Christianity has not escaped periods of abominable apostacy and disgusting ethics. Fortunately, there have been revivals — a return to the plain truths of Scripture. Along with this the extra-biblical accretions have been thrown out either because they were harmful or useless in gaining a knowledge of the living and true God. Often such movements were forced underground by persecution, the Waldenses and Lollards being cases in point. Someone has defined Roman Catholicism as one-third Christian, one-third Old Testament ceremonies, and one-third from pagan origins. Catholicism has several parallels with Tibetan Buddhism and man’s penchant for a female deity.
Man’s religious nature is attracted to that which can appeal to his five senses. Hence his love of ceremony, breath-taking buildings and participation in mysteries that transmit to him supernatural grace. Those who do not appreciate this usually swing to the opposite side of the pendulum and scoff at everything supernatural, making their atheism their religion.
Disillusioned as a result of two world wars, Europe has particularly come under the spell of liberalism in politics and religion. This obsession, however, may be exhausting itself. At any rate, the last two Popes and the present one are now impressively popularizing the Church of Rome. Unlike the Reformation that submitted everything to the Scriptures, the present trend is to glorify the church in all of its historic development. The religious world will love to have it so.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 we are told that prior to the revelation of the “man of sin” the apostasy is to consummate. This apostasy can be none other than that of Christendom. It is smybollically represented in Revelation 17 as “the great whore” and “BABYLON THE GREAT.” We are not saying, of course, that all individuals in this system of things are apostate. In 2 Peter 2:9 we read, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation.” The context of this verse refers to none other than Lot. In a coming day the rapture will have removed the saved of Christendom.
The religious amalgum that is to develop in the end time could embrace Mohammedanism. Anyway, this Babylon appears to play an important role prior to the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ in Revelation 19. She rides the beast (Rev. 17:3), that is, the secular power, and she proclaims herself “a queen, and am no widow” (18:7). Certainly a resurgence of Mohammedanism appears in the works. The atheistic threat of Communism may bring these strange bed-fellows together. In turn, this impressive religious bulwark could contribute a vital part in bringing about that vast bloc of nations that will comprise the old Roman Empire. This heady display of ecumenicity will be short-lived, for the beast will turn and rend the “great whore.” A duplication of what happened in the French Revolution and the Bolshevic uprising will then take place.