Serving God in Heathen Molds
Fort Collins, Colorado
(Please study carefully, 2 Kings 16:1-16, before reading this article.)
The disposition of men to fashion their religion after their own wisdom and that of other men is not new. Deep in the centuries of the past, we find in God's people what we see many of our brethren doing today. The creations of the "nations about us" are often more attractive and appealing than those of the wisdom of God. The lingering impulse to be like the world and its course of religion is ever with us.
But this course of imitating false religion was preceded by Ahaz' reliance on the Assyrian king, rather than on God, for deliverance from Syria. It worked-so he "took the silver and gold in the Lord's house and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria" (2 Kings 16:8). Ahaz not only called on a heathen king rather than the Lord, but took that which was the Lord's to give to the king! When those kind of overtures are made toward the world and its religious forms, it is only a matter of time until we imitate its ways and wisdom.
Ahaz saw an altar in the heathen land of Damascus that he liked. He was so impressed that he wanted one like it for his land and his people. So he ordered the priest Urijah to build it for him. The priest complied. The people of God must have fallen to a very low spiritual state when even their king and priest both corrupt their service to God by the elements of heathen worship.
Division in Israel, sad as it was, was not the most tragic episode of their history, nor were the ensuing alternating periods of war and peace between Israel and Judah; it was the growing attachment of both, respectively, to heathen nations with comparable respect and honor as to each other. Even now, brethren will often maintain closer ties with false teachers than with each other. They have more respect for the methods and ways of false movements, than for that which they can devise together in harmony with divine wisdom for the furtherance of the cause of Christ.
Denominationalism and the church are so diverse that we cannot borrow their methods without also borrowing their type of thinking that is rooted in error. Sure, we have buildings to meet in as they do and Bible classes for different levels of learning and local preachers, but it is something else to imitate their use of buildings to entertain and feed in classes and to make "pastors" of preachers. It would be ridiculous to claim an act or idea is wrong just because "the denominations do it," but nevertheless, the fact that they do it may be good reason for us to exercise caution. Much of what they have that looks so good to us, as it did to King Ahaz, grows out of unscriptural thinking and a violation of scriptural principles. It seems to me that proper respect and reverence for the wisdom of God, combined with a little imagination and creativeness in application, could provide us with all we need to conduct the Lord's work in His divinely appointed way.
Truth Magazine XXI: 34, pp. 539-540