Saturday, May 31, 2008

Right On!

The 2/08 issue of Christianity Today, , features an article by Chris Armstrong on the modern Church seeking to gain from ancient Christian sources what is lacking in modern day Evangelical Spirituality. The 4/08 issue contained letters of reply. One reply, written by Nic Gibson of Panama City, articulated my present appreciation of ancient Christianity along with my concerns that the Evangelical heritage is being rejected outright without any knowledge of its historical context or its current vital contribution to the contemporary Church.

Pastor Gibson begins his comments with the statement that he has found the writings of past Christians more nourishing than contemporary spiritual literature. Then he continues with this statement: "While in seminary, however, I grew uneasy as I saw the ancients and their practices become trendier, and more students' infatuation with them become unmeasured. I was concerned by the "scorn" being heaped upon "modernist" evangelical leaders by inexperienced students with scant knowledge of other leaders' times or even of the Reformation itself." After briefly describing his encounter with Evangelical writers such as Carl Henry, Stott and Packer, who Gibson labels pastor-scholars, Gibson concludes: "In not knowing even the history of modern American evangelicalism, I fear that many in my generation are simply recycling the pragmatic instincts of the boomer generation they so wish to be unlike, while being unaware of the lessons evangelical leaders learned before 1977 or so."

Pastor Gibson has indeed expressed my concerns exactly. As I read his letter, I said within myself, "Right On!" He is someone who values what Tom Oden would call the Classical Christian Consensus, one who understands and profits from historical Church teaching, one who appreciates the spiritual writings of those outside the Evangelical tradition. Also, he is able to discern the shallow spirituality of much contemporary Evangelicalism. Yet he does not wish to abandon the Evangelical tradition. He understands the historical context from which the Evangelical tradition arose and knows that if the Evangelical Church turns back to its own roots, it will again play a vital role it once did in the Western world.

My seminary education introduced me to the early Church Fathers and broadened my mind to gain spiritually from writers from all branches of the Church. One rationale for this blog's title is to encourage discussion and lively debate with brothers and sisters of other traditions. However, reading the criticisms of the Evangelical tradition from those Evangelicals who engage in ecumenical dialogue with Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and Mainliners and those criticisms by former Evangelicals has caused me to become increasingly concerned. Evangelical theology, its history and heroes, its political activism, are being spoken of with disdain by those within the Evangelical fold who are either ignorant of or purposefully disregarding Evangelicalism's historical roots, or its connection with earlier Church tradition. Once my jaw dropped almost till it popped when I heard one of my fellow seminarians exclaim that he wished the Protestant Reformation never occurred. The Church's recognition of the importance of the individual's relationship with God is blamed for the rampant individualism within the Church today. These critics fail to identify the real culprit for this individualism: the invasion of Western secular culture into the church itself.

Last Summer, I made plans to address this issue. I wrote a draft article that has never been quite ready to be published. This article expresses Pastor Gibson's concerns and more. Instead of publishing one article, I feel led to write a series on this subject entitled "Evangelicalism and its Critics" or "Evangelicalism and its Enemies." Throughout these articles, I will express in detail what I have not been able to express in words previously. Whether these articles appear next Summer or next Fall, I hope they clearly articulate what I consider to be a disturbing trend while at the same time effectively defending the Church tradition that nurtured me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday Morning Devotions

Prov. 2: 5-6- "Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding." (NKJV)

This passage speaks of wisdom from God. Can you gain this wisdom simply by memorizing what God's Word teaches? If that were possible, any one could follow God whether they were disciples or not. Just the act of securing knowledge is not sufficient for you to become truly wise. To receive wisdom from God, you must first love wisdom so much that you determine in your heart to understand wisdom (Prov. 2: 1-2). You must desire wisdom with a spirit that won't be satisfied until wisdom is attained; you must seek wisdom as if it is the greatest of riches (Prov. 2:4). Above all, you seek God to give you understanding (Prov. 2:3). If you do these things, you will know the true fear of God, which leads to wisdom (Prov. 1: 7) This fear is not a servile fear, as the ancient pagans had toward their gods. Their gods were unknowable, they were unpredictable. They may be merciful or full of wrath, depending on their mood. The pagans could not know their gods. But when one seeks the true God, he comes to know Him and fear Him, because he discovers His holiness and His unchanging nature. The seeker after God finds that God ALWAYS brings wrath on the disobedient, but He ALWAYS extends mercy to those who truly fear and obey Him.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Does Anyone Read Wesley Anymore?

