The present situation in the religious world presents the most unparalleled need, and opportunity, and challenge in the history of the Christian church. Many periods of gross darkness and ignorance, of superstition and apostasy, have marked the centuries; but never has there been such conspicuous intellectual advancement strangely combined with deadly and well-nigh universal drift away from God. As never in the past, man by wisdom knows not God. Through material, scientific, and philosophical advancement, the race is swiftly becoming too wise in its own conceit to believe those verities that have constituted the foundation of the everlasting gospel of God to man, and which have, to a large degree, been accepted by professed Christians throughout the past.
This anomalous situation constitutes the unparalleled tragedy of the ages. The greatest spiritual light of all times is being shrouded by a moral and spiritual darkness that threatens to eclipse its effulgent rays. It is time for every worker in this movement to stop and study this amazing situation, and to decide as to his individual relations and obligations in the light of the patent facts we here submit. This is outstandingly the hour of crumbling faith and collapsing confidence in the formerly accepted sureties of the Christian faith. All about us, uncertainty is the dominant characteristic of the times. The fear of the living God who created the heavens and the earth is surely and steadily departing from men. Through science falsely so called, they have been led to question, and to cast aside, the underlying fact of creation by an omnipotent and omniscient Creator. The generally accepted theory of evolution has done its sinister work, practically reconstructing the thinking and beliefs of the civilized world.
Then, since the word proclaims the fact and reign of such a God, and of such a creation as the explanation of our existence, thus involving the exercise of His miraculous creative powers, mankind generally have abandoned their faith in the Bible as a divinely inspired and authoritative revelation to men. It has become to them but a book of lofty moral maxims. Such are the first fruits of the evolutionary philosophy.
This has been logically accompanied by the departure from among men of recognition of the binding obligations of God's moral law, and man's amenability thereto. That is the fundamental reason that the predicted carelessness of the last days is rampant, and that its perils increase on every hand. The fear of God is departing from men, and the moral fiber of professedly Christian nations is disintegrating as an inevitable consequence. This we must proclaim to the world.
Moreover, having accepted these premises,—no Creator, no authoritative revelation, no divine moral law, no human accountability,—it is logically absurd to believe longer in the binding obligation of a memorial Sabbath; for it stands as the direct antithesis to all these disbelief s. Hence, the idea of an actual Sabbath is steadily vanishing from among men. But the Sabbath of the Bible is based on the recognition of a personal Creator. It epitomizes the very principle of all loyalty to God, and constitutes the seal of His sovereign law. So it stands as unique in the midst of a world relapsing into treason toward Him. And, when the issue is understood, it becomes the tangible test of man's allegiance to God.
These two concepts—the world's and ours—are mutually antagonistic and exclusive. Once either group of premises is believed and accepted, the conclusions to be drawn therefrom are unavoidable. And each passing year of recent decades has deepened the gulf between them. It has tremendously increased the meaning of this movement, separating it farther and farther from both the secular and the religious world about us.
These trends of the day have given to this movement in general, and to the Sabbath truth in particular, a significance that could not possibly have obtained in the early days of this message. God foresaw it all, and adequately prepared for it all. This situation throws a wealth of meaning into that luminous expression in "Early Writings" that just before the time of trouble the heralds of this message "went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully."—Pages 83, 85. What heights and depths and lengths are here implied! The changed world attitude is already giving it a significance before impossible. The advocates of the Bible Sabbath therefore assume a new role in the earth that will make them increasingly the object of derision in the midst of a world gone apostate. And this contrast will deepen as apostasy becomes more pronounced.
In the remnant church itself, because of tribulation and deepened spiritual experience in preparation to meet God, it becomes a sign of rest from sin through the same creative power that established the world and its appointed memorial.
But, alas! the departures from the faith are not confined to the great heedless world. The warnings of Holy Writ are not all to be applied to nominal Christian bodies. "Some shall depart from the faith" (1 Tim. 4:1), includes some of our own members and ministry. The "perilous times" (2 Tim. 3:1) are not restricted in influence to those unaffiliated with this movement. The impatient cry of the scoffer, "Where is the promise of His coming?" (2 Peter 3:4) is not limited to the out-and-out rejector of the advent.
There is an insidious influence operating partly from without and partly from within to bring a note of uncertainty into the lives and message of our workers. It is the scheme of the evil one that a relentless pressure shall be exerted upon men to cast away their confidence in these last hours. Some have already done so, and others are, consciously or unconsciously, doing it in varying degrees.
We must face the issue squarely. Is this movement a mistake? Was it based upon false premises? Is it without divine credentials, and so devoid of a divine commission? Is there reason to question the nearness of our Lord's return, the closing ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, the Sabbath truth, and the other rugged foundation stones upon which this special gospel message was built? With all the earnestness of our being, we respond to each question, Nay! Never have the massed evidences been so numerous and convincing as today. Where there was one witness fifty years ago, there are a hundred confirmations today.
There is nothing more pathetic than to see one who has devoted years of his life and service to the proclamation of this message falter, become bewildered by the confusing voices and vagaries about, lose his bearings, and then drift out from us either in spirit or in actuality. God can and does bless the ministry of men compassed by human weaknesses and limitations, but personal confidence in the fundamental verities of the message we preach is imperative to its successful proclamation. It is likewise indispensable for the worker's own soul's sake. To maintain the integrity of his self-respect, it is essential to believe unreservedly the rugged truths that, unscathed, have stood the test of years, the assaults of enemies, and the betrayal of friends.
Let there be no mistaking the issue. It is the fact of God that is under fire. It is the veracity of His word that is at stake. It is the foundation of elemental Christianity that is challenged. The crisis is the most profound and sweeping in human history.
This movement was raised up to meet this issue. It must and will remain separate and distinct from all other religious movements to the very end. We will never merge even with other Fundamentalists, noble as is their stand upon many truths. We cannot lower our colors, and they will not give our message.
There are, thank God, many auxiliary agencies and stalwart individuals whom God is using as assisting adjuncts. They constitute pathfinders, breaking down prejudice, preparing the way for the logical and inevitable reception of this message by honest-hearted truth lovers. Many of these will yet unite with us, for God has His people scattered throughout the communions of Christendom. These we are to call out of corporate Babylon, as well as to gather converts from heathendom.
How tragic that any should devote their interests and energies to nonessentials or side lines in the face of all this. There are many interesting and helpful fields that allure today, but what will be our responsibility as ministers if we allow ourselves to be diverted to interests that do not rise to the demands of such a time as this? If one has no divine message, he would better cease preaching, and so make room for him who has such a message. If he has lost his bearings and his confidence, he would better drop everything and address himself to the one task of regaining his bearings and reestablishing the basis of his confidence.
It is fundamental for us individually, and without mental reservations, to believe that this movement arose at the divinely appointed time to complete the arrested Reformation, to restore the lost or neglected truths of the Bible, to proclaim the everlasting gospel to a world in revolt,—aIl with the threefold message of Revelation 14 as its working program. This is the hour for every worker to reaffirm his allegiance.
L. E. F.