The Current Scene
The Troubled Sea
Like new wine in old bottles the sweating, seething and teaming masses in nearly every populous country are in a state of ferment. They only await the firebrand orator and they are ready to burst the restraints that keep them in their ghettos. In Poland the powers that be cannot cork up solidarity. The Sandanistas, heavily armed, see a potential “fifth column” in the landless, aimless, redundant shanty town residents that stand ready to respond to President Ortega’s self-styled “Revolution without boundaries.” The South African whites have their problems with a vast majority of blacks. Changes in leadership in the Philippines and Haiti still pose economic problems that defy solutions. The irresponsible fertility of minorities in the U.S. produce laborers that a highly technical economy cannot absord. Liberal welfarism feeds on itself and gallops to such proportions that threaten stability.
One observer has remarked that Christianity is a one on one affair. God is dealing with individuals. “Ye must be born again” is the essential for a genuine convert to Christ. On the other hand, the mobs are the plaything of the anti-Christs and eventually the Antichrist. Mobocracy is a legitimate fear. It took over in the French Revolution until only a strong man could restore order, Napoleon. In Russia it was Lenin. Germany was in a ferment in the 30s, and could have gone to the political left. Hitler’s extreme swing to the right was hailed by most classes as the solution-solver to Germany’s problems and the humiliation of the harsh treaty of Versailles.
Many think that democracy is the panacea and the solution for nations in trouble. Yes, if there is a considerable number of stable citizens. As a great English politician of the past 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 there must be without.” We fear in many cases it’s either a strong man or chaos. The “beast” of Revelation 13 rises out of the sea. The sea is an emblem of unrest (Isa. 57:20) and that potential exists, even in the most stable nations, thus making an ideal situation and excuse for the rise of the world’s last Caesar.
Some Christian notables have left, and others are planning to leave, evangelical communions. These leaders are showing a preference for what can be seen, heard and handled in connection with their worship. The admonition “to walk by faith and not by sight” seems not to permeate their thinking. Perhaps they have been stimulated by some of the Pope’s masses and the crowds that have had their religious instincts gratified. Thomas Howard has left his professorship at Gordon Conwell for the disciples of the Vatican. He tries to justify his action when he says, “I have never met an evangelical who does not lament the desperate, barren, parched nature of evangelical worship.” This member of such a reputable family blames the barrenness of evangelical worship on a lack of symbols that penetrate into “the far reaches of spirituality,” and also that there is a decided “lack of the high standards of good taste.” As a former Episcopalian this writer has for over 60 years experienced a Brethren assembly celebration of the Lord’s Supper as both warming and spiritual. This, we trust, can be accredited to its approximation to the original Scriptural simplicity. It is certainly not a product of a New Testament equivalent of “strange fire” (Lev. 10:1), such as is conducted by a priestly monopoly.
O Lord, we know it matters not
How sweet the song may be;
No heart but of the Spirit taught
Makes melody to Thee.
Sir Robert Anderson in his Buddha of Christendom at least credits the Jews for keeping their Passover as originally instituted for their synagogues, so that a Jew if resurrected would find little difference to what he had celebrated 2,000 years ago. What would be the reaction of a first century Christian to a high Mass? If we but allow our minds to be hypnotized by priests, we shall be prepared to believe the sacrifice of Calvary, the sacrifice of the Mass, apostolic succession, and the mystic efficacy of the sacraments. And shall we swallow all these doctrines without any exercise of heart or conscience, and without any capacity to distinguish between divine truth and human error and superstition? Ceremonies that are so appealing to man’s natural religious instincts do not adjust to the dictum of placing “no confidence in the flesh.” Of course, we speak of the system, not the real born again believers discovered here and there in such an obviously mixed multitude” (Ex. 12:38).
We believe the great “whore” of Revelation 17:1 is also “mystery Babylon” (v. 5) and to represent Christendom finally united and to at least be able to boast, “I sit a queen, and am no widow” (Rev. 18:7). This strange religious amalgum will develop and reach its apogee during “the great tribulation.” The preliminaries for such appear already afoot.
A spate of serious accidents have occurred which have been caused by the perpetrators taking drugs. This is not to mention the thousands of deaths attributed to drunken drivers on our highways. Then also, a person on drugs is a poor security risk. His habit is so expensive that he can be tempted to disclose secrets by lavish offers of money, particularly military secrets to a foreign power. Now on the point of graduation a naval midshipman was threatened with expulsion because of serious evidence he had taken cocaine. The fact that the Naval Academy makes periodic testings must have discovered justifying ground for doing so. Now army recruits are required to be tested.
As to be expected, those most likely to be exposed try their hardest to prove the unreliability of the tests and also interference with their civil rights to privacy. The dangers imposed by potheads can be of such a catastrophic nature that measures distasteful to a democracy must be carried out. The French in order to screen applicants for particularly important positions call for a sample of a person’s handwriting. The reading of such experts, they say, is remarkably accurate in disclosing character and characteristics.
That humans, many ensconced in well paying government jobs and security, must resort to hedonism for an escape from boredom is a mystery unless we accept the account of man’s fall. However, man can adjust and respect the norms of society. As the renowned Malcom Muggeridge once said, “But whatever life is or is not about, it is not to be expressed in terms of drugs, stupefication, or casual sexual relations. The road to the future is not on the wings of Playboy magazine or in psychedelic phantasies.”
While we may pride ourselves on being good citizens and qualified for our job, yet, we are still found wanting before a holy God. Just test yourself by His Ten Commandments. In that trial, as it is written, “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). God in His grace can impute righteousness to us when we put faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross on our behalf, where our sins were imputed to Him. Then we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who puts us on the road to holy living. As we once said publicly, “If Christianity only saves us from the imbroglios of the flesh it makes us winners.” Actually, it prepares us for the best of both worlds, “but godliness is profitable unto all things having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).