Liberal, Fundamentalist… or Neither?
Now religion still had to exist. There were so many people that made their living at it, they had to find some way to justify their existence. So back about the time, in 1850, the church divided into two groups. The one group was the liberals, who accepted the philosophy of humanism and tried to find some relevance by saying something like this to their generation: “We don’t know there’s a heaven. We don’t know there’s a hell. But we do know that you’ve got to live for 70 years. We know there’s a great deal of benefit from poetry, from high thoughts and noble aspirations. Therefore it’s important for you to come to church on Sunday, so that we can read some poetry, so that we can give you some little adages and axioms and rules to live by. We can’t say anything about what’s going to happen when you die, but we’ll tell you this: if you’ll come every week and pay and help and stay with us, we’ll put springs on your wagon and your trip will be more comfortable. We can’t guarantee anything about what’s going to happen when you die, but we say that if you come along with us, we’ll make you happier while you’re alive.” And so this became the essence of liberalism. It meant simply nothing more than to try and put a little sugar in the bitter coffee of the journey and sweeten it up for a time. This is all that it could say.
Well now the philosophy of the atmosphere is humanism; the chief end of being is the happiness of man. There’s another group of people that have taken umbrage with the liberals. This group is my people, the fundamentalists. They say, “We believe in the inspiration of the Bible. We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. We believe in hell. We believe in heaven. We believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.” But remember the atmosphere is that of humanism. And humanism says the chief end of being is the happiness of man. Humanism is like a miasma out of the pit, it just permeates every place. Humanism is like an infection, an epidemic—it just goes everywhere.
So it wasn’t long until the fundamentalists knew each other, because they said, “We believe these things!” They were men for the most part who had met God. But you see it wasn’t long until having said, “These are the things that establish us as fundamentalists,” that the second generation said, “This is how to become a fundamentalist: Believe in the inspiration of the Bible! Believe in the deity of Christ! Believe in His death, burial, and resurrection! And thereby become a fundamentalist.”
And so it wasn’t long until it got to our generation, where the whole plan of salvation was to give intellectual assent to a few statements of doctrine. And a person was considered a Christian because he could say “Uh huh” at four or five places when he was asked. If he knew where to say “Uh huh,” someone would pat him on the back, shake his hand, smile broadly, and say “Brother, you’re saved!” So it had gotten down to the place where salvation was nothing more than an assent to a scheme or a formula, and the end of this salvation was the happiness of man, because humanism had penetrated. If you were to analyze fundamentalism in contrast to liberalism of a hundred years ago as it developed—for I am not pinpointing it in time—it would be like this:
The liberal says the end of religion is to make man happy while he’s alive, and the fundamentalist says the end of religion is to make man happy when he dies.
But again! The end of all of the religion, it was proclaimed, was the happiness of man. And where as the liberal says, “By social change and political order we’re going to do away with slums, we’re going to do away with alcoholism and dope addiction and poverty. And we’re going to make HEAVEN ON EARTH AND MAKE YOU HAPPY WHILE YOU’RE ALIVE! We don’t know anything about after that, but we want to be happy while you’re alive!” They went ahead to try and do it, only to be brought to a terrifying shock at the first World War and utterly staggered by the second World War, because they seemed to be getting nowhere fast.
And then the fundamentalists, along the line, are now tuning in on this same wavelength of humanism. Until we find it something like this: “Accept Jesus so you can go to heaven! You don’t want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning hell when there is a beautiful heaven up there! Now come to Jesus so you can go to heaven!”
And the appeal could be as much to selfishness as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop deciding they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing! There’s a way that you can give an invitation to sinners, that just sounds for all the world like a plot to take a filling station proprietor’s Saturday night earnings without working for them.
Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches that’s crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion. AND IT IS UTTER AND TOTAL CONTRAST WITH CHRISTIANITY! Unfortunately it’s seldom seen as such. And here we find Micah, who wants to have a little chapel, and he wants to have a priest, and he wants to have prayer, and he wants to have devotion, because “I know the LORD will do me good!” AND THIS IS SELFISHNESS! AND THIS IS SIN! And the Levite comes along and falls right in with it, because he wants a place. He wants ten shekels and a shirt and his food. And so in order that he can have what he wants, and Micah can have what he wants, THEY SELL OUT GOD for ten shekels and a shirt.
THIS IS THE BETRAYAL OF THE AGES! And it is the betrayal in which we live.
I don’t see HOW GOD CAN REVIVE IT, until we come back to Christianity, in DIRECT AND TOTAL CONTRAST WITH THE STENCHFUL HUMANISM that’s perpetrated in our generation in the name of Christ. I’m afraid that it’s become so subtle that it goes everywhere. What is it? In essence it’s this: This philosophical postulate—that the end of all being is the happiness of man—has been sort of covered over with evangelical terms and Biblical doctrine until God reigns in heaven for the happiness of man, Jesus Christ was incarnate for the happiness of man, all the angels exist for the happiness of man. Everything is for the happiness of man! AND I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT THIS IS UNCHRISTIAN! Didn’t God intend to make man happy? Yes. But as a byproduct and not a primary product!