"The churches of the country enter so largely into the character and direction of its growth, and accomplish so much that is helpful in various ways in the uplifting of society, that information as to their progress is of interest to readers outside as well as inside their varied folds. No one can fail to notice how much in a general way their teaching and aims have changed with the times, and to how large an extent sectarian differences and angularities are disappearing and being disregarded. Fifty years ago churches were looked upon chiefly as divinely constituted organizations, insuring their members safe passage to and first-class accommodations in a better world, and their teaching was mostly along theological and doctrinal lines. Every sect, while doubting the efficiency of the insurance provision in the tickets of all rivals, was wholly confident of its own, and missions to the heathen were urged on the ground that unless converted they were all doomed to everlasting punishment for not accepting what they had never heard of. This world was not worth thinking about; the worse off we were here the better it would be for us in the next, and vice versa.
"It is wonderful how complete and rapid the change has been. The churches now are trying to emphasize points of agreement, rather than of difference, and are working harmoniously together for moral and humanitarian ends. Theology and doctrine have been sent to the rear, and it is recognized that the true work of the Church is here and now in making this world a happier and better place for everybody to live in, on a basis of unselfishness and brotherly love. In this effort agnostic and churchman, Jews and infidels, are working together, and what a man believes is regarded as of comparatively little consequence."
How clearly those whose eyes are opened to the true teachings of the Bible can see that the difficulty of the writer of the above and the general difficulty of Christendom is that the Truth of divine revelation has been buried under nonsensical human traditions which make the gospel an absurdity to them.
There are two views of this matter. (1) If Christianity be merely a human contrivance, then no doubt it [R3829 : page 243] is safer and saner to disregard doctrine entirely and turn to fighting graft and political corruption, etc. (2) But if Christianity is a divine institution which calls for the submission of plans and schemes and teachings to the divine eternal purpose, then the present movement is a repudiation of God and Christ from Christianity. Hence we prefer to speak of the present institutions as Churchianity.
The Editor, above, surely voices the sentiment of nearly all of the worldly-wise, and we who differ appear to his class as "fools." Let us, however, stick to the Lord and his promises. Let us still believe that all the woes of earth came as the penalty of "original sin," and that Christ has redeemed the world and is about to roll away the curse and uplift and restore all the families of the earth to the extent that they will accept his favors, in due time. Let us preach that coming uplift as his work and acknowledge that all that selfishness will permit under present conditions will be as nothing compared with the real uplift coming in God's own appointed way, and in no other. By and by the collapse of present institutions will discourage others, but will more than ever convince us that God is moving in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.
Meantime let us give special heed to the message and work given us by our Lord, however foolish it may appear to others. We see that the present is the time for finding and polishing the Lord's jewels; the time for selecting, electing, the Royal Priesthood and schooling them for their coming service in gloryblessing all the families of the earth.Gal. 3:29.
There have been within the last few years a number of questions printed and sent broadcast to high schools and Sunday schools to test the knowledge of the Bible of high school and Sunday school students. All the questions have shown the school students to be amazingly defective in their knowledge, and particularly of the Old Testament. The reason has been discussed a great deal, and it seems to be that the Sunday school and home influence is diminishing. The Bible [R3829 : page 244] is less read in the home than it was a few years ago, and the number of children who have a fair knowledge of it is growing less and less. This shows the Bible is becoming obsolete.
"Professors of literature, even in colleges, have complained that students who have matriculated show an amazing lack of knowledge of the Bible. The Bible is becoming obsolete, and this fact has been exploited many times in the last ten years. In my opinion a knowledge of the Bible should be made a requirement in English of all colleges.
This speaker merely referred to the Bible as literature. Those of us who recognize it as the divine revelation must see to it that it does not become obsolete with us. The world can do without the Bible: indeed it was not given by God to the world, but "once delivered to the saints." To those actuated by faith and consecration the Bible is now and growingly the greatest of all books. Thank God for the "key of knowledge," by which its riches of treasure are now coming more than ever to our view.
To a very large extent the worship of Mammon has supplanted the worship of God. It is not a mere lip service, it is a living allegiance. It is by their works that the devotees prove their faith. We know that they believe in Mammon more than in God, for their lives give clear and abundant testimony. The evidences of this devotion are visible on every side. To what other cause can we attribute the evils that infest the government of our cities and that fill many of our State capitals with the stench of rotten politics; that turn many of our railway systems into gigantic instruments of extortion and build up a mighty enginery of finance with power to exploit the savings of a nation for the enrichment of a few?
Their actions prove that the real object of their faith and allegiance is Mammon. In their hearts they believe that Mammon is stronger and greater than God; that he is a better protector and friend than God; that he can do more for them than God can do. When the claims of Mammon and of God conflict their conduct makes it perfectly clear in whom they put their trust.
But these instances which I have mentioned are not exceptional. They are striking illustrations of tendencies which we see at work on every side. They are symptoms of a constitutional malady. Love of money, faith in money, devotion to material things has become the prevailing distemper of the time. It was doubtless true when the Apostle said it, but it is probably ten times truer now than it was then, that the love of money is the root of every kind of evil.Kansas City Star.