Does Anyone Read Wesley Anymore?
More to the point, do the Evangelical heirs to Wesley read Wesley anymore? If a Wesleyan (one who claims to be descended from him theologically, not just one who belongs to a Wesleyan denomination) sought what it is to be a Wesleyan in the twenty-first century, you would think that they would start by consulting Wesley's writings.

Christianity Today ( ) had an article on the Nazarene Church describing that denomination's search for its theological and spiritual identity ( ). (This link is no longer active. To access the article, link here: , and click on where you see "Read the whole article..."). To be sure, Christianity Today is a good magazine, however, its theological bent is Calvinistic, so I cannot with certainty vouch for its fairness when its writers cover other branches of the Church whose theology differs from its own. (Some Nazarenes did take issue with the content of the article.) If the Nazarenes interviewed for the article were quoted correctly, then I my only reaction to the article is puzzlement.

The gist of the article is that the Nazarenes are rethinking their heritage as Wesleyans, especially how they interpret and apply the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification. (According to the article, this is the Nazarenes' definition of entire sanctification: "...act of God, subsequent to regeneration, by which believers are made free from original sin or depravity, and brought into a state of entire devotement to God, and the holy obedience of love made perfect.") They fear that they have become inward looking, that they have become so concerned with outward behavior that they have fallen into legalism ("We don't smoke, dance, drink, or chew, or go out with girls who do.") and neglected the needs of a hurting world. One Nazarene professor is quoted as saying " A lot of folks who have been around the church awhile thought of themselves as being characterized by things they don't do: You don't smoke, you don't drink, you don't go to dances, and in some parts of the denomination, you don't wear makeup or go to clubs or some parts of society...That kind of Christianity loses steam quickly. Its not something you can give your whole life to."

This person is right. This kind of religion loses its steam. I myself did not grow up in any Christian tradition so I was not exposed to much of the legalism that many of my fellow seminarians were raised in, therefore, I have not had the same struggles they have had since childhood. I am aware of the inward, "forget about the rest of the world" mentality within the Wesleyan world. Yet, is it necessarily legalistic to live one's Christian life acccording to the Wesleyan doctrine of Entire Sanctification? Of course not.

Yes, Wesley and his followers proscribed certain practices which today we might not have a problem with. But what about those Evangelicals who were Wesley's contemporaries that did not agree with Wesley's theology. Did they not do the same? Can we logically conclude that their theology and legalism are synonymous? No. Did the Church's greatest articulator of Entire Sanctification confuse sanctification and legalism? No. Where the Nazarenes, Wesleyans, Free Methodists, Pilgrim Holiness Churches, etc., went wrong is a matter of debate. Yet one cannot fault the doctrine of entire sanctification itself. Are the Nazarenes studying Wesley in determining where they got off track?

This same professor is quoted as saying that the Wesleyan tradition was more a movement for social justice than social conservatism. I was a social conservative before Christ entered my heart. Social conservatism and holiness are not one and the same. It does appear that many in the body of Christ, not just in the Wesleyan branch, have too closely mingled the two. It is my hope that when Jesus's followers discover their error, they don't jettison holiness from their theology. Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing trend in some Christian circles. I don't know if this was the thinking behind the professor's comments. Yet how thoroughly can anyone have read Wesley and believe that Wesley emphasized charitable deeds over personal holiness? If one would read Wesley's own sermons on "The Sermon on the Mount", one would see how Wesley rooted the practice of charity in personal holiness.

If the Weslyans truly want to rethink their theology and practice, I hope that the reading of scripture and prayer are their first steps. But I also hope they consult Wesley when they determine for themselves whether the doctrine of Entire Sanctification needs to be reinvented.

