Conversion - RR176A2
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[Tape abruptly begins] ---has shifted from God to man. Man is more interested in himself and is his own ultimate frame of reference and authority. For him it is not: “Thus saith the Lord”, but increasingly on any given subject most people will brush the Lord word aside and say “well, I think” and “I feel”. I have found that even with ministers too often, a theological discussion is impossible because I think and I feel not thus saith the Lord governs them. Not surprisingly, psychology has replaced theology, as determinative in modern thought. Instead of a concern to know God and the world he made, man wants to know about himself, and many psychologists see their discipline as the determinative one. Thus most modern psychologists have held that it is the goal of psychology as Allport said, to reduce divisions and establish a scale of probable truth. For Allport and for the entire school that followed him, psychology is first the objective judge and peacemaker in the realm of thought. And second it is the best judge if not the only one of what he called probable truth. For Allport, religion was membership in humanity; it was relating one’s self to other men and to the environment. In his own way, Allport looked for the conversion of all men, but to a democratic non-normative religion of living in harmony with nature, but the way was prepared for him by the churches! By protestant and catholic pietism, pietism heart religion and tells us no one know what’s in the heart so don’t judge anyone. For as our Lord says, a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire, wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Paul says do we make void the law, through faith? God forbid. Yea we establish the law. [00:03:30]
And James the brother of our Lord says what doth it...
And James the brother of our Lord says what doth it profit my brethren though a man say he have faith and have not works, can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and if one of you say unto him depart in peace, be warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body, what doth it profit? Even so, faith if it hath not works is dead, being alone. So speaks our Lord. Paul and James, and all the law and the prophets, they tell us in a man’s work reveals his faith, that what is manifest in his heart will reveal itself in his life. But pietism stresses the heart and its unknowable nature. We are told thus in plain defiance of scripture that we can neither know nor judge the heart of man, thus pietism has led to psychologism. To this era of the dominance of psychology to the belief that to know a man we must know his inner being, his psychology whereas our Lord says by their fruits ye shall know them. Men in cultures are known by their fruits, to go searching for knowledge about a rapist in his heart is to deny the truth of his acts. It is to insist there is another kind of truth than what scripture speaks of. [00:05:36]
As a result, we have a problem today...
As a result, we have a problem today; many are ready to believe that a rapist, a murderer, or a wife beater is a good man at heart, that a whore can have a heart of gold. Pietism thus is a form of blasphemy. Second, pietism has led to soap operas, the essence of a soap opera is the belief that people who commit all kinds of crimes are sexually promiscuous, dishonest, generally lawless, are really good misunderstood people at heart. Stage and television, the films, are full of this nonsense. I shall never forget a film of the 1930’s which struck me then and still does as the epitome of hogwash, of the modern attitude. In that character in the early to mid-30’s an island bar girl, to describe her politely, sang a song intended to evoke pity and sympathy and tell us what a good she really was. She sang “they call me south sea rose. I’m fickle they suppose, it seems nobody knows I’m craving for love. I could be true to one and only one”, and so on and on, you get the picture. Today although pietism often gives its disapproval to film fairs, they are unaware that the premise of all these films and soap operas is the good old time pietism, the heart religion, the separation of faith and works, of the heart of man from what he does day by day. As a result, shrewd defense attorneys know that the best kind of juror to get if they want an acquittal is an older woman who does little but stay at home and watch soap operas, because she will be reading all kinds of motives into the dear boys heart, how he’s really good at heart and something made him do it, not himself. [00:08:40]
Pietism withdraws from reality, pietism as it rose...
Pietism withdraws from reality, pietism as it rose led to the abandonment of Christian schools, the surrender of the treatment of the mentally disturbed, the care of the sick, the welfare of the poor and much much more to the state. And pietistic Arminianism with its revivalism led to social action, to a concentration on the state as the answer for every problem, as the agency for social salvation. This fact has been documented repeatedly and ignored. In a very very important book in 1971 David J. Rothman entitled The Discovery of the Asylum, Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic, wrote about the great revolution in social practice that took place during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Jackson was good on one thing, monetary policy, but on everyone else he was a statist to the core, as were people in his time. It was the greatest social revolution in the history of the United States. As Rothman points out, in the colonial period and prior to Jackson, people were not sentenced to prison, but to restitution, corporal punishment or capital punishment. Homeless children lived with their relatives or neighbors and it was assumed that it was their duty to take in those homeless children. The mentally sick were cared for by their families or relatives, Christians maintained hospitals and schools and colleges. And in every sphere, the family was the key institution for coping with problems according to Rothman. But as he writes and I quote: “Americans in the Jacksonian period reversed these practices. Institution’s became places of first resort, the preferred solution to the problems of poverty, crime, delinquency and insanity.” [00:11:31]
The Church surrendered the government of the United...
