Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 25, 1954
NUMBER 41, PAGE 10-11b

The Problems Of Today: Basic Error Of Modernism, Liberalism And Digression

Wm. E. Wallace, Akron, Ohio

The essential thing in life is conformity. We must conform and we must have conformity to universal laws. Without conformity society suffers, and the degree of suffering depends upon the degree of the lack of conformity. Conformity is necessary in all the realms in which we are active: In nature, in the social realm, the economic sphere, in government, and in religion.

When there is a lack of conformity in the natural realm poor health is resultant. The natural laws governing the various functions of the physical body are violated and the individual's efficiency in activity is lessened more and more as the capability of the body is lowered. The final end is physical decay, destruction, and detergency. Natural law requires one to eat, but to eat the right foods. It requires him to eat enough but not too much. Natural law obligates man to be active, else lapse into physical inability. It requires him to have the proper environment enabling the body to carry on its functions unrestricted by lack of certain elements or the presence of detrimental components. The requirements of nature force a man into rest at regular, frequent intervals, without which physical efficiency is weakened, lowered and hindered.

In society there are folkways and mores, the sociologists tell us: Folkways, the norm of feeling, action, and thinking common to members of the social group: Mores, custom fixed by the force of enacted law. To act in opposition to these folkways and mores is to violate the moral code and established customs of society. Such behavior amounts to misbehavior and brings ostracism upon the individual. Socially, citizens must conform to that which holds society together enabling them to have peace, security, and unity. Unless one does so, he is cast out, put away, or eliminated. When folks become progressive, liberal or digressive in their conduct socially, the norm of behavior is disturbed. If it goes far enough, becoming general, destroying morality, folkways and mores, society is wrecked and its composite becomes barbarian.

In the economic field there is the necessity of conforming to principles of honest investment and gain. To violate principles of economic health is to bring financial disaster. The essential thing, they tell me, is a balanced budget, a budget that has sufficient income to support its expenditures. When families, business enterprises or nations involve themselves in more than their income can handle, there is an impending doom hovering over them. A flippant attitude in spending, a reckless use of funds, constitute a failure to conform to sound principles in economics.

When civil government fails in its mission to protect, legislate and enforce law, expedite justice and work toward the best interests of the masses, there has been a lack of conformity to guiding principles somewhere.

The preceding illustrations or examples bring us now to parallel the situation in the religious world. Let me say here that I work from the hypothesis that the word of God is the standard of authority — the book we call the Bible. It is not my intention to just here go into the field of Biblical and textual criticism. Assuming the readers also agree that the Book is the standard of authority we proceed to present the wrong in modernism, liberalism and digression. Sufficient evidence may be presented to establish the Book as the only present day authority, but it should suffice now to say that it is the only religious authority reliable, authoritatively final, and perfect.

Modernism explains away the miraculous and supernatural in the Book, hence destroying the integrity of the authority. The authority lays claim to miraculous and supernatural origin and content, and to deny the same in it, marks it as a fraud, as an hoax. There is very little difference between modernism and liberalism. Most certainly modernism is liberalism, but not all liberalism is modernism in its essential form. Extreme modernism declares there is no final or absolute truth. All supposed religious truth is declared to be relative and subjective: Relative, because it has reference to and is related with basic assumptions in the minds of proponents; Subjective because it exists only in the ideas of the individual. Thus modernism leaves one out at sea without a harbor, no firm foundation, no anchor, no conformity. Modernism can and does lead to immorality, infidelity and lawlessness because it lacks conformity to that which is, and shall ever be. Liberalism is inconsistent in declaring a faith in the Book but denying its verbal inspiration, its miracles, and its infallibility. Liberalism is a deliberate deviation from the fundamentals. It attempts to hold on to faith, while flirting and committing adultery with modernism and infidelity.

As for digression, we see an acceptance of the authority, but a neglecting or ignoring of obligation to conform to principle, fundamental and example. Overcome by the effects of modernism and liberalism, digression looks upon the popular composition of liberalism and modernism and lusts for the worldly pleasure experienced in non-conformity. Eventually, digression leads to liberalism, then to modernism, then on to the bitter end of a wrecked faith.

To be practical, modernism brings the philosophy of man into the creeds, formal or informal, of men and organizations. Instead of preaching the individual's obligation to God in its purest form, it teaches a political and social morality governed only by the characteristics of the nation and age. Doctrinal truth and conformity to same is a remote idea of immature minds. Under the guise of "progressive revelation" modernistic religious groups indulge in politics and in that which belongs not to religion. They speak of God's revelation to that people being different to God's revelation to other people. They refer to "our God" and to "their God." They speak of our prophet, Christ, and to another's, Mohammad. Comparative religion is their theme in the classroom, putting the heathen on par with the Christian.

Liberalism in its practical application, in its more embryonic stage says, "Join the church of your choice and be baptized as you please and then worship in the way that suits you best and we'll all meet in the place of paradise."

As for digression in its practical application, we see a movement toward the pleasing of the lust of the flesh in feeding and entertaining the public as a function of the church, satisfying the lusts of the eyes in extravagant emphasis on clerical dress, superficial edifices and fancy services, submitting to the pride of life in blindly turning the work of the church to institutions and organizations.

That's modernism, liberalism and digression as I see it. They have no appeal to me. I prefer to conform to the Lord's will. I have confidence in the Book and I am confident that the present day and future attacks against it in the form of textual and historical criticism will fail as they have in the past. When the spears of the enemies have all fallen to the ground broken and blunted, the Book will still have all its beauty, all its brilliance. And there will still be those who fight for conformity to the divine pattern. While non-conformists without circulate, we see their influence pervade into the activity and teaching of those within. As long as there is life in me, and something of mental perception, I shall fight the tendencies, leanings, and movements among us toward digression — I know that digression is wrong within itself, and it leads on to liberalism and modernism.