I hope any one reading this article does not think I am singling out the Nazarenes for criticism. Nor am I questioning any specific person's commitment to Entire Sanctification. I met many Nazarenes in seminary whose knowledge of and commitment to Wesley's doctrine of Entire Sanctification is solid. I am not a member of the Nazarenes and it is not my intention to characterize it in any negative way. I am simply reacting to the article in Christianity Today. I welcome any feedback from Nazarenes regarding what I have written. The concerns I have expressed in the article can be applied to the entire Wesleyan branch of the Church, not just to the Nazarenes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Morning Devotions

2Jn 9: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son." (NKJV)

Today we hear the Christian life described purely in terms of behavior. Acts of kindness are emphazised over personal belief. It is said that one's doctrine does not matter as much as abiding in Christ and showing Christ's love through action on behalf of others. Christ did command us to abide in Him (Jn 15: 1-8). But the Apostle who recorded these words of Jesus did not seperate abiding in Christ from our beliefs concerning Him. "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God." Christian doctrine is a set of teachings handed down to us from the Apostles themselves, who received this teaching from Christ Himself. We are to abide in this doctrine. We are to know it, pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten us concerning it and we are not only to mentally assent to it, we are to live it. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that doctrine transforms us. Here, John is speaking of the particular doctrine that Jesus lived on earth as fully God and fully man, that he was a true human being as well as the second person of the Godhead. Those who teach otherwise John calls deceivers (v.7). Those who abide in the doctrine have both the Father and the Son. Those who have both the Father and the Son through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the heart (Eph 1:13) are transformed into the very image of Jesus. When we abide in the doctrine of Christ by faith, that doctrine is used by God to mold us into the people He wants us to be. God cleanses us from sin, and then we are free to minister to the world without selfish, impure motives.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Friday Night Frozen Dinner and an Intellectual: "Among The Believers: An Islamic Journey" by V.S. Naipaul

Off and on since November, my Friday evenings have been occupied with reading V.S. Naipaul's "Among The Believers: An Islamic Journey" . Naipaul, a Nobel Prize winner, traveled throughout four Muslim nations during the last six months of 1979. He traveled throughout Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia. "Among The Believers" explores the impact of Islam on individuals trying to come to grips with personal and national discontent as well as Islam's interaction with the West. Naipaul demonstrates how Islam prevents these nations from developing normal, coherent societies beneficial to most of its citizens. Naipaul introduces us to people searching for their place in the world and not finding it. Many are dissatisfied with themselves and their fellow citizens. As we meet such people again and again in the book, Naipaul introduces us to an irony that appears repeatedly: those who live in failed Islamic states blame the failure on themselves and their countrymen for not being good Muslims when in fact, Islam is to blame.

Naipaul arrived in Iran after the Shah fell but before the U.S. Embassy was taken over by militant Iranian students. This was a time when many political groups were allowed to exist. Naipaul's guide in Iran was a communist student, a follower of Stalin. This young man's zeal for a communist revolution matched the zeal of his Muslim student counterparts. Naipaul came to conclude that Islam's religious zeal and the zeal of secular revolutionaries spring from the same roots: the desire of individuals to destroy the person hood of everyone else to produce a population of robotic adherents to the rules of a perfect state. Naipaul met such individuals in all four countries he traveled in. Everywhere he encountered individuals who at first seemed to be their own person, some lively and gregarious, some ambitious to better themselves. But Islam, with its demands on a person, its rules for public and private behavior, progressively stole their identity. An Indonesian man related how his daughter progressively became an adherent to the Koran. As she progressed as a Muslim, her individuality disappeared. He mourned the loss of his daughter's intellect. One day, in an ironic tone, the father asked his daughter if she could go camping with friends if she would have no water for ablutions before prayers. Later the daughter told her father "I have checked. In the Koran there is nothing that says it is obligatory if you are traveling." She had become impervious to irony. The father asked her "But don't you have a mind any longer? Do you have to go to that book every time? Can't you think for yourself now?" Her reply: "The Koran is the source of all wisdom and virtue in the world." (p. 303)

One the one hand, the people we meet in this book are just like ourselves. They have the same hopes and fears we have. Their lifestyle centers around generosity. Naipaul's portrayal of them creates compassion for them in the reader. The character that I will remember the best is a newspaper editor in Pakistan. He so wanted to be a good Muslim and lamented his failures. He wanted nothing better than that his countrymen would be good Muslims too. Yet, when he published an article about Mohammed's granddaughter that radical Muslims deemed offensive, there was a national outcry against him and his newspaper. The turmoil caused him to age considerably in just a few months. Later, we see him at prayer in a mosque. His prayer cap falls. He is inwardly anguished; has he sinned against Allah by praying to Him with his head uncovered? Has anyone seen this? Could Martin Luther's inner turmoil over whether he had angered God before his own discovery of grace been as severe?

