We are in an age of changing emphasis. Speaking in a general way, the Protestant church, after its birth pangs, has been fast forgetting its primal teaching. The founding doctrines are little thought of and less often preached. The spirit of evangelism has waned, and in many churches it is no more. Less and less is the mission enterprise growing. Missionaries are returning home, and there are few recruits to take their places even if the churches were prepared to send and support them.
Where are the men, with theses based on the Bible, who are eager to nail them upon the doors of dead, cold formality and ritualism? Where are the Husses, the Wycliffes, the Luthers, the Whitefields, the Wesleys, and the Moodys? Where are they? Thank God we believe there is still a voice or two crying in the wilderness. Listen to this Catholic criticism of the Protestant church:
"The Protestant must feel acutely the lack of a spiritual home most strongly when he realizes that his church changes like money values. He cannot tell from one day to another what his church stands for. He cannot attempt a prediction of what interpretation his minister will place upon this doctrine or that tomorrow, for has he not changed frequently in the past ?
"Yesterday, the minister declared that the book of Genesis is to be interpreted in strict accordance with the letter of Scripture. Today a new minister comes. He is fresh from a new school of theology, and he says that Genesis is not to be taken absolutely, but that it is only a fairy story from an ancient civilization. Tomorrow, today's minister goes on his way, and the new one will say that God Himself is not a Being who dispenses an even-handed justice to all men, but only a spirit, possibly no more than a vague feeling, possibly only a form of nervousness. Many Protestant sects have gone through exactly that cycle; they have evolved from one-sided interpretation of Holy Writ to a romantic escape from all religious responsibility."—E. T. Griebling, in America, Feb. 25, 1939.
What are the prospects of such history repeating itself in the advent movement? What are the trends, if any? They are indicated by what we preachers are preaching. What are the trends in our preaching? Each of us must answer this question, and finally meet it in the judgment. We should be familiar with the following counsel from the Spirit of prophecy:
"I have seen the danger of the messengers' running off from the important points of present truth, to dwell upon subjects that are not calculated to unite the flock and sanctify the soul. Satan will here take every possible advantage to injure the cause. But such subjects as the sanctuary, in connection with the 2300 days, the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus, are perfectly calculated to explain the past advent movement, and show what our present position is, establish the faith of the doubting, and give certainty to the glorious future. These, I have frequently seen, were the principal subjects on which the messengers should dwell."—"Early Writings," p. 63. (See also "Gospel Workers," pp. 302, 303.)
Are any of us running on a sidetrack and failing to realize the utmost importance of preaching the last solemn message that God will ever send to the world? Is there not a tendency existent among us to preach the philosophies of men rather than the everlasting gospel of the threefold message in Revelation 14? The Lord's counsel to us at this time is :
""There is before the church the dawn of a bright, glorious day, if she will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness, withdrawing, from all allegiance to the world."—"Testimonies," Vol. VIII, pp. II, 12.
"If she will honor the Lord God of Israel, there is no power that can stand against her."—/d., p.
"The Lord lives and reigns. Soon will He rise in majesty to shake terribly the earth. A special message is now to be borne, a message that will pierce the spiritual darkness and convict and convert souls. . . . We must now be terribly in earnest. . . We have no time for dwelling on matters that are of no importance. Our time should be given to proclaiming the last message of mercy to a guilty world."—Id., P. 36.
"Oh, I am so full of this subject that I cry to God, 'Raise up and send forth messengers filled with the sense of their responsibility.' "—Id., Pol. IX, p. 27.