The Church surrendered the government of the United States because the Church took care of welfare, of health, of education, of the mentally sick, of the homeless, it was a government. Congress met two weeks in a year, the supreme court met two weeks in a year, most legislators knew when they were elected they would go to the state capital for maybe a week or ten days every other year. Most of the government was by Christian agencies and all this was surrendered in a few years, under the influence of pietism. The Jacksonian reforms created problems, the problems of our time. All the answers recede in statist action and the Unitarians came into their own because for them the state was the true church and agency of salvation. Prior to Jackson immigrants pouring in in great numbers every day of the year were cared for by Christians, given training, job training, taught English, taught home making, their children put in schools by Christians. Christians in those days knew how to use their hands and their pocketbooks for the Lord. Sermons were preached, tithe agencies created, to minister to every need. All men were declared to be stewards to what God gave them, and they had a duty one to another. As Rothman said and I quote: “Without second thought they relieved the needy, the widows and orphans, the aged and the sick, the insane and the disabled.” They did it because the word of God required it. [00:14:05]
But the Church had swung over to heart religion, pious...
But the Church had swung over to heart religion, pious gush, have a warm glow which you can get very cheaply from beer. And so Rothman said, from the family, the church and the network of Christian groups as the key means of dealing with everything including crime, society turned to the state. And it turned because Christians had abandoned the bible, they no longer said that sin is the problem in the state, in society. No, sin was just purely a theological term, it had only to do with your relationship to God, to a few select sins, you know? And nothing more. Victor (Porea?) described that little select circle of sins beautifully yesterday, began with number one: no smoking. There was a time by the way, when coffee was high on the list. I guess too many pietists drink coffee now. Let me add, I’ve never smoked, and I’ve never tasted coffee so I’ve never subscribed to the pious, the pietist beliefs either. Now, Jacksonianism held the roots of deviancy were not in the criminal but in the legal system, the right kind of law, they said, would end the problem. And what do you know, the number one cause of all problems, they said was the family. Sounds familiar does it not? If the boy grows up to be a criminal, his parents were to blame. And as a result, not only was the doctrine of sin dropped, but crime was now an offense against the state, and deviant behavior was defined as a social not a religious question, environmentalism had replaced theology. As Rothman said, not a Christian by the way, and he talks better that most preachers, I quote Rothman: “Crime was not inherent in the nature of man as the Calvinists have asserted, according to these men.” Unitarianism was emphatic on the family as the root of all evil. [00:17:14]
There was a major transformation in the view of man...
There was a major transformation in the view of man in the world, Hagel had a generation earlier introduced cultural evolution, subsequently Darwin introduced biological evolution, and now man was not to be understood in terms of himself, in terms of his sin, but in terms of his past. He was to be viewed as a product of his evolution, his past, and man was the victim of his childhood. As Rothman said and I quote again: “they stripped the years away from adults and turned everyone into a child.” Then the penitentiary was born, a humanistic institution, the Quakers were the midwife, the belief was that now everyone was to be saved by being put into a prison, separated from his evil environment, his friends and his family so that his inner light could take over and regenerate him. It was to be self-salvation. Most Unitarians and Armenians united in feeling that the cure for all problems, for all crimes was the penitentiary. In fact, one very zealous Arminian pastor James Bradley Finley, a Methodist born in North Carolina, July the first 1781 who became a prison chaplain at the Ohio penitentiary, wanted to live long enough to see the penitentiary reform the world. He believed that if every person born were put into a penitentiary they would all grow up perfect. (Laughter) He wrote in his book published in 1981, Memorials of Prison Life and I quote:
“Never, no never shall we see the triumph of peace, of right, of Christianity until the daily habits of mankind shall undergo a thorough revolution. Could we all be put on prison fare for the space of two or three generations, the world would ultimately be the better place for it. Indeed, should society change places with the prisoners, so far as habits are concerned, taking to itself the regularity and the temperance, and the sobriety of a good prison, then the grandiose goals of peace, right and Christianity would be furthered. As it is, taking this world and the next together, the prisoner has the advantage.” [00:20:52]
Men like this held that all social problems were state problems, that the best rule of the church was to be a chaplain to the state, and the solution was not in God’s law but in state law and controls, so that when all men are controlled from cradle to grave, in a prison like state, salvation will come to all men. Now you know what they are working for. They are going to turn this country and the world into a prison, and save us all. Of course, that’s what Marxism is all about, and most efficient in doing. You see, we have the answers, we were working about and we surrounded them. Last year one united state senator, a liberal, said that if the churches wanted to solve the problem of welfare all that was need was for every church and synagogue in the united states to take care of one welfare family and the problem would disappear. Now not all churches can take care of one, maybe share in that, some can take care of several. But when you reduce the problem to the human level it is manageable. But the goal of all families today is to isolate themselves from the world, and to work for a retirement even further into a world of play. The church is no longer Gods barracks for training Christian soldiers, it is not the center of learning and action, but of training in heart religion. If you heart be right with the Lord, then neither what you do or do not do, nor the world outside your door is relevant, and so we have a spectator church, one man up at the front performing, and a lot of people out there sitting and doing nothing. Is it any wonder we produce Jim Bakers? A spectator church will produce a worthless congregation. But the church is Christ’s palace, his throne room where our marching orders are given, it is a place where men are to receive instructions and go forth and apply them. [00:24:11]
We cannot withdraw from the world...
