Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 30, 1967
NUMBER 46, PAGE 4-5a

The Fundamental Law Of Life


Church historians have long recognized that nearly every religious heresy has its origin and gains currency because some basic and fundamental teaching of Christianity is being neglected. Take two modern denominations as examples, Methodism and Christian Science. When a little group of students at Oxford began to practice "the methods" by which they hoped to develop a more vital and meaningful religious life, their hunger had its basis in the cold, formal, lifeless ritualism of the established religion. The Church of England was spiritually dead; there was neither warmth nor soul in its routine liturgy. Zeal, fervor, a sense of commitment and dedication, the exultant joy of a close and intimate union with Christ -- these elements were almost completely absent. And Methodism was born. Seeking to overcome the lifeless ceremonialism of the church they knew, the "methodizers" (as their fellow-students dubbed them) went to the opposite extreme. The Methodist Church (or, as the Wesley's and their friends thought of it, the "methodizing" branch of the Episcopal Church) became inebriated on emotionalism. Their earlier meetings were virtual bedlam, a wild and unrestrained emotionalism gone to seed.

Christian Science gained a following because the churches generally had failed to emphasize the place of spiritual meditation and of prayer. Mrs. Eddy was probably quite unaware of the spiritual vacuum in the organized churches of her day which was to provide a receptive and fertile soil in which the seeds of her heresy might grow and develop. But if the American churches of a century ago had been truly and faithfully following Bible teaching as to meditation and prayer (even if they had been wrong on nearly everything else), Mrs. Eddy's church would have come forth still-born.

Coming closer home, it seems entirely possible that the contemporary excitement over "The Holy Spirit" among our more liberal brethren may be closely related to the coldly calculating computerized "Madison Avenue" approach to Christianity as seen in such projects as the highly publicized "Campaigns for Christ", the Herald of Truth, and a weird assortment of other schemes, programs, plans, promotions, gimmicks, and grandiose gymnastics by which ambitious and energetic brethren are trying to "sell" the public on the idea of becoming "Church of Christers . " One gets the impression that skilled professionals in public relations are calling every move, calmly calculating and evaluating the probable effect of each statement and pronouncement as they move the Church of Christ slowly, gradually, but inexorably toward a denominational posture. Christ, the suffering Savior, becomes impersonal and remote; the big objective is to "get on the march," do big things, create excitement and enthusiasm for specific projects; use all the tried and successful tricks and techniques which have proven effective in the business world in creating the proper "image" for the Church of Christ.

And now, enter the heresy! In rebellion against this de-personalized, materialistic, computerized Christianity, a considerable element of brethren in the liberal churches (even some of those most active and energetic in promoting the "big-business" approach to Christianity!) have felt an emptiness and dearth in their own lives

and have sought personal, immediate, sensual (of the senses) contact and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Surely it is not without significance that the Conservative brethren and congregations, opposed, ostracized, often misrepresented and vilified have NOT been affected by the current heresy; but the liberal brethren and churches are the ones most susceptible. Why is this? It seems probable that Conservative Christians under present day conditions have been much more likely to feel a personal relationship to Jesus Christ than their more liberal, denominationally oriented brethren would experience. Under heartache and opposition (often persecution) brethren have turned to the Lord in utter humility and dedication. They have looked to Heaven, not to the brotherhood, for reward and acceptance. But the great majority, inebriated with the exhilaration of their promotions, have become the victims of the very "success" they worked so hard to attain. In the loud hurrahs of the band-wagon psychology, the Lord has personally disappeared; he has been lost in the limbo of gimmicks and promotions.

Let conservative Christians be warned by what is happening to our more liberal brethren. Just as their bally-hoo and promotions created fertile ground for heresy by promoting the "campaigns" rather than the personal relationship with the Christ, so our opposition to their projects may become an all-absorbing preoccupation with us

leaving scant opportunity for the development of that personal relationship with Christ which is so vital to our very identity as followers of the Nazarene. This was the thing Paul described in his glorious statement of commitment: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me..." (Gal. 2:20.)

It is a fundamental law of life that extremes tend to beget extremes. A failure in one phase of doctrine tends to bring failure in the opposite direction by an over-compensation. The best (and only preventative) for this sort of thing is a balanced and comprehensive acceptance, teaching, and practice of "all things whatsoever (Christ) commanded." (Matt. 28:20.)

F. Y. T.