Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 25, 1962
NUMBER 37, PAGE 4,12b

The Challenge


It is time for conservative Christians to awaken! We are met with a challenge more fierce, a threat more ominous, a menace more dangerous than any the church has known in our century. The inroads of premillennialism, the almost forgotten controversies over the one-cup, the Sunday School, and half a dozen kindred questions pale into insignificance when compared with the present gathering clouds. The competition for the souls of men becomes fiercer and even fiercer with every passing week. It is not the saloon nor "the denominations" (the enemies our fathers faced) which challenges the very existence of the church in our day. The enemy has grown more violent and more evil; he has assumed other guises and disguises. On the one hand may be godless Communism; on the other may be aggressive, confident and growing Catholicism; but towering far over both of them is the greatest menace of all — paganism.

That America is essentially a "pagan" nation is too obvious to need much proof. The bland optimism of our post-war "prophets of gladness", the silly parrotings of even some of our own brethren about how "the church is growing" are now seen to be nothing more than empty boastings, just vain and wishful thinking. TIME magazine sums up that post-war religious boom something like this:

"Even the once touted, now tapering off, religious revival in the postwar U. S. turns out to have been largely a specialized boom in suburban churches, which folks joined to meet other folks and to get into the community swim, and which served up a kind of Christianity as bland and homogenized as if it came out of a suburban kitchen blender. All too often, 'the hungry sheep look up, and are not fed' anything more Christian than a discussion group or a softball team or an every-member canvass."

The hard truth is that America is NOT a Christian nation; she is not even a very religious nation. Materialism is her god; hedonism is her shrine. The fact that her idols are gleaming objects from the assembly lines of her factories rather than stone and clay images makes them no less idols and no less antagonistic to the truth of God. Where a dedicated Ephesian might have bowed down to the image of Diana and gone into a ecstasy of rapture in his votive offerings to the pagan goddess a cultured, well-educated American of the twentieth century is no less pagan just because the object of his affections happens to be a motor-boat or a television program. Diana, the motor-boat, and the television program have one thing in common — they take the place of God in the hearts and lives of their worshippers.

This materialism can be (and often is) disguised a religion. Witness the "churches" of our day; observe the emphasis they give to things of this world — magnificent buildings, rich and costly appointments in every phase of their activities; church kitchens, banqueting rooms, community socials, ball teams, church institutions of every kind and description, colleges, benevolence societies, youth recreation groups, etc. These are the enemies we face; this is the challenge that must be met. We can say what we will about our liberal brethren in the institutional churches, pointing out their lack of Biblical authority for their promotions, their spirit of "rule or ruin" in forcing division upon those congregations which do not unanimously accept their programs, their sinister and cynical schemes to further their projects — but let us never forget that they are victims of a pagan philosophy! Instead of a total condemnation of them (with the wounded spirits arising from such condemnation, we might better serve the cause of Christ by a sympathetic understanding of their problem — they have been "brain-washed" by American paganism. They have fallen prey to Madison Avenue and the gray flannel suit entourage — victims of an insidious and atheistic worship of materialism! Their tragedy is no less poignant because it brutalizes and perverts the noblest sentiments of the human heart — the love for helpless children and the desire to evangelize the world. Under the demoralizing influence of American paganism these great virtues are perverted to the destruction of churches, to the fomenting of hatreds and malice among brethren. And the very purveyors of prejudice themselves are ignorant of what they are doing!

Meeting The Challenge

And how shall the challenge be met? Well, the easygoing, leisurely pace of the past will never get the job done. Overcoming this evil is a seven-day-a-week job, and twenty-four hours in each day. This challenge must be met with a total consecration, exactly what Jesus meant when he said, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30) Exactly what difference will this make in the life of the average Christian? It will shake him out of his easy acceptance of things as they are, and fill him with an insatiable desire for work; he will understand the zeal and devotion of a servant like Paul, the unswerving determination to serve the Lord at all costs and under all circumstances.

Those Christians who are committed to a conservative position, who have already cast their lot for eternity on abiding by a "thus saith the Lord" will implement their convictions as never before — working, teaching, sacrificing, serving with untiring love for their Master. A total attack by Satan will be met by a total dedication by those who are attacked. Herein lies our hope of salvation — salvation of the church from a pagan world, and salvation of our souls from eternal hell.

-F. Y. T.