The pioneers of this message, and their early successors, were pre-eminently men of the Book. They were conspicuously students of the Word. Their grasp of great Biblical truths and basic prophetic principles was astonishing. It was, of course, this intensive study of the Word on their part that laid the fundations of this heaven-indited message. Their mastery of the text of Scripture was often phenomenal, because they spent most of their study time mastering the essential message of the Book.
These pioneers could quote its passages and cite its texts as well as expound its principles with a facility that shames most of us today. We have allowed the pressure of a thousand temporal things to crowd out that singleness of devotion to Bible study which marked their simpler life. We have time, and we take time, seemingly, for everything else. These other things must be done. But the pressure of our crowded life has pushed deep, continuous Bible study back into the corners of time that are left. The tragic result is seen on every hand—in the pulpit, the classroom, the Bible study, the daily life, and in the substitute expedients so pathetically drafted upon.
Proportionately, the pioneers had fewer college graduates than we—though they were not unlearned and ignorant men. But those men studied fundamentals in a way that we but rarely begin to match today. We scatter our efforts and dissipate our strength over secondary details, in an attempt to be broader than they. And there were practically none, of course, among our founding fathers, with advanced degrees. But they had that which advanced degrees do not inherently give—that which seldom comports with advanced degrees and all they involve ; namely, they knew the Book and its basic message.
We, their spiritual descendants, have drifted into the actually superficial, albeit apparently learned, in the study of the Book. We know more about some things, at the price of fatal losses in other things. As a matter of fact, we today spend more time and effort studying books about the Bible than We do in mastering the Bible itself. We look up and cite a wealth of "authorities," and peruse countless commentaries, in an attempt to be—and to appear—learned, and to have proper scholarly support from the world's scholars. We often seem more concerned over what men say than over what God says. Something has happened to our thinking.
Our scholars are often erudite, for example, in the Greek or Hebrew text, but all too often they have lost the fundamental intent and larger relationships of the text itself amid the speculative niceties of their acquired technicalities. The basic truth at issue is lost in the display of erudition. They follow, doubtless unconsciously, in the wake of their teachers back in the universities of Babylon. And how could it be otherwise? That training was sought ; and now it constitute S the background and colors the attitude, the emphasis, and the outlook.
Such is the source of much of the unconcealable weakness and loss of message virility to be found among some of our advanced students, as relates to the Word. Pray tell : Just how can we expect to get actual light on God's divine message for today from men steeped in the Sunday-sabbath concept, committed to the natural immortality of the soul theory, ensnared by the evolution hypothesis, antagonistic toward the sanctuary and judgment-hour truths, denying the principle of the historical interpretation of the prophecies, scoffing at the year-day principle, repudiating the Spirit of prophecy and its inspired guidance for study and research, and scoffing at the supreme truths of the imminent secondpremillennial advent of Christ ?
Those men are committed to the beguiling theories of evolutionary development, gradual world betterment, a nebulous future antichrist, a ruinous past fulfillment of all prophecy, a spiritualized concept of the prophetic symbols and time prophecies, and the temporal return of the Jews ; and are enmeshed in the postulates of that neopaganism, behavioristic psychology, that controls their thinking and molds their research.
How dare a man contemplate, or have the temerity to present, the degree of doctor of divinity, gained in the universities of Babylon, as a credential for teaching or preaching this threefold message, the second stipulation of which is, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen.... Come out of her, My people." How dare we accept such a Babylonian credential in lieu of mastery of the truth? Shall a man go into Babylon to gain strength and wisdom to call men out of Babylon? To ask the question is but to disclose how far some have compromised with Babylon, as they have gone back to Babylon to drink from her wells of wisdom. Oh, for the living waters of truth fresh.from the Word!
Someone needs to sound an alarm. We need to grip ourselves and halt a growing trend that, if it becomes entrenched, will bring disaster through neutralizing our message.' We need to give ourselves to the study of the Wald until we are again known pre-eminently for our mastery and sound exposition of Scripture. Otherwise we shall go the way of all other religious bodies before us, who started out with a heavenly message, but who have bogged down in the morass of worldly scholarship with its erudite haziness, its loss of spiritual vision, and its blurring of truth, until its virility and its power to witness have virtually disappeared. We must not lose the very heart of our message to the world. We who proclaim it to others must not violate its mandate that we may be better prepared to announce the theory to others.
L. E. F.