TWILIGHT OF THE CHURCH
Many secular newspapers carry a page on Saturdays devoted to "News of the Churches," and to religious articles. Several Christian writers have commented on the astonishing fact that in one or two cases papers carried no such news and no religious articles the weekend of the Kennedy tragedy. Our first reaction would normally be that an event so shamefully shattering and of such worldwide import would demand extensive coverage and would naturally crowd many things out and perhaps the religious articles were somewhat irrelevant after the tragedy. That would be the charitable view, but some commentators went to work and found that the papers in question all carried many columns, even pages, on horse racing, sports, entertainments, horoscopes, women's fashions, the stock market, crime, and, of course, liquor and other ads.
Insignificant? Maybe. But in this materialistic age, religion is often the easiest thing to dispense with. To rewrite the religious news overnight in the light of the sudden calamity was, of course, a problem, but not impossible for capable journalists. Moreover, in a dark hour, what do men need more than the consolation only faith in God can offer? Without the spiritual fortitude of religious faith, the world will pass into the twilight that it so often would thrust upon the church of Christ.
H. W. L.
Things are too quiet for comfort. There is not enough reaction to the preaching of the Word. O for the good old days when "Mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." And "There arose no small stir about that way." If our preaching doesn't create a "stir," brother, there is something wrong. It should stir our own souls, our homes, our churches, and communities, our enemies, our friends, and even strangers who wish us neither good nor ill.
Such preaching must necessarily be provocative. It cannot "gloss over" the sensitive areas. Its aim must be sure and, like the arrow, have its point pointed! It must hit the mark. Such messages cannot fail to stir opposition and support. Sinners are uneasy under this kind of preaching. No small stir will accompany such efforts. This also demands Christ-centered sermons. Nothing stirs the soul or a city like the greatest story ever told surrounding the greatest life ever lived. Also, Spirit-filled prophetic preaching builds revival fires.
It is a paradox that in these stirring times there is such spiritual apathy. 1Ve need more of the vital element in our preaching, the conscience-pricking power of the Holy Spirit. Then will it be true of us as the apostles of old, "Mightily grew the word of God and prevailed," and "There arose no small stir about that way."
E. E. C.
PRONOUNCE IT RIGHT
The other day one of our successful ministers was publicly reading a statement from the Spirit of Prophecy. Unfortunately he mispronounced a most familiar religious term. It was not a mere matter of wrong accent, but rather a total failure to say it correctly. A wave of embarrassment swept over the audience of well-seasoned Adventists. This word was common to even the novice.
This awkward mistake could have been avoided had the preacher read every word out loud beforehand. Any words he was not acquainted with should have been quickly looked up in a good dictionary. Just a small thing, but Satan is eager to use a slip like this to advantage. Mental blocks, like static, may prevent further reception of truth because the mind of the audience may be focused on the mistake instead of what is being said.
I wonder whether Paul had in mind anything like this when he wrote: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed." The communicator of truth should package the truth with extreme care before final delivery!
J. R. S.
Probably no one is more often OT severely maligned than the gospel minister. Like his Master before him, he is called everything from a blasphemer to Baalzebub. Now, he can't be all of that, and it is doubtful that he is any. Howbeit, the true test of a man's character is how he reacts to calumny. Few men can stand like Jesus and answer "not a word." If the "report" is untrue, the effect is doubly repugnant. It is difficult enough to endure a justified reprimand. This is probably due to excessive personal pride or to the knowledge that the "corrector" is not infallible. Neither reason, however, constitutes justification for arrogance on the part of the offender.
Difficult as it is, lies seldom have to be answered. And many attempts to "answer" the charges only serve to publicize the same. We are not called to the gospel ministry to guard our reputations—rather that of Him who called us. In fact, self-defense is often interpreted as giving credence to the lie. The Master demonstrated the better way. He did not dignify the attacks of His accusers with an answer. If His life did not refute them, He chose to let the cynical hold sway. A lie contains the seeds of its own destruction. Given time, it will discredit itself. The pulpit is now, and ever will be, a base for the defense of the gospel. A lie is indefensible. Said the wise man, "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out" (Prov. 26:20).
E .E. C.