Yet it is chilling to read how some of these ordinary people prescribe what must be done to achieve a perfect Islamic society: mass extermination. A businessman in Indonesia laments what financial success has done for him: "I feel in Jakarta I have lost my sensitivity. I have an office on the ninth floor of one of these big new buildings. Its centrally air-conditioned. I go to office in an air-conditioned car. Going back to my place, I stay at home reading. I look at television. Where am I living? I cannot grasp poverty. How can I grasp the complaint from society?" To this man, Islam is the answer to injustice. But to achieve a pure Islamic society, what is the first step, according to this man? "We have to kill a lot of people. We have to kill one or two million of these Javanese." (p. 380-381)

Naipaul discovered that Muslims want all the material benefits they can get from the West without their personal lives being affected. They acquire as much material goods as they can. They may travel to the West for training. Yet they resist Western ideas and technology from gaining a foothold in Muslim countries. This resistance to the positive aspects of modernization prevents Muslim nations from advancing as a civilization and impoverishes the minds and bodies of its citizens.

Naipaul is a fine writer. He is equally adept describing the natural beauty of various landscapes as well as the squalor of populated, polluted cities. He is able to portray the living conditions and attitudes of all social classes. Reading his portrayal of the people he interacted with, the I felt that I had actually met these people and been made aware of just what makes them tick. Naipaul causes us to sympathize with those who are trapped by their belief in and adherence to Islam. Its been nearly thirty years since he made his journey. I can't help wondering where these people are. What has been their fate? What have they become? Are they still alive? What has Islam done to them? Naipaul writes from a secular perspective, yet I can think of no better source that makes Muslims as real to me, or gives me a greater burden to pray for them.

The next two books to be read for "Friday Night Frozen Dinner and an Intellectual" will be "The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South" by Philip Jenkins and "The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World" by Miroslav Volf.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Last week I went to see Ben Stein's documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" , which was playing in movie theaters. I do not know how well the movie is doing at the box office, but if you have a chance to see it, do so. It is an effective expose of academic and cultural prejudice against critics of Darwinian Evolution.

"Expelled" is not an overtly Christian film. Ben Stein has stated that he is not a Christian. He is best known as an entertainer ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Win Ben Stein's Money) and commentator (The American Spectator). Yet in the film, we see another side to him, a man who believes in God and one who can intellectually work out the ethical and religious consequences of Darwinian Evolution.

"Expelled" is not a detailed explanation of or an argument for the theory of life's origins called Intelligent Design. What the film is is an exploration of the prejudice against Intelligent Design by the scientific establishment. We are introduced to a myriad of scientists who have lost their academic tenure and positions because of their research into Intelligent Design. We also learn the stories of those who have been fired from their jobs at scientific journals for approving articles that merely mention the theory. Not all these people are Christians; some are either secular in orientation or practice other belief systems. At least one of the scientists interviewed made the point that those who study Intelligent Design do not deny evolutionary change in animals and lower species. However, they are not convinced that this form of evolution proves that man is a descendant of lower forms of animals. The scientific establishment and its allies in the media label opponents of evolution as not real scientists, as rubes and charlatans. Yet "Expelled" introduces us to many impressive scientists and writers who attack Darwinism on scientific grounds. Some of these are proponents of Intelligent Design, some believe the theory is worthy of exploration and should not be suppressed.

