Vol.VII No.X Pg.2
December 1970

Historic Focus

Robert F. Turner

I was impressed by the analysis of world conditions by a noted historian (D. J. Boorstin, Readers Digest, Sept. , 1970; p. 92-f) who said that our up-to-the minute society makes it harder every day for us to keep our bearings in the larger universe, in the stream of history. He thinks. This imprisonment in the present tempts us to a morbid preoccupation with ourselves... We think we are the beginning and the end of the world; as a consequence. we get our nation and our lives quite out of focus

in our schools today, the story of our nation has been displaced by social studies — which is the study of what ails us now. In our churches, the effort to see the essential nature of man has been displaced by the social gospel-— which is the polemic against the supposed special evils of today... In a word, we have lost our sense of history.... Obsessed by where we are, we forget where we came from and how we got here.

This is precisely our reason for continuing a quote page (p.6) that delves into the past, and endeavors to keep us aware of the fact that todays problems in the church are but current versions of earlier counterparts. A cloud of witnesses watch us struggle with todays issues. We must not go to past solutions as having authority — but it does seem we should scout their struggle, and seek to learn something of this game from their experiences.

In this issue we publish the first of three quotes from a sermon of the last century. The writer was a popular preacher of his day, who had accepted mechanical instruments of music in the worship, and the missionary society. He did not consider himself liberal — (he deplored the rising liberalism among brethren, and struck out against modern- ism) yet, he had adopted the very course of lax interpretation, and speaking where the Bible was silent that brought about conditions he deplored.

Many good men today are doing exactly the same thing. They ring the same orthodox bell, and think they can dispose of the opposition to inter-church activities, benevolent organizations, etc., by belittling the size of that opposition.

Are we so brilliant, so complete, that we can learn nothing from the past? To think so is to doom our generation to repeat the mistakes of the past. Our one-in-twenty ancestors avoided digression by following God, not majorities. The same God rules our act in the drama of history.