We cannot withdraw from the world. As C.C. Goen, a brilliant historian has remarked concerning the mainline churches at the time of the civil war and earlier, I quote:
“Their formal religious authority was still the bible, the sola scriptura of the reformers--- Though unlike the reformers they interpreted less according to the norms of classical Christianity, than through the presumed competence of private reason and individual experience.”
This was the key, the experience mongering emphasis, and it led the church to surrender the world to Christ’s enemies. The good news, the gospel is more than our salvation, that is the starting point. It is the kingdom of God; the son of God came for this purpose to create as the last Adam a new humanity for Gods kingdom, and Mark tells us now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into galilee the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying that time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the gospel. Thus the key is the kingdom of God, not experience mongering, not a man centered stress, but the kingdom of God. And in terms of the gospel of the kingdom whereby we and the whole of creation are to be made a new creation, we must go forth, to undo the power of the fall, to destroy the reign of sin, to declare that by Christ’s atonement all things are to be made new, and that Jesus Christ, the first fruit of the new creation has risen from the dead, and the whole of the creation is His realm. Thus it is not only our hearts that need conversion because they do, but our whole lives and the world around us. And we are Christ’s soldiers to go forth in His service. Among the earliest documents of the church is the shepherd of Hermas. Hermas is a very simple childish document, written by someone without any great learning. Had it not been a very early document in the life of the church it would have received no notice but it is noteworthy that the shepherd of Hermas stressed community and being members one of another. We are told according to the shepherd of Hermas: [00:27:56]
“Now then listen to me and be at peace among yourselves...
“Now then listen to me and be at peace among yourselves, and be concerned for one another and help one another, and do not take the creation of God for yourselves alone, but share the gravy of life with those also who are in need. For by eating too much some of you are bringing on themselves illness in the flesh and are injuring their flesh, that hits me in the guts I don’t know about you, and the flesh of those who do not have food to eat is injured because there is not sufficient food, and their body is wasting away. So this lack of community spirit is harmful to you who have and do not share with the needy, consider the judgment which is to come, so let those who have more seek out those who are hungry.”
Such statements are common in the writings of the early church. Thus the (Didikai?) said and I quote: “do not turn away from the needy man, but share everything with your brother and do not claim is anything is exclusively your own, for if you are sharers in the immortal, how much more in the mortal things?” this is why the early church grew so rapidly, no matter how slandered, no matter how reviled by Rome, the pagan neighbors knew the caliber of these Christians. [00:29:48]
Helping them, helping people who were not of their...
Helping them, helping people who were not of their circle, it made an impression. And this sharing was not based on envy or a socialist mentality, Hermas for example did not say we are not entitled to luxuries if we are making the money, he simply made a distinction harmful and beneficent luxuries and he saw a rejoicing in God’s blessings as an incentive to help others as we ourselves prosper, and he said and I quote him again: “so this luxury is advantageous for the servant of God, and brings life to such a man.” The world has to be changed, it has to be made a new creation, this means the atonement and the regenerating power of Christ to make us a new creation is our only hope. And then Gods law as the way of sanctification. But now another kind of change has become a new gospel, the kind of change demanded by the Unitarians in the Jacksonian era was socialism. William Ellery Channing said of socialism that it was true Christianity, the (De Ave De Amine?) united Christianity and socialism in his thought. It was Channing who introduced it into America. Of the early church Philip Schaff wrote that it was truly a communion of saints. And it was a current expression “in thy brother thou hast seen the Lord Himself” as Schaff summarized the practice of the early church, the brotherly love expressed itself above all in the most self-sacrificing beneficence to the poor and sick, to widows and orphans, to strangers and prisoners, particularly to confessors in bonds. It magnifies this virtue in our view to reflect that the Christian at that time belonged mostly to the lower classes, and in times of persecution often lost all their possessions. Every congregation was a charitable society and its public worship took regular collections for its needy members. The offerings at the communion and love feasts first held on the evening afterwards on the morning of the Lords day were considered a part of worship. [00:32:59]
To these were added numberless private charities given...
