To the thoughtful mind the pursuit of knowledge is always captivating, and this is especially true in the realm of religion. The correct interpretation of latter-day prophecy is absorbing, and rightly so. The clear understanding of a complete system of theology is both fascinating and commendable. Never should a. word of disparagement be permitted against these handmaidens of Christian faith and life.
But we must never forget that the fundamentals of personal salvation are comparatively few and simple. And they are basic. They center about the fact of God, the fact of sin, the loss of righteousness, the revelation of the moral standard, the vicarious death of Christ for sin, His present priestly mediation for man, the hour of judgment, the provision completely to restore man's forfeited righteousness, the imminent second advent, the destruction of sin, and the restoration of Paradise.
These are the fundamentals of the "everlasting gospel" recognized and heralded with fluctuating clarity in the different ages, and they are destined to culminate in fullness of perception and experience in our day. These fundamentals can be grasped by the child as well as the adult, the weak as well as the strong, the untutored as well as the scholar, the heathen along with the Christian. Yet these fundamentals never have been and can never be fully fathomed even by the greatest intellect among men. Eternity will continue to bring forth their exhaustless treasures to amaze and gratify the soul. This is the glory of the everlasting gospel. It is matchless in its simplicity, yet it transcends all the limitations of time and circumstance.
There is very real danger that we shall become so engrossed in the needful proclamation of the forgotten and rejected doctrinal truths that inevitably make us Seventh-day Adventists, —a separate people, different from and opposed to the apostate religious bodies about us,—that we shall fail to put fundamental emphasis on these essentials of the everlasting gospel which alone can save the soul. The danger is that we shall attempt to build the surierstructure of the faith without adequately laying the foundations in experience.
In the beginning days of this movement, the Christian faith which the pioneers encountered was totally different from that of today. Before the preaching of the first angel's message, God's true church was embodied in those purer church groups which stood faithfully for the essentials of the gospel as understood. But 'today the Christian faith of the world has collapsed. Christianity has become a caricature, a mere system of human ethics, with no power to save. It has no message, no gospel.
Every essential of the gospel that has in the past been enunciated has now been tragically perverted, emasculated, or denied. Evolution and Modernism have, to their own satisfaction, disposed of God, divine revelation, the moral standard (embodying the Sabbath), sin, the fall, the deity of Christ, the efficacy of His vicarious death, the final judgment, the impending end of the age and advent of our Lord, the coming destruction of the wicked and restoration of man's lost inheritance. These elemental positions are each and all passing from the nominal Christian church. Every essential is thus perverted, flaunted, forsaken, and our task is consequently different from that undertaken in any previous period in human history and Christian witness.
We stand in the shadows of the great consummation. The climax of the ages is upon us. Our supreme business, therefore, is to proclaim the lost, forgotten, forsaken, repudiated everlasting gospel, coupled with its inseparably solemn warnings and entreaties. Our solemn responsibility is to prepare responsive souls to stand before their God when He comes, and that without sin,—to make ready a people prepared actually and experimentally to meet God. These people will come from all conditions and shades of belief and unbelief. But they are to be gathered under one banner; they are to find salvation under the same provisions; they are to repudiate their varying apostasies; they are to bear the mark specified of the remnant church,—keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
What a glorious task! What an exalted privilege! Who that is called would be other than a herald of such good news?
L. E. F.
Capitalize the Openings
It is truly remarkable to read in a recent issue of the King's Business, a Fundamentalist journal, under a section headed "Present Day Fulfillment of Prophecy," a group of articles titled, "The Beginning of Sorrows," "Wars and Rumors of Wars," "Famines and Pestilences," and "Earthquakes." One might easily take it to be an exposition from one of our own missionary journals. The facts, the interpretation, and indeed the form of presentation are strikingly similar. The section concludes with a summarization and an admonition- that could well have come from the Signs, the Watchman, or Present Truth.
Similar enunciations of last-day evidences are frequently seen in varying degrees in the Sunday School Times, the Moody Bible Institute Monthly, Our Hope, and other Fundamentalist papers. We doubt not that other sincere students of the word and the world have more or less independently come to conclusions similar to ours; but nevertheless the fact remains that the influence of this message upon the thought and emphasis of Fundamentalism has been profound. And our responsibility today to capitalize that influence, and to take advantage of every contact thus afforded, is tre- mendous. Never in the long and varied experience of humanity have the doors of opportunity been thrown open so wide and so invitingly as now.
L. E. F.
A Reason for the Hope
Christianity is therefore both a reasonable and a reasoning religion. In other words, it is rational, though revealed. Its beliefs are to be based on facts, its faith built upon demonstrable evidence. The evidence, therefore, upon which we rest should always be trustworthy, and the witnesses we summon, unimpeachable. Our positions must be able to stand the test of scrutiny and of challenge, as well as of conscience. More than that, truth invites it and thrives upon it.
We err if we fail to recognize this patent truth. We also err if we become impatient or suspicious if one asks searchingly into the reasons for points of faith. We need to be patient, gentle, forbearing. We need to know our ground absolutely. We need to study as never before, individually and collectively. We need to clarify, simplify, and strengthen our positions and presentations with convincing factual evidence that cannot be gainsaid. This should, of course, blend with spiritual insight and divine power. We need to review our proofs, our arguments, our conclusions, and unitedly stand upon ground that cannot be successfully controverted, that consequently conforms to reason and to revelation, that honors God and exalts truth.
L. E. F.