To my astonishment, and to my critics’ dislike, this month’s letter marks the beginning of its 29th year of publication. I thank God for seeing me through the years and for all of you who have read these communications, whether friend or foe. It has never been my intention to be belligerently contentious, but challenging and thought-provoking in love. As to whether or not I realized my intended demeanor in my writings, that is your determination. How long I will continue this letter depends upon a number of factors, some of which I am aware, and some of which I may not be aware. The bottom line though is, “If the Lord wills.”
Anyway, this month’s letter is, again several things that have crossed and concerned or occupied my mind in recent times. Hopefully they are of interest and concern to you as well.
1.) The Nature Of Man
Despite the assertions of some of my friends and relatives I do not think that man is basically good. I think that was God’s intention when he created man, but man used his free moral agency to corrupt his nature. Further, even though the Bible states that love “thinks no evil”, the idea that man is basically good is the basic tenet of humanism and that philosophy and tenet are destructive to belief in God and His Son, with serious consequences for society.
If man is basically good, then evil must be attributed to external forces, not man’s heart. Thus we see people often not being held responsible for evil and sinful acts in our society. It is the environment, economic situation, guns, parents, schools, television, etc. that are at fault. The humanists include the Christian religion in the list. All of this is why the emphasis is on changing external forces rather than persons’ character and values.
In Romans 3:10-12 the apostle Paul wrote: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Then he summarizes in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Man’s only hope for true change is by spiritual renewal through faith in Jesus Christ. The battle is within, between faith and our fallen nature. Then when this change occurs in significant numbers through belief in Jesus Christ and the help of God’s Spirit, noticeable changes will occur in society. Doing things like providing teenagers easier access to condoms won’t make them responsible and less hedonistic.
We also need to be aware that a corollary of humanism is legalism. Legalism teaches in one way or another that man is capable of saving himself, partially or wholly, through good works. Our righteous deeds can never atone for our sins. Only the blood of sinless Jesus can do that.
2.) Freedom Of Speech
A while back the front-page article for the “Old Paths Advocate” dealt with problems of the internet. While the author stated much with which I agree, he made a couple of statements to which I take exception. One is he said, “Good information is a vital thing but too much information can be harmful.” There are probably situations where this is true, but as is often the case in sectarianism, the leaders seek to censor the information of the rank and file. They don’t consider them astute enough or able to discern what is right and true from that which is wrong and false. They fear for their positions and power. This mentality prevailed for centuries until the printing press got the Bible into the hands of the common people, and it smacks of a clergy-laity system which is foreign to scripture. Recent examples of this attempt at censorship can be seen in the actions of some sectarian leaders relative to the writings of brothers Dallas Burdette and Al Maxey. In earlier days it was brothers Leroy Garrett and Carl Ketcherside.
Then the writer goes on to say that the “greatest danger of all” is freedom of speech which “is NOT a right afforded the Kingdom of God.” This is certainly true relative to the sect dominated by the “OPA” agenda that considers itself the “Kingdom of God.” You cannot exercise your freedom to study, draw your own conclusions, and share them openly with others if your opinions do not coincide with the unwritten creed of the party.
The writer goes on to say: “Some people do not deserve a platform because they are ignorant of the Bible’s teaching and reason from emotion or false precept and others have an agenda they are trying to foist upon the church, just as in Titus’ day.” This sounds to me like some of the leaders in the one cup party.
No one will deny that what we say should be said lovingly and responsibly, buy every Christian has the right to say what he believes and why he believes it. We won’t all come to the same conclusions, but this is how we learn and grow and enrich our journey of faith. In turn, this is not a cause per se for renunciation and division, but a powerful reason to be forbearing in love and doggedly stay together to continue to grow in Christ.
I truly believe that the denominational and sectarian institutions and organizations known as churches which promulgate a religion based upon a doctrinal system to bind one’s self back to God is not the will of God and is detrimental to His cause and purpose for man. In the first place, religion defined as man trying to bind himself back to God through either a written or unwritten creed based upon man’s interpretation of the scriptures, and accompanying good works, is not Christianity. Man cannot bind himself back to God no matter how sophisticated his mental ability and how numerous his good works. The emphasis of religion is to find God and reach up to Him. The emphasis of Christianity is that God is seeking man and reaching down to him. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are bound back to God at His initiative and calling. Practicing Christianity is responding to what God has done for us. Legalistic sectarian religious, systems, in particular, are efforts by man to be in control and deal with God on their own terms. As a result man feels good about “being religious”, puffed up with pride and self-righteousness. Religion tends to be egocentric and the nature of Christianity is theocentric.
Well I’ve probably provoked you enough for this month. Thanks though, for reading.
J. James Albert
J. James Albert