The Current Scene
Today in the most unexpected Christian circles two sharp and very large wedges have made threatening penetrations. The mainstream of Christianity from the beginning has included in its orthodoxy the impeccability of Jesus Christ and the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Regarding the Person of Christ there are those who are teaching that He so emptied Himself of deity and made Himself so perfectly human that His knowledge was limited; and in the temptations He could have sinned but did not. While the first believers of this teaching remain ultraconservative in other areas, it can hardly be so with the next generation who will push the point further on to its logical conclusion. For instance, how can we be sure He was correct in the great major revelations He brought from the Father, yet be so limited, as is implied, when He inquired as to where Lazarus’ grave was? The temptations have been considered by the most reputed theologians as tests to prove He could not sin.
We, however, on this occasion are more disturbed over the many so-called evangelicals who are uncomfortable with the statement that the Bible is inerrant — meaning that the Bible is absolutely without error. Allowances are made for copyists’ mistakes. Yet many of these have since been corrected by later copies of the Biblical manuscripts that have come to light. Originally, what was known as German higher criticism made the human mind the arbiter of what is actually scripture and what has been supplied by unknown editors. At one time this was entertained only by the so-called intellectual big shots, now the aim is lowered to buck shots — the lesser breed of would-be theologians. A well-known private seminary founded only a few years ago on a pre-millennial position and an inerrant Bible has, as far as we can discover, repudiated both. One has only to read Dr. Harold Lindsell’s two books, The Battle for the Bible and The Bible in the Balance, to learn how some of the mighty have fallen and their weapon of war, the Sword of the Spirit, is impaired. Fortunately, many who deny the inerrancy of the Scriptures do not display the consequences of this denial in life or adherance to the remaining vital doctrines of Christianity. Once the wedge of error has penetrated the least bit, others will certainly exploit it and drive the error ever deeper. Already from an “evangelical” professor Paul’s teaching on women in Ephesians is rabbinical and not Christian. Now there is added to this the denial that Paul actually wrote Ephesians. The main-line seminaries that have been comfortable with inerrancy for a generation or more advocate that the Bible’s teaching on “gays” needs to be updated, and so it goes.
Those who believe in inerrancy are lampooned as worshipping a “paper pope” or possessed with a “Book mentality.” We once heard of certain Bible readings described as a society for the mutual admiration of the Bible (would that there were more). The moment this writer was born again fifty-five years ago he was immediately endowed with the recognition that the Bible was God’s Word. The objections he possessed up until then melted by the torrent of truth that confronted him. This gift or endowment he considers an accompaniment of salvation. We wonder about those who lack such an essential evidence.
One who cannot go along with the absolutism of inerrancy may not be free of a bit of academic snobbery when he wrote, “but some eschatological fanatic who believes in inerrancy is safe.” Premillennialism is generally scorned by those who have been surfaced by the present controversy. In his book, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, Dr. Charles C. Ryrie has a significant paragraph. He writes, “Allegorical interpretation fosters modernism. As has often been pointed out, it is almost impossible to find a premillennial liberal or modernist. Among the Brethren, who are supposed to be the founders of modern literalism, liberalism is practically unknown. On the other hand, the great body of modernistic Protestantism is avowedly amillennial. Thus, the allergorical method of amillennialism is a step toward modernism.” As in all such controversies Christ is the answer. It is enough when He said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” and “Thy Word is truth.”
The United States is again catching the Presidential fever as would-be aspirants commence candidating quite early these days. The number of applicants is large considering only one will win the awesome prize. We are fortunate to be living in a country where the governed select those who are to govern them. Of all the systems of government that man has devised, democracy can allow the greatest amount of freedom to all its citizens. Yet it can be the most fragile if we consider Nebuchadnezzar’s image whose feet were composed of a mixture of iron and miry clay, no doubt symbolic of the voice of the masses and insufficient iron to control them. In order to grant civil liberties to so many elements in a very pluralistic society there must exist a responsible majority. The absence of this contributing balance tends to make democracy unworkable. Witness where it has been tried in what we call the “third world.” Democracy, then, must exercise self discipline. When this is lost there is the threat of anarchy or a forceful imposition of the restraints that have been neglected. The English statesman Edmund Burke observingly said, “Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more must be without.”
So far our nation has shown very little interest in self-restraint. To insure the continuance of the so called “good life” we tolerate a near galloping inflation. Then there are the fearsome crowds with their nonnegotiable demands. Let the other fellow suffer, not them. The economic pay day that can only be postponed by inflationary spending will make the inevitable collapse that much more complete when it does come. Herein lies the weakness of democracy. The electorate is not likely to choose the man who offers blood, sweat and tears until the crisis, that could have been avoided by some obvious wisdom, has arrived.
