Our next post will be “The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent,” by Dr. Walter B. Greenway. Here, in reverse order and by way of introduction, is an editorial that appeared in THE PRESBYTERIAN in the next issue following the publication of Dr. Greenway’s article.
The Peril of Moral and Spiritual Complacency
The article by Dr. Walter B. Greenway, entitled “The Camel’s Nose in the Church’s Tent,” published in the last issue of THE PRESBYTERIAN, presents such an array of tremendously important facts portraying the perilous conditions in the Church, as to command special attention. Dr. Greenway deals with facts, not theories or speculations, or mere apprehensions. He shows that a terrible evil is already upon the Churches, and through the earnest determination of the enemies of Christ and the Bible, that the forces of unbelief have become fortified in many institutions of learning, have pressed themselves into conferences of the Evangelical Churches, and are using every means to capture the governing bodies and the congregations.
With the thousands of able, evangelical minsters of the various denominations with this nation, how is this advance of this enemy into the various departments of the Protestant Church to be explained?
We are persuaded that the failure to resist this anti-Christian movement is due in large part to putting the peace before the purity of the Church and a consequent moral and spiritual complacency. The evangelical men do not lack intelligence, nor do they mean to be disloyal, but burdened with many responsibilities in their effort to make successful the Church and the Gospel, they have been tempted to avoid all conflict. That attempt has failed, because while the evangelicals have been seeking to avoid the conflict, the Unitarians have been pressing their plans and capturing the evangelical position.
We all know that, as Dr. Greenway has stated, these determined attacks against the deity of Christ and the authority of the Bible as the Word of God have appeared frequently and widely and intensely, so that the only way of escape is through a valiant resistance and counter-attack. Any attempt to seek peace by the way of moral complacency and spiritual anesthesia is deadly. Here is a case where nothing but open, systematic, persistent and determined opposition and counter-attack will be effective. This enemy of the truth must be overcome and put to flight, or the inheritance will be destroyed.
Our fathers met this same enemy and defeated it. It is time their sons were heeding the apostolic injunction, “Wherefore take upon you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” The time for moral complacency and spiritual concession is past, and definite, firm, Scriptural and Christian resistance and testimony must be maintained. It has been postponed too long, and the interest of the faith and of human souls have been seriously imperiled.
There is essentially nothing new in the present attack. As Dr. Greenway declares, it is of the same nature as that of the Jews of Christ’s time, who acknowledged the excellence of Christ’s general manhood, but counted his claim to be the Son of God blasphemy. It also appeared in the first and second and third centuries, in different forms, and later, as Arianism, Socinianism, and Unitarianism, which contended with great vigor in Great Britain and the North of Ireland, and which has recently been revived and pressed in our times with the boldest determination.
It must be borne in mind that this conflict is in no sense personal. It is wholly a matter of teachings and propagation. The Unitarians can make no objections to the attack upon their teachings, for they are boldly outspoken and intense and persistent in their attack upon Christ’s deity, the infallibility of the Scriptures, and the whole plan of salvation. Many of them do not mince words, but are most violent in their destructive purpose. Therefore open, bold resistance is both fair and in keeping with their policy and purpose. These vigorous Unitarians, however, are fairer in their methods and less dangerous in their attack because they are bold and order their attacks openly and from the outside of the Evangelical Church. The more dangerous party are those who remain within the Evangelical Church and by sweet words and fair speech try to reduce the whole question of testimony to the truth to nothing ; and at the same time covertly and constantly advance the anti-evangelical doctrines. They would destroy the foundations by a secret pulverizing process. The whole course of the Word of God in the Old and New Testament warns against these enemies of the revealed truth, and charges those appointed and ordained as teachers and officers in the Church of God to be faithful and diligent in the work of defense of the faith as well as in its propagation. So far as we are acquainted with the vows in the Evangelical Churches, the same diligence in defense is required. In the Presbyterian Church this duty is specific and imperative. Every minister, elder and deacon in the Presbyterian Church has solemnly vowed to study the purity of the Church, and this purity includes both doctrine and practice. Every minister of the Presbyterian Church has solemnly promised “to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel, and the purity and peace of the Church ; whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account. In view of the intense determination at the present time to oppose and overthrow the truth and to destroy the purity of the Church, it is most important that every true minister, elder and deacon strike boldly for their defense and purity.
Let us stand together as loyal comrades, comprehending the nature of the attack against our Lord and determined to maintain the honor of his name.