When viewing the religious scene today, we are tempted to fix on
one or another weakness and say, "This is what is wrong with the
church. If this were corrected, we could recapture the glory of the
early church and have pentecostal times back with us again."
This tendency to oversimplification is itself a weakness and should
be guarded against always, especially when dealing with anything
as complex as religion as it occurs in modern times. It takes a very
young man to reduce all our present woes to a single disease and
cure the whole thing with one simple remedy. Older and wiser heads
will be more cautious, having learned that the prescribed nostrum
seldom works for the reason that the diagnosis has not been correct.
Nothing is that simple. Few spiritual diseases occur alone. Almost
all are complicated by the presence of others and are so vitally
interrelated as they spread over the whole religious body that it
would take the wisdom of a Solomon to find a single cure.
For this reason, I am hesitant to point to any one defect in present-
day Christianity and make all our troubles to stem from it alone.
That so-called Bible religion in our times is suffering rapid decline
is so evident as to need no proof, but just what has brought about
this decline is not so easy to discover. I can only say that I have
observed one significant lack among evangelical Christians which
might turn out to be the real cause of most of our spiritual troubles.
Of course, if that were true, then the supplying of that lack would
be our most critical need.
The great deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual
discernment, especially among our leaders. How there can be
so much Bible knowledge and so little insight, so little moral
penetration, is one of the enigmas of the religious world today.
I think it is altogether accurate to say that there has never before
been a time in the history of the church when so many people
were engaged in Bible study as are so engaged today. If the
knowledge of Bible doctrine were any guarantee of godliness,
this would without doubt be known in history as the age of
sanctity. Instead, it may well be known as the age of the
church´s Babylonish captivity, or the age of worldliness, when
the professed Bride of Christ allowed herself to be successfully
courted by the fallen sons of men in unbelievable numbers. The
body of evangelical believers, under evil influences, has during
the last twenty five years gone over to the world in complete
and abject surrender, avoiding only a few of the grosser sins
such as drunkenness and sexual promiscuity.
That this disgraceful betrayal has taken place in broad daylight
with full consent of our Bible teachers and evangelists is one of
the most terrible affairs in the spiritual history of the world. Yet I
for one cannot believe that the great surrender was negotiated by
men of evil heart who set out deliberately to destroy the faith of
our fathers. Many good and clean-living people have collaborated
with the quislings who betrayed us. Why? The answer can only
be, from lack of spiritual vision. Something like a mist has settled
over the church as "the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet
that covers all nations" (Isaiah 25:7). Such a veil once descended
upon Israel: "For their minds were made dull, for to this day the
same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been
removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day
when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts" (2 Corinthians 3:
14-15). That was Israel´s tragic hour. God raised up the church
and temporarily disfranchised His ancient people. He could not
trust His work to blind men.
Surely we need a baptism of clear seeing if we are to escape the
fate of Israel (and of every other religious body in history that
forsook God). If not the greatest need, then surely one of the
greatest is for the appearance of Christian leaders with prophetic
vision. We desperately need seers who can see through the mist.
Unless they come soon, it will be too late for this generation. And
if they do come, we will no doubt crucify a few of them in the name
of our worldly orthodoxy. But the cross is always the harbinger of
Mere evangelism is not our present need. Evangelism does no
more than extend religion, of whatever kind it may be. It gains
acceptance for religion among larger numbers of people without
giving much thought to the quality of that religion. The tragedy is
that present-day evangelism accepts the degenerate form of
Christianity now current as the very religion of the apostles and
busies itself with making converts to it with no questions asked.
And all the time we are moving farther and farther from the New
We must have a new reformation. There must come a violent
break with that irresponsible, amusement-mad, paganized
pseudo-religion which passes today for the faith of Christ and
which is being spread all over the world by unspiritual men
employing unscriptural methods to achieve their ends.
When the Roman church apostatized, God brought about the
Reformation. When the Reformation declined, God raised up the
Moravians and the Wesleys. When these movements began to
die, God raised up fundamentalism and the "deeper life" groups.
Now that these have almost without exception sold out to the
SI Moderator - Greg