Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 7, 1950
NUMBER 18, PAGE 2-3b

The Modernism Among Us

Glenn L. Wallace

At the root of all our problems is a denial of the authority of Jesus Christ as expressed in the New Testament Scriptures. All departures from the faith have come as the result of men who substitute present day plans and schemes for the apostolic order. Modernism rears its ugly head in many forms today, but often its voice is subdued and the approach is through the subtle suggestions of those who are not satisfied with the Old Paths. They talk of the "ecumenical Church," "renewed interest in Biblical religion" and delight in sitting in the place of the "scornful" where they use their "graduate degrees" to whip the poor ignorant souls today who still believe in a first century religion for this evil twentieth century.

In the Chicago Christian, of Cornell Avenue Church, Chicago, Illinois, dated May 7, 1950, brother R. E. Box writes on the subject of "Dilemmas for Growing, Thinking Christians." Many of the statements brother Box makes reveal the modernism that is creeping out in this age. He is the Cornell Avenue preacher and says, "The reality of historical process means that human life is not static. Decisions are never made once and for all; each congregation must agonizingly find its own way." Brother Box surely means, since he is writing in a weekly church bulletin, that the church today should throw away the voice of inspiration of the Apostolic Age and agonizingly make our own way. If he does not mean that the Holy Spirit could not make our spiritual decisions once and for all, what else does he mean? And so today the preaching of Peter and Paul and the other inspired New Testament writers is not good enough for brother Box. We must find our own way independent of these inspired men. Again he says, "The values created by our fathers may be altogether irrelevant in our time, or else can maintain their relevance only by undergoing modification or transmutation, or the forms under which they find expression must be changed." Does brother Box mean that the values created by our fathers, the inspired apostles of the first century, are not relevant for this age? Does he affirm that the New Testament Scriptures "can maintain their relevance only by undergoing modification and transmutation?" Does brother Box believe that it is a sin to add to or take away from the New Testament teaching. (Rev. 22:18).

He advises: "We should strike out on an unfamiliar trail or even blaze a completely new trail" separate from the preaching of the men of the Restoration Movement. Will he deny that he does not also include the inspired apostles of Christ and writers of the New Testament in this statement? Will brother Box say that he believes the trail set by the apostles of Christ is adequate for today? While we are forsaking the old paths of the Restoration Movement, would he have us also forsake the old paths of the Apostolic Age?

With a slur upon the pioneer preachers of the south, brother Box makes this statement: "The Restoration Movement began as a reaction against rabid sectarianism on the American frontier in the last century. It has flourished in the south where conditions have favored its growth." The ignorant preachers such as Alexander Campbell, who defeated some of the greatest men in the fields of sectarianism and infidelity of his day; David Lipscomb, "the old lady with the broom," who turned back the tide of modernism and digression in his time; and in our own day such ignorant men as H. Leo Boles, N. B. Hardeman, and hundreds of others who maintained the cause of New Testament Christianity in the "South where conditions have favored its growth;" we should cut loose from such men as these and the quicker we do so the better it will be, according to brother Box.

"Now we are in a new century," says our modern preacher of Chicago. We do not deny that we are in a new century, but we deny that the gospel of the first century is inadequate for the twentieth century. Had it not been for the ignorant preachers of the south preaching the first century gospel of the apostles, there would be no church in Chicago today. Quite a bit of southern money, incidentally, was spent in building Cornell Avenue Church in Chicago.

Brother Box writes: "Our ministers have college degrees and graduate degrees. The noise of sectarian strife is dying away; many people in all churches are praying and working for unity. A new interest in the redeeming grace of God is promising to revitalize American Protestantism." We rejoice that gospel preachers are better educated today, but it is sad when we know that such hot beds of modernism as Chicago University and one of "our" theological seminaries on the west coast are producing some of these preachers who are seeking to "revitalize American Protestantism" instead of preaching the gospel of Christ. Brother Box thinks "the noise of sectarian strife is dying," but he shows himself ignorant of the forces of evil facing the church today. Sectarianism is not dying; it is only wearing a new dress. The Chicago brother says, "The Restoration pioneers can help us but little. We are on our own. What shall we do?" I tell you what we should do, brother Box. We should quit trying to press the claims of modernism by such sly and subtle subjects and declare the whole counsel of God, preach the gospel of the love of God, the eternal damnation of sinners who do not obey the gospel. Quit thinking and talking in terms of the "ecumenical church." If you will do this, you will see the church buildings filled and there will be no need for the program of worldliness and fleshly entertainment to attract the people to the Sunday night services.

Brother Box asks several questions in his article. First, "should we be offering men peace, or are we really come to bring a sword and to set a man against his neighbor and also against himself?" The answer to this first question, brother, is easy. The Lord Jesus Christ can tell you what to do if you are willing to listen to Him. He says, "think not that I came to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matt. 10:34-37) The second questions he raises is, "in this day of incensed missionary efforts and membership with better educated ministers, shall we shift to new emphasis in our preaching and thinking, or shall we continue to repeat in unaltered form what our frontiersmen-fathers set forth as the full gospel?" Brother preacher, we can answer your question if you will answer one for us. Did the apostles of Christ preach a full gospel in the first century, or did those ignorant men simply do the best they could in their day? What do you consider to be the full gospel of this day that the apostles did not preach? Do you believe what Jude says about the gospel of Christ: "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints?" This statement admits of no change in the Faith. It affirms that we should preach the "unaltered form" of the apostles. Brother Box's last question is put in these words: "shall we seek points of contact with the new vitality manifesting itself in American Protestantism, seen in the renewed interest in Biblical religion and Christian unity; or shall we continue our policy, forced upon by southern sectarianism, of complete separation from our religious neighbors?" Any New Testament Christian and thoughtful reader of the Bible can see that Brother Box is more interested in unity with "American Protestantism" than he is in apostolic Christianity. Paul would tell brother Cox, "come out from among them and be ye separate." (2 Cor. 6:17).

I do not know what course you will take, but I predict that such suggestions as you make will lead many away from "the faith" and then will find a haven with the modernists who do not want to be tied down by New Testament Scriptures. There is but one choice before us. We can return to the apostolic order, the way of the New Testament Church, or we can walk the way of Modernism with its program of "the ecumenical church" and "revitalized American Protestantism," Brother Box has told which way he is going.