The Current Scene

The Current Scene

Edwin Fesche

All Is Vanity

There were two articles appearing recently in U. S. News and World Report. They took us back to the 60’s when two enterprising programs were promoted. We refer to “the Great Society” with its goal to eliminate poverty in America and “the Green Revolution” which was to rid the impoverished areas of the world from starvation. The recent articles in the main showed how both goals failed. The well analyzed conclusions came not from fault finding “Fundamentalists” but knowledgeable experts in their field.

The question is raised, “The Great Society: boon or expensive bust?” From little acorns great programs grew. Now after 15 years and hundreds of millions of tax dollars the blacks who were to be the main beneficiaries, we learn from an authority, are no better off than in the 1960’s. Assistance is a two way street. It certainly appears that the government has not been niggardly. We wonder about the motivation of the recipients. To quote from the article, “Of all the Great Society thrusts, the promise of increased education prompted the highest hopes in most glowing rhetoric.” President Johnson, the main engineer of this ambitious goal said, “The answer for all of our problems comes to a simple word, that word is, education.”

Programs that are largely in the area of give away are at best of limited success. Compare the student who works his way through school and those who are paid to go.

Now that the gravy train is drying up it is discovered the problems have increased. Government programs feed on themselves and develop situations that threaten their solvency. The only solution is least likely to be tried — repentance toward God and faith in His Son as Saviour, followed by a good infusion of Biblical morality.

The Green Revolution has run into trouble. Experiments with wheat and rice seeds produced some amazing results in increased production. The newly cultured plants needed heavy doses of nitrogen and an abundance of water to assure the plants not being burned by the fertilizer. Since the nitrogen is a byproduct of the petroleum industry it is now priced beyond the capacity of a poor nation. Even where the fertilizer is within economic reach of the farmer the water supply is generally wanting. So millions of human beings face starvation or serious malnutrition.

We are in a no-win world. The account of the creation and fall of our first parents are often ridiculed today. The universal effect of this fall cannot be denied. Following the entrance of sin into our world God said, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” It is not the intention of God for man to be safely ensconced down here. Ever since the fall God has been saying, often through calamities, “Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction” (Micah 2:10).

Abraham, we read, “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10). True, we would like a comfortable world for everybody, but powers beyond us such as wars, famines, and pestilence come in uninvited cycles. “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it.” We will say, from our observation, that those who adjust to a fallen world in God’s way, and do not rebel against it, are psychologically and physically best fitted to cope. A quote from C. S. Lewis agrees with what we have been reasoning from Scripture, history and nature, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is I was made for another world.” Another realistic observer of this unequal world concludes, “Man is neither so miserable as infinite malice could accomplish, nor so happy as infinite beneficence could cause. There must be another dimension where the secret lies.” The Communist response to a heaven beyond death is that it is an opiate of the people, or “pie in the sky.” However, after over fifty years of it in Russia, they have not been able to make heaven down here.

“While death reigns unvanquished,
And sin rules the way,
The story of Jesus will never grow old.”

W. C. C. Convention

The World Council of Churches held its ecumenical convention last May in Melbourne, Australia. All of the mainline denominations were represented by their delegates; included were Catholics. Actually 500 delegates from all parts of the world. The agenda was built around the prayer, “Your Kingdom Come.” From reports it was easy to gather that the over-riding emphasis of the Council was help for the poor —especially Third World Nations — a call to equalize the world’s wealth, not preach the saving gospel to every creature.

A German theologian, Professor Ernst Kasemann, in the keynote address said what probably most were expecting and wanting to hear. One of his remarks was, “Resist all temptation to non-involvement in the struggle against ‘rich societies’ with their unstoppable lust of possession and the unrestrained use of their scientific and technological capacitation to defend their privileges and make whole continents pay for this with their blood.” He went on to say, “For too long the old churches have been in league with the powerful and have supported themselves on a bourgeois middle class, while yet neglecting or even despising the cries of the damned in our world.”

It is easy to see how this kind of one-sided and subversive speechmaking leads the Council to donate monies to revolutionaries. That the world is full of injustice no honest person denies. Nor can we fail to see where revolutions have succeeded in recent years. It has been a case of changing bosses, resulting in something more tyrannical than the government they have forced to capitulate.

The Council certainly expresses the position of Christendom; decidedly social and certainly with no thought of evangelizing those of other faiths. One gets the thought that Christianity is just one of the great religions of the world. There is no offense of the cross here. What a time bomb would Peter’s preaching be, especially when he addressed the ecclesiastics of his day saying, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

All of this pomp and circumstance naturally leads us to inquire afresh, “What is Christianity anyway?” In the mystery parables of the Kingdom the grain of mustard seed has grown into a tree. It has outdone itself and has lost its allotted place in nature. Christendom has lost its simple origins. There is a Christian world, but the true sons of the Kingdom are known only to God. The history of the church as given by most historians “has been but the history of what has usurped her name and travestied her character.” To usher in the golden age is not the task of the church. That is left for our Lord Jesus to bring in the Millennium. He presaged that event when He cleansed the temple of His day with a scourge. He is yet to reign with a rod of iron. In this our church dispensation, we have a strange combination. Satan is revealed as “the god of this passing age” (2 Cor. 4:4, NEB). The Scripture says “grace reigns through righteousness” (Rom. 5:21). Not grace without righteousness, but because of the cross work of our Lord a righteous grace is offered to “whosoever will.” God’s program for this age of so many “mysteries” has been tersely said by James, “At the first God did visit the Gentiles (that was when Peter preached in the house of Cornelius), to take out a people for His name” (Acts 15:14).