Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 5, 1964
NUMBER 26, PAGE 4,8b

Our Most Dangerous Enemy -- Apathy


The October issue of Christian Herald has a chilling and frightening editorial concerning the general apathy of our citizenry in the face of lawlessness and crime. A number of instances are cited (most of which made the headlines of recent weeks or months) in which brutal murders, rapings, stabbings, and muggings were committed in the presence of scores of witnesses — and not a single timid soul had enough interest or concern merely to lift a telephone at his elbow and call the police! The piteous pleas of the bleeding victims were not unheard, but were unheeded. Nobody cared enough to do anything. Apathy, said the editorial, is our public enemy Number One, That editorial started us to thinking, but not about crime in the streets and violence in the dark alleys. It set us to thinking about the church of Jesus Christ and the general apathy which so many evidence toward her. We speak not of the unbelievers and the unsaved; nor yet do we have in mind the misguided zealots of the redeemed who are making such prodigious efforts to institutionalize the church and make her "like the denominations around us." But more particularly we have in mind those sound and faithful brethren, those many thousands who have not "bowed the knee to Baal," who have not worshipped the golden calf of popularity and "on the march" progress, whose minds are clear and unclouded in their understanding of such apostasies as the Herald of Truth, church support of secular education, church benevolence societies, and such like. We are thinking of the conservatives in the land — perhaps as many as 200,000 of them — who are determined to "walk by faith" not only in doing God's work, but also in doing God's work in God's way.

At least, that's what they say.

But are they doing it? Are they really DOING God's work in God's way or any other way? Are they making the effort to reach the unsaved that faithful Christians ought to make? It is easy enough to be critical of the "promoters" who resort to all sorts of "gimmickry" to whip up crowds and enthusiasm sensational mass meetings, exploitation of movie and television "names" like Pat Boone and poor Billie Sol Estes with his overweening vanity and hunger for adulation. We find it easy enough to cluck with disapproval at the articles of those who are attempting to do God's work in humanity's ways — but what serious effort are we making to do that same work in God's ways?

How many conservative congregations have any positive, continuing, and constructive program to teach and encourage every member in the church in teaching programs? How many ever give more than a fleeting thought to the possibility of reaching the unsaved of Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, and the islands of the seas? What is being done to make the hours of public worship truly that — public worship? We know a few congregations in the nation which seem to be aware of these things, and which are truly making an effort to measure up. But over the nation generally we find a terrible spirit of apathy — a comfortable unwillingness to be jarred or challenged, an acceptance of things as they are, rather than an effort to bring things more into harmony with what God would want them to be. Apathy is our enemy. It is apathy rather than institutionalism or modernism that threatens the conservative churches of the Lord.

Because we have seen that, and have become increasingly aware of its danger in recent years, we are determined more than ever to use the pages of this journal to seek to combat the menace! For whatever months or years God may yet allot us, and with whatever resources we may command, physical and financial as well as intellectual and spiritual, we purpose to use this journal in a constructive program of teaching and exhorting. It is not enough for us to know the truth; we must also have such a commitment to it that the propagation of that truth in the hearts and lives of men becomes an all consuming passion with us.

Once again, and with all the earnestness at our command, we ask your help in getting the Gospel Guardian into the hands of new readers. Details of the plan are set forth in the advertisement on the back page of this issue. If the elders or those who take the lead in the congregation where you worship do not take the Guardian, then carry this issue to them and call the "Multiple Subscription" plan to their attention. If the congregation as such does not subscribe, then do what you can to get up a club of subscribers yourself. This is a good start on your own part in participating with us in seeking to arouse churches and individuals to the great unfinished task confronting us — the carrying of the gospel of Christ to all nations of the earth. This job, like most others of any importance, begins right in our own homes and in our own hearts! If we are to reach the world with the message of salvation, if we are to help our own brethren bestir themselves from apathy and indifference, the first responsibility and the first step toward our goal is the starting with ourselves! Ask not right now what you can do to arouse others; ask what you can do to make a beginning with yourself. You hold a part of the answer right in your own hands!

— F. Y. T.