To these were added numberless private charities given in secret which eternity alone will reveal, the church at Rome had under its care a great multitude of widows, orphans, blind, lame, and sick whom the deacon Laurentius in the Decian persecution showed to the heathen prefect as the most precious treasures of the church. It belonged to the idea of a Christian housewife and was particularly the duty of the deaconesses to visit the Lord, to clothe him, and give him meat and drink in the persons of His needy disciples. Even such a (poence?) of Christianity as Lucian testified to this deal, a zeal of the Christians in the labors of love though they see in it nothing but fanaticism. “It is incredible (says Lucian,) to see the ardor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing, their first legislator has put into their heads that they are all brethren” [00:34:20]
That quotation mentioned, let me add, parenthetically...
That quotation mentioned, let me add, parenthetically, Saint Laurenthius, or Saint Laurence. Again and again he was arrested and punished, and once when they knew that a collection had been taken for the poor, they sent for his arrest and were going to seize that treasury, but being forewarned he gave it to the needy promptly. And the arresting officers arrived just as the poor were leaving, and they demanded to know where Christ’s treasury was and he pointed to the people in the streets and said there is Christ’s treasury. They burned him on a grill, they were determined to make Saint Laurence hurt, and pay for his faith and courage. He never cried out. He opened his mouth before he died and with his same humor and grace and good will, he beckoned to the guards to come as close as they could and he said as he laid tied with chains to the grill: “turn me over, I’m done on this side now”. (Laughter) Now there was a man. [00:35:53]
When Constantine gave freedom to the church, permanent...
When Constantine gave freedom to the church, permanent charitable and other institutions quickly came into being to minister to every need and concern. Julian the apostate, hating both Jews and Christians admitted that among the Jews no beggar could be found, whereas among the Christians there was care, not only for their own, but even our own poor. Hospitals were very early created by the Christian community as well as other institutions. Julianus Pomerius at about 500 A.D. wrote on the contemplative life that it is not about ascetic withdrawal, fundamental to holy living he held was that sense of community which led a man to console the afflicted, feed the needy, clothe the naked, redeem captives, help strangers, and show wanderers the way of salvation. He declared faith to be the fountain and the foundation of justice and spoke of two kinds of injustice and I quote: “there are two kinds of injustice, one whereby we inflict injuries, the other whereby we neglect to avert those inflicted by others when we can. For in a certain sense we ourselves are oppressors when we scorn the downtrodden though we are able to defend them from oppression, nor does it avail me anything that I do not circumvent or deceive a man if I permit him to be deceived or circumvented. The same thing may be understood of sins, for if I see a man commit a sin and I not only do not reprove him but even consent to his sin, I make myself a sharer in his damnation, and I sin in all who sin when because of a certain malice in my unfeeling soul, I do not censure those who I know have sinned and are sinning. Let me add, because some historians stress the asceticism of men like Julianus Pomerius, he said and I quote: “to acquire wealth is a great good.” What all this tells us by way of conclusion is that Gods purpose in Christ is that we provide the world’s basic government. Of our Lord we are told, the government shall be upon His shoulders. With his resurrection and ascension Jesus Christ is the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The purpose of the king is that His saints shall judge, that is, rule the world by establishing arbitration courts by means of charity, by ministry of compassion to all, by Christian schools and I hope in due time, universities, this and more the church did for centuries and must do again. [00:39:38]
The emphasis in the past was on the kingdom of God...
The emphasis in the past was on the kingdom of God and His glory, not on man’s experiences, not on man’s ability to retire and enjoy life, and not on self-fulfillment. Instead of having our eyes on what others are doing or enjoying, we need to center our lives on God and His word, we need to declare with the Psalmist, not unto us O Lord, not unto us but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Thank you. (Applause) [00:40:43]