Man is plunging deeper into abysmal depths beyond his control—depths of moral chaos, depths of political dilemma, depths of an atheistic Christianity, depths of uncontrolled science.
Thomas Carlyle, the English essayist and historian attended a house party on a New Year's Eve. Late in the evening he became bored with the trite, idle chatter, and quietly slipped out into the dark night. He made his way down to the seashore. A storm was raging. The sea crashed at his feet. The heavens thundered overhead. The blackness of night seemed to blend into the blackness of the surging sea. As the old year merged into the new, the soul of the philosopher was caught up in the bigness of it all. He cried out: "I stand at the center of immensities, at the conflux of eternities."
That is where humanity stands today.
We stand in the center of immensities—immensities in the scientific, moral, and spiritual worlds. Many of the twentieth-century immensities stagger our imagination. They beggar description.
The Immensity of Scientific Discoveries
Scientists have probed the secrets of nature for centuries without getting very far. Then suddenly something happened, and is happening. Today we live in a world of scientific wonders with today's achievements only a fumbling prelude to tomorrow.
The Immensity of World Population
The world population increase is frightening. Population explosion baffles our finest minds. There are too many people in a world with too little food. This is no longer an abstract problem of the future. It is here. It is growing urgent. Statisticians tell us that by the end of this century, in A.D. 2000 the world's population will have exceeded six and a half billion people. From that point on statistics go berserk. Scientists are now talking in terms of an "ecumenopolis," or a worldwide metropolis. People themselves have become a weapon that could ultimately destroy them.
The Immensity of Moral Decadence
Society today in the Western world is facing a moral crisis. Every facet of our lives is invaded by moral disintegration. Moral decay, moral pollution, is teeming all around us.
One historian recently said: "The moral deterioration in the West will destroy us by the year A.D. 2000, even if the Communists don't."
We are in the midst of a moral crisis in the United States because many Americans who want to try to live decent moral lives no longer can be certain of what is right and what is wrong.
The Immensity of Spiritual Emptiness
Never has the Christian religion been so thoroughly respectable—yet never so totally disconnected with life. We are hearing more about a religionless Christianity from pulpits. Church leaders are increasingly proclaiming a humanistic gospel. There is a movement among Protestant theologians to recast the Christian message in order to make it more acceptable to modern man.
Traditional beliefs are being discarded. God is gradually being humanized, man is being deified.
The Immensity of a NOW Generation
Time magazine, in its New Year's issue of January 6, 1967, broke tradition by naming as its "Man of the Year" the now generation of youth. The younger generation looms larger now than all the promises of science and technology. At this present moment there are nearly 90 million youth who are twenty-five years of age or under. Time magazine sums up by declaring: "Never have the young been so assertive or so articulate, so well educated or so worldly."
Surely the world faces depths of immensities in all areas of modern life beyond anything previous generations have ever encountered. It is in the setting of these immensities that I call your attention to a unique but striking phrase from the Bible. It is tucked away in the forty-second psalm and in the first four words of verse 7: "Deep calleth unto deep."
There is something commanding in these remarkable four words. Here is profundity. This is not the murmur of a babbling brook or the ripple of a mountain stream. It is the surge of mighty waves—the sea lashed to fury by the merciless winds. There is bigness. The cascades and dashing torrents echo and re-echo over the hills and down the ravines. "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts." It is the voice of many waters. It is the awesome struggle of man and his environments. It is the cry of humanity that has come unto waters far beyond its depth. Mankind may well say: "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me" (Ps. 42:7).
Science should be a blessing to humanity, but the very depth of scientific achievements create a problem. Science dedicated to solving our problems has itself become a problem. Science has produced DDT to kill bugs; 2-4-D to kill weeds, formula 1080 to kill rats, and E=MC' to wipe out civilization. Guy D. Newman, president of Howard Payne College, stated it thus: "Man's knowledge has surpassed his wisdom. He is afraid of what he knows."
This is an age of spiritual emptiness. This is a time when the Christian church is dethroning her God. It is not that there are fewer churches or less attendance at Christian churches. Actually, church attendance is at an all-time high. But it is also true that the sale of pornographic literature is at an all-time high. Our modern society has become so obsessed with sex that it seeps from the pores of all our national life.
Unless there is a decided change, historic Christianity as we have known it will become extinct. And this is precisely what will happen, for the pen of inspiration with prophetic insight declared:
"Christ looked down the ages. . . . He saw how real Christianity would become almost extinct, so that at His second advent He would find a state of society similar to that which existed before the flood. . . . Even the churches would be demoralized, and the Bible would be neglected and desecrated."—ELLEN G. WHITE, in Signs of the Times, April 21, 1890.
Real Faith or More Religiosity?
But out of the depths of a demoralized and decadent Christianity would emerge a new humanity. At a time when the world has reached its deepest depths of apostasy, a true spirit of Protestantism will be manifested which will awaken the world. An energized Christian minority will differentiate clearly between real faith and mere religiosity. Let me read this to you, also from the servant of the Lord:
"While the Protestant world is, by her attitude, making concessions to Rome, we should arouse to comprehend the situation, and view the contest before us in its true bearings. . . . Let the watchmen now lift up their voice like a trumpet, and give the message which is present truth for this time. Let them know where we are in prophetic history, that the spirit of true Protestantism may awaken all the world."-- Review and Herald, Jan. 1, 1889.
This is a most revealing and remarkable statement. A spirit of true Protestantism is to be found among those proclaiming "present truth for this time." The message these true Protestants preach will "awaken all the world."
This places the creating of a new humanity squarely at our door. God has raised up the Advent Movement to do this very thing. The time will soon come when we alone will represent true Christianity in the world. All Christian church organizations will unite together and make concessions to Rome. They will join hands in forming an ecumenical super-Christian church that will "preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality" (2 Tim. 3:5, N.E.B.).*
At such a time as this we workers and laymen must address ourselves to creating a proper image of Adventism. We must be more active in the business of being understood. We must be more persuasive as communicators of spiritual truths. We must cause others to see the Adventist Church in its true light.
We must create a spiritual atmosphere wherein flashes of divine glory will light up the brooding darkness and tinge the storm clouds of the remnant hour. Glorious indeed will be the consummation of true Christianity as revealed in the Advent Movement.
The New English Bible, New Testament. © The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1961. Reprinted by permission.