Wise Up or Go Under

Reuel Lemmons
Austin, Texas

(EDITOR'S NOTE: When Editor Reuel Lemmons of the FIRM FOUNDATION is not advertising, commending, or promoting "projects, " "missionary societies," "benevolent societies," "left Wing theologians," "radicals," "intellectuals,' "the rebellious element" in the church, sermonizers who use more "high ideals" than gospel, "direct mail campaigns," or "that coalition o/social revolutionaries," he writes splendid editorials like the following one which he recently Wrote---Cecil Willis.)

A strong rip-tide is running through the church. We have only two alternatives: either wise up or go under. In the past we have seen great damage done because longsuffering brethren would not come awake to the dangers and would not take decisive action while it would still mean something. If we drift along allowing the church to be taken for a one-way ride we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

The number of radicals who think the church is nothing more than another denomination is increasing rapidly. The number of intellectuals who believe the Genesis account of creation is a myth is increasing. That coalition of social revolutionaries and quoters of left-wing theologians that has set itself to revolutionizing the church is gaining with every brazen insult to Biblical loyalty that goes unrebuked. More and more the platforms and publications open to them. They are scattered through the church like cancer cells.

One of the tragedies of our time is the fact that when one of them is identified and his ability to destroy is eliminated, he is promptly hired by someone else and given opportunity to start all over again.

The "in" thing today is revolution. In the last few years more than half the human race has acquired new political status. Organized religion has broken down, and everyone is screaming to be "free." An hour of unprecedented crisis faces the Lord's church.

Under the flood-tide of our times we may wake up to what is going on. The natural odds are with the revolutionaries. Fundamentalism and conservatism are at the bottom of the market in today's quotations.

In our permissive society the only sin seems to be hypocrisy. Popular opinion in the church is obsessed with the myth that all our work and worship has been but a whitewashed sepulcher and a hypocritical pretense. The tide is running that way. The rebellious element would have us believe that all we have taught and stood for has gotten us nowhere, but it was the permissive age that spawned drug dependence and hallucinary experimentalism. When men asked for bread they were given a pep pill or a tranquilizer. They asked for a fish and found snakes in their boots. And yet, the beat goes on.

There are a number of projects and societies among us that are projecting a unique pattern. They are missionary societies that are not called missionary societies, and benevolent societies that show holy wrath at being called benevolent societies. And brethren support them with no concern at all for what they are. Brethren could hardly care less what the Bible teaches about such things.

Direct mail campaigns can feed any number of unscriptural and even criminally motivated enterprises that stay within the limits of the criminal laws by ambiguous statements and token contributions to good works. Why do not brethren who are solicited think? Why do not brethren, especially elders, who could stop such things act? Had we rather be oblivious to the tide that is running?

Even the style of preaching is now, for the most part, ineffective, and a look at the lives of church members will fortify the observation. Preaching does not challenge because the message is not challenging. We have yawned through many a sermon on .ethics-- nothing more. Oh, they were dressed up with Bible words all right, but an atheist could have made as good a speech on the same subject. High ideals are not Christianity, and sermons that leave out the good hews of man's salvation from sin are not gospel sermons. They don't grab you.

We resent the attitude Of those who do not believe in the Lord's church and that for which it stands, but who remain in it so that they can bore from the inside to change it into something entirely different from what it was in New Testament days or what it has been in the immediate past. Honorable men would leave the institution in which they no longer believe and join one they could approve, or else start a new one that they could believe in.

We presume that they would be afraid to do so because it would be hard to gain followers for the new cause by any improvement they had made, or the greater clarity of faith they had demonstrated.

If this were some temporary riffle on the sea of our times, it would soon pass, with very little evidence of its ever having existed. But this is not a riffle it is a rip-tide. If we do not wise up we will go under.

Our hope lies in brethren being willing to make the personal sacrifices to become astute Bible students. How can we stop the mouth of tile gainsayer if we do not know a gainsayer from an apostle? A people who are still in love with the idea of Back to the Bible will hardly fall victim to the fair speech and good words of those who have little respect for the Bible. Everything we do today should be backed by a "Thus saith the Lord." This is the rock of ages that the rip-tide cannot demolish.


Feb. 24, 1970

Reuel Lemmons, Editor