"Expelled" gives equal time to Darwinists within the scientific community to present their case. They are given time to heap scorn on Intelligent Design and its proponents. The expressions of disbelief in God in general, and the events of Creation detailed in Genesis in particular, range from mild disdain to outright irrational hostility, Richard Dawkins representing the later. They are not shy about expressing their disbelief in God. In giving these people equal time, Stein and the filmmakers expose the hidden institutional machinery in the scientific establishment that is working to suppress dissent from Darwinism not only in the scientific community, but in the entire public arena. Their hostility and their absolute determination to crush all dissent is on view for all to see. And their hypocrisy is revealed as well. One of the most telling moments in the film is when an evolutionist is asked to comment on a colleague of his who was fired for his research into Intelligent Design. He expresses sorrow for what had happened to his colleague, declaring it to be an unfortunate outcome. Then the professor is confronted with his own e-mails calling the fired man an idiot. "Who are the idiots?" he was asked. His hypocrisy exposed, he labeled those who study Intelligent Design as idiots. He and the rest of his Darwinian colleagues, when their attempts at suppressing dissent are exposed, act as if they could care less when they are exposed. All throughout the film, "Expelled" makes a visual connection between the efforts of the scientific establishment to destroy those who advocate or are at least friendly to Intelligent Design to the communists who built the Berlin Wall. Just as the wall was built to keep all things western out, the scientific community is trying to build a wall around itself and the public, attempting to prevent any dissent from Darwinian Evolution from becoming part of the public debate. The humorous style in which the film depicts this will appeal to opponents of evolutionary theories (like me), while Darwinists will be offended.

At the film's conclusion, Stein links the rise of Darwinism to the formation of Nazi ideology and that ideology's culmination in the extermination of six million European Jews. Evolutionists will declare this to be nonsense. They maintain that to apply the evolutionary concept of the "survival of the fittest" to humanity is a perversion of what Darwin taught. Stein counters this with a quote from Darwin's book "The Descent of Man." I cannot give the exact quote, but in "The Descent of Man", Darwin maintained that certain "weaker" classes of humanity should not be allowed to reproduce. To paraphrase Darwin, "Even those who raise dogs know it is detrimental to allow inferior breeds to reproduce." Those who first denied that man was a special creation of God, the peak of God's creative work, made in His image, those same people set the stage for the designation of man as just an animal, a higher form of animal certainly, but just an animal. And this designation gave rise to certain groups who claimed the right to determine which segments of humanity were worthy of reproduction, declaring other segments a threat to the reproduction of the species. This is the intellectual beginnings not only of the Nazis, but those who successfully campaigned to legalize birth control. Originally, Margaret Sanger and her followers wanted to prevent the poor from reproducing, so the human race would, in their mind, rid itself of weaker, undesirable elements. The filmmakers have the courage for pointing out the real rational for the formation of Planned Parenthood and its advocacy of birth control and abortion.

Those that dissent from, or oppose altogether, Darwinian Evolution, should give kudos to Stein and company for having the courage to produce this film. I remember when I was young my surprise when I discovered the lack of objectivity among scientists concerning those things related to God. This surprise was just one of the ways God prepared my heart to accept the Gospel. While "Expelled" is not an overtly Christian film, it can have the same effect on someone who was just like me. It can open one's eyes to the real reason we exist and where disbelief in God and the Bible's account of Creation can lead.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Morning Devotions

Ps. 103: 17-18- "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children. To such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.

In these two verses, God, through David, promises that His mercy will extend throughout the generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. We say we have no problem with God being merciful to those who love Him. But do we have to obey Him? We are no longer under the Law. That is true. But some would say that in an age of grace, God will provide grace to those who love Him regardless how they conduct themselves. After all, grace is not the result of performance, correct?

What does John the Apostle say about this? He would agree that God's grace is towards those who love God. But what is it to love God, according to John? "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." (I Jn. 5:3) We love God by keeping His commandments. But how are we to obey God while we are still in the flesh? God gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us to obey. And while we are no longer under obligation to obey all the rules and regulations of the Old Testament, John, in his epistle, gives us concrete examples of how we can love God through loving our brothers and sisters. When we truly encounter God for the first time, we fear Him because we realize how unholy we are in His sight. As we experience the love of God in his forgiveness of our sins and His grace given to us so that we can obey Him, then we are free to love Him through loving our brothers and sisters. And this love on our part guarantees that God's grace will extend to generations to come.
(Scripture quotations from the NKJV)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