The book of Judges often repeats this refrain, “There was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In the three hundred year period of the judges the nation was a theocracy. When the people would make Gideon a king after his military success he knowingly replied, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: The Lord shall rule over you.”(Judges 8:23). God only demanded obedience to His laws and in return He would defend them and assured them that their land would flow with milk and honey. The opposite would occur for unfaithfulness. The nation proved itself no Match for such a blessing — hence the need for a king. When the kings did come the nation’s density revolved around the spiritual caliber of the king. A good king brought national blessings to his reign. Witness what a blessing David was to his nation.
In Israel’s day, when the judges had failed along with the priesthood in Eli’s sons (1 Sam. 2), then came God’s final remedy, a king. The Lord Jesus did not deny that He was a King when before Pilate. When Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold your King,” He was contemptuously rejected by the cry, “Crucify Him. We have no king but Caesar.” If the world were fully acquainted with what the Lord Jesus stands for and given a choice it would still be a Caesar or a Barabbas. It will not be until the world has had enough of its Caesars that again God’s final answer will be a King. Not only over Israel, but a “King of kings” on a worldwide scale. Following His coming for His Bride, the Church, He will come again to this world to take His throne as David’s rightful heir. This time not to be spit upon but to be exonerated where He was crucified, and He is to rule with a rod of iron. In the meantime the mystery of iniquity must reach its apogee. This will result in the manifestation of the man of sin, the antichrist who is to come and who will be the embodiment of sin. He will so represent man’s ideals that all the world will wonder after him. The world has always recognized its own and run after them. It would seem that the world is fast ripening to receive this deceiver.
Then will man’s proud waves be halted; evil will never ultimately take over. All will be as the sacred poet wrote, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (Psalm 76:10).
Then will come the cry, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23:39).
The year ‘79 has prospects, we judge, of being declared the year of the Pope. Certainly his presence can claim bigger crowds than any other living personality. This goes for behind the Iron Curtain too. His native Poland went into a rare jubilation. Our own pluralistic society, if numbers are meaningful, reveals that Romanism can muster an impressive following. Rome, along with most other expressions of Christianity, has been on the skids in the Western world since World War I. Instead, materialism has captivated the minds. This has been accomplished with a prevailing godlessness.
Speaking of atheism, and that is what the modern attitude amounts to, Sir Robert Anderson has given his observation, “Atheism is always a revolt against a false religion, and never maintains its hold upon the minds of men.” A recoil from non-religion to religion could be in the offing.
Unless a man is born again and endowed with a Holy Spirit taught understanding of God’s Word he will generally adjust himself to one of two options. He will become a religionist or activate his mind along rationalistic lines. This was quite evident in our Lord’s day. The Pharisees were unquestionably orthodox but buried the truth under their accretions. On the other hand, the Sadducees denied the resurrection, angels and spirit (Acts 23:8). The religion of the natural man often amounts to superstition and credulity. In the case of the Roman Catholics, they have no difficulty in believing in weeping Madonnas or that the elements of the Mass become the literal body and blood of Christ and become anew an efficacious sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead. Nor can we account for Catholic charismatics possessing no sensitivity to the uncertain salvation the system at best has to offer.
The central and distinguishing feature of the Romanist system is the Mass. The pretense of having a sacrifice still offered upon the earth, when the Word of God declares that “by one offering Christ has perfected forever them that are sanctified,” is making a return to the weakness of Judaism with its repeated sacrifices which never made the comers perfect (Heb. 10). The once forever sacrifice of Christ has brought about for faith, “where remission of sins is, there is no more offering for sin.” On the other hand, the Council of Trent (Romanism) anathematizes those who profess to know that they are saved.
The pompous ceremonies and incantations make Romanism a sensuous religion. It impresses man’s religious sensibilities. There is no embarrassment when it claims to be the only true church. Its boast is sanctity, catholicity, apostolicity, infallibility and perpetual visibility. As to this kind of infallibility, J. N. Darby defines it as, “Take it for true without inquiry.” (Collected Writings, Vol. 18, p. 35). Isaiah said, “My people love to have it so.”
This is not a criticism of persons but of a system. There are no doubt those in its fold who have individually penetrated the added traditions and reached out to Christ alone. Only such are saved, whether Catholic or Protestant, and by the baptism of the Spirit made members of Christ’s Body. Such is not always as visible as it should be. The true Catholic Church is in the world, but not of it. Thank God amid Christendom’s confusion, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.”