An Intriguing Proposal

If you follow the news, you might be aware that this week marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel. However, you might not be aware that last Friday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. In fact, I thought it was tomorrow. To mark this day, one week late, I thought I would comment on an intriguing proposal made by France's President to perpetuate the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently announced a change by his government concerning the history curriculum used to teach France's fifth graders. Each fifth grader will be assigned to learn about one Jewish child who died in the Holocaust. "Nothing is more moving for a child," Sarkozy remarked, "than the story of a child his own age, who has the same games, the same joys and the same hopes as he, but who, in the dawn of the 1940's, had the bad fortune to be defined as a Jew." (This and the following quote are from the New York Times, link below.) Sarkozy's purpose for such a policy is to make sure the historical memory of what happened during the Holocaust does not die out with the passage of previous generations. Sarkozy declared that every French child should be "entrusted with the memory of a French-child victim of the Holocaust." Sarkozy has stated elsewhere that the forsaking of God was a major factor in bringing about the Holocaust.

This policy has been met with criticism. Some fear that to learn about a child's life cut short by government extermination would traumatize France's fifth graders. Others feel that this policy would deflect France's schools from teaching about France's own role in collaborating with the Nazis in carrying out the Holocaust. Minority groups within France, such as Muslims and Armenians, protest that if French children are to be taught about Jewish victims of the Holocaust, then these same children should learn about children from specific minorities who have been persecuted by the French government or French society. Even France's Jewish community is divided on the issue. Still, there are those who oppose the policy because they are Sarkozy's political opponents. Some consider the policy part of a grand plan by Sarkozy to introduce religion into secular society.

I have no problem with the plan, in fact, I find it quite innovative. Not only would it keep memories of the Holocaust alive, in would plant seeds in childrens' minds that would cause them to reject bigoted and xenophobic propaganda. The idea that fifth graders would become traumatized does not resonate with me. Children are not as easily traumatized as adults think. Often we adults inflict harm upon them by attributing to them the fears that grip us as adults. I wonder if Sarkozy announced a policy that France's fifth graders were to be pen-pals with children from persecuted groups from around the world, would there be a similar outcry?Sarkozy's policy could also spark a general interest among the students to want to study the past. Learning about real children will increase interest in the historical period. How this plan would prevent France's children from learning about France's complicity in the Holocaust is beyond me. In fact, this new policy should encourage French children to ask questions concerning France's Jewish children during WW II.

Sarkozy is certainly not a morally superior being, as his three marriages attest. Yet, on this issue, and his understanding that cultures that had forsaken God helped made the Holocaust possible, his heart and mind are in the right place.

Here are links to articles on this issue plus two links to Daniel Pipes' website on the current situation in Israel:

Next year, to commemorate the Holocaust Remembrance Day, I will be sure to reread a book entitled "Our Hands Are Stained With Blood", a history of Christian anti-semitism. As the late Zola Levitt used to close all his television programs, "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem!"

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Monday Morning Devotions

Is. 29:14- "Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."

Just what wisdom is this passage referring to, this wisdom that shall perish? Could it be the false wisdom Paul speaks about in the first chapter of Romans? This is the passage where Paul explains why there is a lack of belief in the true God among most of mankind. Man can discern not only the existence of God from observing nature, man can also discern God's attributes as well. But man chooses to suppress what he knows because he does not want to attribute Lordship to God. So the mind of man suppresses the true knowledge of God by constructing false gods from man's own imagination. "Professing to be wise, they became fools..." (Rom. 1:22) According to the above passage from Isaiah, there will be a day when this knowledge will be shown to be false. Could it be that its destruction will proceed a work of true revival among Christ's people; a revival in which the Church finally casts off all idols and her members become one in mind, loving God and man as they were meant to be loved? Will this revival mark the final in-gathering of souls into the Church from all the peoples of the earth?

Will those "prudent men", those that weigh self interest in their relationship with God disappear? Those who refuse to be fully sold out to Jesus, will their influence be brought to nought? Will there be a day when no one causes Jesus' followers to harden their own hearts, thus preventing themselves from becoming disciples? Will there be a day when no one hinders sinners from true repentance? The verse from Isaiah answers these questions with a resounding "Yes!" We do not know when that day will arrive. But we cooperate with God in bringing these great things to pass when we pray "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10) May it be when we pray this prayer in faith that we hasten the day when these things shall come to pass.
(All scripture quotations are from the NKJV.)